Best of CRM: September 3rd

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Every week, we recount some of the best buzz around CRM and data integration. We’ll review our favorite articles and share the most pressing findings or key takeaways from each.

Use CRM Data to Build Relevance – and Avoid Message Overload
By: Barbara Connors (@cincy_babs)
In today’s media-crazy world, “Engaging directly with consumers requires a combination of pushing messages to them while also creating the kind of content that pulls them in.” To do so, CRM data should play a major role in personalizing the messaging to fit each segment – and ideally each consumer – without overwhelming them. Use CRM data to reward loyal consumers and personalize loyalty programs, taking advantage of the fact that CRM members spend 17% more on average than typical consumers and are 36% less likely to leave your brand each year. The longer you retain a customer using valuable CRM data, the more they spend on your brand – to the tune of a 2-5% increase annually. Moreover, using CRM data to target existing users, then expanding the successful messaging with paid media, can further expand the reach of your CRM data to bring additional relevant demographics into your fold. However, always remember the negative impact of spammy messaging, and use CRM to create targeted value rather than spray-and-pray mass messages.

CRM Evolution Notes
By: Denis Pombriant (@DenisPombriant)
Destination CRM’s recent CRM Evolution show brought together the top new and old players in the industry, showcasing a landscape where emerging players have been enjoying surprisingly high success, even when competing with the established industry titans. The importance of CRM Evolution comes from its independent status, addressing the issue caused when “you get a false sense of the marketplace [by attending] Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce, Microsoft Convergence, SAP Sapphire, or Oracle OpenWorld.” Of the smaller companies, Denis focused his attention on three: Sugar CRM, Five9 and Vertical Solutions. Sugar CRM stood out for its rapid rise over the past 15 quarters, generally boasting double digit growth. Five9 drew attention for its recent explosion in the market due to their addition of staff with extensive telco and customer service experience, as well as innovations such as their new mobile supervisor app, which allows call center managers to monitor and manage staff from any location. Lastly, Vertical Solutions holds promise thanks to their strong healthcare positioning, as they stand ready to support the convergence of device support and care services.

Why CRM Implementation Needs Training Wheels, not Racing Gear
By: David Taber (@DavidTaber)
David delves into the complications that arise when businesses go beyond the “training wheels” version of CRM implementation (i.e. implementing features not included out-of-the-box). Using Salesforce as an example, David talks about how validation rules, workflows and flows that users have set up can conflict with custom coding, explaining that “two big areas of conflict with these technologies are the inability to fully control sequencing (leading to race conditions) and erroneous or misleading error messages (leading to chasing-your-tail scenarios).” Knowledge of how to replace the workflows and validation rules is a requirement to successfully hand-code additional features. But combining the time needed for this coding with the additional challenges and the risk of ruining your existing system, companies should take the out-of-the-box features as far as possible before adding their own custom feature-sets, only doing so when absolutely necessary. Even then, make sure to add only the critical custom features to avoid overcomplicating your implementation and causing hiccups, either while adding features or every time the CRM platform receives an update.

Social CRM and the Legal Industry
By: James Paterson (@jamespaterson73)
Technology has permeated the legal industry, and social CRM offers forward thinking firms a variety of benefits to improve client relationships and score new business. Social CRM speeds up the process of understanding a client’s organization, offering open access to insights about the company through their blog and articles shared across social channels. Any issues or concerns expressed through social media also provide law firms with the opportunity to proactively reach out to shape strategies surrounding those concerns. In addition, one of the greatest benefits of Social CRM for the legal industry is its potential regarding sales, allowing employees beyond the “rainmaker” to identify and land clients. And lastly, social CRM can aid in brand development, allowing law firms to publicly communicate their knowledge about cases, legal trends and breaking news through whichever channels their customers spend time on. All told, “embracing social media in a strategic fashion enhances a law firm’s ability to find and successfully engage prospective clients, expand services to current clients, and brand itself as experts in their field of service.”

Is Your CRM System Helping You Boost Sales?
By: Jennifer LeClaire (@jleclaire)
The ultimate goal of CRM is to boost the bottom line, which begs the question – is your team effectively using it to that end? If not, first you need to make sure your team is actually using the system, and then ensure that the system is set up with the data and structure needed to maximize benefits. This means setting up the system to capture data beyond quotas, sales pipeline, and other sales-centric data. CRM must house customer-centric data to help sales folk deliver value beyond a sales pitch to potential customers – data needed to pursue a “partnership” rather than a “sale.” CRM providers are already moving to make system use both easier and more valuable, such as Microsoft updating Dynamics CRM to “let people access information on a variety of devices; introduce a new user experience; give people access to information that’s relevant to their jobs; and deliver richer contextual information with deeper customer insights, (along with) enhanced social collaboration capabilities.” By beginning the transformation towards customer-centric CRM now, you can set your sales force up to land larger deals while building customer loyalty to increase your pipeline of repeat customers. The best companies will realize that modern selling isn’t about “selling” anymore, and good CRM can help inform the relationship-building process needed today.


We hope you had a great week! We’ll see you again soon with a roundup of all the movers and shakers in CRM and data integration news.

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