11 Ways Businesses Should Be Using CRM Software
Engaging meaningfully with current customers and re-engaging past patrons can be challenging for any small business. But the right CRM software can — and should — empower you to do just that while creating a more efficient flow for your team in the process.
You’ll find huge gaps in price and services when you shop around for CRM software, so how do you find the right CRM solution for your type of small business? The first and most important thing is to define what your business needs are before you start looking. This post will help you get a general lay of the land when it comes to CRM software so you can shop smarter and find the best option for your small business.
Table of Contents
What Is CRM Software?
Customer relationship management software (CRM) helps your business keep track of and connect with anyone who has interacted with your business in any way, from customers to clients to vendors. Whether your business has a relatively long or short sales cycle, CRM can improve the quality of your customer relationships at all stages in the buying journey.
11 Best Uses For CRM Software
Of course, not all CRM software is the same, and you’ll find that every platform caters a little more to a certain type of business that to another with its core tools. While you’re shopping around for the software that you need, keep in mind the features that are most important to you and determine how pricing splits those up. You might be surprised that what comes standard with one company is gated two tiers up in another.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways CRM software can support your small business goals.
1) Business Management
One of the core benefits of any CRM software app is to help you manage your business more effectively. Instead of disjointed data living in separate files, documents, notepads, and minds, CRM software helps you keep everything in one place, allowing your sales, marketing, and service departments to work more efficiently.
Besides just record-keeping, you can also use your CRM to keep track of the touchpoints your customers have with you. By tagging these touchpoints, you’ll get an idea of how each contact or client interacts with your brand. We’ll talk more about how CRM tools help you track customer activities in the next section.
In a nutshell, CRM takes a bunch of moving parts and helps you organize and make sense of what your customers may need to take that next step with you. While there is a learning curve to any new technology, CRM software can save you time and improve customer interactions.
2) Customer Tracking
Customer tracking with CRM software helps support your lead generation, loyalty, and sales efforts, but how it does so depends largely on your business model and your business goals. If you want the data to give you a more complete picture, look for CRM software that integrates with any social platforms you use, as well as Google Business Manager. CRM software should allow you to track customer responses in your email campaigns as well. That way you can get a clear picture of the buying cycle, know what works, and deliver what your customer needs to move them closer to a sale with targeted marketing.
3) Targeted Marketing
Once you have the customer data, you can begin to formulate and target marketing that is more apt to yield conversions. For instance, CRM software can track every email offer click, website, and social click. (If you’ve integrated platforms, that is.) Knowing how your customers interact with an email campaign empowers more relevant communication. If your email marketing software doubles as your CRM, or the other way around, or if you’ve integrated your favorite tools, tagging and segmenting your contacts based on their actions helps you target messaging better. For instance, creating automated workflows based on actions like cart abandonment or clicking an offer helps you completely automate appropriate messaging.
And when it comes to advertising, when integrated with your Google Ads campaign, customer tracking can enable you to send a display ad across Google’s display network after your customer has visited a specific product page on your website. Whether you utilize customer tracking to empower your sales and social campaigns or to send highly personalized emails and/or mailers, the sky is the limit when you have the data to help you make decisions.
Integrations are a must-have when it comes to CRM software that goes beyond internal record keeping. As touched on in the previous sections, if you’re looking to empower your outbound and inbound marketing, integrating with social platforms, email marketing, and Google Business Manager is key as it allows you to deliver personalized and targeted messaging. Other integrations, like loyalty programs and SMS messaging, are vital tools to consider for now or for future growth and scaling.
Any current software your team uses is an important consideration as well. The right CRM platform has what you need out of the box or empowers easy integration if it’s not included.
5) Customer Feedback
Many CRM, loyalty, and email marketing platforms offer tools to help you understand how your customers view your brand. You can gather important insight through surveys, internal ratings, or reviews that stay within your database. Getting ahead of customer issues and providing a space for customers to vent to you, rather than on public-facing review sites, can help you repair issues faster and more efficiently (while saving face).
Additionally, online reputation management tools can be crucial to help steer goals as well as improve public image. Whether your CRM software already includes reputation management or you get it through an integration, consider how customer feedback can shape your brand’s image to the outside world. Monitoring of social media platforms and review sites helps you respond in a timely way to improve overall customer satisfaction and trust.
6) Data Analysis
Data can feel like a gift or a curse, depending on how it is delivered. A good CRM solution should have user-friendly dashboards that provide easily customizable snapshots for all of your teams.
So how can you use data to build your brand? Comparing results on social platforms, marketing campaigns, email campaigns, sales calls, and individuals or teams can help you see what’s working, and identify room for growth.
Data analysis also shines a light on what parts of your site are getting hit the most, where and how people interact with your brand, what products are services sell (and to what demographic), and how these factors change over time or during the day. Data analysis is one of the most important tools your CRM should empower.
7) Predictive Analysis
In higher tiers of CRM, you’ll start to see proprietary predictive analysis models (more often than not named after a famous scientist or mathematician). So what can predictive analysis do and is it worth it? At the core, predictive analysis is a type of AI that learns customer behavior patterns and responses to help you make better decisions. By analyzing historical data, CRM analytics can determine how successful an approach may be, which theoretically reduces your overall risk.
When CRM and marketing work in synergy, you may even see suggested predictive text and workflows that target contacts based on previous behavior.
8) Sales Tracking
Of course, one of the main things your CRM does is support sales. For businesses that have a more complex sales cycle, including lead generation, sales calls, more sales calls, and then negotiations beyond that, CRM sales tracking because paramount. You’ll be able to prioritize sales by opportunity as well as manage the various “moving plates” in the workflow. In these cases, you might want to look for real-time updates to help your team keep up with a sale in the pipeline.
For the retail or eCommerce shop, sales tracking is a basic report that can break down items by category and sales data by time of day, salesperson, location, and how many times that customer has purchased from you.
If your business requires traveling to meet with prospective clients, or you always have a team on the road for a trade show, mobility in your CRM software is critical. Look for software that has a well-rated mobile app so that you can access the information you need and sync updates with your entire team, no matter where they land on the globe.
Relying on notepads, playing phone tag, or even using a clunky Excel doc simply doesn’t cut it when high-value customers are on the line, so if your business is in any way mobile, CRM software that keeps mobility in mind is a must.
10) Task Management
The ability to simplify task and project management and prioritize contacts or next-steps can be huge time-savers with the right CRM platform — provided, of course, that you know how to utilize the tools available! Make sure that you and your team sync the software with your calendar so that you can all be on the same page.
The right CRM platform will allow you to link projects, tasks, communications, internal meetings, and other workflows to specific contacts, and then you can dole out tasks accordingly.
11) Document Management
Using your CRM software as a resource library is yet another way to keep organized and support your sales team. You can collect, manage, and distribute documents, all with a verifiable trail so that your whole team stays in the know. Whether that is a “paper trail” to a client, employee documentation, or a vendor, use your CRM to store and track important documents all in one place.
Taking Your Business To The Next Level With CRM Software
When it comes to choosing the best CRM software for your business, we hope this list has helped you identify what you may need now and in the future. CRM software should give you room to grow when you scale, so take a look at what the more expensive monthly plans offer as well. What may simplify the process (or complicate it, depending on how you look at it) is that some payment processors (e.g., Square), email marketing software (e.g., Mailchimp), and eCommerce platforms (e.g., Shopify) offer at least some CRM tools out of the box, so there can be quite a bit of overlap in these SaaS platforms. Keep all this in mind when you are in growth mode so that you can find the best option(s).
Finally, it’s always a good idea to take advantage of any free trials or demos so that you can get a feel of the platform before you commit. You’ll also want to check out consumer review sites like G2 so that you can see what real users have to say about the product as well.
Are you in growth mode or are you planning a business launch? We have many resources to help you grow, including in-depth reviews for payment processors, small business loans, accounting software, and more.
Do you have a CRM solution you can recommend to our readers? We’d love to hear from you; leave us a comment below!