Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a tool used to better manage interactions between a company, its customers, suppliers, and leads.
As Darrell Rigby, Frederick F. Reichheld & Phil Schefter suggest, “CRM aligns business processes with customer strategies to build customer loyalty and increase profits over time.” — Rigby et al., 2002.
Modern CRM software could transform your workflows and trajectory as a business, offering further capabilities such as automated sales activities, forecasting, and pipeline management.
The benefits of CRM Software
The main benefit of CRM is clear management of interactions between past, present, and future customers.
More distinct benefits are better explored in unique business contexts. Let’s take a closer look at how CRM software could benefit the main functions of your business.
Sales & marketing benefits
As interactions take place within one area, reports can easily be created to show predictions within the sales pipeline. This allows for easier budgeting and capacity planning.
Because most modern CRM tools are cloud-based and mobile-enabled, field sales teams are able to easily find information such as:
Geographically close opportunities
New available leads
CRM software also supports a wide range of integrations. This means that marketers can create and modify marketing campaigns without ever having to leave their CRM, which houses all their important tools in one convenient place.
And since marketing efforts can be tied into a CRM-enabled lead management tool, return on investment visibility allows marketers to understand (often for the first time) which marketing channels are increasing turnover and which are losing the business money.
Customer service benefits
CRM is a vital tool to support your customer service offering, improving customer experience and earning higher rates of retention.
By having a clear view of customer information, your service team can rapidly see a complete picture of the customer, such as all billing, communications, and technical issues they’ve experienced. This opens the door for a more holistic approach to customer service.
Businesses often find themselves with multiple sets of data held in different places, such as spreadsheets, sales tools, and customer service logs. By consolidating these “data islands” into one common destination, data can be found more easily and productivity is maximized.
This also allows management teams to quickly see what activities team members have completed or planned, schedule future activities, and identify top performers.
How did CRM systems originate?
CRMs offer countless benefits to the organizations willing to invest. But how did they come about?
Starting life as not much more than a computerized Rolodex, CRM systems began in the 1980s, pioneered by Robert and Kate Kestnbaum. The original CRM systems used statistical databases to manage and analyze customer information.
Then, during the late 1980s, ACT! and Goldmine both entered the arena, releasing contract management software. However, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that the acronym and development of ‘CRM’ really took off.
Inspired by an internal sales system used by Oracle, ex-employee Tom Siebel left to produce Siebel Systems (later acquired by Oracle), which rapidly became the leading Sales Force automation market provider. During the late 1990s, CRM development sped up with the addition of marketing, sales, and customer service tools all wrapped into one tool.
Cloud technologies began to take form in the early 2000s, as another ex-Oracle employee (Marc Benioff) developed the first major SaaS CRM package called Salesforce. Although initially ignored, Salesforce quickly became the main CRM player in the 2000s.
It was also in this decade that Workbooks CRM was released (2008). Created by a team of ex-Salesforce users, Workbooks CRM was developed to deal with the frustrations they experienced using the Salesforce system.
Workbooks took CRM to a new level, offering new CRM features and benefits such as lead tracking (from advert to invoice) and the ability to create custom scripts (using PHP), automating many of the admin tasks we come across every day.
Workbooks CRM continues to go from strength to strength, with over 50% growth year on year.
The rise of cloud-based SaaS CRM software
Software as a Service (SaaS) is rapidly becoming the CRM norm as consumers see the benefits of accessing data anywhere and anytime. More CRM software companies are shifting their software from a traditional ‘download before you can use’ approach to the clean, quick, and instantly accessible CRM offered by the SaaS model.
Benefits include the ability to switch on/off user licenses (such as when an employee joins or leaves the company) and a pay-per-user approach.
Who buys CRM software — do I need to be a large organization?
Although CRM software is typically thought of as a sales tool, it’s now implemented by any business looking to work more productively. For instance, our customers range from charities to advertising agencies, and we’re personally finding a greater range of businesses signing up each year as digital transformation efforts accelerate across practically every industry.
Whilst historically, only large businesses have been seen using CRM, we’re also beginning to see more small and medium-sized businesses implementing CRM packages to gain the benefits it offers. Many niche providers cater solely for this market.
Which business departments would use a CRM tool?
Since CRM software creates a single data island across an entire organization, businesses often find their CRM is adopted company-wide.
Internally, every area of our business uses our CRM tool on a daily basis. Support tickets are raised in the system, the finance team automatically sends out invoice reminders, salespeople track and view new opportunities, and marketing tracks their latest promotions’ ROI.
We’ve found that a joined-up approach across the entire organization both encourages a successful integration and multiplies the benefits that CRM provides.
Main CRM providers & why Workbooks is different
The most popular CRM is Salesforce, followed by new and existing providers such as Workbooks and Microsoft Dynamics.
So, what makes Workbooks different from the rest? In simple terms, we can:
Track marketing ROI
SaaS businesses often have a sales length of over six months, making tracking marketing using tools such as Google Analytics extremely difficult. Since Workbooks ties in multiple business areas, it’s easy to track leads from creation (i.e. clicking on a Google ad) to the point a paid invoice is received — even if this process spans across a year. This allows full visibility of marketing ROI.
Automate mundane tasks
Another benefit of a multi-departmental approach is automation, such as triggering invoice reminder emails, sending overdue sales leads reports, and the creation of renewal orders.
Cloud accessibility in UK data centers
Data is hosted in the cloud, meaning you can access it anywhere in the world. With all of our data being held and backed up in UK data centers, your data never leaves the UK.
99.95% Service Level Agreement
We tie an agreement into every contract, offering a guaranteed uptime of 99.5%. We’re not too concerned though, our current uptime is 99.9%.
Substantial cost savings
We enjoy a long-term relationship with our customers, so we’re able to offer extremely competitive pricing. Currently, we’re 50-70% cheaper than the market leader.
We pride ourselves on being the only CRM to offer automation, marketing trackability, cloud-based UK-held data and an SLA agreement. Try our CRM for free!
CRM Software: The complete guide — Summary
Despite popular belief, the benefits CRMs provide span further than simply providing a contact database. With features such as automation, lead tracking, case handling and sales pipeline management, more and more businesses are switching from multiple ‘data islands’ to a single, unified system.
Developed from not much more than an electronic database, CRM software is continuing to shift to cloud-based, multi-functional software that transforms businesses for the better.
How can I find out more about your CRM software?
At Workbooks, we don’t just sell you CRM software — we provide an ongoing, fully supported service. However, we only work with companies that meet our strict criteria.
Before you purchase a CRM package, ensure you get all future users involved and committed to the project. This way, by the time your new CRM rolls out, your colleagues will already know about the product, what it does, and how it benefits them.
Promote benefits not features
Forget about features, how will your new CRM actually benefit your daily workflows? Suggesting that your colleague’s admin time could be reduced by 90% is a lot more attractive than pushing automation features alone.
Use cloud-based CRM software
By having a CRM provider which hosts data in the cloud, users can access the system from anywhere, such as a team member logging in via mobile during a sales call.
Take a browser-based approach
A browser-based CRM stops users from wasting time downloading heavy software — which may only work on a single computer — or even worse, wasting a morning waiting for ‘critical updates’. A browser-based CRM such as Workbooks means you can log in and begin working from any computer or mobile device anywhere, within seconds.
Choose software that staff can already use
Workbooks is modeled on a Windows desktop. For example, we have a ‘start’ bar and windows — meaning that users intuitively know what they’re doing without having to get acquainted with an entirely new system.
Get your suppliers involved in implementation
Due to Workbooks CRM’s extremely competitive pricing, it takes us over 15 months to generate a profit for our customers. This means that without a successful implementation, we will lose money. So, we work hard for a shared successful implementation. By working directly (rather than through a reseller) you can ensure you’re not lost in the noise.
Rigby, DJ., Frederick, FF., Schefter, PP. 2002. “Avoid the Four Perils of CRM” [online]. https://hbr.org/2002/02/avoid-the-four-perils-of-crm
Dougherty, DK. 2013. “Five Reasons Your Salesforce Implementation will Fail” [online]. http://blog.prialto.com/crm-implementation-fail/
Englaro, ME. 2013. “Why do CRM projects fail?” [online]. http://www.insightful.com.au/sales-effectiveness/why-do-crm-projects-fail/
Altman, IA. 2014. “The Secret To Choosing The Best CRM For Your Sales Organization” [online]. http://www.forbes.com/sites/ianaltman/2014/08/18/the-secret-to-choosing-the-best-crm-for-your-sales-organization/