As a small- to medium-sized business (SMB) owner, what does contact management and customer relationship management (CRM) truly mean to you?
Naturally, one of the first (and justifiable!) reasons why, as an SMB, you want to acquire a CRM solution is to regain control over (read: centralize and cleanse) all the contact information that is fragmented throughout your entire organization, be it in different departments and software, spreadsheets or email programs.
Contact management is not customer relationship management
However, with today’s competitive environment and discerning customers, you can no longer afford to use a CRM just to store contacts. If so, you are simply investing in another contact management (CM) productivity tool, which basically allows you to upload and update contacts, accounts and history in a central repository.
For complete sales, marketing and customer support outreach and management, CM tools are far from ideal. The reason? For any other commercialization initiative outside of contact management, you will need to invest in other applications, such as email marketing products, sales management software and marketing automation solutions, and more, which further increases acquisition costs and operational expenditures. Each solution has its own architecture, complicating integration and user onboarding.
In addition, connecting with a bevy of apps can cause syncing issues and duplicate data. This can lead to a disorganized contact database at best.
Furthermore, adopting a multi-solution approach complicates the integration within your existing infrastructure and operations. Ensuring optimal maintenance and use also saps up a lot of time. After all, you are time-strapped and lack enough resources as it is to have to juggle multiple solutions, multiple use case scenarios, and multiple siloed processes.
Why an all-in-one CRM makes smart business sense
On the other hand, there are several advantages to acquiring an all-in-one CRM solution.
Better sales and marketing management
First, a comprehensive CRM solution allows you to manage the entire customer relationship spectrum (or sales funnel)—from initial outreach to acquisition to post-sale follow-ups. That means a good CRM will offer features for:
- Team coordination, such as setting up tasks, reminders, alerts and meetings
- Sales management, including viewing your sales pipeline, moving opportunities through the different stages of your sales cycle, and forecasting
- Marketing initiatives, such responsive email campaigns, personalizing web forms, landing pages and ensuing responses, lead scoring, web analytics and more
These types of features will go a long way to accelerating the time it takes to acquire new leads, transform them into opportunities, and convert them into sales.
Better team coordination and standardized processes
Second, as opposed to a CM tool, a CRM enables you to standardize the customer relationship management process throughout your sales, marketing and customer service teams.
Let’s face it, nothing is worse than wasting time ping ponging between departments and relying solely on someone’s memory or shoddy note-taking to find out where a deal is landed or if a lead finally signed that important sales contract.
With various user access levels and permissions, team members can manage, analyze and automate processes as customers move through the sales cycle. In other words, your entire team is onboard to actually manage customer relationships. Moreover, multi-level permissions enable you to better manage commissions between sales reps and telemarketing personnel, by properly identifying who is the owner of a particular sale, contact or account.
In addition, with easy access to critical information, you can mobilize your team to consistently track the KPIs that are right for your business as well as gain insight into important analytics, such as a promotional campaign’s performance or website traffic for faster decision making. Contrary to simple contact management, a CRM brings teams together to grow your customer base and market share.
Better operations between sales and accounting
Third, connected to your accounting software, like QuickBooks or Sage One, a CRM be exceptionally useful from an operational and numbers standpoint.
With such an integration, you can avoid duplicate (and again, siloed) contact entries by synchronizing information from your accounting software to your CRM, and vice versa. You can view invoices, estimates, quotes and other notes seamlessly from one application to the other too.
A CRM integrated with your accounting software can also slash approval times in half, simply by streamlining communications between your sales reps and accountant who needs to approve a quote before it gets into the hands of a potential customer.
And don’t underestimate the power of a CRM-accounting software integration on more accurate forecasting. Plugging numbers only in a CRM means that sales reps can, shall we say, be overly optimistic about an opportunity and beef up its numbers, lead qualification %, and % closing probability. However, a CRM connected to your accounting software means that revenue numbers will be analyzed by the numbers people! With the eagle eyes of your accounting team, you can ensure that your sales team will be more incited to enter more realistic forecasts and targets.
Integrating a CRM with your accounting software also allows management to better balance sales projections throughout the year and proactively plan for required inventory levels and availability of service personnel.
As an SMB, investing in a CM tool is fine—but leveraging the full potential of an all-in-one CRM solution is even better!