CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and refers to a series of tools that help you manage various elements of communication you’ve had with a customer. For example, if someone emailed you through your website or contacted you via phone due to mailed postcards asking for more information, you would start tracking the communication you have with this potential customer in your CRM software.
CRM makes it easy for you to set appointments or reminders for customers. You can even categorize customers, such as hot leads, cold leads, executives, entry-level staff and much more.
Top CRM Tools
Some small businesses use a tool as basic as an Excel spreadsheet for all CRM tracking purposes, but as your business grows they’ll likely need a more robust set of tools. This is especially true for firms that have multiple sales staff. Some of the top CRM tools available include:
Hundreds more are available, but these represent some of the best and will give you an idea of what’s available to you.
This is one of the biggest CRM apps in the world for good reason. With lots of different price points and methods for importing your current customer lists, you can jump in and get customer tracking going fast. A few of the highlights include detailed contact information, social media tracking and extensive reporting features so you can identify your hot leads fast.
Used by some of the biggest companies in the world, SugarCRM is a powerful suite of tools for managing every aspect of relationships and communications with customers. One of the biggest benefits is that you can start with a package tailored to your industry. It’s an open source software suite, so there are always free upgrades and new features that get added. And if you have your own software developer on hand, you can have them add custom features.
Another powerful CRM tool, Nimble specializes in making it very easy to manage communications across all formats – email, social media or anything else you need to track. Nimble’s focus is on social media and this CRM platform does its job very well.
While not a CRM tool in and of itself, CRMAdvocate is an online community aimed at educating sales and marketing teams on best practices in the industry. This community is an excellent resource for learning and should be one of the first places you spend a good chunk of time if you’re looking to expand your CRM systems.
Also not a full-featured CRM, Rapportive is an add-on for Gmail that allows you to see all kinds of information about the person you are emailing. Rapportive goes out and looks for information on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media sites. This is just one example of many of the neat CRM tools you can implement right now.
CRM is a huge part of managing a growing business. All small business owners who start to expand their firms will find themselves at a point where they can’t keep track of all customer interactions with a simple system. With the available tools at the various price points, you can start upgrading your CRM painlessly today or just add some new features to make tracking a bit easier and more effective.
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