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Customer relationship management (CRM) is more than contact management or sales force automation. CRM is a complete system of developing and maintaining customer relationships through their lifecycle within your organizations.

Contact management is simply a list of contacts and some interaction reminder and logging system. Sales force automation might add tools such a quoting and forecasting where CRM extends the customer relationship maintenance to marketing and customer support and tends to be integrated with the information contained in other systems such as accounting and ERP. 

Here are ten good reasons why CRM should be a part of any business that wants to grow:

  1. CRM excels at process management. If you want to scale your business, you need sales process tools. CRM tools allow you to build out processes and management of processes.

  2. CRM tools allow you to build out more detailed data models of your business relationship with your customers. For instance, CRM often includes contract management, customer support, and customer onboarding. To manage these areas of any organization you need a flexible tool that allows you to customize the system to fit your needs.

  3. CRM enables your marketing team to effectively communicate and share data with your sales and support organization. With marketing operating in an integrated system, it is possible to have a closed loop lead generation and customer communication system.

  4. CRM enables your customer support to work together with your sales team for account management. With these teams working together you will have a more effective sales account management function and customers who will receive resolutions to their issues faster.

  5. CRM systems such as Sugar have rich tools to automate business functions. Tools such as workflow automation can consistently enforce tasks and generate communications according to preset rules.

  6. CRM systems have rich leads management capabilities. Nothing is more frustrating to a business owner than learning that sales leads are not followed up on. CRM systems allow you to build a leads pursuit model where no lead is lost.

  7. CRM systems have the tools for you to create the sales pipeline or forecast model that fits your sales model and management style. Every organization is different, and this is a key area for CRM to be flexible to adapt to you.

  8. CRM systems are accessible from everywhere. Your sales team works in traditional office locations, home offices, hotel rooms, customer sites, planes, trains, and automobiles. CRM systems should purposefully make it easy and reliable to access CRM from any of these locations and through a variety of computing devices.

  9. CRM systems are open. Most CRM vendors realize that the CRM system can greatly benefit from data maintained in other systems in your organization. CRM systems deliver application programming interfaces (API's) that enable to speak to other systems that also have API's.

  10. CRM systems can contain any information about your business. Your CRM system is most likely the most flexible tool you have to store any information about any aspect of your business. Accounting systems are typically fairly hard coded for specific accounting functions, HR systems store data about your employees, but CRM can be configured to store information about ANYTHING. It will quickly replace any Excel spreadsheets and Access databases to be a central hub of information that can be shared and maintained by all your employees.

We work with SugarCRM and GoldMine and know they do a fantastic job with the above points. Other CRM tools can also perform these functions, but we feel that Sugar does it especially well and at a cost that is a fraction of our competitors.