CRM is not anymore a buzzword. It is not just another acronym that an IT Professional builds skills on to grow in his / her career. CRM, as you are aware, stands for Customer Relationship Management. When someone says CRM, they refer to an application software used by Sales, Marketing and Customer Service departments of a Business entity. Typically, CRM has these three modules – Sales, Marketing & Customer Service. Analytics is either offered as another module or as part of all these modules.
Coming to the Sales module, the App helps Sales people of a business close more deals. The Sales CRM application helps in Account Management, Activity Management, Lead Management, Contact Management, Opportunity Management, Pipeline Management.
Typically sales people get leads from Marketing department and start validating those leads. Sales people also generate their own leads as well. Starting from a cold call, qualifying a contact as a lead or validating the leads passed to them and then finding an opportunity with that lead and converting that lead to an opportunity and taking that opportunity through various Sales Stages – for example from Needs Assessment to Closing and beyond, the Sales CRM helps sales people perform their job more efficiently.
CRM is unlike traditional applications used in an enterprise. By traditional applications, I am referring to the transaction oriented applications – say for ex, Financial Applications [that is used to track the finance from order to pay or purchase to pay etc] or Enterprise Resource Planning [ERP] application that helps in the back office business processes. These applications capture limited customer information – order and payment details of customers and cannot satisfy the requirements of the sales people.
Sales people are the face of any business. They occupy and run the front office. They are the point of contact when a customer walks into a business. They handle all the customer inquiries that are received through various channel. This is inbound traffic. Customers get in touch on their own and express interest in a product or a service. While sales people handle this inbound traffic, they also run outbound sales to identify customers who may be a good fit for their products or services and can benefit from them. The sales people do a number of activities to acquire new clients.
“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs, Apple
Coming to Sales CRM, it captures customer data in detail and it is mapped to the Sales Process of an Organization. The sales process of an Organization is the process followed from the first contact with a prospective customer till the order closure. It starts with the sales person contacting a lead, understanding the needs and evaluating the needs, checking product fit or service fit, budgeting, Mapping Customers Organization Structure, Identifying Decision Makers / Budget holders / Influencers, Demonstrating, Proposal submission, PoC [Proof of Concept], Closing, Following-up.
The Sales CRM captures all the data through this entire process. It is a complete salesforce automation. Contact management is the basic feature that helps sales people to keep all customer contact details in one place. They can map social media accounts of their contacts as well. They can even create a field to capture the news feed about the customer’s organization from the web.
Sales CRM captures all the leads. Allows one to convert those leads into opportunities as they get qualified. The opportunities then follow a predefined sales process through various sales stages. And sales people can then visually see which opportunity is in what stage. A series of opportunities in various sales stages is a pipeline. And sales people can have multiple pipelines – one each for a specific product or a business entity or a division or a geography.
Sales pipeline management is critical to success of any organization. The low hanging fruits will be taken care of. But it is those warm leads that needs to be nurtured for long term success of an organization.
At any given point, the sales people see which opportunity is in what stage, in the CRM. The CRM intuitively tells where the sales people should focus their energies and what should be done with all the other opportunities and other leads as well.
CRM is useful for any business with either one sales person or 200 sales people. Whether it is a B2B or a B2C. Regardless of whether it sells a capital intensive product or everyday use product. Whether they sell directly or through the distribution channel. Whether they sell online or offline. Whether their sales cycle is long or short. As long as they sell and want to grow by selling more, they need a CRM. CRM is an essential tool in today’s competitive world. Without that, businesses will be doomed.
It is not anymore a buzzword.