Why CRM Software Is Crucial for Industrial Businesses

Happier customers. More sales. A better reputation. Just a few things CRMs have to offer.

Industrials have been notoriously slow to move into the digital world and Customer Relations Management (CRM) software is an important piece of the puzzle that continues to puzzle most. In the U.S., 97% of the Fortune 500 B2Bs use a CRM system. But you don’t have to be a $500-million enterprise to use a CRM. Advances in technology have removed many of the barriers so that companies with as few as two employees can use a CRM efficiently and cost effectively.

Here are the seven main reasons why all industrial companies need to adopt a CRM.

7 Reasons Why CRM Software Matters

Reason #1: You’ll never lose your customer database.

On a regular basis, I hear industrial clients tell me things like, “We have salespeople to keep up with our customers.” True, many organizations have a sales team that is responsible for staying in touch with clients. It’s their commission, right?

But what if a salesperson leaves? According to the Alexander Group, annual B2B sales department turnover is 13.9%. Which means that if you solely rely on salespeople to keep up with your customers, you’re also losing current client data (last meeting, last email, contacts, etc.) 13.9% of the time.

CRMs offer insurance against this because they are cloud-based systems that store all customer data and grant multiple users access to all of this information (e.g., management). With a CRM, you will have all the information you need to keep existing clients happy as well as create smooth transitions when a salesperson leaves.

This solution also applies to companies that keep their info in Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, or even on shared legal pads. (It’s true! I’ve seen multi-million-dollar companies that keep their customer database on a legal pad.) Computers crash and papers get lost. The security of knowing all of your contacts are backed up is invaluable.

Reason #2: CRMs will save you time.

According to InBold Solutions, sales departments can expect a 29% increase in sales by fully utilizing a CRM.

As a “born again” salesperson, I realize how hard it is to get anyone in sales to take the time to input records of their daily activity into a CRM system. Salespeople naturally feel that their time is best spent pitching business and making things happen. But today’s CRMs use mostly drop-down menus and prompt you to type just a sentence or two about each activity. The process takes about 1–2 minutes for each customer interaction.

My favorite advancement as far as efficiency is concerned is the development of CRM smartphone apps. Now you can just use your phone to update customer records; there’s no need to boot up your computer. Waiting for a table at lunch? Enter updates about your previous customer meeting. No Wi-Fi at the airport? No problem. Open your CRM smartphone app and you can access all of your customers’ info.

Reason #3: A CRM will make your company look smarter.

If you want everyone on the same page, get a CRM. If a customer calls when their designated point of contact is out of the office, anyone with access to the CRM can look up that client’s information by doing a simple search.

This instant access to a customer’s history can be particularly important if your company has a long sales cycle. Most people’s memory of a conversation that occurred six months ago will be sketchy. Having detailed notes will help you keep your potential client focused and will position you as an informed, conscientious vendor.

For example, I recently attended a trade show and ran across a prospect I’d spoken with a year earlier. With the simple touch of my smartphone CRM app, I was able to look up his customer record and review my notes about our previous discussion. So, instead of walking into the prospect’s booth cold, I was able to renew our conversation with an informed intro: “Hey Brian. I spoke with you last year about your web development project. How is that going?”

Reason #4: CRMs deliver sophisticated reporting.

As any salesperson or manager knows, there are key questions you have to know the answer to. Such as, “How many deals are in the pipeline?” “What’s our close rate?” “How long is our sales cycle?” Most CRMs have these reports built in and they are easily accessible from your desktop or smartphone.

But the reporting doesn’t stop there. You can also instantly access year-to-year, month-to-month, or week-to-week comparisons. You can break statistics down by salesperson. How many calls did Salesperson X make last week? How many calls became leads? How does that compare to the previous week? And if you can’t find the exact report you want, most CRMs have options for creating custom reports.

The best part is, you don’t have to be a computer genius to pull these reports. As long as salespeople are inputting the requisite information, you can generate reports with the tap of a button.

Reason #5: Clients make mistakes, too.

A disgruntled client can make a mess of your day. A disgruntled client who becomes frustrated with your lack of organization can be a disaster. How many times have you heard comments like, “I haven’t heard from my salesperson in three weeks,” or, “I still haven’t received your proposal?”

With a CRM, you can quickly (emphasis on quickly) look up all correspondence and evaluate the validity of your customer’s claim. If you can correct the issue while the client is on the phone, it could defuse a potentially relationship-ending situation. (According to Forbes.com, there is a direct relationship between the amount of time it takes to fix a problem and client satisfaction.)

Reason #6: A CRM will improve your marketing.

Integrating a CRM with a website is fairly simple and your CRM provider will help walk you through the process. Benefits include knowing which customers have requested information or quotes via your site and email notifications to salespeople when someone makes a request. This is important because, according to Forbes.com, your odds of qualifying a lead drop 21x if you do not make contact within 30 minutes of a request.

But don’t just focus on potential customers. CRMs are now designed to let you download customer contact information for email marketing campaigns. With the help of an email marketing program, you can use this information to issue persistent communications to your customers.

This is especially important since your probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70%, compared to the odds of closing a new prospect, which are somewhere between 5–20%, depending on your type of business.

Reason #7: Today’s CRM software is affordable.

In years past, the need for back-end systems, expensive integrations, and extensive training made most CRMs cost prohibitive. This was especially true for smaller sales teams.

With the development of cloud-based CRMs, though, all you need is an IT department, a phone, and time to watch a few training videos. My favorite CRM for sales teams of less than ten people is Nutshell. The cost per month ranges from $15–$30 per user per month.

Of course, bigger CRM companies like Saleforce, Sage, and Sugar offer CRM solutions that have all the “bells and whistles,” and their products are fantastic. But they can range from $500 to $10,000 per month and you will need to set up more sophisticated integrations, which can be costly.

How to Learn More about Why a CRM Will Make a Difference

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential CRMs offer for industrial companies. If you’d like to learn more about why CRM software is crucial for industrials, or if you are thinking about adding a CRM at your company, please contact us.

Industrial Strength Marketing isn’t a CRM reseller, but we have developed a strong working knowledge of all the platforms mentioned in this article as part of the online marketing services we provide our clients and can offer informed advice to industrial companies interested in taking advantage of what CRMs have to offer.

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