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When you’re starting out in business and growing your B2B client base day by day, Customer relationship Management (CRM) may not even be on your agenda. As your business, and client base, expands then the need for retention becomes increasingly important. As important as it is to expand, a business underestimates its existing base of customers at its peril. If you neglect them now then they will never become the advocates that will boost your profile and contribute to your long term prosperity.
As businesses become more cognizant of the need for CRM, the IT industry has responded in kind, resulting in a plethora of dedicated CRM platforms for business use. With so many on the market it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you.
What is a CRM platform?
A CRM platform is essentially a contacts list that can think. Different platforms have different emphases and features and as such can vary quite dramatically in terms of price. Most will log your customer’s personal details along with details of their every purchase and your interactions with them by telephone or email. They can help you to create targeted email shoots or personalised special offers.
There are also consultancy services that can help you to get the most out of your CRM platform so if you need help with anything from creating a document library for Base or generating invoices for Salesforce then the solutions and support are out there.
What should I look for in a CRM platform?
What you demand of a CRM platform will depend very much on the needs and size of your business. Depending on your priorities here are some recommended platforms…
Ease of use- New and very small businesses probably don’t have much in the way of time, energy and resources to dedicate to extensively training all of their staff in use of the CRM. Make sure you choose a CRM that’s intuitive and accessible with a modest selection of features and a simple interface. After all, what’s the point of paying for a host of features that you’ll never use? Try Less Annoying CRM if this is where your priorities lie.
Email and Social media connectivity- Many CRMs retain information from email and social media interactions that might be lost or forgotten otherwise. If you communicate with your team through Slack or Asana but do the bulk of your customer communications through Facebook, Twitter or email then connectivity is important in keeping all of that information in one easily accessible place. Otherwise, you’re in for a lot of work keeping all your information tied together and up-to-date (and we all know, this is the first thing to be compromised when we’re busy.) Base is especially good in this space.
Marketing Automation- Marketing automation sounds complicated but it’s essentially a system of ensuring that sales and marketing staff make contact with certain customers at the right time. Some platforms can even send a coupon via email 30 days after point of sale or follow up on a prospect for you. They can track and manage prospects and take a lot of the legwork away from larger and busier sales teams so that they can focus their attention on closing deals. For this I recommend two solutions: Salesforce and Apptivo.
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