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Not yet using a CRM solution, or having trouble interesting the boss or your team? Here’s some ammunition.
Finding the right software or web-based solution for the office can be a challenge – especially when it’s going to require an ongoing financial commitment or a significant outlay of cash at the start.
If you’re working on your own or you’re on a sales staff that is not using a CRM application (or is using the wrong one), you may be losing business because you don’t know:
Yes, it’s that important.
I’ve been using Customer Relationship Management applications (CRM) for over two decades now. And I can’t imagine being able to function without one as a salesperson any more than a writer can do his or her job without a word processor.
Here are some of the objections you might be getting, and the reality behind them:
We already use Outlook for mail and scheduling and contact management. What more do we need?
Outlook is great. Many professionals live in it. But it is not designed to build and track customer relationships.
They’re too complicated. We don’t have time to choose the right one and learn to use it.
Simply not true. Web-based sales solutions have come so far in 20 years. It is true that users will have a learning curve of sorts, but if you’ve never seen one of these applications in action, you can’t understand how intuitive they are. You’ll want to spend some time together—as a team—learning how and when to use it. If you’re working alone, these applications have lots of online support to get you started.
Our team will spend too much time monkeying with updating the application and lose valuable selling time.
You may be thinking of the old desktop-based contact managers. That objection had some validity where they were concerned. The software wasn’t smart enough or connected enough to know anything that you didn’t tell it. You had to type in all of the information that made up contact profiles. Take copious notes every time you “touched” a customer. And depending on the reliability of your office network and the networking capabilities of the software, sharing information with everyone in the company who needed it may have been problematic.
Many salespeople got data entry fatigue, finding that they were spending more time updating their records than cultivating customers.
Today’s CRM solutions have excellent flexibility, connectivity, and smarts. Thanks to the internet, a lot of the details you have to track can be found and pulled in automatically. You will still have to document your interaction with customers, but there are tools built in to help you do so. A good CRM application will help you create comprehensive profiles and share select subsets of those profiles with departments or individuals who need them.
We don’t like the sharing aspect of CRM applications. Customer service doesn’t need to see our meeting notes and personal information about customers. Production doesn’t need to see a customer’s purchase history or their credit limit. And the boss doesn’t want to risk having any of his or her input seen by practically anybody.
Security has always been—and will always be—an issue with networks. And the internet is the biggest one of all. What I can say is that the developers of CRM solutions are more concerned than even you are about the safety of their sites. They follow state-of-the-art security protocols and they build in tools to help the administrator assign strict access rights to all users.
Can’t we just spend more time learning about our customers by following them and interacting with them on social media?
That’s one of the biggest selling points of CRM solutions. The best ones actually provide ways to see customers’ social streams from within the application itself, isolating the posts and tweets and updates that are pertinent, the ones that tell you something about who the customers are, what their problems are, what interests them, what annoys them, etc.
Don’t give up on the whole idea of Customer Relationship Management websites because of the objections you may hear from individuals who probably don’t know as much as you do about the benefits — or who have had a bad experience with a particular site. See for yourself. Look around. Take advantage of free trials and/or get demos. And let me know what you find.