Sales are the driving force behind every skilled trade business. No matter what service you offer, you need steadily increasing sales in order for your business to grow and prosper. With this in mind, you could say that a business’s success lies in the hands of the clients; without clients, there wouldn’t be any sales, and a business would not succeed. This is why companies exert tremendous effort building and maintaining client relations. Satisfying customers’ needs and creating good relationships are a top priority in hopes that it will translate to greater trust, more credibility, loyal clients and most importantly, increased sales.
So, what should businesses do? They need to beef up their sales force not just to sell but more importantly manage client relations. Any sales process involves a lot of steps, but good customer relations require multiple personal interactions. So how can you improve your business’ customer service to increase sales? More sales people? More admin support? Luckily, technology has evolved to cover these kinds of tasks and there are already sales and client relations systems readily available for business use.
Have you heard of CRM software? In this article, we will explore how a CRM tool can empower businesses to better manage customer relationships and in turn, grow sales.
What is CRM?
Short for Customer Relationship Management, CRM is a business strategy to manage relations and interactions with current and potential customers. This involves approaches, practices, and technologies that companies utilize to improve their business relationships.
Most of the time, CRM is associated with a system, aptly referred to as CRM System, which is an application or software that collects, compiles, and analyzes data from the customer lifecycle. By using a CRM, businesses can learn more about their target clients and serve their needs more effectively.
Operationally, a CRM automates a company’s sales, marketing, and service processes to improve productivity and customer retention.
What exactly does CRM System do for you?
A CRM system gathers data from customer-company interaction though various medium, such as the company website, e-mail, chat, and social media; telephone for voice calls; and marketing collateral, among others, and from that, can provide customers’ personal information, preferences, and buying personality.
Work flow and process automation are the core duty of a CRM. More specifically it automates the following business jobs:
Work flow automation – CRM enhances and streamlines work activities that are mechanical and repetitive by nature that commonly eat up a lot of time (think repetitive data entry, emails etc). Automating these processes frees up your sales staff to focus on more important tasks.
Sales automation – Covers the entire sales cycle from prospecting, up to client conversion. The CRM programs sales-related activities, such as promotion, analysis, customer account tracking and history, and sales. It automatically tracks all sales activities and enables follow-ups with customers and participants.
Marketing automation – Focuses on making more effective and creative marketing by automating repetitive tasks such as sending of proposals and promotional materials, posting on company website and social media sites, and the like. The goal of marketing automation is to turn a sales lead to a customer.
Service automation – Deals with efficient customer support by automating various communication channels such as phone, email, chat, how To’s, FAQs, and knowledge portals.
Analyze data – As it collects and compiles data into the system, CRMs can also analyze it to help business owners make informed decisions. You can improve customer service and create more-suited marketing campaigns with these analytics.
Collaboration tool – CRMs enable collaboration with other parties involved in the sales lifecycle, like suppliers, distributors, and agents and share various client data to further improve customer service.
Data platform – It basically serves as your database of all customers, lead generation and management, demographic and other information that can be useful.
What are the Strengths of a CRM?
CRMs are capable of the many things we have mentioned above, but more importantly, CRMs tie these different functions into one cohesive platform. With a CRM system, businesses can see that their various sales processes are connected and can interact with each other.
According to market research by Aberdeen Group, 81% of effective sales organizations have implemented the use of a CRM or another business management system. With a CRM, companies can yield better sales, close more deals, and improve business outlook. According to Salesforce, a CRM can improve sales productivity can by 34%, sales forecasting accuracy can improve by 42%, and sales often increase by 29%.
Numbers are really on the side of CRM system. Here is more proof:
Enhance company workflow, sales force efficiency, and productivity
Improve customer service efficiency
Personalize products and services
Improve knowledge about the customers
Segment customer categories
Customize marketing strategies and campaigns
Connect customers and integrate all channels
What are a CRM's weaknesses?
A CRM system is mainly a tool for companies to boost sales by creating good relationships with clients, so it is quite surprising that most seem to neglect after sale customer relations.
CRM system is a robust and a very specialized tool to handle the sales lifecycle (pre, actual, evaluation) but is not built to cover some internal administration and financial tasks that would take place after a sale. These tasks are better suited to specialized Accounting software, require business owners to switch between multiple disconnected systems.
After sales should be an integral part of any businesses, especially in the skilled trades industry. For example, an HVAC system purchased under warranty needs repair or needs to be replaced; what would happen? There would need to be a good deal of client relationship management in order to maintain trust and reliability of the company. But it would also require job orders, parts and supplies replacement, dispatching technicians, job tracking, billings and invoices, among other tasks. These are jobs a typical CRM system can’t do for you. (Also read our article on "Why Your CRM is NOT Working for You”)
Aside from these functional concerns with CRM systems, you also must deal with these situations in acquiring CRM:
CRM systems are expensive to purchase and implement. Plus, it would require maintenance, subscriptions, and system upgrades that are costly.
As CRM data commonly lives in a remote server, sometimes, record loss is inevitable when the system has an outage.
Adapting to CRM system would require training that could interrupt your workflow and effect productivity.
Depending how difficult the program is to learn, it can take weeks or months for staff to become accustomed to it.
Though integration may be possible, difficulty may arise as most CRM are built stand alone.
This is where Field Service Management software can fill the gap. A good solution to follow through CRM’s inability to cover after sales is to utilize FSM software. To find out more about FSM software, please read Part-Two of Client Relationship Management Tools Vs. Field Service Management Software: A Two-Part Comparison.
SnapSuite is a Toronto based software company that helps businesses in the B2B industrial and skilled trade industries increase their operational efficiency using simple to use software tools.
Call us at 647-494-8011 to learn more about how we can help your business.
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