Are Customer Relationship Management systems good for contact management? Yes. Do they automate marketing? Certainly. Can they help business development? You bet. But to see them simply in those terms is to underestimate the power they have to help firms grow and prosper.
When you think about it, there is a natural lifecycle associated with clients. They start off as suspects – companies or individuals you may want to do business with. Once you have decided their profile fits with your firm’s interests and expertise, they become prospects and you can look for new business opportunities. Hopefully you can then woo them into becoming clients.
But the lifecycle doesn’t stop there. To keep clients loyal, particularly in today’s competitive market, you not only need to consistently deliver a great service, you also need to constantly reinforce your relationships with them. And, if you can do that successfully, you can turn clients into the most valuable of commodities - great references. Finally, you need to make sure that you keep them at that level of satisfaction. But all this doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long game, played out over many months, if not years. And throughout the lifecycle, you need to consistently perform at the highest levels.
Which is where CRM systems come in.
The best CRM systems will help you at every stage of the client lifecycle. At the suspect and prospect stage they can help you build detailed customer profiles and uncover hidden relationships that enable you to decide whether or not to pursue a particular organisation.
At the business development stage they can help you build stronger teams and deliver better pitches that increase your chances of winning.
And, after you have converted a prospect to a client, they can help you put in place and manage the activities that will increase loyalty, encourage advocacy and help you grow your business.
Over the next few weeks we will explore how a CRM system can help you at each stage of the client lifecycle. For now the key message is that when you choose a CRM system it should support your long game, not just tackle a short-term problem area.