What are the challenges with CRM tools

CRM system - the marketing tool that every entrepreneur should know

What are the advantages of a CRM system?

Know your customers

All information about a contact is stored in a central location that provides an overview for each employee. Comprehensive customer knowledge can be a decisive competitive advantage over your competition, as you can document the needs of your customers and use them, for example, when submitting a new offer. Good customer knowledge is particularly helpful in personal communication or by e-mail, as communication can always be geared to the phase of the customer journey in which your contact is currently.

Retaining customers

The long-term satisfaction of your customers and thus the loyalty to your company can be ensured by a well-maintained CRM. For example, you will be automatically reminded to send follow-up e-mails or to contact a customer with whom no communication has taken place for a long time. In this way, customer interests can be kept alive and nourished through precisely coordinated marketing activities.

Addressing customers according to contact characteristics

Through segmentation, contacts can be subdivided and filtered according to certain criteria. Targeted e-mails can then be sent to these lists, which can contain different target groups, and individually adapted campaigns are possible based on certain contact properties.

Better communication

Timely reminders for calls or e-mails guarantee that contacts will be able to process inquiries quickly. Templates for e-mails, for example, are also helpful, the timing of which can be precisely adjusted and personalization tokens (e.g. the first name of the contact is automatically filled in with the token) can also be individually designed for multiple recipients. Every contact with the customer and every marketing measure can be designed to be relevant to him.

More productivity in sales

Access to the previous history of a contact enables sales employees to identify opportunities for up- and cross-selling at an early stage. Such an insight into buying habits and previous product offers ensures that the right offers can be made at the right time. Ultimately, this improves the flow of information within the company and the exploitation of customer potential.

Comply with data protection

A CRM saves a lot of work in terms of the GDPR. For example, a CRM documents the legal basis for the use of contact data and offers insight into the origin of certain personal data as well as functions for restricting the use and deletion of contact data.

What are the disadvantages and risks of a CRM solution?

The majority of the following disadvantages are in the organizational and technical environment of the introduction and use of a CRM system:

  • Bad organizational integration of CRM in the company, which leads to a lack of acceptance or uncertainty in handling the system
  • Insufficient performance of the analytical and communicative CRM components
  • Failure to adapt to operational business processes, for example if customer management methods do not suit the company or the CRM solution is not sufficiently scalable
  • Lack of care and maintenance of the IT-technical environment
  • Lack of willingness to take responsibility for the system and thus insufficient quality of customer data
  • Investments in hardware and software that only pay off after a certain period of time in the form of, for example, higher customer loyalty and new sales opportunities

With careful and well-structured planning, management and control, many of these risks can be excluded or at least minimized. In the section “How do I successfully implement a CRM? - 8 tips for a successful introduction “you will find recommendations on how to avoid the risks mentioned above.

What does CRM software cost me?

Right at the beginning: There is no general answer to this question for any company, as a wide variety of factors are included in the final total. Nevertheless, we have put together the following cost blocks that you should consider:

Price for the software

Comprehensive CRM solutions (e.g. Sage CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM) cost between € 500 and € 1500 per CRM user. If the number of users exceeds 50, relevant volume discounts are usually possible. Leaner CRM solutions are in cheaper regions, for example HubSpot CRM is free with some tools in the basic version. If you need additional functions, you can easily book them.

Price for software as a service

The price of a SaaS includes not only the use of the software itself, but also the maintenance and use of the hardware. The prices are in a very wide range, with very comprehensive CRM solutions often between € 50 and € 100 per month and user. A leaner solution is also available from € 10 per month and user. The minimum term here is often one year.

Installation, implementation and training

If you have chosen a comprehensive CRM solution, then you should set the effort for processes such as installation, adaptation and training of employees at about the same amount as the purchase cost of the software, i.e. € 500 to € 1500 per user. If many of your employees use the software, the project is associated with a high level of coordination and implementation effort in order to familiarize everyone with the system appropriately. If you have very few employees, the implementation costs are correspondingly lower.

Maintenance and data maintenance

When you buy or rent licenses, you need to take out a maintenance contract. This ensures that the software is constantly updated and that the manufacturer corrects any errors that occur. The costs for such a contract usually amount to around 15% to 25% of the license price.

How do I choose the right CRM provider?

The right provider decides on success or failure when working with a CRM system. We have therefore summarized the most important test points for you:

  • Branch: While CRM systems are not designed specifically for specific industries, it is still important to consider your industry when making your selection as some CRMs are more suitable than others for the needs of certain industries
  • Number of Employees: How many of your employees will be using the CRM? Basically, the size of the company also influences the complexity of the implementation. All users of the CRM should be trained, in addition, the decision-making of larger companies differs from that of larger companies.
  • Main fields of application: Since every CRM has its strengths and weaknesses, it is important that you determine individually for your company for which areas you want to use your CRM (e.g. marketing management, offer and contract management, relationship and contact management, etc.).
  • Time for the introduction: Depending on how complex the implementation of a CRM is in your company, you have to plan time for the introduction. So-called plug-and-play solutions are ideal for smaller companies that do not need a lot of adjustments in advance. Large companies usually need more time to prepare the organization for a migration.
  • Integration with other software: The integration of your CRM with other programs (e.g. e-mail programs, accounting programs, HRM, etc.) can bring many advantages; if you need these integrations. Technically, integration is not always easy and some CRMs are better suited than others. So here you should estimate how important the integration with other software is to you

A few helpful questions to help you decide:

  • Which goals should CRM support me in achieving?
  • Which processes do I want to map?
  • To what extent do I need a tailor-made adaptation of the CRM to the various departments or teams in my company?
  • How much IT infrastructure is there given by the know-how of my employees?
  • What is the total budget I have available for purchasing, implementing and maintaining the CRM?
  • How much storage capacity do I need and how many contacts do I want to save in CRM?
  • Is the usability given for all employees who will work with the CRM?
  • Does the system offer sufficient interfaces with programs that I use and want to integrate?

If you are still unsure which provider is right for you - no problem. Below are four steps to help you make your decision.

1. Which functions do you need?

As all departments in your company should benefit from the introduction of CRM as far as possible, start a survey: For example, which functions do sales or marketing require? However, do not lose sight of the fact that the operation of the system should remain as simple as possible - many functions are of little help if nobody can use them.

Data security and budget are also central issues that you should keep in mind when making your considerations. Prioritize the desired functions according to your requirements and then compare the providers in the next step.

2. Analyze the providers

First, get a rough overview of the providers that meet your requirements and note the advantages and disadvantages of the respective systems. This preselection, which could include around five to ten providers, can then be analyzed more precisely with regard to specific requirements. A ranking list provides a good overview so that you can find a top 3 at the end of this step.

3. Start a test phase

You can now start a test phase within your company with the top 3 providers from step 2. Test how well the corresponding systems harmonize with the processes in your company and get feedback from employees from different departments on how to use the system.

Try out the various functions of the CRM by, for example, running a contact through the entire sales process on a test basis. You can also contact customer support on a trial basis to test reliability, availability and usability in the event of problems.

4. Decision and implementation

After you have chosen the CRM that is best suited for your day-to-day work using the direct comparison, it must be implemented across the company. For tips on how to implement it successfully, see the next section.

Our five most popular CRM systems

By the way: we at sixclicks use the HubSpot CRM. Click here to read more about our experience of CRM marketing with HubSpot.

How do I successfully implement a CRM? - 8 tips for a successful introduction

Here are some tips on how not only you, but also your employees can become happy with CRM and exploit the full potential:

  • For smaller companies: First focus on the operational advantages of the system, as the business tool should primarily support customer service and sales staff in their day-to-day work.
  • A new system also means a new strategy: in order to be able to work successfully with a CRM, all employees have to work towards consistent customer orientation.
  • Internal motivation is often underestimated, but it can be helpful for everyone involved if you reveal to them how CRM can help them and the whole company.
  • Start a test run to see whether the selected CRM really suits the company (e.g. using the demo version).
  • Establish guidelines regarding the use of the CRM so that the data quality within the CRM is guaranteed and there are no ambiguities.
  • Involve employees in the implementation and provide them with enough information material.
  • A "super user" is an employee who is the contact person for all other employees if questions or problems arise with regard to the CRM and is thus a help for everyone else to get used to the new system.
  • Calculate current costs as well as costs for add-ons, extensions and upgrades that may arise at a later point in time.

What CRM approaches are there?

The approaches and goals of a CRM system are divided into four components:

  • Analytical CRM: This approach focuses on controlling the CRM using certain key figures. Customer-related data and information are collected and systematically included in the CRM in order to then analyze and evaluate them. The evaluation is made scalable by means of and based on this, the measures with which the customers and contacts are guided through the sales pipeline are determined.
  • Operational CRM: This component forms the actual basis for everyday contact and personal contact with customers. Here the collected data is evaluated and used for daily use in sales, marketing and customer service. Relevant insights are, for example, customer preferences, order history or personal details about the customer that have been recorded in notes. For SMEs in particular, the focus should be on operational customer relationship management, as personal customer contact is becoming more and more important, especially in times of digitization.
  • Communicative CRM: Here the focus is completely on the customer, as the communicative CRM represents the direct interface to the customer and all measures are aimed at increasing customer satisfaction. The efficient use of all communication channels for customer contact, whether digital or physical, is ensured here by the optimal coordination of the channels.
  • Collaborative CRM: A good CRM offers all employees the opportunity to access the same up-to-date information and thus enable seamless collaboration. Regardless of where an employee is, as soon as he wants to access information about one of his customers, it is available and up-to-date. This improves transparency and collaboration in the team and in the entire company. Collaborative customer relationship management can also go beyond company boundaries by including suppliers or external sales channels along the value chain in the CRM concept, for example in order to save costs or optimize processes.

Cloud-based CRM or on-premises?

A common question that comes up when it comes to deciding for or against a certain CRM: Should I host the software myself or should I use a cloud-based CRM?

What does on-premises mean and what are the advantages?

Definition: On-Premises is a license and usage model for server-based computer programs. The licensee (customer) buys or rents the software and then operates it under his own responsibility in his own data center. The customer can also operate the software on the rented servers of a third-party data center, but the software does not run on the provider's hardware under any circumstances.

Advantages: The software can be adapted to your own infrastructure by your own IT staff as required, which, however, requires a high level of know-how and possible training costs. In addition, data security can be checked internally.

What does cloud computing mean and what are the advantages?

Definition: Here the software is obtained as a service, ie "Software as a Service" (SaaS), whereby the responsibility for maintenance and operation lies with the provider and not with the customer.

Advantages: The customer does not have to have their own IT infrastructure, which can mean enormous cost savings, especially for small companies. In addition, the monthly costs are very transparent because the service provider takes over regular maintenance of the system and is also responsible for data security.

Which variant is right for me?

Again you have to hold on: There is not one solution for every company. Still, you can use the above benefits as a guide to determine which solution is better for you.

Small companies are usually better advised to use a cloud solution, as this saves you the entire cost of your own IT infrastructure. Larger companies, on the other hand, are perhaps better equipped in this regard and can then adapt their software so that it is precisely tailored to the needs and requirements of their day-to-day business.

What CRM events and conferences are there?

Due to the now strong focus on the customer and his needs, the subject of CRM is one that cannot be avoided these days.If you are interested in networking with CRM managers from other companies and industries or in following interesting discussions about customer relationship management, then stop by at one of the following large congresses and conferences:

  • CURSOR CRM Congress in Giessen: Trend-setting industry get-together with those responsible from sales, service, marketing and IT.
  • German CRM Forum in Munich: The leading CRM conference in Germany this year revolves primarily around topics such as customer centricity and customer experience, as well as automation and individualization.
  • Heroes of CRM in Berlin: Under the motto “Elevate your CRM”, this year the focus is again on new trends and approaches from the field of CRM and marketing in terms of strategy, organization and technology.
  • Shift / CX in Frankfurt am Main: The largest customer experience event in the DACH area is taking place this year under the motto "Customer Passion: From customer thinking to customer action".
  • Rethink! Connected Customer 360 ° in Hamburg: At the strategy event for CRM and customer experience, decision-makers, marketing managers, chief data officers and more meet to discuss the latest strategies and technologies.

Current trends in customer relationship management

  • Artificial intelligence: In the area of ​​CRM, the possible uses for bots, for example, are very diverse. The basic requirement for the use of AIs is clean, high-quality data so that the AIs can draw on high-quality information.
  • Mobile CRM: Our day-to-day work is becoming more and more flexible - and has been for years. Since then, the subject of flexible access to the CRM tool has always been the focus. Sales employees can also enter data "on-the-go" and make good use of travel time, for example.
  • Multichannel becomes omnichannel: For a long time, companies have had to be present across channels in order to be able to meet customers on all platforms. The goal is to provide all functionalities on all channels and to lead the customer into a fluid user experience, as if it were just one, although it can be significantly more. You can do this, for example, in the area of ​​social shopping.
  • Simplified data query processes: The data query is essential for the accumulation of data in a CRM, but exactly that is often an annoying evil for customers. If you repeatedly ask for unnecessary data during the purchase process, in the worst case scenario you may even lose potential customers. Companies have to consider which information is really relevant for which process and which information can also be queried later. Data entry services such as auto-complete for forms or social log-ins are available to support this.
  • Marketing Automation: The optimization of processes through automation is particularly relevant for your own employees as users. In this way, you can use valuable time that would otherwise be lost for administrative activities for individual customer support.

Outlook: CRM in the future

CRM becomes xRM

While CRM describes customer relationship management, xRM stands for the management of any other relationships, for example with employees, partners, suppliers and others. Some CRM software have already included such "roles" and are therefore already an xRM system.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Imagine you are selling washing machines and one of these washing machines has a defective part that does not (yet) affect the operation of the washing machine. The machine immediately reports the defect to its CRM, which automatically creates a task to call the customer and make an appointment for the repair. This scenario is closely related to the topic of predictive planning, which involves waiting as needed and not at intervals or when it is already too late.

Voice input

The integration of voice assistants follows the trend that users are getting used to being able to speak their questions anytime and anywhere in order to receive quick answers. But this trend is also interesting from an employee perspective. A sales representative can, for example, prepare for a car trip to the customer via the upcoming appointment, and thus make good use of the time otherwise wasted.

Social CRM in B2B marketing

A social CRM is nothing more than a CRM with integration of various social media channels. In plain language, this means that topics that are interesting in the B2B area are also discussed and presented on this platform.

Customer Experience Management

Customer relationship management has a strong competitor. In customer experience management, the customer's experience with a company's products is in the foreground, with the positive experiences then being made public via social media. Directly related to this is the customer journey, which should be adapted as individually as possible to each station in the customer's journey. Data on preferences can be collected via analytics and tracking, whereby this data is the basis for individual offers.