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what is a crm

CRM software is vital to all businesses.  Operating a business without a CRM is the equivalent of driving or flying blind.  Large or small, any business benefits from having a CRM tool in place.

In this blog we will discuss what is CRM, the modules and functions of CRM, how do different parts of a business use CRM, plus what are some of the main benefits of CRM. 

CRM Definition and Overview

CRM stands for customer relationship management.  Customer Relationship Management Software is one of the largest and important segments of business software.  Modern day CRM sprang from legacy main frame computers that kept track of customer information.  Some of the first notable customer relationship management software providers included Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, Siebel and Salesforce.  Newer entrants to the CRM landscape include Zoho, Sugar, Pipedrive, HubSpot, and many others.  Customer relationship management software has evolved rapidly over the past couple of decades becoming more comprehensive, easier to use, and less expensive.  Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and Oracle have kept pace with newer entrants to the customer relationship management software space.  Early CRM tools were all on premises solutions.  Now, virtually all are cloud based.  This move to the cloud has spurred innovation and driven down costs.

A theme we see within customer relationship management is that different CRM software can come with different strengths and are focused on distinct functions within a business.  A few providers are good choices for all departments.  Two vendors that we have found over the years to be excellent choices for every department within the clients we serve are Salesforce and Zoho.  Both have many different modules to serve all the needs of our clients and all the aspects of their businesses.  We have also found the pricing models of Salesforce and Zoho to be flexible and on target for the SMB / small and mid-sized business clients we assist.

CRM Modules and Functions

Customer relationship management software have multiple modules and functions.  Most customer relationship management software will provide the capability to group contacts by different types.  These classifications could include leads, prospects, and customers for example.  Being able to advance contacts from one group to another is also a common feature.  Most customer relationship management software will also allow the linking of different leads, contacts, and customers to different companies they work at plus keep specific information on the company in addition to the individual.  Nearly all CRM will also have modules to track deals or opportunities and to create a sales funnel and corresponding sales forecasts.  Some CRM will have proposal and quotation modules that are linked to deals or opportunity forecasting.  Others will at least allow 3rd party plugins for quoting or allow for the uploading of proposals, quotes, and other documents to CRM records.  Most CRM tools will also provide the ability to schedule calls, mails, meetings, and tasks so that proper follow up can take place.  Some customer relationship management software will collect all email communications to contacts and display them within a contact record.  Most will allow the capability to add notes for individual or company records.  Some will allow for various types of marketing outreach or email campaigns to be run directly within the customer relationship management software or use a 3rd party plug in.  One last module most good CRM tools offer are dashboards and reports to analyze customer and client activity.  The ability to share all this data across all the users within a company is paramount.  The ability to collaborate and share information easily and effortlessly across a business makes CRM an enormously powerful tool.  It is easy to see why tracking and sharing all these activities and doing them more intelligently and efficiently can have a significant impact on any business.

How do different parts of a business use CRM?

While all aspects of a business can benefit from using customer relationship management software, three departments or roles within a business usually are the “superusers” of CRM.  Those roles are Sales, Marketing, and Customer Support.  Within a sales team, being able to assign different leads to different salespeople is a common aspect of CRM.  Salespeople scheduling follow up via the phone or email is also a common function, as is taking notes on various customer interactions.  Creation of sales forecasts and funnel reports is also a big benefit to using customer relationship management software and can keep an organization all moving in the same direction.  Marketing departments can use customer relationship management software to keep in touch with existing customers and provide needed information to them.  New products, new features, and company events can all be messaged via CRM.  Marketing departments can also use CRM to message to contacts that are not yet customers and assist sales departments in this way with lead generation.  Customer Support departments are also super important users of customer relationship management software.  Customer service representatives can benefit from all the same scheduling and note taking capabilities that salespeople use.  Sharing records of customers between customer support personnel and salespeople is also critical and the customer can be served best if all their account data is shared across a company.  CRM tools can be used to create and manage customer support tickets and ensure that issues are addressed promptly and in a satisfactory manner.

What are some of the benefits of CRM?

The benefits of customer relationship management software are numerous … they benefit all businesses large or small, and in any type of market vertical.  Our SMB clients have greatly benefitted from CRM roll-outs.  Increased productivity is typically the number one benefit of an SMB CRM implementation … or any CRM implementation.  Having all the information about the customer relationship in one place and at employee’s fingertips and on their screens is invaluable.  CRM implementations can also lead to increased sales due to better information being available to salespeople plus the ability to do better planning through sales funnel reports and simply being more focused.  The better forecasting and planning that comes with sales funnel activity does not just benefit the sales function and revenue.  Better forecasting and planning can also assist purchasing departments or service departments anticipate new customers and clients and allow the entire business to operate more efficiently and with better insights.  Increased customer satisfaction is another by product of CRM implementations.  A company is better able to take care of customers when all the information about them is shared across an organization.  Customers notice this and respond to this.  Not only will customers be more satisfied, they will maintain their relationship with companies longer, and they will also expand their relationship with companies.  Better marketing and more insightful marketing activities is also a benefit of good CRM implementations.  All that feeds back into more satisfied clients and customers, and more prospects becoming actual customers.  The number one benefit of CRM however is its collaboration effect between departments and roles within a business.  Customer relationship management software is perhaps the number one business productivity tool to get everyone in a company “rowing in the same direction.”

Want to learn more? 

By implementing customer relationship management software, businesses can ensure that they are not driving or flying blind.  We hope that we have successfully covered what is CRM, what are modules and functions of CRM, how do various parts of a business use CRM and what are some main benefits of CRM in this blog.

Valenta is a business consulting and business software integration services provider.  We focus on serving small and midsized businesses.  We provide the same services large consulting firms offer to Fortune 1,000 to these underserved but economically vital businesses.  Valenta provides offshore or near shore virtual staff in addition to consulting and software integration services and can provide virtual CRM Administrators for SMB CRM implementations.

Please find this link describing our services related to Salesforce.

Please find this link describing our services related to Zoho.

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