3 Keys to CRM Success for Small Businesses

Business.com
3 Keys to CRM Success for Small Businesses
Sun, 17 Feb 2019 06:00:00 -0800

With the market for customer relationship management software projected to reach $82 billion by 2025, businesses are increasingly relying on CRM software to improve their sales, marketing, support and retention efforts.

There are a vast array of products to choose from when looking to bolster their customer relationships. But in the case of small business CRM, more isn't always more. Sometimes, small businesses get caught up in the search for a CRM with all the bells and whistles to "compete with the big guys" or automate more areas of their business. But overly complex software can actually hurt a small business's chance at a successful CRM installation.

Why? It's really quite simple: If CRM software is too complex or difficult to use, you (and your team) won’t use it, and if you don't regularly update your CRM, you won't reap any of the benefits of owning the software. In fact, poor user adoption kills nearly 70 percent of CRM projects, and a whopping 42 percent of CRM licenses go unused.

Editor's note: Need a CRM solution for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

 

Poor setup, ineffective training, overly complex features, lack of managerial oversight — all of this leads to inadequate or incorrect data entry by staff members, which quickly results in fewer users engaging with the software overall. Without consistent data entry and user engagement, all you have is outdated reports and unreliable account history. Without accurate data, your CRM system is merely running on empty.

Unfortunately, the goals of CRM companies are often at odds with those of small businesses. Truth be told, CRM developers get more bang for their buck when they work with large organizations that will utilize their staggering slew of features. This doesn't mean the right partnership for your small business isn't out there. It just means it's all the more important to work with a CRM provider that offers the simple software solutions you need — and will ultimately use. Follow these steps to set your CRM implementation up for success.

1. Always take the test drive. 

Most CRMs offer free trial periods. Don't sign a deal without one. And during that test drive, pay close attention to the features that will matter most after you've settled into the driver's seat. How's the workflow on everyday tasks? Do you like the look and feel of the system?

Remember, you're making a major commitment that will require quite a bit of front-end effort. Can you imagine working with this system every day for five years or more? Take your time and be thorough. Many CRM companies will even extend your trial if you ask.

2. Try out the customer service. 

Once you've tested a few systems, see if you can get a full demo from your top two or three choices. A demo will offer you the opportunity to work directly with a customer service rep, which is a window into your potential future with that company.

This interaction may afford you an opportunity to see how knowledgeable the rep is about your company and its CRM needs. Ask the rep what he or she will do to effectively translate your current sales and marketing efforts into the software. Probe into what kind of help you and your team will be getting during implementation. This relationship will be much more important than the one with your sales agent, so it's better to determine whether it's a good fit before you sign the contract.

3. Involve your team. 

User adoption is ultimately about the user experience. If your team members don't like using the software, then they won't. So why wait until you've purchased the CRM system to find out that everyone on your team hates it?

Instead, choose a representative or two from every department that will be using the software regularly, and include each representative in the trial and demo sessions. Give him or her an opportunity to explore what daily tasks would feel like in the system. Do the reps find it easy to use? Does it meet the specific needs of their respective departments? If not, keep looking.

Although many CRMs come with bells and whistles that are far beyond the basic needs of small businesses, there are still CRM options that can help you maintain and expand your customer relationships. You might just need to focus a little more on implementation. With greater awareness of your needs — and how these systems can best be used to meet them — you can smooth the path to successfully implementing a CRM solution.

Can Artificial Intelligence Help Improve B2B Sales?
Sun, 17 Feb 2019 09:00:00 -0800

Over the years businesses have employed different technologies that allow them to reach to exponential possibilities. Among these emerging technologies is artificial intelligence (AI). As AI has great potential in marketing, particularly in the domain of B2B sales, it can revolutionize the way business interact with one another about services and products.

At present, it is clear that Al has set the mode of marketing of the B2B world. Majority of the business giants fear the unprecedented role of AI in their operations, as they believe that this technology will eliminate the need for human effort. So, in the light of such intimidations, let us now see the role of AI in playing in transforming the marketing strategy of the businesses and, more importantly, where humans stand in the midst of it all.

Digital marketing in today’s world

In today's era of digital marketing, many businesses find billboard advertising, distributing pamphlets, radio ads and print median highly inefficient in this competitive B2B world.

In recent times, businesses that are employing digital marketing methods are climbing the success ladder at a faster rate as their sales are intensifying and doubling from the last few years. Many individuals prefer to shop for products and services online. In this respect, the sales revenue that the businesses generate through online ads is greater than those made from print media ads.

AI and its impacts on B2B sales and marketing

Here are a few ways AI can dramatically change the model of B2B sales:

Al keeps your sales team up to date.

Your B2B customers likely get their information about your service or products online and not through sales representatives. AI platforms pull up to date information from breaking news and social media news such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and CRM and earlier exchanges on email, so you know exactly what your customers are seeing.

AI reduces time spend on low-value sales tasks.

With the implementation of AI in the B2B marketing, instead of a sales rep, there is a personal automated assistant. The role of this assistant is to optimize the face-to-face meetings between the sellers and the buyers. With such automation, there will be no need to skim through the messages that lead to one-way communication only. With Al, business-related conversations become mechanized just through human touch.

AI helps with lead conversion.

Getting a lead, following up and convert that lead into a customer can be a complicated process. The right tools and corporate partners can simplify the process using AI automation tools. The tool is an automated sales assistant which create engaging conversations so that you can reach your sales goals. The entire process of contact, engagement and email is via artificial intelligence in two-way communication. Other AI-powered tools can help you score leads using analytical techniques from sales data.

Although the B2B sales landscape is changing due to AI, its nature is still fragmented. Thus, if businesses need to update their marketing and communications with other companies, they should increase their reliance on the AI-powered tools that set the pace of digital marketing.

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