CRM stands for contact relationship management.

CRM software helps you organise and capture key data, and automate your ongoing business, sales, marketing and customer service process.

The way you store your contacts usually starts off as little more than a homemade spreadsheet of names and contact details, however;

As your business grows you will need to transform that spreadsheet into a database either using software downloaded onto your PC or uploading it to a cloud based CRM.

You may be asking now;

Why do I need contact relationship management?   

For the not so bright sparks among you may now be thinking that a CRM database is a list of clients that you can automatically spam with emails and texts.

This is only a fraction of what a CRM can do, if used correctly a CRM will be what you build the processes in your business around.

1. Partner with your customers and build relationships.

Firstly you need to think of clients, customers and contacts as partners in your business, they are individual people with individual needs that you can build a relationship with.

The first rule in business is getting customers through the door, the second rule is getting them back through the door again.  

A CRM helps you grow individual relationships it helps you keep track of your last conversations, notes, transactions and emails. When relationships form mutual trust develops which is essential in business of any type.

2. Focus on your Individual Customer needs.

As well as recording communication and sales interactions you can anticipate ways to help your client in the future, a travel clinic business I am involved with can utilise their CRM automation by welcoming patients back on their return from their holiday or business trip, remind them to continue taking their anti-malarials, and give reminders of when vaccination boosters are due.

Ongoing marketing is not spam but ‘focused’ and you are less likely to see your email being sent straight to the trash through spam filters.

3. Data Capture and Analysis.

For client’s individual needs to be addressed the relevant ‘data’ needs to be captured and the correct fields need to be created in the CRM database, this can be automated directly into your CRM from the web, call centres or emails.

There is key data that needs to be collected on all customers such as contact details and email addresses, there will then be other data that you will need to record in your CRM system that will be fundamental to your business and ongoing marketing which may not be apparent at first but will become obvious and can be captured when your business matures.

Individual clients and accounts can be tracked, your key customers and accounts can be analysed, financial analysis of your customer base such as the LTV (lifetime value) of a client can be calculated and you can therefore look at how much you can spend  on marketing.

4. Effective CRM promotes Organisation, Productivity, Collaboration and Teamwork.

Fragmentation happens as your business grows, teamwork and collaboration must take place so that your business can be efficient and productive.

Your CRM system can allow you to organise tasks and analyse the activity of your staff, as well as making hand overs of key tasks easier between employees.

Building a database is the first step, building a system supported and automated by your CRM is the key to maximising effective marketing and sales and helps build lasting relationships with your customers.

What are the best CRM Systems?

Generally you need to decide a few things before you decide on your CRM, your decision should really be down to where you are working from and what software are already using or familiar with.

Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and Sugar CRM seem to be the market leaders, other CRMs can integrate with accountancy software such as Sage CRM.

Because I use Basecamp to project manage I use Highrise as my CRM both are integrated and simple to use.

In Summary.

Get your CRM to help you build relationships and allow you to focus on your individual customer’s needs, a CRM used effectively will help you capture key data, help you automate systems and increase productivity and collaboration in your organisation.