Customer relationship management (CRM) for beginners: a step-by-step guide

Customer relationship management (CRM) for beginners: a step-by-step guide

It’s difficult to envision a time when you didn’t have the contacts app on your phone. To begin with, remembering phone numbers can be difficult, let alone remembering the email and mailing addresses of everyone you know. As a result, we delegate that responsibility to our phones, which are programmed to memorize everyone’s contact information. All we have to do is say Siri, call Bob, and everything will be taken care of.

You require even more assistance with your business contacts—and your address book application is not sufficient. In addition to names, phone numbers, and addresses, you must keep track of the products and services that individuals are interested in, the services they have purchased from your company, the firm for which they work, their preferences, and the list goes on and on.


What exactly is a customer relationship management system (CRM)?

A customer relationship management tool (CRM) is a software program that allows you to organize contact information and manage your interactions with present and potential customers, clients, and other stakeholders. It’s the modern equivalent of the old-fashioned telephone directory.

A excellent address book program, such as Google Contacts, allows you to list your contacts, enter extensive contact information for each contact, make notes about each contact, and search for emails they have sent you in your Gmail account. You can even categorize contacts into groups, for example, to separate customers from leads on one list and vice versa.

CRM software will accomplish this and more as a result of the R in its name: relationship.

Relationship management software (CRM) is designed around relationships. They’ll assist you in locating all of your contacts who work for the same organization as well as any messages that have been sent to you regarding your employment with that company, if any. Your team will be able to tell you which members of your team have been in contact with them most recently so you can receive an introduction, remind you what to discuss at your next meeting, and even automatically send follow-up messages to assist you in nurturing leads.

CRM software can be divided into four categories.

Leads and deals are at the forefront of all customer relationship management systems. Using a customer relationship management system, you can track potential customers and clients as “leads,” enter information as you attempt to persuade that consumer to utilize your product or service, and then convert that lead into a “deal” once they’ve agreed to purchase your products or services. Customers relationship management systems (CRMs) assist you in tracking down the stages that lead from your first contact to the closed contract—and they’re critical in helping you work together as a sales team that would otherwise struggle to know exactly where the offer was at any one time.

CRMs can be divided into four categories, which are as follows:

  • CRM in the field of operations
  • CRM that allows for collaboration
  • CRM with analytic capabilities

Marketing CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

In practice, most customer relationship management systems (CRMs) are all-in-one tools that can incorporate functionality from both types; however, recognizing the differences can help you determine which CRM elements are most relevant to you.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in Operational Settings

Operations CRMs, in addition to providing standard CRM services (such as storing leads, customers, and deals in a single location), place a strong emphasis on automation, allowing you to streamline company operations related to customer relationships.

Because it allows you to automatically track touchpoints throughout the customer journey, from leads first connecting with your content to them progressing through the sales pipeline, small businesses may profit from this sort of CRM as their businesses grow in size and complexity. It allows teams to outsource a significant amount of manual work (such as data syncing) and concentrate on developing client relationships.

Collaborative Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Most of the time, marketing, sales, and customer service teams work in silos, dispersed across departments and without access to a shared visual pipeline of leads and client interactions, which may be extremely inefficient.

A collaborative customer relationship management system (CRM) provides every team with access to up-to-date client data in one central location in real time. This includes marketing information (for example, what material a lead has interacted with), any transactions a customer has made, and any previous customer engagement with any team member or member of the team. This sort of CRM enables anyone to rapidly access a record of all previous interactions, allowing them to better understand the requirements and interests of their consumers.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) based on analytics

This form of CRM, as the name implies, places a heavy emphasis on analytics and reporting capabilities and features. Indeed, you must examine client data gathered over time in order to improve many aspects of your organization, such as marketing campaigns, sales efforts, and the efficacy of customer service representatives, among other things.

Data may assist your company in painting a more accurate image of your core client and answering issues such as which marketing efforts produce the most leads or which content is most likely to lead to a purchase.

Marketing CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

With all of your contact information in one location, it appears as though your CRM could automate some of the processes associated with it. And if you have a marketing customer relationship management system, it can.

Marketing customer relationship management systems (CRMs) generally incorporate marketing capabilities directly into the program. They also contain automated processes, which may be used to, for example, automatically send an email to a lead the day after they click on a link in a marketing email you sent them to follow up with them. Alternatively, they may mark a lead as interested after they’ve opened four of your emails, informing your staff that it’s time to add a human touch to the correspondence. These apps are typically a little more expensive than their competitors, but they can also help you close your next transaction more quickly.

Some customer relationship management systems (CRMs) are even more industry-specific, designed for organizations in a specific area such as real estate or insurance.

What exactly is a lead? The definitions of the nine most often used CRM terms

Now that you’ve gained an understanding of CRM software, it’s time to brush up on your jargon. CRMs are chock-full of new terms that you may not be familiar with if you have never worked in sales before, such as leads, deals, contacts, opportunities, and so on. Here are some of the most often seen customer relationship management (CRM) phrases, along with a brief description of each.

Contact: In CRM land, contacts are referred to as individuals. You’ll keep track of the names and personal information of your customers and clients in the same way that you keep track of your address book (your contacts). Additionally, you’ll most likely find designations like “company” or “account” alongside your contacts; these are the entities with which you do business, and your individual connections will typically be linked to a company or an account in your CRM.

Lead: Leads are contacts who have expressed an interest in doing business with your firm in the future, but who need to be nurtured for a long period of time until they are ready to do so.

Opportunity: It turns out that the lead was extremely interested, and you believe you will be able to sell them your product or service. They’ve turned into an opportunity: someone who is truly likely to purchase your stuff. The specifics of this opportunity (including any prospective financial amounts) should be listed and tracked in your customer relationship management system (CRM).

Quote: You’ve been working with a contact, turning that lead into an opportunity, and you’re almost ready to close the deal—so you’ll give them a price as well as the service or products they’ll receive in exchange for their business. That is exactly what quotations are for: they are a spot where you may list the price you offered to prospective consumers.

Deal: Everything worked out, and you were able to sell your product—or, conversely, everything didn’t, and the chance was lost. You’ll be able to keep track of both of those with deals (won and lost).

Profiles: Typically, these would be the individuals inside your own organization who make use of the CRM program.. In the app, each of them may have a certain role, as well as a specific set of permissions—for example, your sales team may not have access to your suppliers list, whilst only HR may be able to modify information on your team profiles.

Using your CRM for marketing, campaigns are the outreach efforts that you make to potential customers. Each campaign will include a list of the contacts and firms that are most important to that campaign’s outreach strategy, as well as results, notes, and other information.

Tags are similar to the tags you use in Gmail or the metadata you use on your images in that they allow you to add additional information to a contact, contract, or anything else in your company’s CRM. This additional information provides you with more options for filtering and sorting through your CRM.

If something happens in the app that is considered activity, it might be anything from new deals to contacts to opportunities, or it could be as simple as receiving an email from your colleagues. Activity is typically reported in a feed, making it easy to keep track of what has been happening.

CRM pricing: How much would a customer relationship management system (CRM) cost?

CRM cost is just as diverse as CRM features in terms of availability.

If you’re concerned about the cost, there are a number of free alternatives accessible. However, as is typically the case, free can be a terrible thing. We did, however, put many of them through their paces, so have a look at our list of the top free CRM apps and make your selection.

In order to make the switch from an entry-level CRM to a more feature-rich solution, you’ll normally need to spend anywhere from $5 to $100 per user per month, depending on the software and features that you choose. Yes, there is quite a spread. That’s why it’s critical that you understand exactly which features are absolutely necessary, so that you don’t end up acquiring a product that contains many more features than you require. Take a look at our comparison of HubSpot vs. Salesforce pricing to get an idea of how different pricing may be, both in terms of pricing structures and actual cost.

How can you get the most out of your customer relationship management system?

Your customer relationship management system (CRM) will only be effective if you put it to use to its full potential.

Make it a tool for increasing productivity.

It is not necessary to continue using your address book to handle contacts and your notes app to jot down what was said during a phone conversation. Once you have a customer relationship management system, use it for everything. If your customer relationship management system (CRM) is where you keep track of everything about your clients, it will rapidly become a vital component of your work, saving you time at every stage of the process.

Make use of CRM automation.

While many CRMs have automation features to help you manage your operations more effectively, you can use additional automation tools, such as Zapier, to further leverage your leads and make an even greater impact on your business. You can automate tasks like as adding new contacts to your CRM or logging phone calls, meetings, and other activities into your contact profiles.

It is automation like this, whether built-in or derived from another software, that allows you to rely on the CRM to be the one location where all of your contact information is stored. You should never feel the need to travel to another app in order to find pertinent information; your CRM should serve as the central repository for all of your team’s client interactions.

Choosing a CRM for your team might be a difficult decision. So experiment with a few different CRM systems to determine which one best suits your work style and then select which type of CRM system your team need. Then, at the conclusion of the free trial time, choose one CRM and make a long-term commitment. During this period, the real work of generating new leads and closing new agreements begins.

CRM applications can assist you in bringing order to the chaos of your contacts with others, allowing you to concentrate on your clients rather of constantly attempting to remember what was said last. Although the program appears to be sophisticated, it is not significantly more complicated than your typical email and contacts apps—and after you learn to rely on the CRM and add automation, you will find that it takes you less time to use than your old email search habits.

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