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Sales Glossary / CRM

What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)? 

Strategies and tools to grow sales

Tracking lead and account communications and data across teams and departments becomes increasingly difficult as a sales organization grows. A customer relationship management (CRM) strategy and system can streamline the sales cycle and make the account management and support process more collaborative.

In this guide, we'll explain what customer relationship management is and how sales organizations can benefit from it strategically. We'll also discuss different CRM tools and use cases to consider. Finally, we’ll suggest system integrations to help with automation — allowing sales teams to identify and nurture high-quality leads to close deals faster

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Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty

Teams will always know where leads and accounts are within the sales funnel and can quickly update and access their information, as well as historical notes on past calls and emails, to understand those customers better. This CRM data can include a prospect’s contact info, details on past purchases, challenges or needs, and any special offers or strategies previously used to keep them happy and loyal.

Improved customer service

Sales organizations can use notes from customer support or contact center calls, chats, or emails within the customer relationship management tools to personalize their interactions and identify areas where account teams or reps require further training or other automated strategies to enhance customer service. 

They can also identify touchpoints within the sales cycle (e.g., lead discovery calls or post-purchase customer service calls) where they may be losing customers and need to prioritize immediate outreach or change their support strategy to boost customer satisfaction and retention.

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Increased sales and profits

CRM forecasting and analysis tools give sales leaders greater visibility into every account team’s sales pipelines, so they can identify upselling and cross-selling opportunities to boost customer lifetime value (CLV) and develop long-term account growth strategies. These insights can also help teams develop processes to shorten the sales cycle and streamline efforts by learning more about customer purchase behaviors, needs, and challenges.

Expanded functionality

CRM platforms often integrate with sales and marketing tools, enabling automated emailing to new leads and streamlining repetitive tasks like data entry through AI. This enhances efficiency in capturing contact information and supports sales team functions.

Some platforms, such as Salesforce, Hubspot, and Dynamic365, sync with tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and can to update CRM information for key leads and accounts. This seamless CRM integration process allows businesses to bring existing contacts and information while keeping it up-to-date. This enables teams to identify mutual social media connections and gain insights into account user activities to tailor their outreach, relationship-building, and proposal strategies.

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On-premise sales CRM

Large sales organizations may create and host their own CRM solution managed and hosted on-site by an IT department. The strategic benefit is only they have access to their customer data.

However, an on-premise CRM solution requires the organization to be solely responsible for managing software updates and maintaining a high level of security – so that information is not stolen or lost. There might also be development delays (depending on available IT department resources) when businesses want to integrate other platforms into the CRM to automate sales and marketing processes, improve team collaboration, and increase data analytics capabilities.

Cloud-based or on-demand sales CRM

Cloud-based CRM solutions are developed by an outside software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform team and don’t require hardware or special installation instructions to get deployed quickly.

Reputable cloud-based solutions follow the most up-to-date security protocols and offer third-party integrations so businesses can safely customize the product to their needs.

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Social media CRM

This term refers to integrating third-party social media platforms into an on-premise or cloud-based CRM solution. The strategic benefit is that sales and marketing teams can make it even easier to communicate with customers — wherever they prefer to be contacted. 

In the case of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, sales teams can also integrate first-party user profile data, along with insights on their LinkedIn activities, with platforms like HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics, and Salesforce. Account reps and teams can quickly identify highly qualified leads and target accounts and send unlimited direct messages that they can personalize for an individual's specified role and interests.

Marketing CRM

Marketing customer relationship management platforms help teams collect new lead and prospective account information — typically generated through inbound marketing strategies (e.g., content marketing, social media, and live events or webinars). That data is then shared with sales leaders and teams for direct follow-up — especially when the lead has been qualified as high quality, often through automated email campaigns.

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Some CRM systems are more complex than others

The more complex a CRM system becomes, the more internal resources or money it will require to keep it running smoothly. It’s best to start with the basics and add new integrations or customer relationship management services as businesses scale.

Their costs will vary based on company size and needs

The customer relationship management platform’s cost will vary based on the solution provider, specific features required, and the number of users (or seats) a business assigns to its sales team. Basic platform usage is often billed monthly per user, and companies can adjust their plans and feature or integration add-ons as needs change over time. 

Cybersecurity threats must be considered

Cybersecurity threats and personal data privacy are always a concern when shopping around for the best customer relationship management software solution. When evaluating different tools for customer relationship management, ask each solution provider about their privacy and security policies to compare the best plans and avoid potential data breaches. 

If a sales organization wants to build an on-premise solution instead, ensure the IT department has the resources and time available to keep the platform up-to-date with the latest security requirements for collecting and storing customer data – along with new integrations and features that are on par with SaaS customer relationship management services.

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