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9 ways to improve your company's CRM system

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | May 20, 2014
Customer relationship experts share their top tips for managing customer interactions and getting the most out of your CRM software.

Then after the sales call, "sales reps should keep track of which content resonates the most," such as "where your customers are clicking, what mobile devices they are using to find content, with which pieces of content they are engaging, for how long, how often, with whom they share that content, and so on," Padelford says.

"Once you have this level of information, you will not only understand your customer's current needs but will be able to predict future needs, hone your content accordingly and confidently plan your next approach," Padelford says

Don't think of — or use — CRM as a standalone sales automation system. "Too often, companies assume that CRM starts and stops with sales," says Glenn Burnside, executive vice president of Engineering at Headspring, a provider of tailored software solutions, including CRM.

"As a result, they leave other departments out of the loop, limiting or completely denying them access to the system, and failing to properly integrate their CRM with other client-facing or client-informing systems," Burnside says. "For example, if you leave your Service Desk and CRM system unintegrated, your front-line support team may not be aware of recent changes to a customer's status or interactions that the sales team has had with them, so they miss out on a lot of opportunities to engage and build relationships."

"Companies should never think of CRM as a standalone system," says Eric Berridge, CEO of Bluewolf, a cloud consultancy. "Strategic integration of customer data from across different business systems can produce a highly personalized and even predictive marketing and sales approach," he says.

Get in sync. "If your CRM doesn't automatically sync with your calendar and import all of your client-related meetings, then you should really think about breaking up with it," says Geoff McQueen, founder and CEO of AffinityLive, a creator of business automation software. "If your CRM doesn't know about these most important client interactions without you needing to double-enter them yourself (and keep track of changes and cancellations), you're going to stop trusting it to be accurate."

A good CRM system should allow you "to schedule an appointment with a client from Outlook, your Google Calendar or your smartphone calendar, send the client an invite and know that your CRM has made a note and record about this client event," McQueen says.

Keep data up to date. "It's critical to have a consistent process for updating and managing customer data," says Holly Anderson, product marketing manager at K2, a provider of business process application software. "It can be difficult to get all your sales reps to enter customer information every time they're working on a deal, but by providing an easy-to-use application, you can ensure that accurate data is collected every time."

 

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