If you’re going to build a profitable and wildly successful business, you will need to do more than just lead generation. Once you attract a lead, convert them to a customer, and provide your product or service, you need to have a method of following up with your customer base.
This is where a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) comes in handy. A CRM is a database of people and companies that do business with you. But a good CRM is more than just a customer database – it ensures that nothing falls through the cracks and you don’t look like a dunce. The database keeps track of anything pending for a customer, supplier or partner. It also tracks the various operations of your business, including calls to be made, appointments scheduled, forecasted sales, potential opportunities, quotes and any open customer service issues.
Basic functions like calendars, activity lists and forms help you to make sure important customer information doesn’t fall through the cracks – and even sets up reminders and follow-ups for other key players within your business. It should be easy for you to use consistently, with a user-friendly interface, to encourage use of all of these available functions. You should be able to create a process that naturally fits, and even enhances, the way you already interact with your customers.
Choosing and using a good system is important for a couple of reasons – it makes you look great to your customers as you serve them because you are aware of any concerns or issues the customer has experienced, you know when they called or visited your business last, and you can see all of the products and services they have purchased from you in the past. That makes you better prepared to win their business again and again, because you’ve got it together – and they feel important.
Another reason it’s important to fully utilize your CRM is that you will be able to run reports on these activities. You will also be able to communicate by mass letters or emails to a group of customers who have interest in a certain type of product or service, and even alert them if there is ever a safety issue about a product they purchased from you. You can develop follow-up campaigns to suggest value added services that might interest them, based on their history with your company, and keep them informed on topics that are relevant to them. This is how you build the foundation of a good, solid relationship with your clients. This is how you foster loyalty and longevity – by providing such value that they cannot imagine going anywhere else for what you provide them. And it all begins with your CRM.
Take some time to evaluate the available CRM systems, and find one that suits your business needs and your budget – there are even some pretty good free systems out there! Here are a few well-rounded systems of various price points that I would recommend:
Once you have selected a CRM – immediately begin adding ALL new clients into the system, along with any notes, activities, appointments and tasks associated with the client – create a habit, so from this point forward you will have all the information you need to create rock-solid relationships with your customers. Once you get in the habit of doing this consistently, take a few minutes a day and add some of your existing customers to the database. Don’t make this an overwhelming chore, just chip away at it a little at a time, and soon you will have a valuable customer database that will be worth its weight in gold!
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