What are the benefits of CRM for a sales manager? How can CRM be used in the best possible way to implement effective actions in customer management?
The fact that customer loyalty is just as important – if not more important – than acquiring new customers is now well established. What we’re witnessing today, however, is the affirmation, in virtually every industry, of an even more customer-centric business philosophy, whereby business results can be improved primarily by cultivating relationships. And, if attracting a new customer costs five times more than keeping an existing one, then the first rule of any business should be to invest in building valuable relationships, minimizing the risk of abandonment, and avoiding or reducing acquisition costs.
Each consumer leaves valuable traces of information at touchpoints in each step of the purchasing path designed by the brand: not only personal data that allow identification, but also quantitative and qualitative data that describe, if correctly interpreted, his consumption experiences. Among the tools available today to manage the customer base – and the treasure trove of knowledge stored there – there are CRM applications.
The objective is therefore to increase loyalty, but how can the potential contained in the customer base be unlocked in order to retain them?
Get to know your customers, multiply contact opportunities, and activate vital communication channels
Managing the customer base in the best possible way is a priority for any organization, in any market. There are no definitive rules, and each case must be made with respect to specific business needs. With that in mind, we have tried to condense the best experiences in some suggestions. Here they are.
1. Get to know your current and potential customers
Deepening the knowledge of your customers allows you to understand their needs and develop services that are truly useful. By being able to intercept or anticipate their requests (even better!), you can design more engaging customer experiences, keeping curiosity alive and nurturing trust.
2. Offer great customer service
It sounds like a platitude; yet, it’s not. To keep existing customers coming back, it’s critical to invest in customer care services. While it’s true that 78% of people abandon a sale because of poor customer service, responding quickly, professionally, and courteously has a positive impact on your customer base and your bottom line: loyal customers are worth up to 10 times the amount they originally spent (source: sage.com).
3. Get the most out of your networks
At the heart of this advice is a recognition of the value of relationships and customer retention, a value that has increased exponentially with the mass deployment of digital technologies. Harvard Business School said it 20 years ago: Loyal customers are highly likely to send referrals, and new customers gained through word of mouth are even more opportunities for brand growth (source: Harvard Business School).
4. Use social media
Social media has revolutionized the way customers and businesses can share information and engage in conversations. From online customer service to using social media to get information, there are now more and more opportunities for companies to open up new communication channels through which they can connect with their audience. It then becomes imperative to learn the language of each social channel and choose the most current, specific, and relevant content.
5. Find out what works through accurate and timely measurements
Last but not least, to avoid wasting resources, it is essential to monitor where customers come from and which sources offer the most value. Only in this way will it be possible to intervene promptly to modify the activities that do not work and to strengthen those that demonstrate, data in hand, how to increase the customer base.
So far we have provided some general indications on real choices, and these are essential if you want to grow your customer base. As we’ve seen, to build consumer loyalty, you first need to know your customers and to know them as accurately as possible. CRM systems for customer management bring the issue of data collection and profiling to a more operational level. In the following section, we will look at how Customer Relationship Management methods can help companies increase and retain customers.
A focus on customer management: Why CRM is the best place to start
First of all, a CRM system, in its most advanced applications, proves to be extremely powerful in extracting value from customer management activities. This is an important benefit of CRM for a sales manager. Back in 2017, it was already one of the top three tools used by marketing companies to create personalized interactions, build customer loyalty, and most importantly, produce a higher ROI (source: Hubspot). And again, speaking of increased ROI: a properly implemented CRM solution can produce a 45% ROI for every dollar invested (source: Read Write, 2020).
We saw this when we explained the reasons why Customer Relationship Management is more important today than ever: the most sophisticated CRM software can run multiple functions, each of which records and stores data and links it from one department to another, and when integrated into enterprise strategies, these capabilities can directly support nearly every unit in an organization, positively impacting business results. Forty-eight percent of sales teams, for example, now consistently rely on CRM software to manage their customers and improve business operations (source: Read Write, 2020).
And now let’s talk, more properly, about customer management: The CRM business model can be considered one of the most solid and at the same time promising innovations that digital transformation has so far enabled, together with the methods of lead generation and engagement production. CRM can make conversion rates soar, even by 300% (source: varstreetinc.com).
And if we finally consider that a 5% increase in customer retention efforts can increase profits between 25% and 95% (source: media.bain.com), then it becomes clear that making the most of CRM’s collaborative capabilities is an essential strategic move.
But how can you make the most of Customer Relationship Management software to manage your customer base, even in the sense of generating new opportunities?
Tips for growing your customer base using the power of a CRM
Increasing your customer base and building customer loyalty is key to growing and running a successful business.
A CRM system can help achieve this by supporting lead generation, email marketing, social selling and tracking activities, customer feedback management, reporting and forecasting services, and concerted content marketing efforts.
1. Lead generation: The benefits of CRM for a sales manager
CRM software can simplify the management of every aspect of your business, including lead generation. Defined as the process by which leads are successfully tracked and converted, lead generation is both a driver of growth and an absolutely critical element. CRM software tracks and qualifies leads through its process, and the data it stores and manages can be leveraged for personalized communications.
A good customer relationship management system can not only help you get quality leads, but it also helps you identify the actions that translate leads into sales: it interprets customer data and identifies actionable insights that can be used to develop marketing actions on profiled categories and to complete sales negotiations.
2. Email marketing
Email marketing can effectively employ CRM tools to provide more personalized and effective communication with existing and potential customers. Implementing CRM tools to enhance a company’s email marketing can mean, first of all, being memorable, i.e. to remain imprinted in the mind of the recipient. In this case, the initiative is designed for that particular individual, of whom we already know, even if only superficially, rather than on a wider and generic audience. Personalizing each contact means just that: knowing their names, interests, and buying habits, and from there moving in a more conscious and casual way to ensure that you’re providing content – or product offers – of interest.
Second, companies spend far fewer resources to reach dozens of customers at once. By launching an email marketing effort across an extended network, you can identify a more significant number of interested leads and immediately convert them into customers.
3. Social selling and monitoring
Commonly referred to as social CRM, social selling, carried out through particular CRM software applications, integrates social media channels into customer relationship management platforms. On the business side, customer profiles are monitored to gather information about their sentiment and preferences and distribute it across sales and customer care departments to support decision making and improve customer service.
On the customer side, these platforms allow users to interact with the brand using their social media channels. In this case, in addition to the possibility of greater understanding, which comes from a more immediate dialog – in the sense that the customer, in reaching the company, encounters fewer intermediary figures – social CRM contributes to the empowerment of the consumer, who accesses substantial information about products and services and can expect to be heard and have his or her voice heard.
4. Customer Feedback
In today’s increasingly customer-centric business environment, the issue of customer feedback has become a priority. By being open to receiving feedback, and even soliciting it, you increase the likelihood of not only limiting damage, but more importantly, building trust and improving your company’s reputation.
CRM software that organizes all contacts in a single database is a pivotal tool. It keeps the data “in order” and transmits it to the sales team, which can take advantage of automation to speed up processes and move in a more decisive way to solve any criticalities and frictions.
5. Reporting and forecasting
A CRM reporting and forecasting system can help the sales team forecast sales growth based on potential deal pipelines. By knowing, with relative certainty, what the future holds, the sales team will be able to help fine-tune their strategies, make more informed decisions, and plan for upselling and cross-selling. Using CRM systems it will be possible to monitor the development of negotiations and make forecasts on sales, modify pipeline estimates in real time, identify key leads, and analyze the results obtained by each salesperson. The possibility to measure the performance of the CRM itself, moreover, provides a guarantee of even more precise and reliable evaluations.
6. Content marketing
For most companies, the adoption of CRM systems is also a decisive element when it comes to content marketing. The results derived from social CRM, – the click-through rate (CTR) that measures the effectiveness of online communication and adv initiatives, the interactions recorded on the site, the social engagement indicators – are useful for designing and developing content. The data collected by CRM applications, if analyzed properly, can be used to identify immediate concerns, emergencies, or current customer interests, and on the basis of these, devise personalized messages.
Increase the wealth of knowledge in the database to give value to the customer relationship
We have seen that in order to optimize the management of the customer base and build customer loyalty, it is necessary to get to know the customer, offer them quality services, leverage networking and the power of word-of-mouth, use social media to exploit its specific qualities, and invest in monitoring and measurement systems.
In order to be successful, any strategy to build customer loyalty and develop a client base must integrate the right tools and methods into the business plan to make work processes efficient. Among these, customer relationship management (CRM) systems play a primary role. CRM systems have certainly come a long way: from being a means of storing information, they have become an end-to-end solution that allows you to use your customer base to build and maintain strong, lasting relationships. That the adoption of CRM software implies a radical redefinition of the business model, which is structured around the relationship with clients.
A CRM system, in its most advanced technological applications, proves to be extremely powerful in customer management. By making available information related to the customer base – collected on the various touchpoints, selected and stored in a single, virtual and easily accessible place – it allows the automation of a series of key processes, such as the recognition and resolution of critical points in customer care services, the development of profiled marketing campaigns, the identification of sales opportunities, the streamlining of employees’ work routines, the personalization of call-to-actions inviting a conversion, and the simplification of inventory practices. Not only: starting from the data of the customer base organized in the CRM system, today, brands are able to give continuity to the relationship with the customer.
They can use the wealth of knowledge regarding the purchasing and consumption habits of their target to design a more effective plan of personalized actions.