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Today, the utilization of a CRM is no longer a competitive differentiator. A large percentage of businesses now employ some type of CRM application to help manage customer relationships. As enterprises continue to look for ways to gain competitive advantage many are switching from older—more restrictive—CRM applications to customized CRM solutions that are tailored to meet very specific business needs.
In a previous post, The Advantages of a Custom CRM Solution, we discussed several of the inherent advantages of a customized CRM as compared to typical off-the-shelf solutions. In this post we will provide some insights into how a custom CRM can provide your enterprise with next-level capabilities to accelerate business growth and market leadership.
2nd Chances – They are Shrinking
In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace you often get one chance to land a new customer or a new piece of business. Those new opportunities are usually hard-earned and, when squandered, can be lost forever. Gone are the days when an enterprise could fail once or twice and still expect to win in the end.
Customer’s have less patience and more options; a dire combination that demands that you do everything right, from receipt of opportunity to deal closure. A customized CRM solution can be tailored to provide finely-tuned capabilities in the areas of:
Real Time Opportunity Tracking
Tracking of sales opportunities via spreadsheet and/or a siloed, cookie-cutter, CRM does not provide the level of real-time visibility required to maintain intimate contact with those opportunities. A custom CRM that is supported by, and integrated with, sources of real-time field data provides sales personnel with the ability to perform live status assessments of all in-que sales opportunities. Customizable dashboards provide single-pane-of-glass visibility into critical aspects of your sales opportunity management. An elimination of the blind spots that often lead to slow reaction and lost opportunity.
Opportunity Logistics Management
A custom CRM can provide an opportunity for integration with other applications within your customer engagement ecosystem. For example, integration with an existing legal document management solution can help streamline—and automate—the communication between the Sales and Legal functions within your organization. This can provide significant competitive advantage in terms of: quality and speed of RFQ responses, contract negotiation speed, visibility of information across key stakeholders, and reduction of miscommunication and costly delays.
Your Customers – Their Expectations are Changing
At the end of the day it’s all about your customers and how you engage with them. It’s about providing concrete value to your customers in ways that build brand loyalty. It’s about your ability to gain the type of insights necessary to stay ahead of the competitive curve.
A customized CRM can provide you with much more than merely a self-limiting functional control mechanism for your sales process; it can invigorate that process in ways that bring tangible value to you and your customers.
Learning from Your Customers-In Real Time
Your customers are talking, but are you really listening? Are you basing strategies and tactics on information that may no longer be accurate or relevant? Is your current CRM disconnected from valuable sources of customer chatter and insights? Is your customer interaction easy and engaging or is it clunky and disconnected?
A custom CRM offers the potential to interact with your customers via a wider variety of conduits. In addition to traditional channels, a customized CRM can be integrated with social media channels. This can greatly enhance your ability to collect deep customer insights that will provide the foundation for development of effective marketing strategies and campaigns. Communication via these channels can also serve to provide your customers with interactions that are more efficient and more engaging; a win-win for you and your customers.
Active Tracking of Customizable KPI’s
A customized CRM can be configured to provide real-time tracking of the KPI’s that matter most to your customers. Instead of shoehorning your business into a pre-determined set of metrics you have the flexibility to establish custom KPI’s that can be reconfigured over time; KPI’s that can be dynamically adapted to evolving requirements.
A custom CRM can provide a level of dashboarding and reporting functionality that will transform your ability to proactively respond to critical business and market conditions. Instead of reacting after the fact you can be empowered to predict changing conditions and to adopt a more proactive posture.
Smart Automation – Automation that Learns
Most off-the-shelf CRM’s offer some level of automation for a defined set of sales processes. However, in most cases, that automation will be pre-defined, static, and non-intuitive. Five or ten years ago that level of process automation would have been sufficient. That is no longer the case.
In order to provide competitive advantage, today’s process automation must be supported by emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). A customized CRM can be designed to dynamically integrate with AI/ML enabled applications that provide the data that drives the development of Intelligent Workflows .
Higher Adoption – A Custom CRM that Empowers
Throughout the history of CRM evolution one of the most persistent problems has been poor adoption. That history is littered with companies that have invested significant resources in the purchase and onboarding of CRM solutions only to fall victim to poor organizational adoption.
One of the primary root causes of poor adoption has been the limiting nature of most off-the-shelf CRM solutions. Invariably, those CRM’s required the enterprise to modify existing processes to conform to the inflexible nature of the CRM. The outcome was predicable—user frustration, rebellion, and poor adoption.
A CRM that has been customized to incorporate existing processes, and to address the unique needs and objectives of your business, will produce much higher levels of adoption. A customized CRM is much more likely to be viewed as a business accelerant instead of an energy-draining impediment. Higher adoption also equates to better ROI.
When considering purchase of a CRM for your business you will encounter several decision-points. One of the most crucial will be the choice of “custom vs off-the-shelf”. Consideration of the factors discussed above can help you make a selection that is most appropriate for your enterprise.