7 Benefits of CRM Software (That’s Integrated with ERP)

Everyone knows that “The customer is always right.” However, in a lot of businesses, there are two big difficulties with this piece of wisdom: They don’t know quite who their customers are and they may not have a good feel for what the customer wants or thinks. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions offer a way to stay in touch with customers and keep them engaged for ongoing revenue growth.

These solutions, which started out as glorified digital rolodexes, now enable highly sophisticated sales forecasting capabilities, customer support, and marketing management. They also integrate with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions—potentially giving everyone in the business a clear picture of the customer at any given point in time. With that in mind, here are 7 benefits of adopting CRM, especially when it’s integrated with ERP:

1. Improve customer relationships

This sounds pretty basic, but it’s one of the most important elements of a growing business. CRM gives your team the tools to be in touch with key accounts and stay engaged with them as their needs evolve. With CRM, you can instantly get a complete view of the customer, including proposals and orders in progress, new leads within accounts, customer service history and more.

2. Manage sales more effectively

CRM gives sales managers a total overview of customer accounts. Sales reps can use the CRM solution to create opportunities and build sales forecasts, one customer at a time. CRM creates accountability in the sales team, with the potential to drive revenue growth.

3. Understand the effectiveness of marketing campaigns

CRM solutions usually have marketing campaign execution capabilities, though in many cases, separate marketing systems integrate into CRM. Either way, marketing and sales managers can use CRM to track which marketing initiatives are creating sales prospects. And, of these prospects, which become accounts. Thus, CRM offers a way to show Return on Investment (ROI) for marketing campaigns. It measure how well marketing money is being spent.

4. Establish and maintain customer master data

Customer data, especially for accounts with multiple locations and contacts, can easily get disaggregated. With duplicates and missing data, customer data management and communication suffers. CRM gives your company a standard master data record for each customer.

5. Grow sales with quote-to-order capabilities

CRM, when connected to ERP and outfitted with quote-to-order functionality, lets all relevant stakeholders in the sales and order delivery process to know exactly how a particular customer relationship is doing with regard to orders. You can also keep customers in the loop on issues with quotes, e.g. delays in the supply chain that might affect an order.

6. Get better at upselling and cross-selling

With CRM, sales team members can be given suggestions on cross-sell and upsell, e.g. adding a service contract to sale of a product. Sales managers can also then track how well reps are doing at cross-sell and upselling.

7. Deliver better customer service

The customer support module is often activated when companies deploy CRM. Doing so provides mutual visibility between sales and support, which can be helpful in maintaining good customer relationships. For example, if customer support gets a seemingly minor issue from a customer, they can see on CRM that it’s a multi-million dollar account, so it deserves a high priority. Or, if a sales rep is calling on an account, he or she can use CRM to see existing support tickets.

We have worked with many companies on the implementation of CRM solutions, both on a standalone basis and as part of an extended ERP system. To learn more about CRM or see a demo, please visit our CRM page.

Additional CRM Resources

Which CRM solution is right for your organization?

4 ways a CRM helps you improve customer relationships

3 different approaches to CRM systems

Which CRM solution is right for your organization?

Customer relationship management (CRM) software empowers businesses of all sizes and sectors to make smarter, more accurate decisions.

According to some estimates, over 90 percent of companies make use of a CRM solution—and for good reason. On average, CRM solutions see a return on investment of $8.71 for every dollar that you invest.

Despite the obvious benefits of CRM software, however, it’s not so obvious how to choose the best solution for your organization. There are a lot of options available to you. Plus, your company’s situation may be influenced by a number of different factors:

  • Number of employees
  • Industry
  • Specific business requirements
  • Preferred pricing model
  • Upcoming projects
  • Existing resources and technologies

Whether you’re making your first CRM purchase or replacing an existing system, this article will go over the most important concerns that you should consider when choosing a CRM solution.

Defining CRM return on investment

There are essentially three different approaches to CRM solutions: basic, standalone, and integrated.

  • Basic CRM systems include standard functionality without any custom features or coding. This enables you to get up and running quickly and easily.
  • Standalone CRM solutions include more complex processes than basic CRM systems, including custom features for reporting, views and workflows.
  • Integrated CRM systems connect a standalone CRM system with external applications, websites, and systems. This helps you share data and make your workflow more efficient.

No matter which type of CRM you select, you need to understand the value of your CRM solution to evaluate whether it’s the right choice.

For example, focus on how a CRM will improve your customer relationships by giving you easy access to important metrics and key performance indicators, as well as helping you manage connections on social media.

On paper, defining the ROI of a given CRM is easy: simply weigh the costs of using it against the benefits that you gain by doing so.

In practice, however, calculating CRM ROI involves a good deal of subjective assessments and estimates about how much given features are worth to you. Note that most of the value you extract from your CRM will likely come from a few of the most frequently used functionalities.

CRM factors to consider

The cost of a CRM solution is perhaps the best factor to contemplate first since it can disqualify certain options right off the bat. Consider questions such as:

  • What is the pricing model? Subscription-based or a perpetual license? Most CRM applications, especially those that are cloud-based, use a per-month, per-user pricing model.
  • What are the different pricing tiers? Which features that you consider important? Make sure you’re looking at the price for the tier of service you’ll need.

CRM software comes with many different features and functionalities. Some of the capabilities that might interest you include:

  • Lead management and sales for finding, nurturing, and converting new customers
  • Marketing tools for email and SMS campaigns
  • Reports and dashboards for highlighting important metrics
  • E-commerce integration

Depending on your business, you may have other questions to ask when evaluating CRM software options, such as:

  • How easy is it for employees to learn and use the software?
  • What kind of support and maintenance plans are available?
  • How will the software integrate with your existing technical setup?

Final thoughts on your CRM solution

With so many advantages at stake, deciding on the right CRM solution isn’t a task to be taken lightly.

If you need help selecting the right CRM software for your business, contact your IT managed services provider for additional guidance.

4 Microsoft Dynamics CRM tips to help you become a superuser

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a customer relationship management (CRM) software package from Microsoft. Dynamics CRM is intended to help users improve the productivity and effectiveness of their sales and marketing campaigns and get better business insights, especially by integrating with other Microsoft products such as Office 365.

If you’re like most Dynamics CRM users, you’ll want to get the most mileage out of the application, uncovering any hidden tips and tricks that’ll help you along the way. In this article, we’ll go over 4 Microsoft Dynamics CRM tips that’ll help you become more efficient.

1. Know your keyboard shortcuts

Time is money when you’re working with CRM software, and every little bit can help you become more productive.

Let’s start our Microsoft Dynamics CRM tips with some of the most useful Dynamics CRM keyboard shortcuts.

  • Shift + Tab: Move backward to the previous field or option (just as Tab moves you forward to the next one).
  • Ctrl + [: Switch to the first tab on the command bar.
  • Ctrl + ]: Switch to the last tab on the command bar.
  • Ctrl + K: Automatically fill the current field with the correct value after typing a few letters.
  • Ctrl + Shift + S: Save and create a new document or workspace.
  • Alt + S: Save and close.

2. Add members to different marketing lists

Since the release of the 2015 version of Dynamics CRM, you can now add Leads, Contacts or Accounts from one marketing list to another marketing list. This saves you the time and effort of looking up and adding each member individually.

Here’s how you can do this.

  1. Under Marketing, select the Marketing Lists option.
  2. You will see a list or grid view of your active marketing lists. Click on the list whose members you wish to add to another list, and then click on the Record Associated View icon.
  3. Select the members of the list that you want to add to another list, and then click on the ellipses icon. Click on “Add to Another Marketing List.” From here, you can select the desired list or create a new list.

3. Use business rules

One of the benefits of CRM software such as Dynamics CRM is the ability to define your own business rules.

In Dynamics CRM, business rules are pieces of business logic that can be expressed by non-technical users, without having to write code in a programming language such as JavaScript. This empowers business users because they no longer have to wait for developers to do the work they need.

In fact, this is so powerful that our list of Microsoft Dynamics CRM tips wouldn’t be complete without it.

For example, users can define a business rule that hides a field or changes the value of it based on the size of a value in another field.

To use business rules in Dynamics CRM, select the Fields or Business Rules section beneath a given entity when you’re in the Solutions section. Keep in mind, however, business rules can’t replace all the functionality you can achieve with JavaScript.

4. Automatically generate documents

Sales and marketing campaigns are absolutely rife with piles of paperwork that must be created and reviewed. You can save yourself time and improve your customer relationships by automatically generating templates in Microsoft Word.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. From the Settings menu, select Processes. Create a new process of type “Workflow” on the Campaign entity, and set the scope to Organization.
  2. Set the workflow to run when record fields change and select the field as “Status Reason.” Click on Add Step > Check Condition, and then Add Step > Perform Action. The Action should be “SetWordTemplate.”
  3. Click on Properties to the right of Action, and choose the “Selected Template” that you want to generate. Finally, choose the Target to be your current campaign.
  4. Save and activate the workflow.

3 different approaches to CRM systems

It’s essential that you have a CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) for managing customer data. Deciding which type will best fit the needs of your business will depend on various aspects of your company, including your budget and who’ll be using it.

There are three general types of CRM systems to choose from.

Implementing a basic CRM system

A basic CRM system is your general cloud-based implementation. The configuration would be limited to UI layout, with built-in configuration that would edit necessary fields. This type of CRM typically does not include any type of customized coding or involve any extensive processes.

This is a basic cloud solution that can provide standard functions, yet is still powerful enough to make a difference for your company.

Using this type of CRM system, you would likely focus on one single component of the modules such as sales, which would further limit the scope. Pre-built additions can be added to the basic CRM.

A basic CRM also involves transferring data of your accounts, contacts and leads into a CRM application. It won’t be necessary for the user to have all the data entered manually before using the application. With a basic CRM, a company can implement and use the CRM solution with a minimum amount of costs and in the shortest time. Some of the benefits include saving time in tracking and consolidating customer information.

Choosing a standalone CRM system

Standalone CRM is considered the superset of a basic CRM system.

This will involve the implementation of more complex processes including custom reporting, custom views, customized workflows and add-ons. Some of the benefits include the following:

  • Send automated emails or notifications
  • Gather and accurately maintain customer information
  • Analyze data and uncover various trends
  • Improve your customer service

It’s important to note that the data migration sometimes involves multiple sources which can require the need for data cleansing.

For a company that decides to use a standalone CRM, employee training will be required. CRM training for administrators will also be required if the business plans to self-maintain this kind of CRM application. This training will help those using the system gain greater efficiency and enable your company to better understand and meet the needs of your customers.

The benefits of an integrated CRM system

Integrated CRM includes the range of a standalone solution while integrating the CRM application with an external system. An external system could include an ERP application, different websites or some type of home-grown application.

This enables the systems to share data.

The integration of systems can be accomplished by either using some type of commercial off-the-shelf middleware application or by custom programming. By creating your own website to function seamlessly with the CRM system you’ll find there are several benefits for your business.

  • Maximize the company’s overall operational efficiency
  • Increase and improve the automation process
  • Spend less time on administrative duties
  • Increase employees’ time spent marketing and servicing customers
  • Eliminate the duplication of data entry
  • Provide synchronization for all your data
  • Provide better leads for your sales team

Companies using an integrated CRM solution will need to provide training for their employees. And, like a standalone CRM system, administrator training for an integrated CRM will also be needed if the company plans to self-maintain the CRM application.

We recommend finding an experienced technology company to assist with both implementation and maintenance of your CRM system, no matter which type you choose. Many managed IT services providers can help with your CRM, in addition to other critical areas like cloud solutions, enterprise resource planning, security services and basic IT support.

4 ways a CRM helps you improve customer relationships

Excellent customer service is an art. One that can be difficult to master. The good news is there are plenty of tools that can help you better serve your customers.

Our favorite is a CRM.

But CRMs are packed with features. It’s hard to know the best way to use such a robust tool. To help out, let’s explore the high points.

Here are our 4 favorite ways your CRM can help you improve your customer interactions.

#1: Detailed customer dashboards.

When all of your customer data is in a single location, you spend less time searching for individual pieces of information. 360-degree customer profiles centralize customer information so that it’s all available on a convenient dashboard. In a single view, you can see email messages, order history, transactions, previous customer support interactions and more.

When a customer calls, you’ll be able to see every interaction you’ve ever had with them. All without having to dig for information.

“64.2% of companies rate CRM tools as impactful of very impactful.” — LinkedIn

#2: Access important information on the go.

Sales representatives need to be able to help customers no matter where they are—at their desks or out on the road. CRM systems are built with mobility in mind.

It doesn’t matter if your employees at a trade show, a client’s office, or in a cab on the way to a meeting. As long as they have an internet connection, your team can stay productive.

#3: Social media management made easy.

More and more CRMs are incorporating social media interaction. Why would you want to link your company’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn account with your CRM? So you can see how social media activity is affecting customer relationships.

For example, a lot of customers will take to social media when they have strong feels about a company. Every mention is an opportunity—even when customers are upset. If you can turn a bad experience into a good one right there in your Twitter feed, you’ll win that customer back as well as every other customer who’s paying attention.

“Customer relationship management (CRM) systems help you better understand your customers’ needs and how to meet those needs while enhancing your bottom line.” —CIO

#4: Knowledge at your customers’ fingertips.

Some customers will do absolutely anything to avoid making a phone call. That actually plays to your favor. Sure, you could tell insist that they call or email. Or you could create a knowledge management portal using your CRM.

Wiki-style knowledge management portals enable customers to access FAQs or troubleshooting information all on their own. Many CRM systems also let customers build their own online communities. These are spaces where customers can ask each other for help and provide your business feedback. An IT consultant with CRM experience can help you with setup.

Get the most out of your CRM system.

If you’re not using your CRM to build brand loyalty and enhance your customer service efforts, you’re missing out. These 4 CRM features will allow you to tap into and improve your customer’s experience.

Happy customers are loyal customers. And the more loyal customers you have, the more you’ll be able to grow your business.

Do you know the value of your CRM?

In 1989, a small-time collector was perusing art at a flea market. He ended up buying an uninspired pastoral painting, purely for the frame.

When he got it home, he removed the painting. He had no intention of keeping it. To his dismay, he discovered the frame was cheaply made and not salvageable.

But he found something else inside. Folded behind the painting was a copy of the Declaration of Independence. He could tell it was old, but he didn’t think it valuable. Then a friend urged him to research it.

As it turned out, the hidden copy was one of only 24 first prints of the historic document. In June of 2000, it sold at Sotheby’s for $8.1 million.

Hidden Value

If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find a slew of similar stories.

The original Velvet Underground demo someone bought for 75¢. The 11th-century Chinese pottery bought for three bucks and later sold for $2.2 million. The Warhol sketch purchased for $5 that turned out to be worth an estimated $2 million.

Sometimes there’s immeasurable value right under our noses, but we don’t see it. For many small business leaders, that’s true of their CRM solution. If you think of your CRM as little more than an elaborate database, you could be one of them.

How Your CRM Can Be A Game-Changer

A CRM (short for “customer relationship management”) solution is a powerful, robust tool—if you know how to use it. Unfortunately, we’ve worked with plenty of SMB owners who are barely scratching the surface.

Below is a quick list of some of the powerful things your CRM can do that you might not know about.

Streamline the sales process.

The goal in sales is to convert leads to prospects and prospects to customers. A CRM helps with that process by providing a clear picture of where each contact is in the process. By reviewing previous sales attempts, you can determine what strategies work best, equipping your sales team for better closing rates in the future.

Close the right deals.

One of the challenges of sales is qualifying potential customers. The faster you can determine who is and who is not a likely to buy, the less time you have to waste pursuing dead ends. A CRM gives you a framework for making that call faster, ensuring that you close the right deals—for you and for your clients.

Know your market.

You can also use the data in your CRM to tease out trends and movements in your market. If customers are migrating from one kind of product or service to another, you’ll see it in the reports. If your business is seasonal, that’ll become clear, too.

Meet customers’ needs.

Cross-selling and upselling get a bad rap. Neither is inherently bad. It’s all about knowing what actually helps your customer base. The better your customer records, the more easily you can identify the products and add-ons that will help the most.

Manage customer communication.

When all communication is housed in one place, it’s much easier for your employees to deliver top-tier customer service. This is especially true in the moment, like when they have a customer on the phone. A CRM makes that extra insight possible across your team.

Personalize communication.

Automatic messaging can include order status updates, shipping notifications, and simple thank you messages. A CRM gives you the ability to automate each of these with some nice personal touches. That way your customers know what’s going on at all times.

Incorporate social media.

The most current CRM tools also incorporate options for social media contact. Given the marketing potential of social media, this is a must-have for small business owners. And a CRM makes utilizing social media—for everything from announcements to events to contests to customer stories—so much easier.

Let CCS Technology Guide You to the Perfect CRM

With all the CRM solutions out there, how do you find the one that’s best for your business? And once you’ve found it, how do you transition your current process over to the new CRM?

The easiest way also happens to be the smartest way—get some help from the experts.

The pros at CCS can take you through the whole process, ensuring you end up with the best possible CRM solution for your business needs. If you’re ready to unleash the power of a CRM, give us a call. We’re ready to help.

The 3 things you should be getting from your CRM

Few business tools have the potential to drive sales like a well-configured Customer Relationship Management application. You probably call it a CRM, as does practically everyone. In fact, it looks odd to see the words actually spelled out. But we’ve included the full name here for a very specific reason.

It’s easy to forget the functionality CRM solutions are meant to provide. For salespeople, the CRM is where prospects, leads and closed deals live. For customer service, it’s where you can find a customer’s information and history. For management, it’s a rich source of data brimming over with all kinds of reporting potential.

In reality, a CRM is all those things and more.

In this whitepaper, we’ll explore the three biggest benefits of using a CRM. If your current CRM isn’t delivering these three things, it’s time to reconfigure or replace. And if you’re not using a CRM, it’s time to incorporate this valuable tool.

Improved Productivity

CRMs give companies a single, centralized location for the data marketing, sales and service teams rely on day in, day out. When all that data is housed in one place, your employees don’t have to waste time hunting down customer information, unsure of who knows what.

crm solution

Just check the CRM. Everything’s there.

That makes it easier to market, easier to close, and easier to provide top-of-the-line customer service. Improve your organization’s efficiency, and you’ll feel it in the bottom line.

If you want an even bigger productivity boost, add mobile access to your CRM solution. According to Nucleus Research, CRMs with mobile access and social networking capability increase productivity by another 26.4%.

Higher Close Ratios

It’s an age-old adage. Sales is a numbers game.

For example, you might have to work through 10 leads to get to one sale. But what if you could close one deal for every seven leads? Or every five? The difference starts to add up. Quickly.

According to The Sales Management Association, a formalized sales process, like the kind baked into a CRM, can increase profits by as much as 30%. Individual salespeople will perform better as lead conversion rates skyrocket.

It’s all due to a powerful snowball effect. CRMs boost efficiency through organization, automation, and process management. As a result, it’s possible for salespeople to do more in less time.

Better Client Relationships

The CRM advantage doesn’t stop with sales. Not only will more customers decide to buy, but more customers will stick, as well.

Research shows that CRMs improve customer retention rates by as much as 27%. Additionally, CRMs have been shown to increase customer satisfaction by a high margin, as well.  The same productivity perks that lead a customer to buy make it easier to keep current customers and ensure they remain happy.

Ironically, it’s not even really the CRM solution that creates this effect.

Rather, a CRM simply facilitates the kind of organization necessary for your employees to focus their time and energy on prospects and customers. What’s remarkable is the fact that every person involved – the customer, the sales rep, the service rep and even management – benefits from this one powerhouse tool.

Get On It

What about your company?

Does your current CRM make good on its potential? Or, if the idea of using a CRM solution is new to you, are you convinced of the benefits, both for customer satisfaction and profitability?

If you’re ready for a new CRM experience, the CCS Technology team can help. Not every CRM is a good fit for every company. It’s important that you deploy the right solution for your organization.

That’s why we take a consultative approach. We don’t make blind recommendations. We’d much rather get to know you first so we can pair you up with the solutions that will do the most to drive your business forward.

Said another way, when our customers win, we win.

If you need a new CRM solution, we can help you find it. Contact us today to find out more about how we can set you up for success.