Is your CRM more than just a database?

CRMs have evolved from simply storing your customer data. Now they offer a route to growth for maritime businesses who embrace all that they offer.

CRM software, as it exists today, offers businesses a route to growth and opportunity.

That might be a surprise, given the software’s humble beginnings as a database of customers and opportunities.

Customer Relationship Management software, when it first arrived as an option for businesses, was structured around record cards and notes fields. It solved a problem for users in that it tracked contact data, reminded the sales team when they last spoke to a customer and kept records organised.

Like everything else though, CRM has evolved into something much more. That evolution has put the CRM in a position to deliver growth to firms who use the correct CRM tools in the correct ways.

The CRM grows up

Like a lot of disruptive market entrants over the last decade or so, the change in CRMs and how businesses used them started out with questions.

Uber asked ‘why is getting a taxi so difficult and unreliable?’ Airbnb queried why private vacation rentals were so fraught with risk and ultimately closed off to all but specialist providers. Meanwhile, cutting edge CRM providers, like HubSpot, were asking questions like:

  • If the CRM is so important then why do only the sales team use it? Why doesn’t the whole business use the system?
  • Why are CRMs so difficult to configure and use? Why does setup take weeks, months or even years?
  • Why are CRMs so expensive to deploy and run? Shouldn’t the pricing model scale as the businesses themselves scale?
  • Why don’t CRMs provide genuine insight? It’s one thing managing records, keeping notes and setting tasks, but shouldn’t they be able to tell users something about their customers that they didn’t already know?

These questions were at the heart of the evolution of the CRM. Put simply: given their place in businesses, shouldn’t CRMs be a bit… better?

CRM at the heart of business: tracking customers throughout their entire journey

The modern CRM starts providing insight before your customer is even a customer.

With website integration, your CRM can tell your sales team which prospects are most engaged with your marketing efforts. Effective pipeline management, automatic task setting and data collection and functionality such as lead scoring can help sales teams to sell more effectively. In the past CRMs would claim to do this by providing a view of the available data. Now they do so much more.

Sales and marketing though are just parts of your business. Once you have customers, it’s more important than ever to keep them, nurture their loyalty and encourage repeat and referral business.

With that in mind, shouldn’t your customer service team and all of the functionality they need also be on your CRM?

By providing service ticket functionality and customer sentiment analysis, plus the option to use live chat and chatbots, your CRM can allow your service team to keep your customers happy and your business growing. And, because this is all in your CRM, your service team has instant access to how your customers became customers; what did they react to from your marketing team and what level of service were they promised during the sales cycle?

Because all of this data - all of this business activity - now lives in your CRM, you also have a perfect hub of Business Intelligence. The CRM, once a static database, now has the ability to provide your mission critical Management Information at department and board level.

With all of that combined and thriving at the heart of your business, the CRM has suddenly become a major route to growth.

How do CRMs create growth?

The structure, importance and functionality of the CRM has changed since those early days. Now, businesses who deploy CRMs strategically, to the heart of everything they do, find that the outcomes on offer create specific and identifiable areas of opportunity.

  • Marketing gets access to pre-sales data on prospect behaviour and feedback on how their campaigns are performing at the individual prospect level. This makes your marketing more effective and personalised, meaning marketing can produce more suitable leads that are more likely to close.
  • Sales get access to everything that happened during the marketing phase. They can track opportunities much more closely and be prompted to ask the right questions at the time that will most likely see leads closed as clients. This means sales can sell more to the right types of customers.
  • Your service team can spot problems before they arise, reacting quickly and through the communication channels that your customers prefer. You keep more clients, generate more repeat business and have a greater chance of encouraging vital word-of-mouth referrals.
  • At board level your directors get access to data from every stage of the business, allowing you to not only see your growth in real time, but also to take action when growth isn’t happening quickly enough. Finally, the MI you need is all in one place, presented in a way and through a system that makes it easy to make meaningful decisions.

The CRM then, in 2021 and beyond, should be more than just a database. It’s the heart of your business, driving growth now and long into the future - something that sounds a lot better to us than a few ‘dusty’ digital record cards and the odd note from your sales team.