Many business owners are already aware of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Platforms like Salesforce, Hubspot and Zoho help organizations connect with consumers and manage each step of the customer journey.
But there's more to CRM than the technical side.
In 2014, Nucleus Research found that every $1 spent on CRM investments yielded $8.71 in returns. In 2021, Dynamic Consultants Group, using this data and the yearly rate of growth on returns, determined the ROI for CRM to be $30.48 for every dollar spent.
And CRM comes with a lot of benefits beyond a bigger bottom line.
What Is Customer Relationship Management?
CRM helps businesses manage interactions with prospects and current customers. The UK government's guide to CRM added that it keeps all data central and improves the customer service you provide.
The process of customer relationship management encompasses the whole of the customer-business relationship, including direct interactions — like someone checking out at a cash register — and forecasts of future trends and behaviors.
Everyone who deals with prospects and customers — salespeople, delivery drivers, customer support — is involved in managing the customer experience. CRM tools make it easy for these team members to communicate and collaborate.
Why Use Customer Relationship Management?
CRM tools and techniques help businesses build stronger links with customers and channel more leads through the sales process. Businesses of any size can benefit.
And not all CRM strategies need to be sophisticated. A small company can see results with a simple, cohesive CRM plan that compiles existing mailing lists, a website and social media pages.
Take a look at some of these key stats on customer relationship management:
- In a LinkedIn survey of professional sales teams, 65% of respondents said they use CRM tools, and 97% said sales tech, like CRMs, are important.
- Teams that are completely connected across an organization with a CRM are 14% more likely to deliver exceptional customer experiences, according to Forrester and Salesforce.
- In that same joint report, 81% of executives said their CRM is essential to the company’s ability to deliver seamless CX.
- Valued at more than $52 billion in 2021, the global CRM market is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13.3% between 2022 and 2030. (Grand View Research)
Related Article: Are CRM Solutions Keeping Pace With Industry Needs?
Using Customer Relationship Management to Grow Your Business
CRM software makes it easier for businesses to manage their customer base. This software aggregates information into one convenient location — uploaded to the cloud and accessible from anywhere — making it easy to locate data like:
- Phone numbers
- Devices used
- Place of work
- Professional title
- Purchase history
- Submitted feedback
- Support tickets
Employees in customer-facing roles can use this information to anticipate customer needs, track performance and know which tickets to prioritize.
Managers and executives can use CRM data to generate reports and gain a data-backed understanding of where the company stands. This information can help them develop special offers, identify areas for staff training and better determine what the customer base wants.
Some advanced CRM tools can even automate customer engagement. A 2022 report from Grand View Research revealed that new technological improvements, like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), are likely to drive the expansion of the CRM industry in the future.
The report noted, "Rapid shifts in the fields of business intelligence and embedded analytics, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and their implementation in customer relationship management solutions are likely to promote product enhancement and innovation among CRM vendors."
Customer Relationship Management for Marketing
One area of customer relationship management that is often overlooked is marketing. Many managers focus on how customer relationship management can improve the experience for existing customers.
In the world of CRM, however, once someone has contact with a business, they're a customer or prospect with a place in the database, and managers and salespeople can leverage that.
As researchers wrote in the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, "Many salespeople are leveraging the use of CRM in enhancing their relationships with customers to improve sales forecasting, lead management, bid and quote management and personalization."
CRM helps businesses combine three key concepts in marketing management:
- Customer orientation
- Relationship marketing
- Database marketing
Today, it's harder to reach consumers with mass advertising, but using CRM software and personalized marketing, businesses can deliver targeted messages to the people they want to reach the most, increasing the effectiveness of their ad campaigns and making their advertising dollars go further.
Relationship marketing techniques can include everything from remarketing and abandoned cart offers to loyalty offers for long-standing customers, discounts for related products and birthday messages for email subscribers.
With CRM software, companies hold valuable information about customers in their hands, and they can leverage that information into strategies that work.
Related Article: Use CDPs and CRMs Together for Optimal Customer Experience
A Look at the Best CRM Software for 2022
Companies have several choices for CRM platforms today, depending on their size and the needs of their employees. Let’s look at some of the most popular options.
HubSpot is one of the most well-known CRM solutions, aimed at being a full-service package that covers customer relationship management, sales, social media, email marketing and ecommerce. The suite is easy to use, even for those who aren’t experienced marketers.
Interested businesses can try out the free version first. It offers tools like contact management, audience segmentation, web activity tracking, ad management, email scheduling, company communications and much more.
For those wanting additional features and expanded capabilities, premium versions are offered on a scaled pricing tier to cater to both small and enterprise operations.
A relatively new platform, ClickUp is a collaboration app hoping to become the solution to everything a digital company needs. It covers task management, chat, project management and document sharing, as well as sales and CRM.
ClickUp's strength is its integrations. The app can pull data from a variety of platforms for use in sales or customer service pipelines. The clear, minimalistic interface makes it easy to use, so team members shouldn't require extensive training.
Another thing that makes the platform appealing is the pricing. ClickUp is free for personal use, albeit with a 100-megabyte storage limit. Even this free tier has no limit on tasks or members. Premium tiers with extra features, such as Gantt charts and more sophisticated reporting options, start at just $5 per month.
This established brand has a lot to offer in terms of customization. Monday.com pitches itself as a no-code CRM platform. Its primary selling point is the ease of automation, and even less-technical users can take advantage of automated reporting, marketing, lead management and sales.
Monday.com offers a free tier, where users can have up to two seats and create up to 1,000 tasks. The basic premium tier costs $10 per month and unlocks several features, including apps for iOS and Android, making it easy to manage tasks on the go.
The automation features are restricted to higher tiers, but there's a free trial for businesses that want to try it out before investing.
While lesser-known than others on the list, Pipedrive has a lot to offer. It’s ideal for startups and businesses looking to grow rapidly, with an emphasis on increasing sales and revenue.
Pipedrive's design focuses on the interactions you have with customers, allowing users to see at-a-glance where each prospect and customer is in the sales pipeline. The system also allows staff to automate common tasks, driving people through the sales funnel as efficiently as possible.
The essential tier costs less than $15 per month (billed annually), and there's a free trial available, so users can see whether the platform is right for them.
Microsoft Dynamics 365f
Microsoft's CRM offering is a more traditional business intelligence platform. Unlike other offerings on this list, Microsoft Dynamics 365 is specifically for enterprise users. It offers a customer service suite, an API and project managing and accounting tools.
The cloud-based version is the most well-known, but there's also an on-premise option available, which is useful for companies that prefer more control over their data. Both versions offer full support from Microsoft and integrate well with other products in the Microsoft ecosystem.
Customer relationship management isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s only going to become more innovative and essential in the next few years.
By adopting a CRM solution that fits your company, whether a start-up or global brand, you can bolster employee efforts, improve cohesion across channels, drive sales and ensure customers are getting the experiences they desire.