Monday, September 12, 2011

CRM Strategy – It’s All About Relationships

Customer relationship management (CRM) is all about relationships—and not just with customers. Yes, CRM’s goal is about connecting with customers and being able to translate that connection into successful growth and increased sales, but it’s also about helping all of your departments communicate with one another—sales, marketing, warehousing, R&D, accounting, customer service and even the executives up in their corner offices.

CRM strategy focuses on the customer, but it works by giving the sales team and managers better tools to do their job. Using cloud-based applications, salespeople who are on the road can receive leads, collaborate with colleagues, and see a 360-degree view of the customer in order to maximize every customer interaction. The managers can instantly route leads, monitor reps’ performance and have reports automatically generated.

In short, they get real-time visibility of the entire sales cycle.

Cottingham & Butler is an insurance broker of employee benefits and risk management services, which was working inefficiently with Excel spreadsheets and other record-keeping programs. Each rep managed his or her own leads, but had no good way of sharing information with colleagues, which meant that duplicate leads and uncoordinated prospecting were all too common. Cross-channel data capturing was difficult at best, and since the company had several distinct business units, each of which needed to fine-tune any CRM solution, flexibility was also key.

The company selected a vendor that provided a customizable, easy-to-use architecture that incorporated lead capture and routing, data management, accurate metrics reporting, and a common, comprehensive,  up-to-date view of the customer. This has allowed Cottingham & Butler to address its customers with a unified system that provides the most efficient, targeted sales and customer service.

Guiding managers and the sales force to work together is what CRM strategy does best. By giving them both a single, comprehensive view of the entire customer profile, CRM strategy succeeds in customer satisfaction and loyalty—which, of course, can translate into sales growth.

CRM coordinates communication from all channels, to improve customer service and aid sales, including devices and methods like mobile telephones, PDAs, email, Web searches and social media platforms. Combined with the CRM knowledge base and providing sales with updated information, the data capture capabilities from these sources helps enable not only customer service but also marketing campaigns and research and development initiatives.

CRM strategy makes managers’ jobs easier and more productive. It helps them become more organized and flexible. Managers rely on CRM for its capability to improve sales organization and the resultant increases in the bottom line, which helps them do their jobs better. Streamlining communication between managers and the sales force is enhanced because all customer and sales information is in one place where it can be easily accessed by all. Managers use CRM for sales tracking, for distributing information and for sales forecasting.

Customers are the recipient of better information about products and sales specials. They feel like the company knows all about their needs, and that it gives them special attention. CRM strategy is a win-win program for everyone; it’s all about relationships.