Aside from email and your online calendar, a Customer Relations Management (CRM) software solution is probably your most important sales tool. Most business development people view the use of CRM as tedious and time-consuming. However, seasoned representatives appreciate the necessity of this software and understand the investment of time in keeping it up to date.
CRM is more than just a collection of client names and sales opportunities. The value in having a history of your interactions with each individual account and scheduled reminders for follow up cannot be measured. At a glance you should be able to review an account, know exactly where each lead is within the sales process and have it match up to a similar architecture within your database. This gives you control over all of your individual sales and the department as a whole, even if you are a one-person operation.
It should not be mistaken for other tools such as project management software or marketing automation. Even SAAS products like HubSpot have a free CRM tool that is integrated with their marketing automation system. But it is intended for use by sales people. The reason you find so many other departments involved in this software is for data mining the marketing analytics and drawing reports for financial reporting.
The smaller and newer a business, the more likely they will start out with a spreadsheet and then graduate to using a more sophisticated solution as the number of contacts, companies, sales opportunities, and reminders increase. These records make it unmanageable to work in just a simple Excel doc.
If your organization benefits from lead generation, whether that’s people on the phone making calls or your marketing department generating qualified prospects for your team, you will generally find that tracking the progress of all of these records can be an overwhelming task without a software solution like this.
In B2B, most CRM Solutions will have the capability of being able to sort through records such as prospects, leads, accounts, contacts, and opportunities. This is not to say that all products are alike, it is just that these are the most common definitions for salespeople and will often be reflected within these software solutions.
With these records, a tapestry can be created and reviewed to connect all of the information within your databases. People move from one company to another, businesses are acquired, points of contact are promoted. A well-managed CRM will assist you in keeping track of these types of changes over time and will often lead to new opportunities in the future.