Published on May 12,2016
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What is marketing without good CRM (customer relationship management)? In fact, some management gurus would probably argue that CRM is the very foundation of marketing and all its allied activities. CRM deals with managing relationships with customers – current and prospective.

Valuable insights are captured whenever a sales executive or manager interacts with a customer in person, on the phone or even online. Often these insights get hidden in emails, in personal files or even in the mind of the employee. CRM deals with how these snippets of information can be converted into valuable knowledge about the customer base.

Developing a CRM strategy is essential before undertaking a CRM exercise for your company. If you do not begin with the end in mind, you can get lost along the way and not accomplish what you set out to achieve. Which is why, setting clear objectives, defining metrics to measure success, penning down the plan to achieve goals, and outlining risk mitigation strategies are key components of a CRM strategy.

Adapting to the requirements of the modern-day informed customer is a basic prerequisite for any business in this era. It boils down to how a company can make their customers the center of their being and create strategies around them. Choosing the correct CRM software can offer you great project management help that can be the right recipe for success. You will have to undertake a diagnostic exercise to understand which link you are missing in the chain and then choose accordingly.

Salesforce is a CRM software that achieves what’s mentioned above and much more. The entire process – generation of leads to deal closure is made easy by this software. Let’s attempt to understand the major steps of this process:

#1 Entering leads into Salesforce

This is the stage of identification of a sales lead. A marketer advertises, attends trade shows, engages in online marketing through various platforms and performs many other marketing activities. All to gain contacts which can be converted into sales leads. A sales lead is an unqualified sales prospect that shows interest in the products or services being supplied by a marketer and provides his/her contact information to be contacted at a later date.

On Salesforce, you can enter the information about various leads, their sources and opportunities that may exist through them. How a company would like to create views of the data, assign leads to various employees and capture information from the source survey or form is up to them.

#2 Qualification of sales leads

The second stage is about the qualification of a sales lead. When a decision is taken to pursue a sales lead, the lead becomes a contact. At this point, the system creates three objects: an account, a contact and an opportunity.

A contact is a field that stores all the relevant data about the particular individual – his/her designation, contact details, address, role in the sales process etc.

For converting leads into contacts, Salesforce provides a ‘convert’ option. Link the lead to an existing account name or add a new one if required. There is a default field for describing the ‘opportunity’ on hand. Any follow up tasks can also be listed down which reduces the person dependency. You could also add tasks that are relevant to your internal processes.

#3 Creating an account

In Salesforce, an account represents an entity, which could be a current or prospective customer, supplier, partner, and maybe even a competitor. All your communication with an entity – be it documentation of deals closed in the past, decision maker’s contact details and even the progress of current deals – gets recorded under its account in the system.. It is a one-stop shop to know whatever has been exchanged with a particular entity.

#4 Assigning leads

You may have an internal workflow process every time you convert a new lead, such as an email to the team or the assignment of the lead to a specific member in the sales team. Assignment of leads can take place based on certain parameters that have been designed by you. Manual entries are also permitted in case if you want to overwrite what is recorded in the system. There may also be an event causing the need for a shift of ownership of a lead, creating a need for re-assignment. All these and more are possible in Salesforce.

#5 Creating opportunities

The opportunities section in Salesforce captures data relating to sales, deals which have not yet been closed, negotiation details, expected date of closure and the like. Details regarding products and quotes that you have provided to prospective leads also need to be mentioned.

The opportunity field is the nucleus of what the sales process is all about – getting more and more sales for the company. If this section of the system is kept updated timely with precise data, it can also provide an insight into the sales pipeline. Details about the owner of the opportunity, the opportunity name, indicative amount, expected closure date, stage of the deal cycle and probability of winning the deal are some details that form a part of this object field.

At various points in the sales process, you would interact with the customer in different ways whether online, on the phone or by sending them certain collaterals and documents. These are termed as activities in the system and are recorded as call / task logs.

#6 Pipeline management

Qualified leads get converted into opportunities that become a part of the company’s sales pipeline. Deals can be analyzed by managers to see what activities have been performed with respect to them till date, identify constraints if any and assign a new opportunity owner if need be. Dashboards with reports on the time taken for deal closure, sales trends, meeting the overall sales goals, high and low performing team members and other metrics can be viewed and acted upon using this feature.

Salesforce enables forecasting as it allows you to measure actual performance with what is budgeted in your plan. At any point, you can also use your judgement to tweak a colleague’s expected performance level to get a view of what the entire picture will look like. This makes it easier to pinpoint areas needed for immediate improvement. Also, splitting up targets amongst members of a sales team is enabled by Salesforce.

#7 Managing & tracking customer orders

Customers could change their order and records being maintained at different data entry points could create information disparities. This feature of Salesforce helps in streamlining order management. Handling higher volumes spread across geographies and pricing structures can be accurately dealt with using this feature.

Salesforce when used effectively, where you enter information into the system timely and critical components are treated with priority, can really help in upping overall sales. The ‘CRM Salesforce for Beginners’ course offered by Edureka can help you master the major concepts of CRM and its impact on sales and business. There is a special focus on Cloud computing and how technology is impacting customer engagement today.

With the overall delivery of products and services being offered at unbelievable prices and quality levels, there is very little a marketer can do to lure a customer who is now spoilt for choice. In a market where a clear differentiator against a customer offering is not identifiable, customers can be won by building valuable relationships with them. That’s how important CRM is.

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