Recently I attended the Best of Hitchin Network event at Champneys in Henlow and I often get asked at network events, the immortal question, “So, What do you do” to which I reply, “I am a CRM systems specialist”, to which I get one of 2 responses...”Whats CRM” or “Oh right, I have used one of those”.
If your response falls into the former, then you are not alone and are probably in the majority. Even though CRM (Customer Relationship Management) has been around for over 20 years, there are still some who have never come across the 3 letter acronym, but probably don’t know that this could be a saviour for their business, especially in times of (and if reports are to be believed) coming out of a recession.
In its broadest sense, CRM is the relationship that you have with your customers and the management of said relationships. We are all very good at building relationships with our customers, but its the management of those relationships that can alter a customer’s perception of your business and therefore impact on future sales. A company using a CRM system has a higher customer retention rate and will be able to make decisions based on their sales pipeline.
The strange thing is that you are probably contacting companies that use CRM systems already. You may have phoned a pizza company who know your address just from your phone call. CRM systems have the ability to recognise incoming phone numbers and can pop up contact details for the person taking the order, to ensure that you get your Pizza delivered to your door. Another example of CRM is when you discuss a complaint with a company and they can see who you spoke with, when you spoke to them and any documentation. It just gives you the perception that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.
If I asked you now to go and find every single document, email, mailshot, invoice, presentation, quotation or file that you have ever sent to a client, then it could take you the best part of a day to find this. This is what CRM gives you in a click of a button.
For business owners, it is extremely important that you don’t lose sight of your customers and that you can maintain your customer database. Several clients have called me after their key sales person has left, deleting their entire email history in Outlook, shredded their client files and removed all data from their machines so as to leave no trace of who they were talking to, what they were talking about and worst of all, what the clients actually purchased / going to purchase from you. My clients who have a CRM system can carry on with their business when their key sales person leaves and their CRM system has a built in backup program to ensure business continuity.
A good CRM system must incorporate integration with a calendar and reminder system. It makes sense that you should be reminded on Monday at 9:30 to talk to George about the large project / delivery they require which you need to quote for. How many times has that post it note disappeared which had the persons number on it who wanted the big order, or you are told to call back in a months time and then you forget to call back because you mislaid that piece of paper.
So CRM is important and it doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are some free open source CRM systems available, but these usually have little or no support. There are others from around the £180 per user mark such as ACT! by SAGE which is good value, packed with features and are easy to use. If you are a Mid to large sized company, then you need to consider products such as SAGE CRM, SalesLogix, MSCRM to name but a few.
One thing I forgot to mention is that the best of Hitchin use a CRM system called ACT to organise their events by creating groups of attendees, printing out a list of attendees for you to take away after the event, produce your badges within a few seconds and update you with email alerts about forthcoming events. I am sure you will all agree that the best of Hitchin events are truly a great success and a big thank you goes out to Keith and Louise who organise them (Well mainly Louise!). What used to take Louise 2 days to organise has now been reduced down to a few hours. This type of saving could be enjoyed by your company.
If you would like to discuss more about CRM and how it can help you to get more business, then please contact Steve Crombie of Bridgehouse Solutions Ltd on 01462 450444 or email@example.com or visit our website at www.bridgehousesolutions.co.uk
Member since: 10th December 2009
Steve is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Guru with over 12 years experience in customising, installing and training on CRM products. Steve trained SAGE support staff on how to use ACT when they...