Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Top CRM Insights 2014

The year 2014 has been a catalyst for the customer relationship management industry. Its usage has propagated on almost all customer interface platforms like desktops, tablets, mobiles etc. Such expansions are part of digital expansion initiatives of corporate of all sizes. IT infrastructural plans of many companies factor in the need for CRM implementation for present or future purposes.

The one big user group that is in the forefront of CRM usage are sales personnel. This is attributable to the fact that they are always in touch with the customers, the growth engine for the company. It is for this reason that laptop remains the preferred medium of choice for CRM users. However, with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets in developing countries, where economic growth is the highest, is expected to overtake laptops in the coming few years. The below statistics will give you an idea about the usage preferences.

Devices used for CRM 2014
Source: Customer Relationship Management Software
UserView 2014
Areas considered for gaining CRM Insights:
A. Investments 
CRM investments have been traditionally huge with phased returns on investments (ROI). With the kind of budget involved companies take precautions and preliminary research while selecting the right partner and the right areas for CRM implementation. According to a recent survey conducted by Software Advice, a premier software research agency for online CRM, customer service and marketing automation has been identified as key areas for investment growth. Social media integration/monitoring and sales force automation follows closely. The below graphic will give you a better understanding.

Investment areas for CRM 2014
Source: Customer Relationship Management Software
UserView 2014

These findings reinforce the belief that targeted customer services with the
help of high quality interactions aided by automation will be the growth engine of the future. The wide scope of lead management for marketing also underlines the importance of marketing automation. It enables companies to have more targeted customer engagement which are feasible in multichannel environments.    

B. Industry Usage
As CRM awareness grows, many industry verticals are taking up customer relationship management. In the same research done by Software Advice, it was found that manufacturing industries top the list followed by technology and real estate. Majority of the implementations are undertaken by small businesses that have up to 100 employees. This is natural as the maximum benefits of CRM are enjoyed by SMBs, which is discussed in our next point. The below statistic shows the number of users and their share.

Industry usage CRM 2014
Source: Customer Relationship Management Software
UserView 2014

C. Who benefits the most?
Is it the large corporates, medium businesses or small enterprises? Though CRM has immense benefits for all sizes, SMBs are the ones that are satisfied the most. According to Brent Leary, Co-Founder at CRM Essentials, “Small businesses feel they’re getting more bang for their buck. There are a lot more CRM choices for them today than there were a few years ago. [These products] are more affordable, easier to use and the subscription pricing terms are in line with what small businesses are looking for.”

CRM satisfaction report 2014
Source: Customer Relationship Management Software
UserView 2014

As you can see from above graph, large enterprises also gain immense satisfaction from implementing and utilizing cloud based CRMs. This is in line with CRM advisor Brian Vellmure’s statement that tech solutions today are either built to solve the needs of very large organizations, or very small ones.

“Interestingly, CRM users representing businesses with fewer than 100 employees were the most likely to say they were ‘very satisfied’ (37 percent) or ‘somewhat satisfied’ (34 percent) with their current system,” says Jay Ivey, a CRM market researcher at Software Advice. “This reflects how successfully, vendors targeting that particular segment have tailored their products to meet the needs of small businesses through an emphasis on simplicity, ease-of-use and flexible pricing models.”

Does this mean that medium businesses are left out of the pie? Approximately 26 percent of the research respondents said that they were “somewhat unsatisfied” and another 26 percent stated that they were “very unsatisfied.”

Leary explains, “Many midsize businesses experience growing pains related to company expansion, including difficulties scaling their technology. In addition, as growing organizations gain experience with CRM, they develop a better understanding of what they need it to do—which leads to a growing awareness of their current system’s limitations.”

The key here is go for scalable CRM implementations that grows as the organization, thus leading to reduced bottlenecks and greater increase in lead conversions.

D. Key Challenges
The growing phase of CRM means that the challenges facing the industry are unique and constantly evolving. Customization has emerged as the most important key challenge facing the CRM industry today. This is vital because the ability to customize according to client preferences is what differentiates the best CRM solution from the rest. Integration is a close second as many clients have existing IT infrastructure that have become obsolete but cannot be thrown due to the huge write offs involved. The below stats will present a clear picture of the key obstacles facing CRM growth today.
Key CRM Challenges 2014
Source: Customer Relationship Management Software
UserView 2014

What do the above findings imply for CRM vendors?
CRM users cited system customization and integration as top pain points, with over 26 percent describing each as a “major challenge.” As such, vendors should continue to improve their product’s integration capabilities in order to attract customers seeking to consolidate and coordinate across systems.

To access the complete report, click here: Customer Relationship Management Software UserView 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

How to Select a CRM Solution for Your Small and Medium Business?

There comes a phase during an organization’s growth where Microsoft Excel and Word records become redundant. At this juncture, small and medium businesses (SMBs) go shopping around for a system that is able to handle their growing customer relationship management needs. The timing of that phase may differ from company to company, but the arrival is certain. Hence, it is imperative that every business prepare itself by doing appropriate prior research of CRM solutions.

How to Select a CRM Solution for Your Small and Medium Business?

If you are the manager of an expanding SMB business, then you are in luck. The present age CRM solutions features cutting edge technology which simplifies CRM processes and makes it agile. So, how to go about select the best CRM solution for your SMB firm?

Three factors to consider while selecting a CRM solution for your small and medium business:
1. Cloud capacity
The world online infrastructure is increasingly being run on cloud systems. In layman’s terms, cloud computing is utilizing the combine power of multiple networks instead of just one local server. It has been proven that every buck spent on cloud computing gives significantly higher returns, sometimes more than five times. A cloud based CRM system helps in employee multi-tasking which will be imperative once the company scales up, which brings us to the next point.

2. Scalability
Always look for systems that are scalable. It is the ambition of every SMB owner to get their company in the big leagues. In order to do that, they would require the assistance of scalable CRM software. Scalability function helps small and medium companies save on upgrades and functionalities. Even if their employee and customer base increases overtime, their preferred CRM partner will offer value added updates and services. This is in stark contrast to standalone CRM systems.

3. Features
With the plethora of CRM options available, it is a good idea to compare the features and the accompanying price points. Notable features that can be of importance include sales force automation, external integration, mobile presence and social media integration. The basic underlying foundation should be based on simplicity. This will result in improved user acceptance.

After considering the above three factors, you should ensure that your CRM choice is time tested and proven. Always request for a trial CRM demo from a prospective vendor and see if it aligns with your organizational objectives. Such considerations will always help you to make the maximum returns for your investments and with the massive budgets involved, you should take care to!

About the Author:
Ranjit George has an MBA in Marketing and corporate experience of 3 years. He has written many B2B, B2C and social value articles spanning technology, healthcare, education, travel and logistics, corporate training, etc. Ranjit is part of Marketing & Strategy Group with CRMnext, a leading global CRM product company.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top 5 Online CRM Success Mantras

Corporates in today's' digital world are moving away from brick and mortar shelves to online space. E-retailers like Amazon and Flipkart have bought in innovation in online space and caused a significant shift in business practices. They demonstrate why it is very important for businesses today to have an online space for significant economic growth. But, having a mere online presence is not enough for growth. You need to harness the power of CRM in online business domain.
Top 5 Online CRM Success Mantras
Five Online CRM Success Mantras:
1. Online Analytics
Every CRM platform worth its salt has an online sales management platform. This platform gives a considerable overview of your business in a single glance. It is very important that you get an understanding of how the CRM analytics process works. You should be able to create logical information from raw data, thus deciphering the graphs and other statistics. 

2. Expand contact lists
Contact lists are the fodder which you feed into your sales growth cannon. If you want to have significant online sales progress, you need to enhance your contact lists. These are vital in online and offline space as well. A well thought CRM strategy involves tweaking and utilizing the contact lists to the maximum potential. You can scour for methods to increase contact lists on your online CRM system. 

3. Ditch old structure
Online customer relationship management demands that you overhaul your system regularly. If you were managing your CRM in a traditional onsite manner, it is time to move on to cloud CRM. To save on costs and time, you should opt for a code-less architecture, like Shape-Shifting architecture as offered by CRMnext. A code-less structure makes your platforms agile, flexible and fast. You can also shift your existing platforms towards systems geared towards online sales automation.

4. Social media integration
Online media goes hand in hand with social media. An interactive presence on the social platform will help your online business connect and establish rapport with customers instantly. You can also manage your PR through meaningful, relevant and true posts. You can spontaneously answer your consumer’s queries and even aid to spread the word about your services to a wide prospective lead audience.

5. Low investments
Make sure that your online CRM costs very less in terms of capital expenditure. They should offer free updates as part of their contracts. This will help you stabilize your maintenance schedule. In the case of online CRM system, your return on investment (ROI) should always be significantly higher than investments. Many cloud CRM solutions offer online platforms as part of a wider enterprise suite.

The above five success mantras will help you get the most out of your online CRM space. Make it agile and dynamic enough to stay ahead in the cut throat competitive world of online business.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

4 Key CRM Essentials for Improving Your Marketing Campaigns

Marketing by itself do not bring results. In order to skyrocket your companies bottom lines, you need to devise a marketing campaign that is targeted and well planned. Often, businesses make the mistake of planning key parameters and budgets haphazardly. They have a short sighted view of results and do not factor in all key points. These constraints can be avoided with the help of customer relationship management (CRM).

             4 Key CRM Essentials for Improving Your Marketing Campaigns 

Four key CRM essentials for improving your marketing campaigns:
1. Creative templates
Good CRM software has in-depth templates for different marketing needs. They even have a facility to create, customize and incorporate different types of mailers and brochures. Take full advantage of them and let loose your imagination. Creative templates excite customers and generate a rapport with them. Take help of CRM marketing automation to devise and execute innovative and create marketing campaigns.

2. Competitive analysis
Your product may be the best of all, but it will count nothing if your competitor is ahead in the marketing game. Undertaking a competitive analysis with the help of CRM will make you aware of your competitors’ strengths and analysis.  Such detailed analysis should be part of your CRM marketing strategy. It may take some time, but the efforts you put in are worth it. When you are implementing a marketing campaign, you need to be aware what your competition is up to and accordingly take steps to counter their plans.

3. Socially active

In this age of interconnected world, it pays to be socially active. Customers love companies who have an active presence in social media sphere. Your marketing campaigns will see a manifold increase in returns and reach if you actively involve CRM software for social networking. Social media platforms are a vital component in your customer relationship marketing. You can even bring in the power of CRM analytics to research social media statistics.

4. Attractive call to action
A call to action (CTA) is defined as enticing customers to act or purchase. A call to action can be designed to promote participation or sales. It treds a fine line between pushy and creative. Your call to action should motivate prospective customers, not push them away. Effective use of CTAs converts a viewer into a lead and then into a regular customer.

The above four key CRM essentials will help improve marketing return on investments. You will see your bottom line improve and see significant traction in your sales call results.

About the Author:
Ranjit George has an MBA in Marketing and corporate experience of 3 years. He has written many B2B, B2C and social value articles spanning technology, healthcare, education, travel and logistics, corporate training, etc. Ranjit is part of Marketing & Strategy Group with CRMnext, a leading global CRM product company.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Shorten Your Sales Cycle with 5 Easy CRM Steps

A typical sales cycle in the software technology domain lasts from a minimum of months to a maximum of years. The longer the sales cycles, the higher the overheads and risks, that translates to lesser profit margins. Hence, it is imperative for businesses to shorten their sales cycle as much as possible. Since the advent of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), businesses have found it easier to manage and shorten their sales cycle. A small sales cycle can significantly enhance profitability and can free up resources for other critical tasks.
Shorten Your Sales Cycle with 5 Easy CRM Steps
Five easy CRM steps to shorten your sales cycle:
1. Tune up
A CRM system should be fine tuned for maximum efficiency. This involves removing any bottlenecks, bugs and other deviations. If your CRM is not optimized, the sales process can put extra load on the existing infrastructure that converts into greater sales cycle time. Over a period of time, your lead list will keep on increasing and the number of people to be kept in touch will also rise. You should ensure that your CRM software is expandable and up to the task.

2. Campaign planning
Not to plan is to plan to fail. This adage cannot be more apt in CRM management. Investing time in campaign management and planning is worth your efforts. Think about how much time you will invest in meetings and face to face meetings. Proper campaign planning will ensure that you utilize your time effectively with less or no wastage.

3. Proper co-ordination
Sales cycle reduction needs to have proper coordination between different functionality. It is often seen that multiple sales personnel contact the same lead for the same purpose. Not only does this lead to resource wastage, it also creates a confusing scenario with the leads; which does not lead to a good image in the minds of prospects. It is very important to keep a consistent message across functionality and departments.

4. Information readiness
You should never let lack of information be a cause for unnecessary delays. Always ensure that your front-line executives have all the information available at their finger tips. A quick reaction to questions fielded will cut out time constraints and will result in faster service. Prospective leads will be amazed at the speed of resolution and this good impression will lead to faster conversions, shorter sales cycle.

5. Never push
Impatience can lead to disasters while managing sales cycle. A lot of factors affect how CRM reduces sales cycles. If you rush through the process, you will come across as too pushy to your prospects, which could turn them off. Stick to the method of quick answers, proper coordination and things should speed up on its own.

The above five CRM steps should assist you in using CRM sales management to its fullest potential. Follow them and see your sales target achieved in no time!