Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is now the world’s biggest software market and is predicted to reach $80 billion in revenue by 2025.
Once the domain of big enterprises, the evolution of technology means CRM tools are now affordable and accessible to micro, small and medium-sized businesses from one person up.
In this article, we provide an insight into CRM systems for businesses taking regular payments. We’ll look at:
- What is a CRM system?
- Does your business need a CRM?
- The benefits of CRM systems
- The best CRM software available
CRM enables a business to more effectively manage its existing and potential customer communications and data by automating tasks like sales, marketing and customer service. It can also help to manage supplier, partner and employee interactions and store relevant business information.
The purpose of a CRM tool is to eliminate manually repetitive administrative tasks that can consume a lot of time and energy. These tasks could include inputting data into spreadsheets, downloading and saving individual emails from an overflowing inbox into one record file, finding customer data or searching through filing cabinets to find signed contracts.
A high-performing CRM system will collate all this data into one comprehensive customer file. Real-time information is displayed on an intuitive dashboard and users can run reports instantly to analyse sales or other factors. This data is then available whenever you need it, in perpetuity.
Are you juggling a sales pipeline using notes on scraps of paper? Attempting to manage new and existing customer communications across different channels and losing track of the latest interactions?Or are you spending hours analysing data across various spreadsheets to produce a sales forecast? Then you’ll probably benefit from a streamlined CRM solution.
In addition, if your business is taking regular payments, for example by using Direct Debit, then a CRM tool will help you to keep track of which customers are nearing the end of their contract, those who you can up-sell or cross-sell to with customised products and those who could do with some extra nurturing or personalised customer care.
Most CRM software is infinitely scalable. If you have big growth plans, installing CRM at the early stages to comprehensively organise your customer data will help you in the long-term.
The main benefits of CRM software are as follows:
- Cloud-based – fast to set up with no need for bulky hardware or expensive on-premise software installations. Upgrades can be done quickly over the internet and staff can log in at any time, from anywhere and on any device
- In-depth reporting – gain a better understanding of customer behaviour at the click of a button, identify which customers bring you the most revenue, analyse buying patterns, test sales approaches to see which is most effective for closing leads
- Meaningful data acquisition – quickly enter relevant data about your customers and new leads. Gather and store insightful customer contact information, whether that is from your website, over the phone, via a face-to-face meeting, social media engagement or email correspondence, and record the detail that is most relevant to your business
- Secure data storage – collect pertinent information about your clients over time and store it securely within the CRM software rather than on costly back-office servers
- Cross-team collaboration – data streams from sales, marketing, HR, operations, procurement, customer service departments can all be added into a CRM system and used to enhance knowledge-sharing and collaboration between different business areas. This will improve your offerings and customer experience, as well as profitability and efficiency
Depending on the software that you choose, there are also options to integrate it with your existing accounting, HR, marketing, operations or project management tools as well as other cloud-based applications. This integration cuts out the need to enter data multiple times into different systems as each talks to the other and shares the information.
There are plenty of providers out there offering CRM solutions for different sized businesses and different industries. Here are three options to consider:
Salesforce CRM claims to be the world’s number one CRM software, first launching a cloud-based CRM tool back in 1999. Salesforce has grown to include a suite of applications for customer service, marketing and fast application development.
It helps you to track all customer interactions from the first contact through to payment, automating processes to help you close deals faster. It provides key analytics and alerts you to specific actions using intuitive notifications. There are also built-in features that assist a user to find new cross-selling opportunities.
The software integrates seamlessly with applications such as Office 365, Google Apps, Mail-chimp, Sage, DocuSign and more. These integrations help to reduce manual administrative tasks and provide a seamless workflow, allowing supporting documentation or contracts to be effortlessly logged in the dashboard.
Clear reporting offers real-time analysis, as well as sales pipeline forecasting. Run reports on closed business figures, monthly sales comparisons or margins. It’s especially useful if your business is taking recurring payments to identify customers to target when contracts are up for renewal or with new products and services.
Ideal for any sized business, Salesforce CRM is fast, secure, and doesn’t require hardware or software maintenance. It offers a free 30-day trial to new customers to test out the features and has packages starting at £20 per month and up to £240 per month so you can pick the right service level for your business needs.
One of the best CRM software solutions is free. HubSpot CRM is quick to install and, according to the brand, takes minutes to learn how to use by using a business’ existing sales workflow. It gives you up to “1,000,000 contacts, users, and storage without any expiration date” and is suitable for both individuals and teams of thousands.
Syncing with your main communications channels, such as email, website, phone calls and social media, HubSpot CRM comprehensively captures and logs all your customer contact data as it happens. The software then organises it into an easy-to-follow timeline so you know who spoke to the customer, when and by what channel.
The software also provides functionality for instant live chat with customers, and has a universal inbox that can be shared with colleagues across departments so the right person can respond to a customer no matter what channel they use to interact.
It gives users visibility across their entire sales funnel with a straightforward, visual dashboard that provides up-to-the minute data. Custom filters can generate reports on the data most useful to you, for example on leads won or lost, scheduled appointments with customers, and contracts sent.
HubSpot also has a full suite of additional tools available to link with its CRM offering, including marketing, customer service and sales. The CRM software is free, but there are fees for the more sophisticated tools, for example the SEO software which is part of the marketing hub. There are numerous tiered packages depending on what you require, allowing you to customise your perfect solution.
Zoho CRM is an award-winning web-based CRM solution that is part of a large suite of tools offered by Zoho including finance applications, workplace functionality options, IT and helpdesk solutions as well as HR software.
This CRM software has an AI-powered conversational assistant called Zia to help you swiftly find any customer data, whether that is simple statistics or complex, multi-layered analytics. Users can contact Zia via the screen chat function or even call using the mobile app.
Linking with your existing communications, including email, social media and phone, Zoho CRM also enables you to use a ‘live chat’ function to communicate with visitors through your website. With streamlined notifications of customer interactions, you can respond to queries in real-time no matter what channel the message has come from.
Reporting is also simple to use and highly effective, offering visual data analysis using charts, funnels, targets, anomalies, KPIs and comparison tables to display the information in easily readable formats. The software also offers a blueprint function to simplify process management and help you build and automate sales processes, ensuring compliance from your team at each step.
You can also create online ‘portals’ for your customers, vendors and partners to empower them to self-service their individual requests, such as viewing their invoices, placing orders or viewing your product or service catalogue at their own leisure.
Zoho CRM integrates with business apps including Office 365, G Suite and Slack. You can try the software for free for 15 days, and packages start from US$12 monthly, with the premium package costing $100 per month.
Boost Your Productivity and Profitability with CRM Software Today
The best CRM software is designed to cut the clutter from your business’ sales, marketing, operations and customer service functions. Whether your business is taking regular payments or not, CRM software will help to manage the process of converting new leads and retaining existing customers.
If you’re looking to boost your productivity and profitability, then sign up to a free trial or download free CRM software today.