Guest Post: CRM—How to Maximize Your Referrals

For those of you who have read my thoughts on CRMs before, you’ll find these tips very helpful.  

Guest Post: How to Maximize Your Referrals.

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Contactually is one of the tools out there to help you manage your customer-base… it also happens to be the one I am using as well.  Want to try it out? Sign up using this link and get an additional free month of the Premium plan. 

How To Choose The Right CRM For You

Choose

With all this talk of how CRMs can help your business, a few of you are asking which one you should choose.  It’s a logical question, but not necessarily an easy one to answer.

I could provide a list of the “Top 5 CRMs for [INSERT YOUR INDUSTRY HERE]”, but you can Google search that for possibilities. But even the best CRM becomes worthless if you don’t know what you want or don’t use it correctly.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Forbes.

So instead of a Top 5 list of systems, how about a Top 5 list of things to consider when choosing a CRM?

#1- Linkages.  Many CRMs allow you to connect to your email contacts, and most allow linkages between those accounts so that your contacts seemlessly flow from one to the other without clunky importing and exporting.  But with most people spending more and more time on social media, growing numbers of CRMs are trying to build strong linkages between your database and services like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  If you already have these accounts, why go through the process of inputting all that information again. Socially linked CRMs allow you to import and manage these contacts as well, often with the click of a single button.

#2 Offline of Online. CRMs are increasingly moving off your computer hard drive and into the cloud (residing on the internet and access via a website).  If you spend a lot of time connected to the web,  a cloud-based system makes a lot of sense.  But for some businesses, or those whose business isn’t stationary, lack of internet access would mean no access to the customer info they need.  If this is you, make sure the cloud-based CRM saves data to your PC as well for offline viewing, or choose a software solution you install to your machine.

#3 What You Plan To Store. The building blocks of all CRMs are simple: Name, Company, Address, Phone, & Email.  But as we discussed in an earlier post, you want a CRM, not just an address book, so you likely have other info you want to capture about your customer.  This include family info, interests and hobbies, or other “personality” type data.  But many CRMs also have space to capture things like past product orders, potential opportunity size (in quantities or dollars), and overall sales history.  It’s usually a good idea to pick a CRM that you can add custom fields to so you capture just what you need— businesses are so diverse that no one CRM will have everything (nor should it!).

#4 Bucketing. Although having info about a single customer is important, it’s also very handy to be able to add multiple customers into a custom “bucket” so you can make sure they are getting just what they need.  For example, I may have a bucket for all of my customers who are manufacturers and another one for all my clients who are restaurants.  By doing so, I can email information out on an upcoming Lean Manufacturing Conference to ALL my manufacturers just by selecting their bucket.  The alternative would be selecting them one by one, something that would be both tedious and prone to missing someone who would really want the info.

#5 Something You Actually Will Use. This one seems silly, but I’ve actually talked to businesses who have loaded all their data into a CRM and then do little with it because it just isn’t laid out in a way that makes sense to them or doesn’t fit with how they do business.  They may not like it (or get it) because it is too complex, too simple, too text heavy, or too visual.  No matter how many bells and whistles something has it won’t get used if it doesn’t fit you well.  So utilize the free trial versions of a few possible CRMs for a period before taking the plunge.

Please understand that there are factors to consider when choosing a CRM, but if you can get your head around these your choices will start to filter down quickly.  The goal is to put yourself in the best position for CRM success my picking the one that will both meet your needs and match your personality.

Keep an eye on future posts in this series on CRMs to help you keep moving forward.

Are you looking for assistance in setting up your CRM right now?  We can help with that. Click here to contact us.

CRM or Address Book?

No Address Book

When I mention Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools to business, I often get the same response.

“Oh, I’ve got one of those, but I’m not really using it.”

My typical response often catches them by surprise.

“I hope you didn’t pay much for it, because what you have is NOT a CRM, it’s an address book.”

You see, no matter how much time and energy a company puts into building the best CRM for you to use for your business, it is YOUR efforts that determine whether it achieves high flying effectiveness or whether it’s rendered an outdated (and overpriced) Rolodex.

So if you have a CRM and started the process of entering your customer data (C) into it, but have done nothing since, you’ve missed the point of the R and the M. All you’ve done is created a contacts “roach motel”… customer info goes in, but it never comes out!

Almost every CRM has tools built in that making building and cultivating your relationship (R) with your customer easier, and when done correctly, increases your customer’s opinion of your company AND their likelihood of doing business with you.

And even more tools are built into CRMs to help you proactively manage (M) that relationship on a regular basis.  This includes everything from updating contact information to noting their product preferences and notes about your interactions with them.  The best CRMs even let you build automatic “programs” that provide your customers with the level of service they need without you having to be directly involved.

But you need to take the steps to rescue your CRM from being a contacts “roach motel” in the first place. Are you ready to do that?

If so, keep an eye on future posts in this series.

Are you looking for help in setting up your CRM right now?  We can help with that. Click here to contact us.

You Say You Need A CRM?

crm

I’ve worked with a number of businesses who have a long list of to-do’s.  For many of them implementing some sort of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool is at the top of their list.

Forgive me for being so forward… but I don’t believe them.

It’s not that I think they are lying to me.  I’m sure they believe it is a top priority, but as I talk to them more I realize that they think they need one because they have been told it’s important.

The problem is they have no plans for what they would do with it.

When I run into these business I ask 3 veins of questions that revolve around those pesky letters… C-R-M.

1st: Do you have Customers (or prospects for customers)? What info do you keep on them?

2nd: What kind of a Relationships do you want to cultivate with them? What are you prepared to bring to the relationship?  What do you want them to bring?

3rd: How much are you prepared to Manage that relationship? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Seasonal?

The answers to these questions is a strong indicator on whether the implementation of a CRM will provide value to a business, both in the short-term and the long-term.

Want to learn more about how to effectively implement a CRM for your business?  Keep an eye on future posts in this series.

Are you looking for help in setting up your CRM right now?  We can help with that. Click here to contact us.