What Kind of Data Can You Track with a CRM System?
Many CRM tools are on the market today, and all capture a range of information about your customers and contacts. Some can even be customized to fit the unique needs of your business.
Commonly captured information includes:
- Details about your customers and prospects, including demographics, personal information, buying preferences and service issues
- Meeting times, phone calls, to-do items and follow-up tasks with any notations you would like to add
- Inquiries received and emails sent
- Sales opportunities underway and their status
- Price quotes, sales orders and invoices
- Visitors to your website
Many CRM tools also offer what is known as a social CRM, a means to “listen” to what your customers are saying about your business on social media and respond to their questions and concerns. You can also track the channel that’s generating the most traffic for your business.
How Can You Put CRM Data to Day-to-Day Use?
Once you’ve consolidated and organized your data into a CRM system, there are many ways you can put the tool to practical use to connect with customers and benefit your business. Here is a sampling:
Share information with your team.
With a CRM system, you and your team have access to the same data. You needn’t worry about old versions of files floating around or keeping a customer waiting because the person with the information in question is out sick.
Recall what you need at will.
You can capture any data that’s helpful to the customer relationship and use the CRM system’s search to quickly find, sort and zoom in on the information as needed. For instance, you may choose to view sales results for a specific product line or a list of customers requiring follow-up.
Respond effectively in every interaction.
Because a CRM system provides a full picture of your customers and their history with your business, you’re in a better position to anticipate their needs and respond quickly and effectively in every interaction. You can infuse conversations with a personal touch that leaves customers feeling that you know and care about them.
Stay on target.
With a CRM system, you can better stay on target with the to-dos and follow-ups that are so essential to managing your business and your relationships. Calendar features typically allow you to schedule events, milestones and tasks for yourself and your staff, and link them to your contacts. You’ll receive an alert as each item comes due, and can view those that are overdue and completed.
CRM reporting can provide valuable insight into various aspects of your customer data, from tasks assigned and milestones achieved to sales opportunities and customer service activities. You can easily capture a high-level overview and drill down for details—and respond proactively to what you see by promoting teamwork, helping sales through the pipeline or attending to client needs.
Budget-friendly CRM Options
Here are some of the top CRMs for small business. All feature basic contact and deal management along with special features that set them apart from other tools:
- Insightly is a CRM for small and growing businesses as well as larger enterprises. Unique features include tools for project management, workflow automation and web forms for capturing leads as well as social CRM. Insightly also integrates with more than 20 programs including Google Apps, Microsoft Outlook, Quickbooks, Dropbox and Gmail. The basic plan is free for up to two people. Upgraded plans begin at $15 per person per month.
- Zoho CRM offers powerful automated features for lead assignment, workflow and alerts, comprehensive reporting and social CRM. It integrates with WordPress, MailChimp, Evernote, Google Apps, Gmail and many other applications. A free edition is available for up to 10 users. Editions with greater functionality cost from $12 to $60 per user per month.
- Nimble excels at social media. It can combine all of your social media accounts into one contact box and inbox and identify opportunities to engage with your customers. Nimble integrates with more than 60 applications including Evernote, MailChimp and Freshbooks. It is available for $15 per person per month.
- No list of CRM systems would be complete without mention of Salesforce, the top CRM system among large companies. Salesforce also offers powerful small-business solutions that range in price from $25 per person per month for the out-of-the-box edition to $125 per person per month for a deeply customizable version.
When shopping for a CRM, start simple, with capabilities that align with your business goals. And remember that the benefits you realize will be directly related to how effectively you put the tool to use. Get your entire team on board and make sure you take full advantage of the features your CRM system offers.