Relationships – the most important differentiator in CRM


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CRM – Customer RELATIONSHIP Management is People Focused…

Your CRM system provides the knowledge about people in your organization and the connections they have made with customers, prospects, vendors, partners and other people over many years. The focus on the Relationship Dimension is where you can differentiate your company from competitors.

For example, a salesperson leaves, and her replacement has to start from scratch, building a totally new relationship.  Turnover is a huge disruption to any business but in Sales it is way worse.  Relationships and trust are hard-won over time, and when a new person comes into an account, it will take some time to build a new relationship. 

But that doesn’t mean the new sales rep should be starting from scratch.  When an employee leaves and all that information about her clients leaves with her, you’ve got a problem. So you need to have a way to transfer than customer information from one employee to another. The history of the relationship needs to be recorded in your CRM system so it is readily available and shared with others in your business. A quality  CRM solution such as Saleslogix has tools for re-alignment of sales territories and the related sales activities  already scheduled.

CRM is the central repository and memory vault that collects all business contact data in one single place and gives businesses the possibility to create the best possible relationships. Consider the various groups of people that should be found within your CRM database…. Often we are not considering all the possible relationships.


Successful CRM is about competing in the relationship dimension. Not as an alternative to having a competitive product or reasonable price- but as a differentiator. If your competitors are doing the same thing you are (as they generally are), product and price won’t give you a long-term, sustainable competitive advantage. But if you can get an edge based on how customers feel about your company, it’s a much stickier–sustainable–relationship over the long haul.
Bob Thompson, CustomerThink Corporation 

Having a trusted CRM available is great for individuals who try to retain too much personal and relationship information about customers in their head.  Some people are great at it, but even they will start to forget or confuse data when it starts to add up.

This puts them and your business at risk of sending the signal to your customer that, despite their past business, you don’t really know them as well as you ought to.  If you forget important details of your relationship with a customer, why should that customer believe that you’re any different from any of your competitors?

So simply put, a CRM system is a way to track business prospects and business relationships in a digital, relational database that is readily accessible and shared among your employees.  

“How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose.”
-Bill Gates 

Strengthen Relationships

Great relationships start with great conversations– that are captured and accessible in your CRM system.

Your organization’s CRM users should be able to access pertinent, up-to-date information from any location at any time. That’s why CRM applications are better solutions than spreadsheets and homegrown database for organizations attempting to be customer-focused.

With all available information in one place, staff can act in unison, and your business can create a coordinated response that grows relationship value. 

Consider the advantages of a staff able to handle all of a caller’s issues without transferring the call or placing the call on hold, compared with one that puts its customers on hold or forces them through an endless maze of menu options.

One of the most frustrating things for callers is a maze of menu options followed by time spent holding on the line for a person to answer the call. Callers’ frustration levels rise when the person answering the call has to run around looking for information or has to transfer the call just to respond to callers’ needs.

This is not customer service: This is customer disservice, and it negatively impacts the long-term value of relationships.

The objective is to make sure calls are handled quickly and do not have to be transferred for requests or problems to be resolved. The primary goal is to build the value of every relationship with each interaction.

An organization is truly customer-driven when it properly manages information, makes it available to the right people at the time needed, and trains its staff to use it to build relationship value.

Creating a repository of information and sharing it throughout the organization is just one step that must be taken along the way.

Final note:  Make sure your CRM system enhances your contact relationships and not change them in unintended ways.  


You can never assume that using a CRM system is the end all to relationship with customers. Granted, it can prove valuable in knowing who your customers are and how to better address their needs, but you can’t toss aside age-old principles of getting to know your customer personally and offering a one-on-one commitment  for top-flight service.  While software can make it easier in some aspects, it can never replace the warm caring smile and a personal familiarity with a commitment needs.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dick Wooden
CRM specialist to help you get the answers you need with sales, service, and marketing CRM software. I help mid-sized businesses select, implement and optimize CRM so that it works the way their business needs to work. My firm is focused on client success with remarkable customer experience, effective marketing and profitable sales using CRM strategy and tools.


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