To manage your customers, maybe you use a good old Excel table in which you enter everything by hand and which offers you no additional possibilities. You could also invest (on a more or less large scale) in a CRM to streamline your sales funnels, customer acquisition and management. This type of system can be a real asset for companies. There are some for all needs, all budgets, all areas of activity, etc. So here is everything you need to know before opting for a CRM in your business!
A CRM is simply software that will allow you to manage your customer relationship from A to Z, from acquisition to loyalty. It is a commercial tool that aims to optimize your interactions with leads, prospects and customers, in order to streamline and improve the sales funnel.
What does CRM mean?
CRM stands for “ Customer Relationship Management ”. In other words, if we translate literally into French, we directly understand its definition: Customer Relationship Management . In French, we sometimes also say GRC when we talk about CRM, both are possible and mean the same thing.
We can also talk about CRM in 3 different ways. What interests us in this article is the combination of these 3 concepts. First, the CRM is a technology, that is to say the software itself. Then, CRM can be seen as a customer management strategy . And, finally, CRM can be treated as a process, a method of dealing with customers.
When we talk about integrating a CRM into your business, you have to understand that it encompasses the 3: the tool, the strategy and the method.
What is a CRM solution in a company?
In a company, the CRM will make it possible to manage the entire life cycle of the customer. It will record all the interactions you will have with the different customers or prospects. In addition to collecting them, it will structure them so that they can be exploited in the form of data and that you derive a significant benefit from it. In other words, you will better understand your customers and be able to offer tailor-made support and marketing to each of them. All this is in theory, discover in the next part the functionalities in a more concrete way.
What is a CRM used for? 7 features
A definition is not enough to fully understand all that a CRM can bring you, so here are the 7 main features that you can generally expect from a CRM for your business.
One of the main features of CRM is to help you strengthen your relationship with customers, as the name suggests. Whether it’s your first or your 1000th customer, a CRM will organize all the details about them in a categorized and filtered database .
The contact management feature of a CRM will help you compile details such as names, addresses, demographics, social media accounts, transaction history, relationships, communication history for each customer. Now you don’t have to worry about navigating through hundreds of columns of information in Excel, the program will display the data you need with just one click.
Ideally, the contact management system will also provide you with follow-up histories and share the necessary customer information between any different departments in your company. Some studies have shown that implementing a contact management system can increase customer retention by 27%.
For a business, simply knowing a potential customer has no value if it is not converted into a sale behind it. This is where the lead management feature of the CRM will help you. Using a CRM solution has been shown to significantly increase the sales conversion rate . This is because the CRM analyzes each customer’s position in the buying process and provides you with the leads that are most likely to convert into an end customer.
Lead management is an essential part of any CRM you want to use. Now you don’t have to manually sort your potential customers by age or demographics, the program does it all for you. Additionally, you can use a custom CRM to rank your leads based on the variable that affects your business the most, instead of a default factor.
Automation of sales processes
Using a CRM can shorten a sales rep’s sales cycle by as much as 8-14%, according to Nucleus Research. This is because a lot of sales work involves tedious tasks such as follow-up emails, calls, mass emails as well as synchronizing contact details and emails.
By having these functions in your CRM, it is possible to automate all those monotonous and time-consuming tasks and free up your employees’ time . This function of the CRM is essential in the case of young companies which have less staff to invest in repetitive tasks. With this time freed up, employees can focus their efforts on finding creative strategies and ideas for new products, for example.
The results of using CRM are quite dramatic. Also according to the same study, the average return on investment of a CRM in the United States is $8.71 for every dollar spent.
Technology has quickly moved from bulky computers to smaller, faster smartphones. This is the case not only for your customers but also for you and your employees. The importance of the mobile accessibility of the CRM is not to be demonstrated and allows you to further optimize your customer acquisition actions.
Among all the other marketing strategies, email marketing is one of those with the best return on investment. It has been estimated that email marketing typically causes an ROI of 3800% . Concretely this means that for each euro invested, it will bring you around 38. These impressive returns have led companies to plan to invest more and more in emailing in recent times.
Email marketing should be an essential function of your CRM. Not only will this element help you deliver campaigns to a much larger customer base, but it will also put your business forward in an increasingly digital economy. The email marketing feature of a CRM also gives you the ability to track the status of emails sent to customers. This helps you considerably in the task of sending follow-up emails. Integrating email functionality with a CRM will help you market your new products to the specific demographic they are aimed at.
Some CRMs do not necessarily offer an emailing function directly integrated into their software, but give you the possibility to do so by connecting your emailing tool. CRMs generally have good integration capabilities with other software.
Management of quotes and orders
This CRM function is very useful if your activity requires continuous communication with the customer. Instead of manually entering all quotes or sifting through past orders, a simple search option lets you access the necessary data.
Transferring cases from one department to another is also much easier, as interactions can be easily tracked and viewed from the database. The results are as clear as ever, as a recent Salesforce study shows that implementing CRM software increases sales by 29%, sales productivity by 34%, and sales forecast accuracy by 42%.
Creation of reports and dashboards
Gone are the days of constantly updating and reformulating reports. The CRM’s reporting and dashboard functions automatically display statistics in a visually stimulating and engaging way. The CRM can update all of your reporting data in real time, saving you the time of reviewing new data.
Creating a dashboard allows multiple people to access reports through different portals. The CRM dashboard feature makes communication between different departments smoother and faster . Instead of manually sending reports to each relevant department, parties can simply log into the portal and access the required information. According to LinkedIn, more than 64.2% of companies that use CRM recognize the impact of these elements on the improvement and growth of their activities, and it is understandable why.
Why choose a CRM system? 7 advantages
Best sales performance
This is the most obvious reason to adopt a CRM strategy/solution. Good CRM software allows you to track quality leads and reduce wasted time following up on unnecessary leads. Sales cycles are reduced and win rates are improved . Additionally, you can check customer purchase histories to identify potential leads, upsell opportunities, or repeat customers. You have everything you need available to your customers.
CRM software also helps identify your most valuable customers and create a customer loyalty reward system or personalized communication to increase engagement and conversion. Also, you can easily spot weak links in the sales process, like unanswered emails or unanswered calls, and fix the issues right away.
Increased profitability and efficiency
Profitability is not limited to increased sales. It’s about creating efficient processes across all business activities to ensure that sales opportunities are not lost and costs are minimized. With a CRM, employees can quickly access important data to meet customer needs or process a critical business process faster.
For example, let’s say a customer complains about a defective product. Customer service can ask for the product serial number and quickly access the logistics database to register the defective batch, while the logistics can make the necessary replacement. During this time, the finance department calculates the financial impact of this minor activity on the monthly overhead. With a CRM, you can create processes as smooth as this.
Customer engagement, such as emails or calls, can also be tracked and necessary actions can be redirected to the right department or person to address concerns immediately. Likewise, hotspots of high performance are easier to identify, allowing you to reward employees with excellent results. In our example, a customer service employee who is accustomed to responding quickly to customer concerns may receive a bonus or other compensation.
You can also gain efficiency by reducing the training costs of your team members . If you equip new employees with user-friendly CRM tools that can be deployed in minutes, everything will be easier for them. It is also easier to accustom new employees to standard operating procedures. The CRM system acts as a guardian of universal forms and processes across your business operations, ensuring that employees use the same templates, forms, and procedures to complete their tasks. This unifies the actions of employees.
Additionally, CRM integrates processes such as accounting, inventory, and sales to create a transparent, cross-functional pipeline and avoid duplication of tasks. Items such as contracts, events, projects and products are aligned in a single CRM framework for faster execution of deliverables.
Faster tactical decision making
A knowledgeable manager with access to real-time data can make adjustments quickly to react to market trends . CRM allows you to get accurate insights from real-time, on-the-spot data. This means you can hone your strategies or tactics immediately to take advantage of an opportunity or avoid a crisis .
For example, a quick glance at your sales figures entered by the sales team can reveal clusters of customers. By consolidating this information with, for example, the supply chain, the events team can organize scalable trials in underperforming but promising customer groups. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) helps you allocate resources not only to needy areas, but also to promising areas. Similarly, more accurate data allows you to gather raw best practices from different departments to improve the overall functioning of the business.
Stronger data security
Confidential customer data and business information is kept in one centralized CRM system, instead of disparate and disconnected workstations. This means that you can concentrate your budget, your human resources and your infrastructure on a single element: the CRM ecosystem. You can define settings so that only authorized employees can access certain data while keeping an eye on a single channel to detect a possible breach. You could say that defending on one reduces the chances of hacker attacks.
Customers can take advantage of the customization capabilities that many CRM solutions offer, in addition to more efficient use of sales staff; This is a major advantage given that 86% of consumers believe that personalization plays a role in their purchasing decision, according to research by Infosys.
All the information in your CRM database can be used to personalize interactions and develop stronger bonds with customers. It is possible to address customers by their first name in e-mails, or to create campaigns according to positions in the purchase funnel.
Increase in loyalty
Another way CRM can help you is by revealing which customers are generating the most money or are the most engaged. With a CRM, you can identify a group of consumers who attend webinars or read all of their emails. Why not ask them to be the spokesperson for your company?
A customer relationship management (CRM) system can also help you retain existing customers . You might be able to identify trends such as when a customer will unsubscribe using a CRM and its ability to aggregate consumer activity. Understanding customer behavior can help in developing a plan or program to retain at-risk consumers.
Checking for erroneous data
Bad data leads to bad judgments. It’s a big problem if you don’t double check the data you put into your system. When you combine a validation method with automated data entry, you can block the influx of bad data before it gets you in trouble.
Which CRM software to choose? Our 3 best
monday.com, an optimized commercial CRM
The first CRM we are going to see is monday.com. It is a real benchmark in the CRM market . It is a tool that can actually suit a lot of people. But, if we had to recommend it to one type of person more than another, it would be more the big companies. Compared to the 2 that we will see right after, it is surely the one that will be the most comfortable to create a link between different services.
It’s great for anything sales-related (it makes sense, it’s a CRM). You will be able to manage your sales pipeline and your customers very easily . In addition to this, you can worry-free take care of human resources, the various operations of your company, inventory, ongoing projects or even computer maintenance.
Monday.com is really the most complete CRM, which can do everything expected of it. It allows you to centralize a lot of different tasks and streamline all your company’s processes.
Such a tool is obviously not free. It will take between 8 and 16 € per month and per user depending on the plan you choose. A lifetime free plan is also available but of course it has limited features and number of users (2). You can also see with Monday to make a tailor-made plan if you have special needs.
Sendinblue, all the marketing tools together
This second tool is a little more specific than monday.com. This is the well-known Sendinblue. It is mainly known for these emailing or marketing automation functions, but it also allows you to do CRM. Compared to the first solution we studied, Sendinblue has the advantage of being ahead of all marketing tools and this is a point that should not be overlooked, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. It can indeed allow SMEs to centralize their various tools within a single one: Sendinblue.
In terms of functionality, we are therefore well served with this French tool. As far as communication is concerned, you will be able to take care of emailing, SMS marketing or even chat bots . To convert your audience, you will even have access to landing pages, forms or Facebook Ads campaigns . On top of that, you’ll be able to customize everything from A to Z thanks to automation, segmentation, transactional emailing, and of course CRM functions. With everything Sendinblue offers you, you can manage all the customers from A to Z, from discovery to loyalty.
Good news, the CRM is available on all the price plans offered by Sendinblue. Even the free plan! The tool is free for up to 300 emails per day, but with a user limit of 1 and fairly limited functionality. Other plans are priced based on the number of emails you plan to send each month. On the Lite plan, it will take €19 per month for 10,000 monthly emails and add €10 per 10,000 additional emails. For the premium rate, it will be €49 per month for 20,000 monthly emails and €10 for every 20,000 additional monthly emails.
Hubspot, the top marketing CRM?
Then we find HubSpot, the famous marketing tool. The particularity of HubSpot is that it actually offers 5 different software . Among them is a CRM, Sales Hubs, it is he who will interest us. Of course, it will have a privileged relationship with the other HubSpot software, which are Marketing Hub (for Marketing Automation), Service Hub (for customer service), CMS Hub and Operations Hub. It is intended more for companies that are already well established but can be suitable for small businesses and the self-employed thanks to its free version.
This CRM offers the majority of the features that can be expected of it. We find in particular the management and follow-up of commercial documents, the management of contacts and customer profiles, the follow-up and recording of calls and emails, and even email templates or the integration of a sales pipeline. You will be able to integrate automation, personalized reports and monitor the performance of the different members of your team. In short, HubSpot
As we said, there is a free version of this CRM that exists and that already allows you to do a lot of essential tasks. However, a free version of this kind is basically thought of as a gateway to paid solutions so you will necessarily be limited. For the paid versions, the pricing changes according to the number of users who will be on the account. The Starter plan starts at €41 per month (for 2 users), the pro plan at €414 per month (for 5 people) and the enterprise plan at €1104 per month (for 10 users). There are prices for all wallets.
Are there free CRM tools?
Of course, there are completely free CRM solutions. In particular, they can help you define your needs before eventually choosing a paid CRM. It can also help you out if you don’t necessarily have the means and if you are an association for example. For a large company, on the other hand, these free solutions are not relevant since they are by definition quite limited.
We can notably cite the free versions of Sendinblue or HubSpot among these free CRMs, but there are others such as Bitrix24 or Agile CRM, and even Assoconnect for associations. Discover them in this article:
Now you know everything there is to know about CRMs for your business. It’s a solution that has many advantages for your business, and it exists for all types of business, so why deprive yourself of it?