At a certain point, just about every small to medium sized business will find the need to invest (either time or money) in CRM (Client or Customer Relationship Management) software. CRM software is a quick and easy way to manage, automate, and document all of your client interactions.
The better you are able to manage your client relationships, the more successful your business is likely to become. It is no surprise then that software systems that specifically address day-to-day client interactions are growing in popularity.
What is Client Relationship Management (CRM)?
Client relationship management (CRM) is not simply about the use of a software package. It is a more all-encompassing strategy designed to delve into the needs and likely behaviour of your existing and potential clients. The more you know about your clients’ needs and behaviours, the better you can service them, and the more likely you will build strong, long-term relationships with them. CRM is an overarching business objective, rather than simply a software solution.
Effective CRM can help you modify and improve your business, so as to serve your existing and potential customers better. CRM helps you pinpoint your customer needs, and capitalise on improved customer relations.
The Benefits of Effective Client Relationship Management (CRM)
Implementing customer relationship management (CRM) software and systems can often involve some degree of time and expense. But, in the long-run, you should see significant return on investment. Some of the usual benefits associated with effective CRM include:
- Better relationships, insights and understanding of your existing customers, resulting in:
- Increased sales by anticipating clients needs, using historic data
- Increased sales by cross-selling other products and services
- The ability to identify which clients are profitable and which are not, so that you can focus on:
- More targeted marketing and communications programs, which highlight the specific features and benefits that your clients need
- Development of new and improved products based on client feedback and historical data
All of this can result in greater client satisfaction, and therefore greater client retention. If clients are satisfied, they are more likely to spend more money with you, making your business more efficient and more profitable. After all, it is much more profitable to retain an existing client, as compared to finding a new one. Client satisfaction and retention also usually result in word-of-mouth recommendations (the best type of recommendation going around), and more new work. Plus, the more you know about your existing clients, the easier it will be to identify new, similar clients and increase your market share.
Client Relationship Management (CRM) Software
CRM software options vary greatly in capability, functionality, and price tag, from basic address-book style software, right through to sophisticated enterprise suites for sales, invoicing and marketing. There are even industry-specific CRM software packages available, as well as CRM solutions tailored to a specific type of functionality such as a help desk.
Given that I have been investigating all the available options for use myself, I thought my findings might be useful for you as well.
Established in 1999, Salesforce is the customer success platform. It is also the biggest, and most well-known CRM software solution on the market due, in part, to its impressive statistics:
- 25% increase in Pipeline
- 36% increase in Sales Productivity
- 26% increase in Sales Win Rate
- 45% increase in Forecast Accuracy
- 30% increase in Revenue
Salesforce offers a range of solutions designed to satisfy all your sales, service, marketing, community, and analytics needs. You can use it to track all your client information and interactions, and nurture leads until they are sales-ready. Salesforce includes powerful apps for all your mobile devices, so you can run your sales team from your mobile phone if needs be. The design of Salesforce is crisp and clean, and the interface is quite easy-to-use.
Pricing: Depending on the size and needs of your business, there are a number of price points available, ranging from Group ($35 per month), to Unlimited ($360 per month).
Not just another CRM software package, Nimble’s point of difference is that it is the only CRM that offers high-end CRM features combined with the power of social media. Nimble is able to pull in and amalgamate all of your client profiles, email conversations, and even social signals into one central database. You can add notes, reminders, meetings and even follow-ups to Nimble, as well as tie pipeline management to each of your contacts. It also integrates with a number of programs, including HootSuite, MailChimp and Quote Roller. The only real drawback to Nimble is that it can be difficult to get hold of support. There are no support phone numbers on their website, just plenty of email addresses. And, given that Nimble is a US-based company, Australian support is fairly unlikely.
Pricing: Nimble’s pricing structure is relatively simple: $15 per month per user.
Infusionsoft is a complete sales and marketing automation software for small businesses combining CRM, email marketing, lead capture and e-commerce. It is designed specifically for small businesses. Using Infusionsoft, you can schedule tasks, manage contacts, automate marketing efforts by focusing on lead capture and automatic email follow-up. You can even use Infusionsoft to manage your online store, inventory, fulfilment and billing, as well as offer upsells, discounts, and payment and subscription plans.
Pricing: Infusionsoft’s pricing schedule is based upon how many contacts, how many emails you wish to send per month, and how many users you have. The base plan, Essentials, allows you to store 2,500 contacts, send 12,500 emails per month, and have 3 users. The cost for the Essentials plan is $199 per month; not exactly a cost-effective option for most small businesses.
According to their website, Insightly is the number one CRM for small business worldwide, currently used by more than 650,000 businesses. It is more than just a CRM, offering a range of project management features, including opportunity and pipeline management, task management, creating milestones, setting up automate email reminders, specifying roles for contacts, tracking emails, uploading any files associated with the project, and viewing a range of reports. Insightly also integrates with a range of common platforms, such as Google Apps and Gmail, Outlook, Quick Books and Mail Chimp.
Pricing: Insightly offers quite a robust free package (up to 2,500 contacts and 2MG of storage, but limited integration options). Otherwise, their Standard package is $7 per user per month.
Aparently, SugarCRM is the most innovative, affordable, and flexible CRM on the market. Plus, it delivers the best value. Fairly large claims to fame if you ask me. The user interface of SugarCRM is very intuitive and easy-to-navigate, and you can customise your own view when logging in. SugarCRM offers users the ability to automate sales, undertake sales forecasting, manage leads, and automate call centre operations. It also offers powerful and flexible mobile app options. I must admit, personally, I wouldn’t opt for this CRM software though. The website is just too full of marketing-speak, and devoid of real, specific features and benefits.
Pricing: There are three price points for SugarCRM: Professional, which is $40 per month, Enterprise, which is $65 per month, and Ultimate, which is $150 per month.