What is a CRM platform? A Beginner’s Guide to Using CRM Software

what is a crm platform
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Customers are the lifeline of every business’s success and effective customer relationship management determines how best an organization manages and keep its customers with them for a long time.

The customer management process is a lengthy process that involves so many activities from lead generation, to lead nurturing, sales tracking, customer data entry, managing customer interactions, as well as combining sales, marketing, and customer service efforts to improve customer relationships with the organization.

Although in the past, all these processes of managing and tracking customer relationships were disintegrated, time-consuming, and manually intensive, which made it really stressful and lengthy for sales and marketing teams to store customer data and manage all interactions with them.

The use of filling cabinets, spreadsheets, and Rolodexes affected the even distribution of information among various teams and didn’t enable smooth collaboration between teams like the sales and marketing teams, which probably lead to missed business opportunities.

However, with the internet came new innovative technologies such as the CRM software that helped companies create, manage and track customer relationships through a customer relationship manager.

Table of Contents

  • What is CRM software?
  • Why Implement CRM software?
  • Who needs CRM software?
  • What does a CRM do?
  • What a CRM doesn’t do
  • How does CRM software make sales and marketing easier?
  • When is the right time to adopt a CRM?
  • 4 essential CRM features for small and midsize businesses.
  • Important Questions to Ask Yourself when Choosing a CRM Software
  • Types of CRM software
  • How Sloovi Outreach can help your sales and marketing teams?

What is CRM software?

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Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a system that helps businesses and sales and marketing teams to manage and track interactions with customers, store their information and automate several processes connected with a customer’s journey through the sales and marketing funnels.

A CRM system is an extremely important business tool that a lot of forward-thinking companies use to enhance customer relationships, foster customer loyalty, and boost the company’s revenue.

A CRM system replaces all old forms of data collection methods like spreadsheets, multiple databases, and apps with a streamlined process that makes it easy for the marketing and sales team to track all communications and nurture relationships with their leads and existing customers.

CRMs like client management platforms help teams connect all the data from sales leads and customers in a centralized location. Unlike traditional channels, CRM systems streamline all communications such as form fills, calls, emails, text messages and meetings, and other sales documents like quotes, purchases, and tasks connected with a lead and client.

With this, various teams in the organization like the sales, marketing, and customer service teams can access the information and processes to enhance the company’s organization, and efficiency, improve time management and get satisfied customers.

Why Implement CRM software?

Over the past years, CRM systems have become indispensable to the smooth operation and success of business processes and teams. Every business needs a CRM system for the following reasons:

1. To improve your customer service

CRM software has many functions, but the biggest of them all is its ability to improve business-customer relationships. A CRM system stores and tracks all customer information, communications, and interactions in a centralized location that everyone in an organization can easily access and use to solve customer problems- thereby improving customer service.

2. Increased sales

A CRM tool can help you streamline your sales process, build a sales pipeline, automate all your important sales tasks, set reminders for the task, and analyze all your sales data in a centralized location, thereby making it easy to carry out all your sales activities and improve your sales team productivity to increase sales.

3. Improve customer retention

CRM software stores important information about your customers, their purchase patterns, economic factors, and sales process that your sales teams can use to encourage repeat buying. The CRM system can provide sentiment analysis, automated ticketing, user behavior tracking, and customer support automation like automated reminders to help you identify customer problems and effectively solve those problems to improve customer retention.

4. Provides In-depth analysis

Data analytics rules the world of sales and marketing in present times. There are hardly any business teams that can survive without customer data, as this serves as an eye-opener to intricate customer problems and offer data-driven solutions to those problems.

Most CRM systems have in-built analytic capabilities to examine data, and break it down into actionable elements and metrics – click-through rates, bounce rates, and demographic information – that can be used to measure the success of marketing campaigns.

5. Leads to Higher productivity and efficiency

CRM software has several features like marketing automation technology that manages tasks like drip campaigns, email automation, and invoicing as well as other tasks that can enable your employees to focus on more demanding human tasks to close sales deals thereby increasing the sales team productivity. A CRM system also improves efficiency by making sure no tasks are left out by helping you manage your workflow.

6. Centralized database

CRM software stores all information about a customer in a centralized location (database) where it’s easy for everyone in an organization to access and use the information. From this database, it becomes a lot easier for sales reps to track their customers to see what’s going on with them and help them make informed sales decisions that can improve your sales performance and customer experience.

7. Improve customer segmentation

Customer segmentation is critical for present sales and marketing efforts. There are different types of customers and each customer has their own preference. To help sales teams tend to the needs of every customer group, they can use CRM software to segment customers based on their interests and purchase patterns, all of which can be used for future sales purposes,

8. Automated sales report and accurate sales forecasting

CRM software helps sales teams to access automated sales reports from all the data that has been collected and organized over time. Teams can also track their performance and activities to improve their productivity.

Aside from this, all information compiled on CRM software about customers and other market trends can be used to strategically plan for the future.

Who needs CRM software?

In short, every business that exists to serve its customer’s needs and desires for growth needs a CRM system to improve its operational efficiency, empower its teams and satisfy its customers.

Essentially, anyone involved in sales, marketing, customer services, support, and any kind of organization that deals with people/customers’ needs CRM software. Businesses of all kinds – freelance operations, startups, small businesses, mid-size businesses, and large corporations -need a CRM system to manage tasks and all customer communications and interactions.

All of these businesses can benefit greatly from CRM features like automation tools, centralized task management, performance dashboards, centralized database, and AI systems to enable teams to work faster and better with data with all your work processes in one place and allowing various team members to access all your tasks and workflow processes.

With CRM market size is estimated at USD 57.83 billion in 2021 and expected to increase to USD 63.91 billion in 2022 to over USD 140 billion by 2029 with a growth rate of 12.5%. This clearly indicates that in addition to the businesses that are already using CRM systems, more businesses will adopt CRM systems to enhance their operations, and sales performance and stay ahead of the competition.

What does a CRM do?

Customer relationship management software generally helps salespeople and marketers to simplify their tasks and improve their productivity to help the company grow. Although there are different types of CRM solutions with various functionalities, such as easy integration with marketing automation systems.

Here is a list of functionalities that most CRM platforms offer:

1. Lead management

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A CRM solution helps sales and marketing teams to track and manage their leads, enter information about the leads and effectively analyze data about them. This database makes it a lot easier to manage leads in the sales pipeline.

2. Marketing automation

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Some CRM systems offer marketing automation functionality that helps marketing teams to automate difficult tasks in the sales funnel and keep sales lead engaged with important information that can help them convert into paying customers.

3. Sales automation

 What is CRM software

CRM systems can track and manage customer interactions and communications as well as automate certain tasks and processes in the sales cycle that are necessary to find leads, nurture them and convert them into paying customers.

4. Workflow automation

 Why Implement CRM software

CRM systems go beyond sales force automation to helping businesses optimize their sales processes, streamline their tasks, and set reminders for very important tasks to allow employees to focus their attention, talent, skill, and experience on creative and high-level tasks.

5. Data Analytics

 Who needs CRM software

CRM solutions most times offer in-built analytical tools that can provide sales reps and marketers with data-backed insights that can help them create targeted sales and marketing campaigns and improve customer satisfaction. CRM analytics helps you identify things you are not doing things so you can develop effective strategies that can improve customer experience.

6. Artificial Intelligence tools

 What does a CRM do

Some CRM solutions offer in-built AI capabilities to help sales teams automatically find and recognize purchase patterns of previous successful sales and forecast future sales from historical data- – all of which can help those teams build more data-driven and accurate strategies for marketing and sales efforts.

7. Personalized customer experiences

 What a CRM doesn't do

CRM software stores important customer information and purchasing information that salespeople and marketers can use to create personalized and consistent experiences for their potential and existing customers across various marketing channels – all of which can help you increase conversions and boost brand awareness.

Other CRM systems can do lead scoring, task scheduling, reminders, contact updates, and segmentation.

What a CRM doesn’t do

CRM systems can do a lot of things to simplify tasks, streamline business operations and improve customer experience. However, there are so many things that they can’t do such as backed operations like production, warehousing, shipping, engineering, or finance.

Similarly, it is difficult for CRM solutions to manage activities done offline and outside of the CRM reach. Hence if sales representatives or marketers manage deals outside the CRM systems, this can reduce the effectiveness of the CRM report for every member of the team.

How does CRM software make sales and marketing easier?

CRM software can improve your sales and marketing efforts without necessarily creating large teams or setting high advertising budgets. A CRM with sales and marketing automation can help your sales performance skyrocket.

A CRM software can improve sales and marketing in the following ways:

For Sales Teams

How does CRM software make sales and marketing easier

Sales CRM software can streamline the sales process with better visibility, improved follow-ups, and clear prioritization.

1. Better Visibility

A CRM system gathers and stores important sales data that can provide sales teams with better visibility that can help them become more productive. Having all lead and customer data in a centralized location makes it easy for all members of the sales team to keep track of what’s going on with all customers. A sales manager can also get a bird-eye-view of the team’s activities and performance.

2. Improved follow-ups

CRM software provides sales teams with updates about customers’ and leads status and progress in the sales cycle, which they can use to improve their communications and interactions. Critical to the success of sales is effective follow-ups. Sales teams can automate follow-ups with leads and clients at the right time, thereby facilitating a consistent customer journey to increase sales.

3. Clear prioritization

CRM software offers lead scoring capabilities that scores leads and determine their likelihood to make payment and become a customer. From this, a sales team can be well informed about their leads and customers and use this information to prioritize their sales strategies for leads that are more likely to become customers.

For Marketing Teams

When is the right time to adopt a CRM

The use of CRM Solutions in marketing can optimize marketing activities through data-driven insights, personalization, and testing.

1. Data-driven Insights

CRM software gathers and complies with important customer data, purchase patterns, and other market data that can be beneficial to marketing teams and help their campaigns perform better. From this data, marketers can analyze patterns and gain insights into customers’ behavior to create tailored strategies and adverts that can help them target customers and sell to them.

2. Personalization

From the information gotten from a CRM system, marketers can create tailored and personalized messages that connect to customers’ needs and fits their preference. When marketers understand what your customers and leads like based on recent activities, they can create marketing campaigns that speak to these needs. You can also send personalized email campaigns to help them close deals.

3. Testing for improvement

Testing is critical to the success of marketing campaigns. Based on the saying that you can’t improve what you don’t know, similarly with marketing, testing your campaigns enables you to know what’s working and what’s not to improve. Some robust CRM systems can help marketing teams test ads, email campaigns, promos, text messages, and the frequency of calls to a lead. Testing enables marketers to improve their marketing campaigns for better results.

When is the right time to adopt a CRM?

There is no specific time or in this context “a perfect time” to adopt a CRM system. As emphasized in the early paragraphs of this guide, a CRM system can help business team streamline their operations, monitor performance, and manage all communications and interactions with customers.

Any organization passionate about improving its customer experience and satisfaction and expanding its operation needs a sophisticated CRM system to manage all its activities and improve its campaigns and sales conversions to help the company grow and maximize its revenue.

If you notice that your customer base is increasing and it becoming more difficult to store all business and customer information and data in a centralized location without creating any discrepancies and also visualize the data for every team in the organization to access and use to improve business performance, then its time you look out for a CRM software that can help you achieve this.

Also if your traditional software doesn’t offer you the option to update your sales and customer information in real-time, integrate with other apps or systems, or track how customers or prospects are interacting with your company’s website, consider getting an all-around robust CRM tool to manage this.

For these reasons, if you need to streamline your process and manage your customers better, find a CRM system that fits your preference and needs and use this for your business. Check out the guide about the perfect sales demo.

4 essential CRM features for small and midsize businesses.

Now that you know when to get a CRM solution for your teams, the next thing to understand is the 4 essential CRM software features to look out for in your CRM solutions.

1. A centralized hub for data

Every business needs a centralized location to start gathering all important information about their customers – contact information, phone calls, sales activity, purchasing pattern, buying behaviors, customer satisfaction, etc. A centralized hub with all this information and data enables your teams to serve customers better, to improve customer experiences and satisfaction.

2. Easy Connection with your key marketing channels

Marketing is an integral part of every business operation. Whether small, mid-size, or large corporations, marketing is important to promoting awareness for products and services and ultimately enhancing their sales. Consider how difficult it can be to manage audience data with a tool outside of your marketing channels and convert these data into insights that can facilitate personalized communication.

Hence, identify channels that you will be using for your marketing and ensure that your CRM tool allows you to seamlessly get reports from those tools.

3. Ability to test campaigns

The sale process is dynamic and customers have different needs and preferences that require sales and marketing teams to test their campaigns on several occasions to improve the campaigns. For this reason, you must find CRM software that makes it easy to test your campaigns and track their performance on various channels and help them gain insights into their customer interaction with the marketing and sales content.

4. CRM tools to help you grow

The ultimate goal of getting CRM software is to improve operational efficiency and business growth. Hence you must ensure the CRM software you decide to use has tools that can help your business grow. It is not enough to just gather and store customer information and data, the CRM system should have tools that help you find potential customers and enhance customer loyalty.

CRM tools must also be able to provide businesses with information and insights that can help sales and marketing teams identify which leads are most likely to buy from them and create strategies to convert these leads. Find the process, lead to revenue management.

Important Questions to Ask Yourself when Choosing a CRM Software

As stated earlier, there are different CRM systems with different functionalities available for businesses to choose from, there are certain questions to ask yourself when choosing a CRM software for your business.

1. Who will use the CRM software?

Before deciding on any CRM software, you must consider who will be using the CRM software – is it the marketing or sales team, or both? You must consider everyone who will get access to the customer insights on the CRM and can use them to improve the business performance. Either way, you must ensure your CRM software satisfies these needs.

2. How much complexity do you need to get started?

Regardless of the complexity of your CRM strategy, find a tool that works with a simplified approach and integrate your complex strategies into the system as you work with it.

3. What marketing channels are you using to communicate with customers?

Find a tool that easily integrates with the marketing channels that you are currently using, to enable quickly turn information and insights into actions that can drive business growth.

4. Can the CRM system scale with you as you grow?

You must find CRM tools that enable you to add automation and customer management functionalities that will be beneficial for your business in the long run.

Various CRM software

Some of the most popular CRM solutions are:

1. Sloovi Outreach

  4 essential CRM features for small businesses

Sloovi Outreach is an all-in-one CRM platform that enables your sales teams to smash sales targets, reduce costs, and improve sales productivity by tracking your daily sales workflow, creating customized and intuitive reports, scheduling more meetings, and prioritizing leads with dynamic Smart Views.

2. HubSpot CRM

 Types of CRM software

HubSpot CRM is one of the foremost CRM solutions available for sales teams. It tracks your sales activities and sources new qualified leads. You can also manage your sales pipeline, log your sales rep’s activities, store information about all your contact in one location, and interact with the contacts in real time. The Hubspot CRM allows you to call your prospects directly to streamline communication.

3. Salesforce Customer 360

 Automated sales report in CRM

Salesforce customer 360 is one of the longest-serving CRM software in the world since 1999. It is mostly used by businesses to unite teams around their customers, get actionable insights from data, attract and manage prospects and retain loyal customers.

4. Oracle

 what is crm platform

Oracle CRM is a software system by Oracle Corporation. It is used by sales, marketing, e-commerce, and customer service teams to gather customer data, analyze the data, and use the insights to deepen relationships and improve business results.

5. Microsoft Dynamics 365

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Dynamics 365 is a CRM solution that provides businesses with flexible solutions that are customizable to suit their business requirements. It helps businesses gain insights into their brand reputation and market through real-time data analysis and prioritize leads using multiple lead scoring models.

How Sloovi Outreach can help your sales and marketing teams?

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Sloovi Outreach will enable your sales teams to smash your sales target, reduce cost, and improve sales productivity by tracking your daily sales workflow, creating customized and intuitive reports, scheduling more meetings, and prioritizing leads with dynamic Smart Views.

Outreach offers four key services;

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  • Lead generation: This feature helps you manage all your leads from a unified platform. It also allows you to add thousands of sales leads and prioritize and track every integration with a sales lead.
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  • Cold Outreach automation: This feature will enable you to send personalized, scalable, and automated sales outreach via emails, global calls, and SMS.
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  • Report Creation: This feature provides sales leaders with all the insights about the activities of their sales reps and helps you create customized and intuitive reports.
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  • Pipeline Management: This feature tracks all the deals you are about to crack as they travel through each sales stage.