If you really want to have an accurate picture of your prospects' and customers' relationship with your company, you need to work with customer relationship management (or CRM) to some degree. Implementing a new CRM strategy isn't always easy - but since you can't improve your relationships with your customers without knowing the current situation, it's worth it. In this article, I'll share some of the main benefits of customer relationship management that we've discovered.
The behaviour of your prospects and customers is rapidly changing. Different generations prefer to interact with companies in very different ways, and during the course of the pandemic, most real-world business interactions have moved entirely online. Global internet traffic grew by around 35% between 2019 and 2020, much more than predicted - and it's looking unlikely that things will go right back to 'normal' any time soon.
Despite all of this, a few things haven't changed. People want to get information and offerings that are relevant to their needs. They want to feel that the companies they do business with know them, and value their custom. They certainly don't want to feel like a stranger to the company they've worked with for years. This was all true before the advent of digital, and it'll be true in the future as well.
That's why CRM is so beneficial to your company. By having a single place where you can consolidate all the information about your contacts - their roles, their companies, their contact details and all the previous interactions and dealings they've had with your company - you can provide them with relevance. Both in the offerings you present and when you communicate with them.
Without a good CRM setup in place, handovers can be a pain. For companies that don't have a defined CRM strategy, or perhaps only have a neglected and poorly functioning CRM system, most of the relevant information about contacts is spread all over the place - in email inboxes, Excel sheets, or just the memory of the sales rep. When it's time to do a handover - for example, if a sales rep leaves the company or goes on parental leave - it's hard for the replacement rep to get all the information they need. A great benefit of CRM is that new sales reps can quickly access all the relevant information about the contacts they're responsible for, resulting in a relatively seamless handover.
Working with CRM and using a CRM system to store contact data provides a high degree of visibility on the company's interactions with its customers. If a company has implemented a CRM strategy and built up a well-maintained system, the decision-makers can easily get information about ongoing deals, the performance of individual reps, and forecasts from the future directly from the system. Without a structured approach to CRM, getting hold of this information is challenging and time-consuming.
Of course, this visibility also gives you access to much deeper insights. Most quality CRM platforms on the market will give you access to analytics, and you can use them to assess and improve your approach. One interesting figure we look at is 'time to deal close' - how long does it take after the first encounter for a contact to become a customer? This is a figure that you can affect with your marketing and sales communications, and it's usually a good metric to track over time if you want to know their effectiveness. A well-implemented CRM setup also allows you to see your best-performing offerings, letting you know what products or services lead to the most deals. There's an almost endless number of new insights you can get by tracking your activities in a CRM, and a lot of them can lead to effective new approaches.
There's a lot of talk about 'business intelligence' - but essential this just means knowing who your customers and prospects are. And without CRM, it's not easy to keep track of this information or share it within the company. Sales reps spend a lot of their time simply trying to find the right people to talk to. And on the customers' and prospects' side, they often get contacted by a sales rep who has completely misunderstood their role, which doesn't exactly create a positive image of the rep's company.
Information about who the key decision-makers are at target companies, and what kinds of roles and budgets other colleagues have, can be stored centrally in the CRM system and shared across the company. And provided you develop an effective way of working with the system and choose one that is easy to use, you can make sure this information stays up-to-date without too much effort.
Source: 2021 B2B Buying Study, Forrester
This kind of far-reaching knowledge is essential for B2B companies now that buying committees are growing larger and larger. According to Forrester's 2021 B2B Buying Study, 63% of B2B purchases have more than four people involved, which is a big increase compared to previous years.
Good sales reps shouldn't be forced to become administrators - but that's often what they turn into when the CRM is poorly maintained and requires too much manual work. With a real CRM strategy and a quality system in place, you can start getting rid of these problems - and the repetitive, manual tasks that come with them can be automated. When information on emails, phone calls, meetings and ongoing deals are stored in the CRM system, you can start using automation to do things like send follow-ups, reminders and invoices. Automation does involve time and effort to execute properly, but it at least frees up the rep's time so that they can do the things they're best at.
Hopefully, you see why CRM is worth investing in. Having a system in place is a good start, but what's more important is having the strategy, commitment and knowledge to use it to its full potential. If you'd like to know a bit more about how to do this, take a look at our guide to customer relationship management, and don't forget to download our CRM system guide for some comparisons and pricing information.