By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
When customer relationship management (CRM) was first adopted as a sales tool in the last decade, it became synonymous with contact management, because that’s all it was largely used for. Rather than keeping their own records on paper or spreadsheets, individual sales team members input their information into the CRM database. It allowed them to access their records remotely and keep better track of where they were in a relationship with a customer. (And because management insisted on it.)
Today, CRM is still often used by sales teams as a glorified contact management tool. This is unfortunate, because CRM in 2015 is so much more than it was in 2005, and the average sales team could benefit greatly from using it to its full advantage. According to William Yates, Client Services Director at Novacom, writing for Business2Community, low-level CRM automation offers some benefits: teams have more time to engage in higher level relationship building and customer acquisition through face to face contact or personal phone calls. But the real advantages are to be found in CRM automation.
“When properly configured, CRM systems can track customer behavior, helping build valuable buyer personas in your data systems, and helping you know your customer better, and allowing you to offer ever-more insightful responses to their needs,” wrote Yates. “With CRM you can track customer purchase patterns and preferences, profile individuals and groups to target more effectively, and improve customer service and meet changing needs.”
Today’s CRM solutions have analytics built into them, which allow sales organizations to look for patterns and trends and pursue them in order to boost sales and shorten the sales cycle. Using predictive analytics of past sales trends, CRM automation can help find the best opportunities for today’s and tomorrow’s sales. Automation can also predict the value of customers – helping sales personnel understand where they should be focusing their efforts – and allow sales team members to better understand their existing customers’ needs. Today’s customers expect personalization from their interactions with sellers, and CRM automation is a great way to achieve it.
“This closer, more accurate understanding of customer behavior and their needs means you can now target existing and potential customers with buyer persona-specific personalization and personalized offers,” wrote Yates. “This will not only help increase sales volumes and profitability, but will improve customer retention and in so doing, improve sales function efficiency by lowering costs per customer.”
So perhaps it’s time to take a look at your existing CRM solution. Are you using it as a digital rolodex? If you are, it’s time to evaluate whether it can do more for you. If it’s old and outdated and can’t offer the kind of analytical insight your sales organization needs, perhaps it’s time to shop for a new solution.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson