Customer relationship management is a term you’ve likely heard if you have ever worked in the tech space. CRM software solutions have not always been as far-reaching as they are today. Over the last 40 years, CRM has evolved from a range of disparate business solutions developed for various customer needs. The earliest CRM tools were devices like Rolodexes, which you can hardly even find these days.
True CRM didn’t exist in earnest until the ’90s when innovators like Brock Control Systems began to explore the automation possibilities of new database systems. By the middle of the decade, CRM had grown into an aid for contact management. Already, the technology was enabling organizations to maintain lists of customer contacts that were beyond the ability of human beings to manage.
As the scope and power of the technology continued to grow, new automation techniques began solving more and more of the difficulties that naturally come with huge repositories of customer and contact information.
The Automated Behavior Analytics Explosion
Today, big data and artificial intelligence compose the noticeably inflexible profile of modern CRM systems. This has lead to a massive explosion in automated buyer behavior analytics.
While these tools are assets, some people seem to be growing uncomfortable with them and may perceive them as intrusive. That isn’t to say that CRM is somehow mal-developed or outmoded, but in all our excitement to evolve and deploy these advanced tools, real relationships with customers have suffered in too many instances.
Across time, culture, and in all technological climates, the relationship with the customer has always been the key to success in business. Once it is established that you have what your customer wants or needs, you have the basis for a trade relationship. Maintaining good customer relationships is key to remaining competitive.
We can establish that relationships are critical — that’s not controversial. What’s critical at this stage is having a technology available that helps you manage customer relationships in a way that feels human, not procedural or forced — and that gives customers what they are looking for before the competition does.
The question is, how do we leverage CRM to accomplish that?
The Power of Touchpoints
Most customers do not respond to the majority of outreach attempts. The key is turning out a higher number of personalized outreach attempts.
Most people usually do respond to the follow-up, as they simply forget about the first touchpoint — but when does it become too much? We want to know what is the best time to send a follow-up message. What kind of follow-up message works best?
How to Make Touchpoints Relationship-Based
No one wants to be contacted by sales robots. People want to be contacted based on their responses. They want to feel as if you are responding to their needs, not just revisiting them based on a ready-made schedule.
Utilizing software that gives sales teams a quick, visual overview of the customer’s interactions with your brand is ideal. This, combined with marketing and sales processes, gives you an optimal chance of contacting prospective customers in a way and at a time when they will be most receptive.
What Is the Right Number of Touchpoints?
The right number of touchpoints is usually between five and seven, according to marketing professional Jeff Hoffman. Of course, every contact is an individual. Over time, you want to test customers according to demographic categories to try and optimize the number of outreach attempts.
A CRM software that allows for tracking customer demographic data is a great solution, so you can identify commonalities across different demographics, allowing for the right sales approach to be applied across those demographics in the future.
There’s no universal “right number of touchpoints” for everyone. However, there are standard points to look out for that should enable you to develop success profiles of different customers, based on historical data of successful sale opportunities.
Build Relationships Through Social Selling
While most of us believe that we go through life making decisions based on rational conclusions, the truth is that most of what we do is based on emotion. It’s only after the fact that we find “rational” explanations for the choices we make. This doesn’t mean that we should ignore rationality, but it does mean that if you try to persuade people based solely on facts, you’re fighting an uphill battle.
The first thing you should be trying to do with your prospective buyers is to show them that you are on their side, and make an appeal to something with which they have an emotional connection. Any outreach attempt should appeal to a want or need that is foremost in their mental landscape. This is a big part of what branding is about. It’s about creating a “brand personality” that your audience is likely to have an affinity for and be attracted to.
Beyond that, our goal is to deliver tailored touchpoints that make customers feel as if they are being contacted by someone who knows what they like — and that that knowledge is based on interactions between them and your brand. You’re probably thinking, “Great, but how can I do that with 100,000 potential buyers?”
The answer is by leveraging technology that tracks customer interactions and gives you actionable steps for delivering pitch-perfect outreach messaging.
Optimizing Customer Data
Your pipeline is the core of every sales process. It tells you exactly which buying stage your customer is in, and a good CRM system will let you see all of the touchpoints with those customers in one simple graphic.
This insight helps you organize your day, your next series of outreach messages, and your business growth. More importantly, it helps build relationships as your communications become tailored to each customer.
You will have a large amount of data in your CRM, which gives you valuable insight across your whole business. A true CRM system will give you a broad overview of each department, each customer segment, and each buying stage with the click of a button. This allows you to spot trends, spark ideas, and identify opportunities for the whole business to implement.
The Importance of Integrations
Having a CRM system that lets you connect your favorite tools for maximum coverage and optimal contact is the best case scenario. Integrations are a critical means by which you can solidify customer relations, transmit data easily, and focus on data coming to and from key sources like inventory management and email marketing.
Choosing the right integrations helps ensure that you get the right CRM information to make sure your outreach is relationship-based and not mechanical in nature.
Integrations help reduce the need to enter the same data more than once by propagating entries across relevant fields automatically.
Having one view of the customer builds a clear picture so you know everything before you connect. Distilling all this data into useful insights can be difficult without the right CRM. A relationship will break down if you keep sending emails to someone who has unsubscribed or asked to be called versus emailed. Having one holistic picture will help build trust, respect and, ultimately, sales.