Is Your CRM System Aligned with Your Entire Business?

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CRM from its early iterations has evolved drastically—from a glorified contact manager to a fully functioning enterprise management system, offering so much more than it was originally intended for. To operate effectively in today's chaotic marketplace, it's essential you have a solution that supports all your business functions; here's a breakdown of the ways in which your CRM software should be helping to manage your business.

MARKETING

Many businesses use a combination of traditional advertising mixed with a social media strategy employing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. Your CRM solution can allow you to map each customer touch point and help you understand the data generated so you can meet and exceed customer expectations.

Your advertising, regardless of the medium, should attract those interested in your product or solution, drive them to your Web site, and allow them to effortlessly enter your sales pipeline. But how a lead enters the pipeline matters less than how that lead is managed. Your CRM's marketing features should allow you to design compelling landing pages, personalize emails, and nurture the leads automatically.

When your lead generation is automated and you have a well-defined routing process, you get quick follow-up (which is essential), and a dramatically shortened sales cycle. If leads aren't ready to pull the trigger, you can send them to a nurture campaign.

Whatever CRM solution you choose, make sure it lets you track and monitor the prospect's or customer's activities so that you can follow up with a customized offer. You should also be able to accurately measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, determining where, for instance, prospects are getting bogged down in the sales process, and easily link your sales results to your marketing campaigns to determine return on investment.

SALES

The essential elements of your CRM system should include effectively managing existing accounts and new sales leads, improving your sales forecast accuracy, increasing your close rates, and providing real-time insights into your team's productivity and performance. Did I mention your system must be available 24/7, anywhere, and on any device?

FULFILLMENT

A sometimes forgotten but essential element of a well-thought-out CRM strategy is the fulfillment stage of the customer experience. We get the customer acquisition and retention part of the solution, but actually putting the right product in the right customer's hands at the right time can make or break the relationship. Efficiently fulfilling a customer's order can be a challenging task. A well-implemented CRM solution will help minimize shipment or delivery problems. Your system should allow you to communicate instantly with your suppliers, the customer, and the people responsible for the order fulfillments.

FINANCE

An important benefit of a CRM solution: It lets employees work out of the same database at the same time using the same figures, which means finance can manage revenue and budgets based on information from sales. When your accounting department gets requests for order status, shipments, credit lines, or payments, it can retrieve them from a single shared database, which reduces your costs and administrative burden.

INTERNAL PROCESSES

A state-of-the-art CRM solution offers far more than sales and marketing management and automation. Your system can help you integrate and manage services across the organization by aligning all business functions that support the customer, including providing call center awareness and support to internal teams, facilitating your order fulfillment, tracking employee performance metrics, and enforcing compliance with rules and best practices via automations and reporting.

In essence, then, the better your organization becomes in operating efficiently across all business functions, the bigger the role your CRM solution will definitely be playing—across the entirety of your business.

Michael Vickers is the executive director of Summit Learning Systems and the author of Becoming Preferred: How to Outsell Your Competition.

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