CRM Software: What Is It, Do I Need It, and Is It Worth the Investment?
What is CRM?
Many of us have heard the term “CRM”, but may still have questions about what exactly it is.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a tool used to manage all of your contacts’ and customers’ information in one place and tracks all activities related to them. It’s also used to manage partner and vendor relationships. It stores critical data for sales, marketing, and customer service purposes and is used for managing marketing campaigns and generating meaningful reports. With CRM software like Microsoft Dynamics CRM (part of the line of Microsoft Dynamics solutions), it’s easy to share customer information, see sales activities and purchase history, identify revenue opportunities, deliver consistent customer service, and track your progress against your goals.
Do I Need It?
It’s important to analyze your needs before selecting a CRM system. Here are some indicators that your company may be ready to take the plunge:
- You use multiple methods to communicate with your customers (e-mail, phone, face-to-face, direct mail, etc.)
- You want to be able to target specific customers and prospects and personalize communications
- Your customers’ demographics vary
- You want greater visibility into your sales pipeline
- You’re duplicating efforts within the company (i.e. two salespeople call the same prospect)
- It’s time-consuming and difficult to generate reports
- You want to be able to track marketing and sales trends and identify opportunities
- Any customer or prospect data you currently have is spread across different systems
Is It Worth the Investment?
There are several tangible and intangible benefits to CRM including increased revenues, reduced costs, and greater efficiencies. Of course, they’ll vary depending on the company and type of CRM software you choose. However, it’s easier to prove the worth of a CRM software investment compared to many other software systems since some benefits can be realized almost immediately. Some benefits include:
- Integration with existing databases and technology systems
- Consolidated information in a centralized system
- Improved visibility into company data and processes for more predictable and manageable business operations
- Ability to create custom reports efficiently and modify rules of the system
- Improved customer service and efficiency due to increased responsiveness and non-duplication of data
- Improved information sharing and synchronization resulting in increased productivity and sales performance
- Better targeted and more efficient marketing