CRM: Why invest? When are you Ready? What should I look for?
The right CRM can help you attract, gain and retain client’s, execute marketing campaigns and save time along the way. It’s a powerful engine driving sales, marketing and client service. So, let’s consider the Why, When, and What!!
Why do I need a CRM?
Starting with why! A CRM (Client Relationship Manager) is a piece of software that stores information on your clients and prospects, but when used properly it can be the driver of your business guiding next steps and ensuring consistency of experience for your clients and prospects.
“With any software it’s crucial that we understand why we need it and what are we expecting it to do. If these things don’t match up with the software’s capability, we have a problem? It’s the starting point when I discuss CRMs with a client”
Let’s just start with some of the basic ways it could boost your business.
Understand your clients better.
A CRM can give you powerful segmentation abilities. By categorising clients into segments based on their behaviours, you can customise your messages, offers and content to resonate with each segment’s preferences and interests.
It should also help you find what’s working and what needs improvement through lead conversion trends and client purchasing patterns. You can see exactly where leads are dropping off, and you can adjust to improve conversion. Also, your CRM reveals which segments buy which packages and common purchase combinations that you can use to increase sales.
Increase Client Satisfaction.
A CRM can ultimately lead to a better experience for your clients, turning them into raving fans of your business. With automation capabilities included, it makes it easier for you to strengthen client relationships through timely, personalised communications. Strong relationships lead to client retention, higher client lifetime value, and referrals.
You can also ask for feedback to ensure you’re creating the best possible client experience. Automate a timed follow-up message after each purchase, asking clients to rate their experience. By storing each client’s rating in your CRM, you can automatically create tasks for client support to follow up with dissatisfied clients or send requests for reviews to happy clients.
Streamline communication and save time.
When you can clearly see all the actions a client or lead has taken, you gain a better understanding of the next steps to convert them. You can personalise your marketing efforts and sales conversations, helping your business avoid wasted money and time on the phone.
With CRM and sales and marketing automation software, messages can be personalised automatically based on a customer’s interests, past purchases and time elapsed since their last purchase. This tailored messaging is critical for building long-lasting relationships with leads and clients.
Simplify your sales pipeline.
The best CRMs not only give you a big-picture view of the status of every lead, but also help your sales follow up to close more deals faster. A great feature is a visual dashboard or pipeline so you can stay on top of prospects and clients with effective follow-up to nurture leads through the sales funnel.
Lead scoring is a huge benefit of a CRM, highlighting how hot or not a lead is and prioritising outreach to the ones most likely to convert. A lead that opens emails and clicks on content regularly is the one where a personal follow up is likely to be beneficial.
The result? Less time wasted sifting through data and more deals closed.
“Investing in a CRM powered by automation can pay dividends. According to self-reported results from customer surveys:
- Save 10 hours per week
- Increase revenue by 39%
- Increase lead volume by 53%
Source: Keap Customer Survey “
When are you ready for a CRM?
The earlier you implement a CRM in your business the better because it is not just preparing you for growth but can be a real driver. It starts you thinking about business processes and will mean that taking on new team members is far easier.
Are you in these situations:
- Already have a digital presence (website, offer and plan that brings people to your website) and the need to collect details of your prospects.
- A growing list of contacts, suppliers, prospects, and clients that are difficult to organise.
- A proven business model with a flow of prospects.
Then a CRM is crucial or you are certainly missing out on business.
A few questions you should ask:
- Am I missing opportunities to communicate with prospects and customers? Is this leading to lost revenue?
- Do I have a defined customer journey?
- Do I have defined processes to clients through key stages of their journey?
- Are these processes automated?
- What kinds of insights about my customers would help my business grow?
- How can I improve my processes for a better customer experience?
- What information do I wish I could capture about my leads and customers?
- Which applications do I use, and do I want to integrate my CRM with those tools?
“As part of the process of implementing a CRM I walk the client through their current customer journey and what that would ideally be, asking the questions above and more. Then it’s a matter of mapping the implementation onto that journey”
Answering these questions starts the process of mapping out the client journey and how your CRM will help you. As for any technology you must start by understanding how you intend to use it and what outcomes you expect.
What Features should you look for?
Centralised client and lead management
Your CRM, at its heart is a database and should allow your entire organisation to share client and lead information seamlessly and make follow-up automatic. Even if you don’t’ have a team yet you need to consider future proofing.
Not fostering client relationships leads to lost sales and damaged reputations. Plus, a disorganised approach to data management can cause your ideal leads to slip through the cracks.
Having access to the information you need, the moment you need it can help your business close more sales, nurture more leads and build meaningful connections that lead to loyal clients.
Sales pipeline management.
Your CRM should make it easy to track leads and move more of them through your funnel, saving you time by automating repetitive processes and giving more visibility into performance metrics.
With the right CRM, you should be able to score your leads, check their status, and set up corresponding notifications and tasks for your team.
- Automatic reminders notifying follow up on a cold lead.
- Reminder to follow up on a proposal,
- Automated email sequence that reminds a client to post a review.
- Schedule a call as part of an onboarding sequence
There’s no one ideal tech stack, as the tools you choose should address your business’s unique priorities. But does your CRM help you avoid creating silos as your marketing effort expand? marketing and more? It’s worth looking at integration and how easy is it to move data between apps? Your CRM should connect the apps you need to run your business and move data between them automatically. Once integrated, your third-party apps can trigger more effective (and creative) sales and marketing automations.
Workflow and Marketing Automation.
With a CRM powered by sales and marketing automation, you can cut hours of repetitive tasks and convert leads more effectively. The best CRMs allow you to build workflows with just a few clicks.
These automations could create custom processes to automatically send email follow-ups to potential clients, take leads from contact form to appointment booked, assign tasks to team members based on specific client actions, schedule appointment and invoice reminders, set up lead nurture sequences and more.
Ongoing education on how to get the most out of your CRM
A CRM takes time to master, and it’s important that the platform you choose provides resources and education to help you make the most of all the tools available.
Consider the support available and courses or live training available? Frequently, a vibrant online community can provide a lot of valuable input as well as the availability of experts to help in the set up and ongoing development.
Support to get through implementation and troubleshooting.
What does you need to start strong with your new CRM, and what does the platform you’re considering provide?
The onboarding process can decide whether you will ultimately be set up for success or frustration.
Content Creation Features.
Organising customer data and communications is the foundation of a CRM platform, but an upgraded system should go beyond the essentials. Some CRM platforms include features that can even make the process of creating content faster and more convenient?
This includes pre-built templates, drag-and-drop editors and automation features to streamline the content and campaign creation process.
Built-in AI content generator that writes copy for landing pages, customer follow-up emails and texts, email marketing campaigns and more.
Many CRM software systems offer other features such as:
- Email broadcasting
- Sales and marketing automation
- Sales pipeline organisation
- Forms and landing pages
- Quotes, invoicing and payments
- Appointment management
- Pre-built campaigns and automations
- AI content creation
Added features and integrations
Take these added services into consideration, and ask:
- Can I cancel my subscription to other technology tools by using what’s included in this CRM?
- How easy is it to get this CRM to connect with other software tools I use?
As an added point it’s not always possible to bring everything into one solution and depending on your business there may be a need for you to maintain a tech stack. However, to get as much functionality within one app is usually more economical and reduces the chance of connections failure.
You may be worrying about things like:
What if we sign up for the software, then find out it doesn’t have the features we need?
What if we assume certain functionality is included in the subscription, but it costs extra, and we go over budget?
What if we pay too much and find out we could have gotten something better for less?
What if it’s hard to learn and we struggle to adopt it?
What if my team ends up hating it?
What if there’s a disruption to our business during the transition and we lose customers and sales?
Migration, training and implementation
The cost of the software itself is only part of the investment you’ll make in your CRM system. There’s also a switching cost — the time and money it takes to move your current content and processes into the new system.
One of the benefits of a good CRM is that it allows your team members to collaborate and share information more easily. Instead of presenting this to your team as a chore everyone has to put up with, sell it as an opportunity to reduce manual data entry, have better access to prospect and customer data, and improve efficiency for everyone.
- As you consider various CRM options, assess the learning curve for each one, and ask:
- How easy/difficult is this software to learn and use?
- What kind of training and support will my team need?
- What level of training does the CRM company offer, and is it live or on-demand?
- Does the company offer coaching and access to product experts?
- What kind of customer support is available — Phone? Chat? Email? — and does it cost extra?
Once you select a CRM system, set usage goals for yourself and your team, including taking advantage of courses and spending time in the software learning how it works. Do not allow resistant team members to continue using old or alternate methods. The biggest advantage of a CRM is having all your data in one place — so the moment people start using concurrent systems for the same thing, the value of your investment in the CRM system is diluted.
So far, you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about what you need in a CRM now but what about in the next five years or so? Like buying a child’s shoes with some room in the toe, thinking about your future needs helps you choose a CRM that will grow with your business. Because, let’s face it, you don’t want to go through this process again anytime soon.
When planning for the future, consider both capacity and cost.
- Does the platform have the features I’ll need in the future, even if I’m not quite ready for them now?
- How much will the cost expand as our usage of the platform expands in terms of:
- Contact/email list size
- Email volume
- Can the system easily integrate with other software tools that I may use in the future?
- Also look at the companies and their history as a way to predict their future performance.
- Do they often release new features and provide regular updates to the software?
- Do they innovate as the technology and marketing landscape changes?
Hidden costs and contract terms
Sometimes everything looks good on the surface, but when you dig deeper, you may discover added costs you weren’t expecting, or unfavourable contract terms.
Here’s a list of things to consider so you can avoid a pricing shock after you’ve pulled the trigger on a new CRM.
- Are the features in a product tier fully unlocked, or do I have to upgrade to get the level of functionality I need?
- What add-ons are available, and what do they cost?
- Is there a contract? What are the terms? How do I break it if I’m unsatisfied?
- Is there a price discount for an annual prepay?
These are some of the most common places CRM companies can hide costs:
Cheaper modules that add up to big amounts: Some companies have pricing based on “hubs” that include separate products for CRM, sales pipeline, and marketing automation capabilities. When you bundle them together, pricing goes up. Look for clear pricing and a solution meant for businesses of your size.
Mandatory paid onboarding: While you should expect a cost for getting started with a new platform, some CRM platforms require you to buy their coaching, consulting, or migration services. So be sure to check about implementation and onboarding costs up front.
Low cost of entry, high cost for add-ons: Sometimes the base price of a product is affordable, but adding on contacts, users, and email volume gets pricey fast. This is why it’s important to investigate how pricing may increase as your business grows.
A new CRM system is an investment in your business. Research upfront exactly what that investment will be, so you don’t get a shock after you’ve signed on the dotted line.