Picture this. You’re a medium-to-large B2B company. Your client roster has hundreds of names, many of them high-profile. You expect – or rather hope – that this list will grow into the thousands over the next decade. However, current conversion rates are very low, and business is not growing as fast as expected. Many promising leads fizzle out, on-the-hook prospects suddenly say that they’re no longer interested in deal-making, and existing customers are complaining about service delivery quality.
Do you think your organization is on track for growth and expansion?
Your organization generates vast quantities of customer data every single day. Each time someone talks to a current customer on the phone goes to meet a new prospect or follows up with a promising lead – they learn something that could be potentially revenue-generating.
But where does all this data go? Does it stay in their heads? Is it tracked through cumbersome Excel sheets or written on post-it notes? Is there a way to track, analyze, and share it? And most importantly, is the data generating value in terms of increased conversions, more sales, or happier customers?
If you answered “No” to the last question, your organization is sitting on top of a goldmine, and you don’t even know it.
“How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.”
–Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and philanthropist
Without a proper system to process, analyze, track, and share all this data about leads, prospects, and customers, you’ll lose many opportunities for conversions and sales. Details will get lost, follow-ups on phone conversations won’t happen, and figuring out what to focus on will involve more guesswork and fewer facts. And when someone leaves the organization, all the data they’ve gathered will leave with them. Isn’t it more likely that their prospects and customers will leave as well?
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem – Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
In simplest terms, CRM centralizes data about prospects, leads, and customers, and makes it easily available to those who need it most. It also generates rich, actionable insights that enable the organization to understand its customers better and enhance relationships with them for long-term benefits.
Medium-sized firms and large enterprises particularly benefit from CRM software. This guide has been created for such firms.
Welcome to CRM – The ultimate guide (for enterprise).
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a discipline of approaches and a combination of technologies that work together to develop, manage, and optimize an organization’s outreach and interactions with its customers – existing and prospective. It’s not a point-in-time effort; the objective is to create ongoing and mutual value for both parties throughout the lifecycle of the relationship. For the business, the desired outcomes include better customer satisfaction and experience and greater loyalty and retention, which in turn drive increased sales and revenues and bottom-line growth. For customers, the benefits of effective CRM include more timely and relevant communications and better product and service support when engaging with a brand.
Modern CRM is a highly digitalized business and centers on data: that is, the gathering and analysis of different types of customer data to drive informed decision-making. The sources of this data are many and include channels such as email, telephone calls, website interactions and chat, and social media. When correctly analyzed, this data can deliver deep insights into a customer’s personal preferences and buying behaviors.
CRM software allows businesses to automate this process of information-gathering and analysis.
The most basic CRM system provides a central place to store customer and prospect contact information. But a CRM is more than a database of customer data. Modern CRMs like Microsoft Dynamics 365 empower organizations to focus on relationships with all sorts of entities, including suppliers, vendors, contractors, service users, and more.
With a CRM platform, an organization can track the history of all interactions with every potential and current customer – from phone calls, emails, and social media comments to face-to-face meetings, presentations, and service calls. The system is so versatile, comprehensive, and scalable that every question, service request, complaint, preference, and past contact details about every customer is always up-to-date and quickly available. This empowers customer-facing staff in Sales, Marketing, Customer Support, etc., to understand the “big picture” so they know exactly what to do the next time they talk to a lead or customer.
Many enterprises experience some of the biggest gains in productivity, efficiency, and profitability by embedding CRM into every aspect of their business, from HR and Accounting to Customer Service and Supply Chain Management.
CRM can be on-premise or cloud-based. In 2008, utilizing CRM used a cloud-based system. By 2017, that figure had increased to 87%. A cloud-based system like Microsoft Dynamics 365 doesn’t need special installation, and there’s no hardware to set up, keeping IT and operating costs low. It also simplifies deployment across the organization’s existing infrastructure and eliminates the headache of version control. Moreover, it offers other benefits like remote real-time access, automatic updates, and enhanced security protection.
A CRM like Dynamics 365 can deliver all these benefits to modern enterprises:
Great customer service starts with knowing the customer, and CRM makes it possible to do both. Easily accessible information about every customer’s purchase history, interaction history, as well as key details about their company, location, and vertical enables a firm to provide more value with every current and future interaction.
CRM also yields valuable insights into what customers are saying about your organization, so you can spot problems early, identify gaps, and take steps to improve your offerings.
With CRM in place, a new salesperson can immediately see every previous interaction a colleague has had with a particular customer. Using this platform, they can share best practices on how best to close the deal and ideas about cross-selling or up-selling. Similarly, an account manager can quickly pursue a new opportunity a sales rep has already prospected and qualified. Essentially, a CRM enables different functions to move out of inefficient ‘silos’ and collaborate better for improved results across an organization.
With a CRM, many tasks can be automated, including call and activity logging, reporting, deal creation, lead generation, email marketing, and more. The less time staff spend on administrative work or manual tasks, the more they can focus on what really matters – nurturing leads and moving them towards a successful sale. The organization’s revenue increases, and they gain a competitive edge.
Research shows that companies that use CRM show improved sales by as much as 29%.
A CRM provides both high-level and granular insights of Sales and Marketing performance results, conversion rates by deal stage, average deal size, deal velocity, and more, so teams can understand what’s working and what’s not. They can identify, add, and categorize new leads easily and quickly. They can also customize their pitch and increase their chances of conversion. The platform also provides a complete view of the pipeline, helping to improve forecasting and decision-making.
The probability of successfully selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, compared to just 5-20% for new customers. A better understanding of current customers yields more cross-selling and up-selling opportunities. This is because happier customers are likely to be repeat customers who spend up to 33% more. And CRM makes it possible to leverage these opportunities.
Dozens of CRM platforms are available today, each with its own features and unique capabilities. Here are 4 main types.
A conversation CRM is built around the conversations the organization has with its customers and contacts. It organizes every conversation across the organization into the correct contact’s profile so any Sales or Marketing person can access this information before they contact a client. In general, a conversation CRM helps make future conversations easier and more likely to yield tangible results (such as more closures).
A Contact CRM constantly gathers information about prospects, leads, and customers. Sales, Marketing, and other teams can also gather “human” information about their customers, such as their birthdays or work anniversaries, that enables them to build more meaningful and lasting connections.
A Leads and Deals CRM enables organizations to move the needle towards more sales, conversions, and profits. With this platform, you can track potential customers, and log each interaction from the first contact to the finalized deal. The system is set up to add relevant information during the process as you convince a prospect to use your product or service and convert that “lead” into a “deal.”
Marketing CRM can typically do everything a Contact CRM or Leads and Deals CRM can do. Plus, it may include “marketing automation” and customer service tools to provide a complete ecosystem for customer data. Teams can identify potential customers and get a more detailed picture of their needs and wants and automate the process of nurturing those leads to sales-readiness. They can then reach out to them with targeted and tailored messaging that could increase the chances of conversion, and also grow the brand.
A Marketing CRM with built-in marketing automation is more expensive than the other types of CRM (which have narrower, more specific functions). However, it also tends to yield a much higher marketing ROI, making it well-suited to the B2B environment with long sales cycles.
As with most digital technologies, CRM tools continue to evolve at pace. New features and functionality are constantly being developed, released, and refined. Today, many vendors offer CRM systems designed with particular verticals in mind (such as healthcare, financial services, or retail, for example.)
Whatever the size of your business and the industry in which you operate, if you’re in the market for a new CRM software solution or looking to upgrade your existing one, here are some features you should look out for at a minimum:
Most modern CRM software “automates-away” much of the time and effort involved in internal stakeholder engagement and communication (including reviews, quality assurance, approvals, reminders, and updates.) It also allows you to specify rules to keep your teams working at maximum productivity while not being distracted by notifications that are irrelevant to them. The platform can also streamline and smooth the workflow process of dealing with external customer events and triggers (such as when a customer fills in a form on a website or submits a query or complaint.) It will ensure that each communication is directed to the relevant team or individual in your organization.
Most CRM solutions come with a suite of in-built features that you can leverage “out-of-the-box.” However, depending on your industry and the complexities of your product and service offering, you’ll likely want to tailor your tool to ensure you extract maximum return from your investment in it. Look for a solution that offers optional, value-adding plugins and extensions and allows you to customize basic areas as well as more complex fields such as dashboards and reporting.
In most enterprises, the customer relationship management system co-exists with the marketing automation, finance, HR, and email platforms. Rather than operating each tool in isolation, it’s now entirely possible to get these systems interoperating. This keeps administrative tasks and rework to a minimum. Perhaps more importantly, it breaks down the traditional silos that can exist between different lines of business and facilitates the sharing of meaningful and actional data and insights.
While no responsible business would want to use their CRM software to “hover” over their people, these tools do provide a means to monitor employees’ activities and performance. The functionality embedded in the software gives people a quick and easy way to track their hours, tasks, sales figures, and KPIs. Even better, thanks to integration with people’s emails and calendars, you can quickly establish “who knows who” in the organization and identify precisely where warm relationships with customers and prospects lie.
Most CRM tools come with built-in social media monitoring capabilities. These can be of huge value to your marketing team as they won’t need to invest in a separate tool to maintain, track, and report on your company’s social media activity and performance.
A CRM system can help your sales team with the all-important task of forecasting future sales using data from your current pipeline. What’s more, if both your sales and marketing teams have real-time access to this data, they can collaborate more closely to ensure that decisions around marketing campaigns and customer outreach take into account any changes in the market or customer profiles/behavior.
CRM systems come with their own lingo that can be confusing to enterprises that are new to it. However, it helps to be familiar with the most common terms. These include:
A contact equates to an actual person’s details. A CRM system could include information such as their names, phone numbers, email addresses, company name, position/job title, location, etc. CRM systems may also have a section for Company or Account, whose details are linked to individual contacts.
This is someone who has indicated an interest in the organization’s product or service. They may have interacted with the company’s marketing content (Marketing Qualified Lead or MQL), or they may be identified by the Sales team as a good “fit” for further interactions (Sales Qualified Lead).
This refers to an interested lead, which could indicate a potential sale. At this point, it’s important to have all the information about the opportunity and track it in the CRM system by linking contacts to deals. Each step in the sales process is represented by a “deal stage.”
Deal stages are organized into pipelines. As a deal moves towards closure, it moves from left to right. Every salesperson should have their own pipeline so they can track each opportunity and take steps to move deals towards closure.
After turning a lead into an opportunity, they should be given a quote, i.e., a price for the service or products being discussed as part of the deal.
Any action taken by salespeople or their prospects counts as an activity. This includes anything related to deals, contacts, opportunities, and conversations.
Since CRM systems are typically used by people across many business functions, each user is assigned a profile that determines their access levels and permissions.
Most CRM systems are available on a consumption-based pricing model – that is, you pay according to the number of users you have per month. You’ll also typically have the choice of opting into a basic or “essential” package – for the lowest cost – or selecting a more advanced or “premium” option with additional features and functionality – for a slightly higher price.
To calculate your monthly CRM expenses, multiply your CRM monthly cost by the number of users in your organization.
Dynamics 365 CRM is an integrated, comprehensive platform that enables organizations to manage customer data, drive richer engagement and customer satisfaction, and position themselves for resilience through real-time analytics and business insights. This combined CRM/ERP solution delivers purpose-built applications that work seamlessly together to help manage, coordinate and synergize business processes across Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Operations, Project Service Automation, and many more functions. It’s perfect for larger corporates looking to expand into new markets, product lines, or customer segments.
Some of its key capabilities include:
Furthermore, Dynamics 365 integrates with many Microsoft solutions and third-party applications, including web portals, email marketing tools, eCommerce portals, and BI applications. These are only some of the many reasons Gartner has recognized Dynamics 365 as a ‘Leader’ in its Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center (2019).
WayPath’s Dynamics 365 CRM experts can help you unify your siloed business functions, implement marketing automation, and focus on what truly matters – your customers. With their technical knowledge, industry insights, and business understanding, your Dynamics 365 project will yield value for your enterprise right from the get-go.
Learn more about how WayPath can help connect and transform your business with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Contact us today for a free demo.