The tool that connects all the dots
The formal meaning of “CRM” is customer relationship management, referring to strategies and software that enable a company to organize and optimize its customer relations. But, since I speak on an entirely different level than that of a dictionary, I like to think of it as an old-school paper file that has been brought into the current millennium.
When I first started my career in Sales and Marketing, my team had the pleasure of inheriting over a thousand agencies and brokers from across the country. The history, policy details and every single interaction with each current and lost prospect or lead had been documented on paper. That is a lot of data.
Using this paper process, a 20+ year relationship with a customer could create tons of folders, and the boxes upon boxes of folders that resulted in our case were daunting to say the least. If we would have instead had an online database available to house all important information and allow us to access it with the click of a button – or the click of a mouse – the task would have been as easy as pie…(or chocolate as we’ll soon discuss).
MANAGE THAT DATA
Many independent agencies now have some sort of management system in place that stores their customers’ important data. The systems available range in ability, and advanced management systems can even facilitate interactions with customers and assist in building relationships. As agencies grow, the systems are vital to keeping track of customer data and maintaining connections year after year.
The interaction that is missing within this type of management system process is the “before-they-become-a-customer” selling process, the “after-they-are-lost” procedure and a pipeline documenting the buyer’s entire journey. But this is really valuable information to any agent. This is where a CRM-specific system and its value to your agency or company come in.
THE CRM CHOCOLATE FACTORY
A CRM system typically focuses on documenting a buyer’s journey, which includes noting their interests, interactions and past purchases. It does this through what CRM calls a “pipeline”. My initial thought when I hear the word “pipeline” is of Lucille Ball's Chocolate Factory, but rest assured that your CRM pipeline hurls customer and prospect information rather than gourmet chocolates.
As a prospect is identified through self-selected criteria (think the chocolate machine), it sends their name and information to you via a pipeline (think conveyor belt) and through “views”. Each view can be customized so you can reach out to prospects via email, phone or their websites, depending on what marketing program you are utilizing. After the prospect becomes a client of your agency, they are listed in the database as a customer. If they don’t become a customer, they will remain listed as a prospect with notes indicating the best dates to approach them again or detailing the reasons that they may not be a fit for your agency: critical and useful information, right?
A CRM system can be used by sales, marketing and customer service departments, and can follow a prospect or customer throughout their entire journey, providing you with important data and insights during the process. This makes it a truly valuable tool that connects units while keeping useful information both current and accessible.
Now that we’ve discussed exactly how a CRM system can enhance your prospecting and your customers’ journeys, I’m going to excuse myself to find some chocolate to enhance my work-day journey.
Do you have a CRM system that helps save you time and effort? What do you see as the biggest CRM benefits? Fill us in below!
|Beckie is an expert coffee drinker during the day and a practiced wine drinker after sundown. When she doesn't have a cup of something in her hand, she is playing with her 2 larger-than-life cats, Tiger and Baby, or making fresh salsa for her beloved coworkers.|
Beckie Boateng-Sampong, Marketing
Beckie is an expert coffee drinker during the day and a practiced wine drinker after sundown. When she doesn't have a cup of something in her hand, she is playing with her 2 larger-than-life cats, Tiger and Baby, or making fresh salsa for her beloved coworkers.
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