Most companies these days are familiar with the value of a CRM system in relation to storing relevant client data and details, but there are other functions of CRM that people are less aware of. For example, an effectively functioning CRM system can be used to generate sales and increase staff productivity.

According to a recent survey by The Economist, there is a clear link between implementing technology to support customer service activity and increases in sales productivity. They go on to say that of the 59 respondents who had implemented new technologies over the past 12 months, 44 said customer service productivity had increased as a direct result.

Putting in the technology isn’t enough though. There are four key elements to consider when you implement a CRM solution to ensure increased sales and productivity.

The system has to be:

  1. Tailored – the technology must be adapted to the specific requirements of the customers for each individual industry. This means companies can tailor their offers directly to specific customers.
  2. Efficient – customer service staff must have rapid access to customer information to help differentiate their company in the minds of customers.
  3. Process-oriented – the new system needs to reduce the amount of time spent on administrative tasks and allow salespeople more time to sell.
  4. Integrated – social media tools such as Twitter can co-exist with CRM to provide information directly to customers. Research shows an integrated approach to customer service can transform the value of this function and help to improve productivity in this area.

Although some of these points may seem obvious, companies are still struggling with the problem of how to integrate new information sources into their customer support programme. This challenge is greater for small businesses that may have less technology skills in-house and fewer staff to monitor the constant chatter on the social media and blog sites.

Companies may feel safer with more traditional means of communication such as email and phone calls, but chances are your customers are already actively using these social media tools and find them more compelling than traditional forms of communication. These channels can give companies valuable insight into customer opinions, likes and dislikes, as well as providing opportunities to drive the conversation and further engage with existing and potential customers.

An effectively functioning CRM programme allows your organisation to gather valuable information about the needs and spending habits of your existing customers. This in turn allows you to anticipate their needs and design offers that will appeal to them, as opposed to limiting the focus to bringing in new customers. If you know what they are likely to want, then it is so much easier to provide it for them.

For companies such as Kordia, the benefits of a CRM system were realised almost instantly. They embedded all their manual forms into the system, saving time on manual uploads and allowing staff more time to focus on customers. The system gave Kordia, complete visibility of their sales pipeline, the ability to track customer communications and prioritise customer needs resulting in an increase in sales.

Another company that increased sales productivity with CRM is telecommunications retailer, Orb Communications. A recent CRM upgrade has allowed staff to obtain an instant 360 degree view of any customer at any time, enhancing their customer service and the ability to cross-sell, which delivered measurable sales wins almost instantly.

“Giving our teams the tools they need to win new customers, as well as the ability to measure performance has already proven invaluable, and we have seen a significant return on investment through improved customer retention rates” – Matt Evans, Orb’s General Manager of Sales and Marketing.

It’s a bit of a paradigm shift from thinking about CRM as a reflective system that looks back into what a customer has done in the past, to a proactive system that looks forward and thinks about what a customer is likely to do in future. CRM should be seen as more than a customer data storage solution; it is a proactive marketing tool and can be used to increase the productivity of many different parts of an organisation.

Join the Customer Relationship Management discussion in the NZ CRM Forum on LinkedIn to find out more information on CRM and sales productivity.