Customer Relationship Management (© Mathias Rosenthal / fotolia.com)
Customer Relationship Management (© Mathias Rosenthal / fotolia.com)

A CRM System is a customer relationship management system. That is to say that it is a tool that can be used in order to manage contacts in a database, thereby allowing a company to keep tabs on its leads, identify when a lead is ready to sell to etc. A CRM system can make all the difference when it comes to helping you to convert cold leads into warm leads and customers, and when it comes to your marketing strategy.

CRM stands for customer relationships management. That means in short that you are going to add all of your customers’ details into here, so that you can stay in communication with them going forward. While the definition might refer to customers though, the reality is that CRM is just as often used for other types of contact and in particular, leads and potential future customers.

CRM is used by sales teams for instance. Here, a sales department will keep a list of contacts which will likely be added to over time as new potential clients and customers get in touch. Likewise, contacts may in some cases be bought, or they might be acquired through other means. Prior customers can also be added to the list. From here, the sales team can then call up the potential customers and try to convince them to buy.

Likewise, a CRM system might be used in order to manage and control and email marketing campaign and to provide the addresses for the recipients. It might also be used in order to collect data about the customers – so that it is possible to get a broad view of the average ages, attitudes, sexes etc.

The CRM system is what allows them to keep all of this data in a single place and to search through it easily. It will store data about those customers too, allowing for sales teams to more careful pitch their sales. Sometimes a small matter like asking someone how their recent holiday was can make all the difference when it comes to making a sale.

openPR tip: Likewise, if you can quickly bring up all the contacts that have been in recent touch, or that have shown an interest in a specific type of product, then that can save a lot of time and allow for a more efficient campaign.

Features of a good CRM system can include but are not limited to:

  • Autoresponder tools that allow you to send emails and manage subscriptions/unsubscriptions
  • Cross search features for finding specific members that fall into particular demographics, or that are at a certain point in their journey with your brand
  • Cloud storage to ensure that the contacts are kept secure even if the physical computer should come to harm
  • Easy and quick entry for new contacts or even whole new databases
  • Qualitative information that may describe a member’s recent activities, interests and hobbies etc. to allow for relationship building
  • Security to keep customer details safe. This is a moral obligation and also something that can land a business in a lot of trouble if it is not handled correctly

There are a great many different types of CRM system available and the most important thing is that you find the right solution for your business. Keep in mind however that it’s also possible to have your CRM system built for you bespoke. This way, you can ensure that it has all of the tools and features that you could possibly need.

Some popular examples of CRM solutions used by many businesses include:

  • Zoho Office Suite
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • BPM Online CRM
  • Nimble
  • Pipedrive

And many others.

Note that there are also a great number of different autoresponders, which we will speak more about in a moment. These include:

  • MailChimp
  • GetResponse
  • Aweber
  • Infusionsoft

Using Excel for Your CRM

There are lots of articles out there on how to go about generating leads and on just how important it is to do that. When you find a lead you establish contact with a potential customer and that then gives you avenues to pursue that will likely result in custom for your business. We don't tend to pick up ready-made customers that easily, so by finding lots of leads you can give yourself easy access to profit and help spread the word about your amazing service or product.

But what's less well documented is how you go about managing all those leads once you have them. Keeping track of thousands of leads isn't exactly easy if you run a small business, and particularly not when they're interested in different products, when they fall into different demographics, and when they constantly need to be changed and updated. That’s what a CRM system is and that’s what this definition is all about. But what if you could manage your leads yourself? What if I told you, you already had a powerful CRM system on your PC just waiting to be used?

Here then we'll go through a quick crash course in how to actually manage those leads and specifically how to organize them using Excel.

Entering Your Data

Generally entering data into Excel is fairly straightforward, and for the most part arranging a list of contacts will essentially be like creating a table. Title your columns up the top, and make sure to include at least a name, a contact e-mail and a phone number. This way you'll be easily able to find the details for anyone you want to contact by pressing CTRL+F and then typing that person's name.

More Data

When it comes to data though, this really is a case of 'the more the merrier'. That's why you should also include any other contact details, a note of which product/service they were interested in, the date that they were last contacted, their apparent level of interest etc. If you have their salary on record then include that too - it will prevent you from hard-selling anything that's clearly out of their price range.

Also useful can be to keep a general 'notes' section that you can use to write additional information that might not naturally fit into any of the other categories. This is a strategy that people in sales will often use when they're wooing a client - by including a note that a particular customer is on holiday for instance, they can then ask them if they had a good time the next time they speak - which is the kind of attention to detail that can make all the difference when trying to secure a sale.

VLOOKUP

Using search to quickly find a particular lead will right away show you how much more convenient it is to have a spreadsheet over lots of written information. However, it's when you start using VLOOKUPs that this becomes truly apparent.

The idea of a VLOOKUP is to allow you to find information about a specific contact without having to scroll through the whole file. For instance, if you wanted to quickly find out whether you had already contacted a particular lead on a specific day, you could pass the VLOOKUP the name of the lead and it would then return you the date

you last spoke to them. Alternatively, you could use this to find out any other piece of information - such as their phone number. This saves you scrolling through a huge spreadsheet and allows you to use it more like a database.

You can use VLOOKUPs simply by using the formula tab in Excel and then entering the individual elements. The 'Lookup_value' is where you enter the data you're searching with (such as the name - so pass it that cell), the Table_array is the range you're looking within and the Col_index_num is the column you want returned. Or you can just type it in like so:

'=VLOOKUP(A2, B2:D17, 3, FALSE)' 

Easy!

Updating

Finally, you want to make sure that your spreadsheet is easy and quick to update. You can do this either by keeping a notepad and writing down the details of new contacts as you get them, or by uploading your spreadsheet to the cloud and then accessing it on your smartphone to update.

Either way, what you're left with is a highly intelligent system that is constantly up-to-date and that will ensure you never waste a lead again.

How to Get People to Join Your Mailing List

When it comes to marketing, very often there is the ‘normal’ version of a particular strategy and then there is the ‘digital marketing’ version. That is to say that there are equivalents for those that work online, where many of the older methods of business have now been adopted and adapted in order to suit the new digital work flow.

For instance, whereas we once had CRM systems, we now have autoresponders and in many ways, these are the same. An autoresponder is a crucial tool for any email marketing campaign, which is effectively a marketing tool that is used to send emails out to contacts and leads that have chosen to ‘sign up’ or ‘subscribe’. You are effectively marketing to your list just as you would have done with a CRM, only now it is using email more than it is using the phone and telesales.

One of the most valuable things you can do with a website by far is to collect e-mails for a mailing list. This is something that will help you to regularly bring that traffic back to your website, that will enable you to build a stronger brand, that will give you leads to sell to in future and that will generally help you to get much more profit from your traffic in the long run.

Of course, though getting people to sign up to a mailing list isn't always easy. Most of us have enough spam in our inboxes in the first place, so why would we actively sign up to get more marketing material? Luckily though this is something that good marketing can and does get around on a regular basis. Read on to find out how you can use your website to collect e-mails and to give yourself a truly powerful means of communication.

Contrast

One of the most surprising strategies you can use to get people to sign up to your mailing list is called 'contrast'. Essentially this means that you stick a mailing list form on your landing page right next to the expensive product you're trying to sell. Of course, this is a little confusing for visitors who now have two things to deal with, so how can that possibly help you to get e-mails?

Well the reason this works, is that if your landing page is good it will make your product (eBook, eCourse or whatever you're selling) sound very good. This will make people want your product, but of course they won't always be able to justify making a purchase which means they might think 'I'll come back to it later'.

At this point, if they see your contact form, they'll be very receptive to signing up. Why? Because they'll actually want to hear about offers on your site and they'll see it as a small evil compared to spending the money. 'Sure I signed up' they'll think, 'but at least I didn't buy the eBook'. If you then drive lots of traffic to that page, by using a PPC AdWords advertising campaign for instance, then you'll be able to get a lot of people to make this decision and you'll find that you gather a lot of e-mails.

Freebies

Another great way to encourage people to sign up of course is to give something away for free in exchange for doing so. If you're selling an eBook then an obvious example might be the first chapter. This way you can get them hooked on your product and make them more likely to want to buy the rest, but more to the point you'll have tempted them to give you their e-mails and you'll be able to contact them for other reasons in the future - perhaps making multiple sales in the future.

Another 'freebie' is an entry into a competition. This is a very cost effective way to tempt people to sign up which can nevertheless seem highly tempting to people who will focus on the cost of the reward more than their likelihood of getting it.

How to Sell on the Phone

One of the main uses for CRM systems as mentioned is telemarketing or telesales. This means calling up contacts in order to offer them goods or services on the phone. Usually those contacts will previously have given over their details but in other cases, the contacts may be purchased or acquired other ways, in which case you are now dealing in ‘cold calling’ territory. If you want to be successful when selling and negotiating on the phone, there are a few important tips to keep in mind. These include:

Speak Slowly

One of the worst things you can do on the phone is to babble. If you babble, then people are going to not understand what you’re saying and there’s a good chance you may wear down their patience and end up getting hung up on. It’s important that you speak slowly and clearly, such that your audience can understand what you’re saying and that you will sound intelligent and well-rehearsed.

Be Polite

It’s incredibly important that you are polite in telesales. If you are not, then you will upset and frustrate the audience, especially as you called them. Likewise, you should always be friendly, ask questions and make some conversation.

Get to the Point

But with that said, it’s also equally important that you get to the point as quickly as possible. If you are talking for a long time, then you will risk getting hung up on simply because the person on the other end of the call doesn’t have the time to hear your whole conversation through. We’re all in a hurry these days and no one welcomes an interruption to their working day. If you start asking inane questions, then you will lose their attention.

Smile

In keeping with being polite and friendly, it’s also very important to smile. Now, you may wonder why this would matter seeing as you’re going to be talking on the phone and they can’t see you! As it happens though, smiling actually changes the tone of what you are saying ever so slightly, such that it will often lead to your audience being more receptive to what you are saying and it will help the way you are coming across. Consider all these tips during telesales, make sure to use the best CRM systems and keep your contacts up to date.

OpenPR-Tip: That way, whether you are using email marketing or you are using sales calls, you should find that you can get the best results from your calls and make a lot more sales and a lot more profit as a result.


         



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