Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is nothing new; it’s been around since the days of the Rolodex. Tickler files, ledgers, manifests, and even the ‘little black book‘ are relationship management tools that date back for centuries. But CRM has never been more important to closing sales than it is today.
Unless you do business on a very low scale (or work for only one or two clients) you are wasting precious time and missing sales opportunities if you’re not putting a CRM system to work for you. Here are 9 reasons why you need an effective CRM in your business:
Face it – the bulk of your leads and new customers likely come from online advertising – your website, directories, etc. If your customers find you on the web, they expect you to do business at the speed of the web, i.e., instantaneously. An effective CRM system should capture leads from online sources and send a response to new inquiries instantly and automatically.
The Fallibility of Memory
“The weakest ink is better than the strongest memory,” so the saying goes. And it’s true. Today’s sales professional is just too busy – and the workplace too hectic – to rely on memory alone to follow up with potential buyers. Without a single, organized place to record all client data, you will end up missing important communications – and losing sales. If you’ve ever grabbed whatever piece of paper is handy to record notes from an incoming phone call (and then lost or thrown away that paper as trash), then you know why you need a better system.
Once you’ve attracted and recorded a new lead, you need a means to nurture their interest and remain front of mind with them. An effective CRM system will prompt you to keep in touch with prospects with relevant communications that address their key interests. Really good CRM systems will allow you to automate much of this process, including emails, phone calls, letters or post cards, and appointments. The goal: encourage a face to face meeting in your sales center.
Nothing says “your not important; I don’t care” like failing to respond to a prospect’s question. Or not following up with them in a personal way. Or forgetting their name or the model or lot they’re interest in. An effective CRM system keeps all that information handy and accessible by computer, tablet or smart phone, and alerts you when you to appointments, incoming emails, or when it’s time to follow up with a phone call. And really good CRM systems allow you to store all relevant files – letters, plans, photos, etc., in the same place, so you always have every piece of information you need at your fingertips.
So far, we’ve given valid reasons why every salesperson should use a CRM system. But it doesn’t stop there. If you manage a sales team, you need to know what opportunities are in the pipeline, which prospects are the most likely to close quickly, and what you can do to help move those urgent sales forward. You also need to see that every prospect is being properly followed up with by the sales consultant, and to give additional training and help where it’s needed. An effective CRM allows you to accomplish all that, and more.
Reports and Projections
What are your most effective lead sources and ROI from advertising? What are your projected sales (units and/or dollar volume) for the next month, quarter, and year? What is the average closing rate for your sales team? For individual salespeople? What is your average closing time, from initial contact to close? An effective CRM answers those questions and allows you to better manage your sales team, your advertising and your cash flow.
Because your CRM program allows you to schedule appointments, tasks and alerts, you’ll be able to keep up with service calls or punch lists quickly, without ever worrying that an important call with fall through the cracks. Do you do annual maintenance, reviews, maintenance or renewals? Schedule these in your CRM, with alerts 30-days prior to the scheduled date to send notifications to customers and/or service agents. A really good CRM will automate these notifications and communications so you won’t have to.
It should be the goal of every sales group to increase referral sales. A good goal is 30% – 40% of total sales. How do you reach that? By keeping in touch, servicing and nurturing existing customers or tenants. Every effective Customer Loyalty or retention program is powered by a CRM system. A CRM program will allow you to include past customers in any marketing events, such as open houses, seminars, or home shows, as well as send cards or congratulations on move-in anniversaries, for holidays, etc. A really good CRM will allow you to automate all of these processes, including alerts and email notifications, so that everything takes place seamlessly and without staff time to schedule.
While stand-alone CRM systems can provide all of the above, many will also connect and share data with other programs, such as your accounting program, inbound lead sources, rent or tenant management system, or point of sale program. This connectivity expands the value of a CRM to keep all customer data, from lead source to rent history, all in one place, saving time and avoiding ‘multi-system chaos’ that stifles use and frustrates business owners/managers.
So, there you have 9 good reasons to stop using that old, outdated spreadsheet or restrictive paper system and step up to a CRM system that will save you time, streamline your sales and marketing processes, and make your team more effective in closing more new and referral sales.
You should check out additional reasons to consider CRM at this story by Jason Brady linked below:
Want to learn more? Then, join discussion moderator L. A. “Tony” Kovach, Jason Brady from ManufacturedHomes.com and me at the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show on Wednesday, January 23 at 9:30am SHARP for a special panel presentation on CRM for the Housing Industry. Go to this link at the www.TheLouisvilleShow.com site for details. ##
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(Editor's Note: The entire business building seminar lineup for the Louisville Show is linked here. It is currently the hottest page on their site, immediately after the home page!)