The Beginner’s Guide to CRM

Business owners–whether big or small–want more, happy customers. 

What if you knew how your customers behave and what they want from you?

Simple: You’d make better-informed decisions that get them satisfied, wanting to stick around with you, and in the long-run, give you more money for your product or service. 

And that sounds like something customer relationship management (CRM) can do for you. 

Customer relationship management can, however, sound frightening to you, especially if you’re a small business owner. For one thing, you only have a few customers to deal with and a few spreadsheets will work just fine. 

But what happens when your business grows and your customer base explodes? Manually keeping track of your prospects and customers with those massive spreadsheets becomes daunting: it’s both time- and energy-consuming, and it’s also easy for things to slip through the cracks. 

At its core, the best CRMs help you track the products your prospects and customers are interested in, what services they’ve purchased from you, the company they work for, and much more.

Don’t just take our word for it.

According to HubSpot, 75% of sales managers say that using a CRM helps to drive and increase sales. And that’s not all. CRM systems improve customer retention by as much as 27%.

Numbers like these are just hard to ignore.

In this article, I’ll show you just how a CRM can help you get more customers and retain existing ones.

But first…

What is a CRM?

Customer relationship management or CRM is software that helps companies to track interactions with their potential and existing customers. 

By tracking everything from someone’s first visit to your site and their activity to the exact time they opened your sales proposal and how long they looked at it, a CRM helps your sales and marketing teams to effectively and efficiently interact with your future and current customers.

Your marketing team will use a CRM to ensure that they’re sending qualified leads to your sales team.

Your sales team, on the other hand, will use a CRM to source potential customers, communicate with them, and track their interactions. With your entire prospect history in one place, your sales team becomes more efficient and productive. 

Who Should Use a CRM?

99% of the time, the answer is EVERYONE!

But to get a little more specific, if your business aims to maintain a healthy relationship with customers by tracking leads and customers, then a CRM is a must-have for you. 

If you’re still unsure whether or not a CRM can benefit your business, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you need to maintain a central list of information on your leads and customers? Does this information live in many different places like email, spreadsheets, notes, etc?
  • Are your customers regularly interacting with many people on your team? How does everyone keep track of where the conversation with each customer left off?
  • Do you struggle to understand the productivity of your sales team? Does your sales team follow a structured process?

If your answer to any or all of these questions is Yes, then your business could benefit from a CRM system.

The 4 Remarkable Benefits a CRM Provides to your Business

A properly deployed CRM system tracks and manages all your interactions with prospects and customers while flagging opportunities that might require further nurturing or follow-up.

The right CRM software will make you a more effective sales and marketing machine. Here’s how a great CRM system can help your sales reps close more deals and convert more leads into paying customers.

1. Get better lead intelligence

What if you knew when a potential customer was looking at your website, your products, or services. This insight can help you know exactly who to target. A CRM allows your sales team to know how many times potential customers have visited your website. It also tells you if your potential customers have talked to any member of your sales team.

When integrated with your marketing software, your sales team can access this detailed, real-time information all from one place.  

What’s more, a CRM allows your marketing team to see which leads turn into customers, what brought them to your website in the first place, and what pages they looked at before becoming a customer. 

Armed with this information, you can better tailor your marketing messages to target future prospects and know which of your marketing efforts are converting.

2. Helps sales and marketing teams to work together

Your sales and marketing teams must direct their efforts at the same prospects and be completely aligned on decisions and pricing. Real-time reporting in a CRM holds both teams accountable to their goals and helps both teams to work toward a common goal.

If your sales and marketing teams work together, they can easily hit their numbers each month. For one thing, they can easily assess each team’s progress, identify, and remedy and problems early.

Because CRMs are also used for customers, not just leads, account managers can easily reference documented customer service communications and metrics as well.

3. Better prioritize your sales pipeline

Besides providing complete visibility into your sales pipeline, a CRM also helps you to prioritize who to call first, which customer to email next, so you don’t miss important opportunities.

A CRM can help you to identify important criteria and even set up a lead scoring system. This helps to reduce the time you spend sifting through leads and allows you to prioritize the best opportunities.

4. Improve your marketing campaigns with closed-loop reporting

When integrated with your marketing software, a CRM can help you analyze the effectiveness of your campaigns using a closed-loop reporting system. For instance, when you convert a lead into a paying customer, you can mark this lead in the CRM and it will automatically be recorded in your marketing software as well.

This allows you to automatically remove this lead and send them customer-focused information instead. You can also attribute this new customer to a specific campaign and channel which will help you to improve your future marketing campaigns.

How to Choose the Best CRM Software for Your Business

With dozens of CRM software solutions to choose from, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Which one is actually going to help you and your teams to connect with customers on their own terms?

To help sort things out, here are nine features you should look out for when choosing the right CRM solution for your business. 

  • Contact management

Most CRM solutions allow you to create contact records and store prospect and customer information in a database. With a CRM, you can also keep track of every contact (and their related data like their first and last name and email address), details like their job title, company name, annual company revenue, and much more. 

In fact, you can also see if a contact visited your company website, downloaded content from your site, or spoke with another member of your sales team. The best part? All of this information is always searchable within the CRM.

If the CRM you’re using doesn’t have a contact management capability, chances are you aren’t using a CRM. What’s more, the best systems are easy to use.

  • Deal stages

To understand what a deal stage is, you probably have an exploratory call with almost all the prospects who buy your product or service. So, “exploratory call” might be the first deal stage in your CRM. 

Whether your company has four deal stages or 10, you should be able to program these levels into the CRM and attach associated values to them. What’s more, it should be easy to move a deal along the sales process, from one stage to the next.

With HubSpot’s CRM, advancing a deal is as simple as dragging and dropping and that’s what a good CRM should allow you to do.

The Beginner’s Guide to CRM

You also want to make sure you can easily customize the software to meet your unique needs.

  • Daily dashboard

As you run your business, you need to keep track of a number of metrics on a daily basis. The CRM you choose to go with should show you metrics like how many deals you have in your pipelines at which stages, your progress, and what tasks you need to complete. 

Remember, the best CRM solutions make this really simple while being visually appealing. 

  • Task management

A typical unhappy salesperson has to toggle back and forth between several different systems to view and complete their daily tasks. And this can be hectic. 

CRM systems that include task management capabilities streamline your day-to-day workflow as a salesperson and keeps you on top of your follow-up. This is one feature you shouldn’t lose sight of in any customer relationship management tool.

  • Content repository

Research shows that salespeople spend the bulk of their time hunting for or creating content. If that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what else would. 

To cut back on time you waste searching for content, use a CRM with an embedded content repository that allows you to save the collateral you frequently send to prospects in one place. Writing an email copy can also be another time-sucker for busy people. So, you want to go with a customer relationship management system that also allows you to file away customized email templates so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every new outreach.  

Hint: If you read to the end of this guide, I’ll give you an email template you can plug in and use anytime.

  • Automated data capture

One reason companies choose to use a CRM is that they want to keep better track of customer and prospect touches (emails, calls, etc). But most CRM systems require that you copy and paste your email outreach or upload your call recordings into the system and that can be daunting if you’re making 50 or 100 calls every day. Worse part? This leaves room for human error. 

When deciding on a CRM to use, go with one that does this automatically. For instance, HubSpot’s CRM automatically logs calls made and emails sent and posts them in a timeline-like view on a contact’s record page. It literally does the heavy lifting for you.

The Beginner’s Guide to CRM

  • Reporting

You won’t find a CRM without a reporting capability. If you do, chances are you aren’t looking at a CRM. For one thing, a CRM is only as good as the insights it provides. 

You want to make sure the CRM you’re using provides reporting features that make it easy to export and distribute the trends the system reveals.

  • Mobile

Mobile capabilities in CRM systems are especially important if you have a sales team that’s constantly on the move. Forcing your sales team to use a CRM system they can only access via a laptop is bound to annoy them if they’re constantly traveling. 

Besides, sales reps have seen a 15% increase in productivity when they have mobile access to customer relationship management applications. Most CRMs today allow you to log on to the application from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. So, make sure the one you decide to use has the mobile capability as well. 

  • Integration with marketing automation

The underlying concept of “customer relationship management” is to provide a complete lifecycle view into each prospect and client. If there’s any gap between marketing automation and CRM, it can lead to lost information and opportunities.

If your company uses marketing automation software, ensure that the CRM you choose can be easily integrated with it.

Ready to grow better with CRM software?

The right customer relationship management software can help you close more sales and improve customer retention. The wrong one has the power of doing the exact opposite. 

Hopefully, this guide will help you get started with not just your first CRM system, but the one that’s right for your business. When picking a CRM to use, think about your goals and understand that a CRM is not only a financial investment but also a time investment for your marketing and sales teams.

Now, I’d like to hear from you!

Are you ready to get started with a CRM system?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below this post.

Before you go using a CRM!

This guide is only scratching the surface of what you can accomplish with a CRM. 

If you want to grow better, you’ll need tools that work in tandem with your CRM software. For one thing, it can be a real tussle trying to understand a CRM especially if you’re just a beginner. 

Creating email content for your prospects and customers might be time-consuming. 

Designing your landing page from scratch can make your head spin.

The worst part? All these can slow you down and eventually hinder you from realizing your goals with the CRM you paid so highly to use for your business. 

That’s why I’m giving you three things to make your job easier.

  1. E-book: The Beginner’s Guide to CRM
  2. Email template; and
  3. Landing page template 

Want to hear the best part? All these are FREE. Plus, you can easily customize them to serve your unique needs.

Click below to get all three items for FREE from HubSpot:

10 thoughts on “The Beginner’s Guide to CRM”

  1. Superb blog!
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    Any ideas? Bless you!

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