CRM. We have all heard that term by now. To many it means having a process in place to manage customer relationships. To others it is a tool. To me, it’s all of the above. But before you can define what CRM means to you, you need to have an end goal in mind. What is the end result you want to accomplish?
Are you small business trying to get new customers? Are you a large organization wanting to reach out to existing clients to improve the relationship you have with them? Are you suffering from the economy downturn and are looking at ways to increase your revenues? If you answered yes to these questions, then you need some form of CRM.
The face of selling and marketing is changing and we need to change along with it. For years, I have heard and read that you need to “touch” a customer 7 times before they will consider buying your product or service. That is still true but now the customer wants to be able to interact with you via a two-way dialog. Social media has jumped into the game to provide that two-way vehicle. That means your CRM strategy needs to ensure it has that as a slice of the pie.
Maintaining a relationship with your customer is a process, not just a tool. You need to set aside time to ensure you are reaching your clients in as many ways as possible. There are good reasons to do that as well. All of us communicate in different ways. Some people prefer email – some a phone call – some in person visits. Now we have to add Facebook and Twitter to the “touches.” How do you manage all of that in a timely manner while still doing your main job – making money? Ah, that’s where a CRM comes into play. Answering one of the questions I asked above defines how you implement your CRM strategy.
There are tools out there that can help – like Act!, my favorite tool of choice. But it’s not all about tools. You need to define your end goal first and then work backwards. Do you want new customers? Do you want to increase revenue? Do you want to reach existing customers? The answer will drive how you start and implement your CRM process.
Once you have defined what you want, then just do it. Nothing in, nothing out is an old adage. I always recommend starting slowly and ramping up any changes you make to your processes. Some changes may not stick and you need to be able to react quickly so it doesn’t impact your daily processes. But start you must. And the process doesn’t have to be complicated. I designed the infographic shown in this article to highlight the basic steps as an example.
Every week, we see how improved customer relationships can dramatically change a business. Simple things like reaching out and calling people you haven’t contacted in 6 months can be business changing. You just need to be able to figure out who those people are. That’s hard to do without a process or tool.