Tech Tools For Business Growth – Part 1

To grow a business you need great organisational skills and efficient processes. Tech Tools provide cost-effective ways to gain market exposure, win new clients, manage staff, control projects and stay secure.

Use our blog to understand tech tool options for growth, and the advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Part 1: CRM Software

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CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software enables a business to record customers’ contact information and every interaction with them — by phone, email, social media, appointment or helpdesk.

CRM analyses this ‘institutional customer knowledge’ to improve customer service and increase sales.

It automatically identifies cross-sell opportunities and adds value to every customer touchpoint.

Additionally, CRM improves team collaboration and productivity, guides new marketing campaigns, and tracks orders and invoices.

Once a business reaches a point where spreadsheets are getting out of control and lack the above functionality, CRM is the efficient solution.

CRM can be a pre-packaged or bespoke system, cloud or server-based, depending on business size and needs.

For further information see https://uk.pcmag.com/cloud-services/67398/the-best-crm-software?amp=1

Advantages of CRM Systems

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– organise all your contacts and internal client information in one interface, automate everyday tasks, saving time and driving better sales performance

– analyse data to improve sales processes. For example, sending a loyal customer a birthday gift, up-selling a beneficial service based on previous discussions, or attracting back inactive customers with personalised offers

– easy tracking of sales pipeline and projected revenue from data such as calls made and appointments booked

– personalise and automate marketing (see customer segmentation blog) to engage and grow a customer base by gathering client profile information

– prioritise sales by grouping prospects, such as by size, area, sector

– co-ordinate team actions for improved results, such as sales teams using data collected by client service teams

– Set and measure sales goals with accessible reporting and analytics

– track communications, engagement, activities, e-mail marketing campaigns, and social media interaction

– improve customer satisfaction and retention through identifying and resolving problems sooner, targeting customers with special offers, and being reliable and responsive

Disadvantages of CRM Systems

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– loss of records if remote CRM host provider suffers an outage. Use local backups to avoid loss

– time wasted if system goes offline

– development and maintenance costs (plus backups) for proprietary CRM

– system upgrades and security patches essential for personalised CRM systems

– costly training and time away from production. Managerial staff additional training for specialised functions

– integration with existing systems can be complex

– staff resistance to new system -accurate record inputs are essential

For further information see https://www.techwalla.com/articles/the-disadvantages-of-crm-systems and https://mopinion.com/best-crm-software-for-small-businesses-smb/

Typical CRM Features

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  • Calendar Management – task management refines productivity
  • E-Mail Management – automatic data capture from e-mail interactions, speed up tasks such as sending bulk emails, automatic replies for common queries, sending receipts or instructions
  • Quote/Proposal Management – improves workflows, schedule calls and appointments, manage completed sales and track revenue
  • Marketing Automation Integration – reminds staff to follow up customers at the right time, or actually performs follow-up task
  • E-Mail Marketing – initiates e-mail marketing based on criteria, such as a trigger during customer phone calls, customer sign-ups to a webinar, or customer account cancellation. Sometimes built-in, sometimes connects to third party such as Mailchimp
  • Lead Scoring – Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and predictive technology in CRM reminds users to complete tasks and guides their next actions. Business intelligence (BI) platforms can automate opportunity scoring and forecasting.
  • Customer Support – improves efficiency in sales, complaints, information and assistance
  • Lead Management – tracks prospects from lead generation throughout the sales pipeline. Can trigger actions based on lead progression, and update customer status – such as from lead to prospect – based on their action

For further information see https://www.capterra.com/customer-relationship-management-software/faq/

Choosing A CRM System – Considerations

Functionality

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Business Process Mapping (BPM) is vital before purchasing a CRM. This will visually display how certain activities are undertaken in your company, and who is responsible for different actions within those activities.

By highlighting issues that need resolving in your business you can choose a CRM that supports both current and best practice processes.

Understand how employees need to use the software, and what tools and processes are currently used.

Map common tasks to CRM to ensure it will simplify, not complicate, workflow. Obtain feedback from users in different roles, to eliminate unnecessary features, add others, and estimate training needs.

Purpose

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What is the purpose of your CRM? What data does it need to achieve this?

For example, customers’ personal information (to personalise e-mails to specific groups), or insights from web, e-mail or social media (to discover who loves your offering and who needs better customer service).

Commonly tracked data includes:

  • Customer information
  • Sales figures
  • Team information
  • Goals and targets
  • Business information

Does it need to be mobile (cloud-based with a mobile app), so staff can use it remotely?

Is it scaleable to suit business growth?

Costs

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Some providers operate ‘freemium’models – free at entry level then paid-for at higher volumes or for additional features

CRM prices vary drastically depending on your company needs in terms of features and number of users.

There will be per-month, per-user fees, one-off fees and annual costs. There may be fees for training, upgrades and ongoing support.

There may be minimum user criteria.

For further information see https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/biggest-mistakes-people-make-when-choosing-a-crm

Ease of Use

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CRM systems can combine email, tasks and sales into a centralised dashboard.

During testing, evaluate how easy it is to find features, conduct tasks, import data, connect accounts, assign activities; how well it helps users correct errors, and how easy it is to train others in it.

Consider what data and analysis the CRM does and does not need to provide  to assist business growth, and if it presents this in an accessible format.

Integration

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Check how well the CRM solution integrates with your other software tools, such as cloud storage, customer service platforms or marketing automation software, to avoid importing data manually or paying for integration software and additional equipment.

Integrating your CRM software into your email platform means that entering the customer’s name or ID in one platform automatically brings up data from the other.

For example, integration with your phone system, to capture call and conversation data. Or with social media management and analytics platforms, to capture these customer interactions.,

Determine which features are included and which need a third-party add-on.

Integration is either ‘native’, so the CRM or system you want to connect has a prebuilt integration module to download and implement.

Or if both systems support an open application programming interface (API), they can be coded to build a custom integration. This provides flexibility but adds significant cost.

For further information see https://www.mulesoft.com/resources/saas/crm-integration

Cloud versus Server

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There are many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) CRM solutions, and also on-premises own-server CRM options.

With installed CRM software, data is stored and accessed on each user’s computer, plus backed-up in-house.

Cloud-based CRM is quick and cheap to implement and maintain. Data is stored and accessed through the software company’s remote hardware. This frees up space within your business, and allows easy remote access.

Whether web-based or installed CRM is most suitable depends on your company needs.

Customer Support

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Clarify what support is included for set-up and on an ongoing basis.

SaaS solutions have tiered, subscription-based pricing, offering different levels of support.

Security

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CRM software should generate an audit trail whenever someone changes a password, and let you set access controls for each user.
Make sure CRM software integrates with your current IT security software, such as your identity-management system, for single sign-on authentication.
Check the vendor’s service level agreement (SLA) to see where your data resides (especially relating to GDPR), who is responsible for its safety, and what happens if there’s a problem.

 

Mobile

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Evaluate the mobile app carefully if staff need to access and update CRM remotely. Mobile devices are very different from desktops and will be used and render differently.

Make sure your CRM software can support your mobile platform, and check for seamless functionality if needed.

Reporting and Analytics

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CRM software should allow analysis of  leads and deals, with customisable reporting features to display employee performance and customer type response.

Check the CRM lets you export reports to present data to stakeholders. Use an integrated Business Intelligence(BI) tool to turn data into displays of metrics such as statistics, demographic information, product popularity and sales conversions.

Combine data from multiple sources—such as your CRM database and your warehouse and supply chain – to ask complex queries and provide new insights, taking multiple data sources into account.

Examples of CRM Systems

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Packages to research include:

1. Insightly

Very popular with small businesses, easy to navigate, lots of customisation and integration options, plus project management features such as task management and tracking.

Website: www.insightly.com

2. Zoho

Various editions available, good sales and marketing features, website visitor tracking and lead scoring.

Website: www.zoho.com

3. Hubspot CRM

A free version available with activity tracking, contacts and company profiles, data dashboard and integration options.

Website: www.hubspot.com

4. Apptivo

CRM software with customisable solutions. Features include project tracking, finance management, and customer relations.

Website: www.apptivo.com

5. Salesforce

One of the biggest and most widely used CRM software. It can be less easy to use and expensive for a beginner, but there is a basic edition called Lightning Essentials. This includes an advanced contact manager with e-mail integration and follow-up reminders, plus lots of integration and customisation options.

Website: www.salesforce.com

6. Agile CRM

Agile CRM offers a lot of features like custom appointments, drag-and-drop marketing automation and reports via email. It supports widgets, lots of plugins and integrations.

Website: www.agilecrm.com

7. Capsule CRM

Easy-to-use software that allows tracking of relationships and sales pipelines, but less functionality for campaigns and reporting.

Website: www.capsulecrm.com

8. Base CRM

Ideal for companies seeking to customise sales pipelines. The sales tracking solution has sales stages, you can add leads, stakeholders and records to sales deals, plus there are integrations with social networks and third party apps.

Website: www.getbase.com

Also review:

9. ConvergeHub

Website:www.convergehub.com

10. SuiteCRM

Website: www.suitecrm.com

In conclusion, CRM software lets businesses understand customer preferences, to serve them better and to increase sales, whilst improving operational efficiencies.

Be sure after your initial research to use the free trials plus demos to see what a system offers, how easy it is to use, and how well it fits with your business growth plans.

 

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Published by

janbarwell

Business Blog Writer

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