Small to medium sized businesses are looking to the new software to help them manage their customer base. From contact management to sales forecasts, new CRM software is providing organizational and analytical capabilities that help businesses bottom line. CRM software is known for on-site application hosting and for the high cost of in house administration. The cost was well out of the range of most small businesses. |
Today, new CRM software is offering a greater array of services and capabilities, many of which are customizable. New web-based CRM applications offer complete hosting and access via the web. The user only has to learn how to use the software and pay per user CRM pricing fees.
CRM software packages provide three main services for customer relationship management: contact management, salesforce automation, and customer relationship management. Having all three of these functional capabilities allows sales teams and customer service representatives provide better service to their customers and clientele.
Early software packages such as ACT, Outlook, and Maximizer helped people maintain customer contact information, schedule meetings, organize email, and record notes on customer related activities. The software and services available today allow sales teams to collect, organize and analyze sales data. Powerful database capabilities allow sales managers to drill down into sales data for accurate sales forecasts, and insight into customer behavior. Whatever sales people can research and collect, is recorded in the sales database. This provides deep insight into the customer's needs and business processes, allowing the CRM user to foresee and respond to customer related events such as buying cycles and recent purchases.
Web Based CRM
The use of web based CRM tools means company's are freed from having to purchase, install and maintain the software. Non web-based CRM applications require hosting services and technical staff capable of fulfilling all support requirements. The benefits of web based CRM software applications are worth noting: low cost as the base of users increases, ease of implementation as only the CRM software modules needed can be purchased and implemented; Internet connectivity and PDA/cell phone connectivity provides anytime anywhere access important for increasing the potential contributors; and minimal IT support staff are required. Proprietary and open source software are available for users, however there are considerations that need to be made before deciding on which is the best choice.
Leading CRM software includes Goldmine CRM, Microsoft CRM, Salesforce CRM, Sagesugar CRM, and SalesLogix CRM. Salesforce is a complete web based solution however the others still have web access. Goldmine CRM, a thin client solution offers an easy to use interface and comes in four different varieties suitable for small business to corporate enterprise level implementation.
CRM Training and Support
To make the most of these CRM software packages, it is best to have a consulting firm conduct a design audit, install the software correctly, and provide training to your sales and customer service staff. Implementing the software correctly and learning how to maximize its value, means you're getting the full benefit of CRM software to help you improve your sales bottom line.
With in-house CRM software programs, there is a need for technical staff capable of implementing the software and maintaining databases and the network for access whether via the office LAN or Internet. If you have an IT staff, they should be able to implement the software easily. However, there are always technical issues to be faced and that's why you'll want an experienced consultant to help you choose the right software for your needs and to be able to upgrade to newer versions as they are released.
CRM software isn't something that should be left to learning by online demos and help files. Users need to feel they have a certain level of confidence in what they are using and that they're using it as it was designed to be. CRM seminars are helpful, but nothing can help your sales staff, customer service people, and other company staff better than professional trainers. If a capable sales and customer service team is critical to helping you maintain your customers and relationships with them, the cost of buying a CRM software system is a drop in the bucket. Aside from generating more sales and finding new sales leads, customers themselves will feel more confident in your organization, that you understand their needs and can anticipate issues before they're even aware of them.
Your employees will be empowered by a CRM system. This is the power of technology working to help integrate your business activities and generate greater value from your staff's collective knowledge. Most big companies are using CRM systems, constantly looking for insight into customer behavior and new sales opportunities. Now with latest versions of software available, SMBs can leverage the same information tools to keep pace with their larger competitors.
Find a good CRM consultant to help you assess your needs, find the right product and provide the right training and support services. The bonus for your bottom line in retaining customers and increasing sales makes it a smart investment.
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