Imagine you’ve just started a business selling an amazing product or providing a unique service. You’ve done some pitching, found some leads and just landed your first sale. During the sales process, you likely learned a lot about your new customer — their likes and dislikes, goals, desires and so on. In short, you built a strong connection with them. And while they’re no doubt happy with what your business provides them, the connection between you and your new client played an outsized role in landing the sale.

Now, imagine your business a few years down the line. Perhaps you have hundreds of customers and a dedicated sales team. How can you possibly maintain the same level of service with every customer?

The answer is with a customer relationship management tool, also called a CRM. But this vignette only hints at the power of a CRM. To truly understand the depth of a CRM’s benefits, you need to understand exactly what a CRM is and does.

What Is a CRM?

A CRM is a sophisticated application that helps businesses better manage relationships with past, present and future customers. It’s typically a complex database connected to an interface that team members use to input data, such as: 

  • Contact details and information for past, present and future customers
  • Conversations and messages between relationships
  • Contracts and other sales records

Using a CRM, sales, marketing, service and other business teams can easily input, track and manage customer relationships across the entire organization. In most cases, a CRM serves as the single source of truth for any data related to your business and its customers. 

What Exactly Does a CRM Do?

The short answer: A CRM organizes data, improves sales, enhances service, and drives business growth by focusing on customer relationships. 

The long answer is that in modern business, the key differentiator between competitors is no longer price or quality. Businesses with amazing products and unparalleled services at competitive prices are everywhere. And they’re all fighting for the same customers your business is. While quality and price are still important metrics, relationships are the most important of all. 

If you want strong relationships with your customers, you need a CRM to help you store, manage and analyze information about every individual that comes in contact with your business, including:

  • Contact information
  • Communication history
  • Sales information
  • Marketing information
  • Demographics

And that’s only naming a few. A CRM is a comprehensive database that serves as a single source of truth for every interaction your business has with every potential and existing client. This means any touchpoint between an individual and your business is recorded in your CRM.

What Kinds of Businesses Benefit From a CRM?

Man in suit drawing

Businesses of every size and type, from freelance designers to scrappy software startups to massive industrial enterprises, benefit from a CRM. Any entity that wants to improve its sales and marketing processes, maximize its efficiency and manage its customers while spending more time on the work that serves those customers will benefit from a CRM.

Here are a few broad examples of companies that will want to seriously look at investing in a CRM if they haven’t already:

  • Businesses with sales teams: For businesses with sales teams managing hundreds or thousands of client relationships, maintaining great service and growing sales is nearly impossible without a CRM. 
  • Businesses with marketing teams: Sales and marketing go hand in hand. Even if your sales processes happen online without face-to-face salespeople, marketing teams need a place to send leads for follow-up. 
  • Businesses looking for more efficiency: A big part of a CRM is automation. As such, anyone on your team who touches any part of the sales processes can boost their productivity by automating tedious or repetitive tasks. This also helps reduce human error.

In short, if your business has more than a few customers, if you get a decent number of leads per month that need to be managed, or if you have sales people , it will benefit from a CRM. From corporations to mid-sized businesses, maintaining a high level of customer service, streamlining marketing and making sales processes seamless and efficient are incredibly valuable. Even small businesses benefit from all of this and more.

The Benefits of a CRM

Using a CRM has countless benefits. And if the statistics pointing to the steady and rapid growth of the CRM industry are any indication, the time is fast approaching when a CRM will be core to business success. Once you see the advantages a CRM provides, you’ll understand why.

Higher Customer Loyalty

From sales to marketing to customer service, success in modern business is all about personalization. Every one of your customers wants to feel seen, heard and appreciated on an individual level, not regarded as just another sales figure on a spreadsheet. If they aren’t, they’ll take their business elsewhere.

A good CRM tracks every one of your customer interactions, from calls, texts and emails to sales, shipments and project timelines. The best CRMs make this data easy to access across teams, whether it’s sales, marketing or customer service. In other words, if a client contacts you, you have a complete history of every touchpoint they’ve had with your business at your fingertips. 

Insightly takes this a step further. With robust relationship linking, you can understand your customers more thoroughly than ever by understanding who your clients know, who they’ve talked to and what they’ve talked about. Think of it as social networking for your business.

Improved Sales

In general, the concept of sales is simple. The marketing team’s objective is to find potential leads, move them down the sales funnel and eventually pass them over to the sales team. The sales team’s objective is to take those leads with high potential and turn them into happy customers. Simple, but without a CRM, it’s inefficient.

With a CRM, you can segment leads based on real-world data and analytics. Instead of a numbers game, marketing and sales teams work together to segment leads and target them with personalized campaigns to move them along the sales funnel.

In short, with detailed information about your prospects and where they are in your sales pipeline, your marketing and sales teams can focus their efforts where they’re most effective. With a great, data-driven CRM, the more data you collect, the more insights you’ll have on how to best target your ideal customers.

Actionable Insights

Many CRMs offer advanced analytics and reporting so you can easily share customer information across sales, marketing and service through visual dashboards and reports based on real-world data. 

Good CRMs provide you with the ability to customize those reports and dashboards to a granular level so that you know exactly what’s working and what’s not, giving your entire business actionable insights so you can make the right decisions that grow your business.

With Insightly, you can create custom data sets that work for your business, rather than relying on reporting and data collection designed for some other company. Use those same data sets to create visualizations to inform marketing and sales decisions and wider business strategies. Put simply, the days of making decisions on instinct are over.

Enhanced Productivity and Efficiency

Higher customer loyalty, improved sales and actionable insights in and of themselves boost productivity and efficiency across the board. But one of the greatest features of a CRM is the ability to create powerful automation that streamlines tedious processes.

Considering most workers spend too much time on tedious, repetitive tasks that can easily be automated, implementing automation across your sales team can effectively increase your workforce by almost 50%. Your sales teams can spend more time selling.

Creating workflows to automate complex business processes is built into Insightly from the ground up. Build a template that generates and assigns tasks when a salesperson lands a contract, sends email alerts based on customer touchpoints in the pipeline and even integrates your own business logic to sync data across other systems. When you maximize your time efficiency, you maximize your bottom line.

What To Look For in a CRM

Puzzle piecesThese days, most CRMs share many of the same features. Aside from all the features and benefits mentioned throughout this guide, there are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for one that’s right for your business, both in the short- and long-term. 

Simple Setup

The CRM you choose should be simple and easy to integrate into your existing business framework. It shouldn’t take months of overhaul and employee training to see the benefits. And while a system as featured and powerful as a CRM will have some learning curve, it shouldn’t require a dedicated team to manage it once implemented. 

Insightly, for example, follows a simple process that explains how to set up your account, onboard your team, connect all the tools you use and start maximizing your sales and marketing potential. This means no deep integrations requiring months of custom development or lengthy training keynotes for your employees.

Highly Customizable

Most CRMs have dashboards and reporting built-in, many of which offer customizations to tailor those dashboards to your pipelines and processes. At the same time, a lot of platforms don’t provide deep customizations that enable you to customize reports, dashboards and KPIs that fit your business. They’re made for a particular industry or as a general fit for all businesses. When the time comes to tailor a process or dashboard to your workflow, you can rely on Insightly to meet your organization’s needs. 

Customization is at the core of Insightly. You can easily build custom applications, dashboards and reports using a drag-and-drop interface, complete with validation fields, custom workflows and measurements that fit your business — not someone else’s. You can accomplish this all without writing a single line of code.

Robust Integrations

One of the greatest benefits of a CRM comes from the enhanced productivity and efficiency it brings. But your business still uses plenty of other tools to stay focused, get work done and communicate with both prospects, clients and other team members. For a CRM to reach maximum potential, these other tools should integrate well with it. Too few CRMs leave integrations as an afterthought and task switching as a choke point to business productivity. 

With AppConnect, Insightly takes a different approach. With more than 500+ integrations to choose from, your CRM can serve as your business’s central source of truth. Marketing, development, customer service, collaboration and finance — bring all the data and functionality from every tool your company uses into Insightly quickly and easily.

Powerful Automation

All CRMs offer some form of automation, but not all automation is created equal. In the same vein of customizations, other CRMs may offer automation limited to prescriptive workflows. 

Insightly takes the same approach to automation that it does to customizations. You build the automations to do things exactly how and when you need them done. With pipelines, activity sets, workflows and AppConnect, not only can you streamline processes, but you’ll reduce pesky errors that crop up from manual entry.

Accessible Anywhere

Salespeople are on the go and often don’t have the time or space to pull out their laptops and dig up important information, such as a client contact or details on a deal. This is especially prescient since many more people now work from home. As such, the CRM you choose should be accessible anytime, anywhere, with no exceptions.

Insightly’s award-winning mobile applications ensure every team member has fast access to everything they need on the go and at a moment’s notice. More than simply viewing data, Insightly’s apps enable your workforce to do just as much from their mobile device as they can from their workstation — and maybe even a little more, such as scanning a business card. 

Privacy and Security

Last but certainly not least is the ever-growing concern of security and privacy. With any tool your business uses, you want to ensure not only your company data is safe, but your customer information is equally protected and private. 

Insightly spares no expense when it comes to privacy and security. After all, we are our own customers and ensure your data is as well-protected as ours. We use third-party, enterprise-grade colocation data centers to store our data, and our front-facing system is independently assessed for compliance. Coupled with industry-standard authentication protocols and two-factor authentication, you can rest easy knowing the security and safety of businesses’ and customers’ data are unparalleled.

Extending the Benefits – a Full Platform for Your Business

Now that you know why a CRM is a good fit for your business, consider the next step: a unified platform. See, your CRM can integrate with your marketing automation platform, or you  can choose Insightly Marketing. Similarly, your CRM can integrate with your customer service/help desk ticketing system, or you can choose Insightly Service. In both of these cases, the relationship is beyond integration into a shared platform and data set, plus shared access among all team members to all applications. Marketing can see what open tickets a customer has. Sales can see what marketing campaigns a prospective customer has engaged with. This level of unification elevates the customer experience even higher. You’ll get even more benefits from your CRM when it offers a unified platform. 

Find Out Why Thousands of Companies Choose Insightly

Picking the right CRM is no easy task. But CRMs are fast becoming a cornerstone of business success, so choose you must. Hopefully, this guide has enlightened you as to the capabilities and benefits that selecting the right one can bring. 

But don’t take anyone at their word — not even us. If you’re shopping around, make sure your shortlist offers a personalized demo so you can see how their solution works for your business and not every other company. Feel free to start by booking a personalized demo of Insightly.

On the other hand, if you’re ready to jump in and see how Insightly can supercharge your customer interactions and grow your business, get started for free today.