“That’s what I want to find out!” – Lou Costello
At Possibilities Unlimited, we believe that relationships are the essence of business. You have to have relationships with customers, suppliers and employees. And as your business grows, it becomes harder and harder to manage those relationships, and keep track of every time you talk with someone. CRM – Customer Relationship Management – is the system that you can use to capture all the data you have about your clients, your vendors, and your prospects. Typically it is a software program that you update every time you have a conversation with someone, or you sell them something. Depending on the data that is important to your business, you can customize the CRM system to give you up-to-the-minute reports on your target market and your existing clients.
The days of keeping business cards in a rolodex are vanishing. With all the affordable, entry-level CRM systems available today, there is every reason to get on the bandwagon and start making effective use of the information you collect on a daily basis. Even social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook can be valuable tools for getting your marketing message across to a managed group of prospects.
There are a multitude of CRM applications available. So how do you choose the right one? The important thing is to sit down and analyze what information is going to speed your sales process, your reporting, enhance your marketing initiative, and be easily shared by all those in your company who need to access the information. Start with your information needs, and then shop for a system that provides those needs. Too many companies attack CRM from the opposite direction. They purchase a product because someone recommended it, and then they try to make the product bend to their needs.
So take the time to analyze your needs and to learn more about CRM and what it can do for you. One of my favorite resources is CRMAdvocate, a daily e-newsletter that really has its finger on the pulse of this ever changing industry. It’s a good jumping-off point for any business that wants to improve their results.
The age of the rolodex may be over, but the handshake is still important. Make sure you’re up to speed on your customers and your relationships with them so that each time you meet, you’re ready to provide solutions to their needs. Because relationships are the essence of winning in business.
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