CRM (customer relationship management) lauded as the modern day hero of marketing and sales can provide your business with key strategic and competitive advantages. Adeptly used it helps your business attract, retain and grow your customer base. There is no shortage of choices for CRM systems, platforms and add-ons. From Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, Adobe Cloud, Oracle Cloud, Marketo, Sugar CRM, ClickDimensions, AEC 360, Nutshell CRM and more- it can be daunting and dizzying. However, CRM systems, whichever you use, they are only as good as your customer data, really the intelligence that feeds them.
The CRM platform helps you manage customer touch points along every interaction both for existing and potential customers, for marketing and sales. But the rub is in the details of your customer records and those details are often missing or hiding in a deluge of your data.
For those businesses, in AEC industries this is of particular importance especially around how they optimize marketing and sales internal processes with critical lifeblood activities like customer proposal development. While not usually considered a CRM function, proposal automation is a wonderful goal for your firm. By leveraging the current information about customers and project lists that’s stored in databases, proposal automation eliminates hours of work and helps everyone in the firm work better together. All the time saved allows them to focus on writing strategic proposals and winning more work. It’s a great process but it all falls down, hard, if your data is bad.
Fundamental mistakes we see companies in AEC and other industries make over and over, regardless of size is skipping the fundamentals of good customer data management. Your business outcomes with CRM system, processes and outcomes are all predicated on good, relevant and recent data.
Sounds reasonable right? But it’s no easy task to execute as CRM can be a data wonderland, a data dump or a data ghost town.
Here’s a few best bets to help make your CRM a data wonderland:
- On-going and consistent data hygiene is not optional it is an imperative. When was the last time you validated, updated and purged your customer databases?
- If you are not using currently or have no plan to use the data don’t collect, it. Use the CRM record itself to enforce governance. A phone number is one of the most highly coveted pieces of data that you can ask for. Never plan on a proactive outbound call campaign – then why limit leads asking for it upfront or making it required?
- Make critical data elements required and consider what’s truly optional. Data you collect for the CRM records should include more than name, rank and serial number. Look to include the client’s buying process, pricing/discounting trends, competitive activity as examples.
- Ensure everyone in your organization is consistently inputting into and using CRM as the ‘one true source’ for customers. One way is to integrate your CRM system into your mail system so you can more easily manage and enable any mobile apps for timely entries.
- Mine the data, segment the data and optimize it - don’t just collect it blindly. Put it in dashboards and reports to help provide insights for decision making – not just pretty posters no one can decipher. Look at past wins, losses and understand the patterns of why, identifying specifics and trigger points you can alter.
A well designed customer relationship management solution, includes the tools, the processes and the people, with data at its heart.
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