CRM (Customer Relationship Management) refers to the tools and strategies a business uses to analyze, manage and report on its relationships with all its customers and prospects. Could a CRM software system help you grow your training business?
A CRM system should contain all customer contact information and their sales history, as well as information on any leads or prospects for your business’s goods or services. When a small business starts up, there’s usually only a limited pool of customers and it’s easy to keep track of who’s who. That becomes increasingly more difficult as the business grows. The bloggers at Salesforce, a widely used CRM, explain that:
“[A]s your company grows, these business connections grow more sophisticated. It’s not just a transaction between the buyer and seller. You start to manage a myriad of connections, across time, within each company you do business with. You need to share information across various teams within your own organization who are making contact with the same customers. A CRM system can serve as a vital nerve center to manage the many connections that happen in a growing business. How do you translate the many streams of data coming in from sales, customer, service, marketing, and social media monitoring into actionable business information?”
As is so often the case with technology, CRMs can suffer from a fate of “garbage in, garbage out.” According to an article in Forbes Magazine, this conundrum can be avoided if the business has complete buy-in from all its employees to actively engage with the CRM. They offer these suggestions for making the most of your CRM investment:
- Make it simple. If your employees are intimidated by your system, they’re not going to use it. “Any CRM system only needs: Prospect information, when and what was talked about last, follow up date/reminder and action, who it is assigned to, and what is the dollar value of the opportunity.”
- Make sure it integrates with other company systems. All your technology systems should “talk” to each other. “Can data be easily imported and exported from the CRM? If a CRM is an island, it will be less impactful.”
- Train them over and over again. “Show them how to use it from their smart phones or tablets. Identify people that are “super users” and can be advocates for the CRM system.”
- If the activity isn’t in the CRM system, it never happened. “Every company needs to treat their CRM as the only repository for history. No one gets credit for anything if it is not written about here.” From sales people to managers to the company owner, everyone needs to use the CRM, all the time.
- Make sure you can get real time reports from the data. Know how to pull reports, understand them and then act on them, whether that’s quarterly, monthly or daily. An accurate, up-to-date CRM will show you where to focus your efforts, where you are succeeding or falling behind, and take the guesswork out of planning and strategizing.
Get the most from your marketing investments in your training business. If you are spending money on exhibiting at tradeshows or sending communications to purchased lists of potential customers, you should be able to quantify your ROI (Return On Investment). Did those efforts result in any new business? A CRM is an efficient way to track that progress and to record all the lessons learned from each marketing experiment.
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