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How CRM will Improve your Business’ Bottom Line – Part 1

It’s a big and bold claim, and yet I wholeheartedly stand by it and believe it. It’s not just an impressive blog title, it’s an honest one. 

So how can a CRM system improve your business and help you grow? 

Over the next couple of blog posts, I will be discussing this very subject; proving and convincing you that if you are not yet using CRM, you should be!  

As a part of this series, I will be helping you to understand what CRM is and then how to select the correct package to suit your very specific list of requirements. More on that later…  

What is CRM?

It’s important to truly understand what CRM is, as many have been told they should have one to develop their business, but they’re not sure exactly why. My aim is to convince you of that why! 

CRM is not just a tool – it should also be a core ethos for your business. 

You and your company (from sole trader to multi-national) should believe that having CRM as a core process, that provides structure throughout every department – is key to the success, growth and increased profits of your business.

But first, as already mentioned, we need to understand what CRM is and then why we should use it before we get to you believing in it. 

CRM creates value for EVERY person in your company – your customers/clients, your employees, your investors (if any), your community and your suppliers. It improves your internal and external communications and it helps with creating effective marketing campaigns and driving sales. And that’s just touching on the basics. 

We all know that CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and yet these days it is so much more than a helpful sales tool. Wikipedia defines CRM as follows: 

To manage and analyse customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving business relationships with customers, assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth 

It’s a pretty good definition, but I prefer mine: 

CRM:    The Business’ Brain – Control Centre – Business Hub 

What a CRM can do in your business 

CRM systems are an interactive database with bells and whistles. A CRM solution:

  • compiles information on companies & contacts – including the normal contact details you’d expect – and keeps track of tasks & follow-ups, reminders, and customer feedback 
  • lists leads and opportunities 
  • synchronises emails & calendars 
  • drives live chats 
  • creates marketing campaigns (including e-mail campaigns10) 
  • creates sales campaigns 
  • integrates with your company website 
  • allows for the targeting of specific industry sectors 
  • facilitates social media interaction 
  • integrates with project management, HR, accounts, and ordering software tools (if you wish),  
  • shows full purchase histories, buying preferences and concerns 
  • provides detailed reporting and data analytics 
  • it should also be accessible from multiple devices, in the office and on the go, and fully responsive – AKA a cloud-based system 

But the most important part of CRM is that it can make you and your team ‘authentic’ in dealing with your customers, both new and recurring. It will increase your Sales (latest stats show that on average, sales are increased by 40% within the first year of implementing a CRM system – in many cases, this percentage is much higher) – but more on being “authentic” in my next blog post.  

And that’s just in relation to your customers!  

CRM - not just for Customer Relationships

Not just for customer relationships

It also creates stronger internal communication, helping employees to look out for each other, pick up from and cover one another. 

It builds better relationships with your Suppliers, Communities and Shareholders too… and we will look at each of these points further in part 3 of this series.

Many CRM experts around the world are now calling CRM, ‘XRM’ – which represents Everything/Anything Relationship Management (the “X” comes from “eXtended”) and you can see why from what we have discussed so far.  

CRM improves the efficiency of your business by: 

  • Expanding Your Customer & Potential Customer Base
  • Enhancing Your Sales, Marketing And Support Teams 
  • Improving your Business’ Internal & External Communications 
  • Increasing Customer Satisfaction 

So now that we have a very basic definition of CRM, let’s break it down further.

How many CRMs are there? 

Many of you know or have used a CRM system at some point. Perhaps it was one of the big boys, such as: 

  • Salesforce 
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 
  • Oracle CRM 
  • SAP CRM 

Or maybe it was one of the old-school CRMs that were well known in the early years of CRM such as: 

  • Act 
  • Goldmine 
  • Sage CRM 

And now we have many new cloud-based systems such as: 

  • Hubspot 
  • Zoho 
  • One Page
  • Maximizer
  • Insightly 
  • Active Campaign 
  • Pipedrive 
  • Nimble 
  • Infusion Soft
  • Agile
  • …etc (and the etcetera is extremely extensive!) 

How to choose the right CRM

With so much choice on the market, how can we assess and decide what CRM system to implement and adopt as your ‘Business Brain or Control Centre’ and drive a healthy CRM ethos within your organisation, thus improving your business’ bottom line? 

Firstly, who is going to be your CRM Champion (check out my CRM champion workshop here)?  

A CRM champion is someone who will take ownership of the CRM system, look after it and nurture it, grow it and check it’s being used properly, including making sure everyone understands the ethos of CRM and has the relevant training to use it and to use it well – to the benefit of everyone in the business.  

Once a champion has been chosen (I’m going to assume it’s you), you need to brainstorm with a few key members of your staff (or if you’re on your own, with yourself!). Think long-term and about the direction you wish your business to grow in. Besides the regular features offered by all CRM packages, your industry sector will direct you in which CRMs to disregard and which to look into almost straight away. 

At this point, budgets need to be put in place also. Check out the fee structure, will it be a subscription (annual versus monthly) or an upfront software cost with an annual license fee?; Also, don’t forget to consider developer costs that might be needed, as well as support fees. 

And do you want an in-house or a cloud-based system? The vast majority will go for cloud-based these days, however, some businesses that hold highly sensitive material may still opt for an in-house system.

Document all your requirements and, make it official with a little ‘about the company’ piece at the beginning of your assessment document before sending it out to a variety of CRM agents, resellers etc. The process of elimination really begins at this point.  

CRM features to consider 

So, what are some of the things your company might need?  

  • Do you want email integration into the CRM? If so, this rules out several CRM systems straight away. It’s worth noting that you should be vigilant about requesting more information from those that say they will do what you need – sometimes it’s a “yes”, but with massive workarounds required! 
  • What type of data analytics and reporting do you require?  
  • Do you need it to integrate with some of your current systems like Accounts or Project Management packages?  
  • Do you need to send quotations to customers from within the CRM?  
  • Will you be creating marketing campaigns and designing email templates from within the package?  
  • Will you be integrating the leads and commerce sections of your website directly to the CRM?  

Be very careful to cover all areas and document everything that is required. And don’t be afraid to ask questions – plenty of questions – to each CRM agent or reseller that you will deal with. 

It’s vitally important that you avoid rushing this decision. 

Once you’ve eliminated a few options, I would suggest that you choose the top 4 remaining packages based on your requirement list and budget, before requesting an on-site or virtual demo of each. The first demo will always be free of charge and gives you an opportunity to take notes and ask questions again – detailed ones. Don’t let the salesperson skim or glide over anything you’re asking about. 

Assess each option once more when all demos have been completed and use this assessment to narrow things down even further. 

You may need to do a second round of demos at this point or maybe even book a half-day scoping workshop with a couple of the CRM resellers /distributors (which will be chargeable). Believe me, when you end up with the right CRM package for your needs, any investment you make at this stage will be well worth it.

To summarise: 

How to choose the right CRM package for your business: 

  • Brainstorm with key members of your team 
  • Document all your requirements (including whether you require an in-house or cloud-based solution, an integration with email etc.) 
  • Set your budget 
  • Think long term

    Now that we know what we need:

  • Narrow down your options via a process of elimination 
  • Review your budget 
  • Request demos 
  • Don’t rush your decision 

What’s next?

As mentioned earlier, I’ll discuss the following in my next 2 blog posts: 

  1. How to ensure you and your team remain ‘authentic’ in dealing with your customers, both new and recurring.
    • Helping you to become customer-centric 
    • Sell more, grow more  
    • Guaranteed to increase your sales  

  1. How CRM creates stronger internal communication and relationships, helping employees to look out for each other, pick up from and cover one another. We will also look at how CRM can build better relationships with your Suppliers, Communities and Shareholders. 

Conclusion

We’ve discussed what CRM is (an interactive database that truly is the brain of your business), and how it improves your business’ bottom line. We’ve mentioned the importance of adopting CRM as a core business ethos, believing that it will improve every aspect of your business. We’ve introduced the idea of a CRM Champion in your business to take ownership of the system and processes. We’ve mentioned several of the CRM platforms available and gone through the steps for choosing the right CRM for your business. 

After all of that, I hope I’ve whetted your appetite to learn more about how CRM will grow your business.  

If you would like support or advice in choosing the correct CRM for your organisation please contact me here to organise a free 30 minute consultation 

Resources 

Do you already have a CRM but struggle to get your team using the system correctly? Check out my CRM Champion workshop  

If you find that your team struggles to make phone sales calls, check out my post, “15 Tips to Crack the Art of Cold Calling”. 

Natalie Garland-Cooke is a Business Consultant, Trainer and Mentor and independent CRM expert. Her company Natalie Cooke Consulting (www.ncco.ie) works with many businesses both large and small to create and improve business processes and drive business growth.  

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