The Best CRM for You?!
If you've made it to this page, you've likely read my book, Never Lose a Customer Again. If not, that's okay -- I still hope you'll get some value from the information I'm sharing about CRMs.
In creating amazing customer experiences, it's vitally important that you use your powers of observation to gather information about your customers. But what to do with that information once you have it? Using Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) is a great way to organize and maintain the bits of insight you collect about the people who do business with you.
I must confess that when initially putting this page together, I compared a number of CRM systems—including their benefits, downsides, and relative costs.
Since writing the book, I have come to a stark conclusion:
the best CRM system for you to implement is the one that you will use.
I realize some may find that statement trite. You may also find that it falls short of the desired outcome sought when you decided to stop reading Never Lose a Customer Again and come to this page. For that, I sincerely apologize.
However, what I have realized after speaking to thousands of audience members and having hundreds of thousands read my work is that no CRM system is, in and of itself, better than any other.
CRM systems have different functionalities. Some pair better with your email marketing software. Some pair better with your salesperson’s remote app that allows them to track notes after meeting with a prospect. Some work well with iPhones while others are best on Android. In short, the best answer to your question of “What CRM is best for my business?” is probably, “It depends.”
While the features may vary, what every CRM system desperately needs is a commitment across your entire organization to keep it fresh and current.
You must commit to recording information that will serve you not only now but in the future as well.
The secret is to record information that may not seem 100 percent relevant today but—based on your understanding of the human condition and how your customers behave—will likely have value in the future.
When it comes to CRM systems you should choose a system that has visibility across your entire organization. I would rather have you keep an online document, where everyone on your team can enter information about each customer into a basic text document, than use a CRM that isn’t accessible to every member of your team.
• The marketers and salespeople should begin entering “future customer” notes while a prospect is still in the Assess phase of their journey.
• Additional observations should be recorded when an individual transitions from being a prospect to being a customer in the Admit phase.
• A detailed recording of what is done in the Affirm phase to counter any buyer's remorse that the new customer might be feeling is crucial to make sure the relationship is moving forward.
• A report about the first official interaction in the Activate stage helps everyone in the organization to better understand this important milestone.
• A checklist of activities in the Acclimate stage will allow your CRM to highlight which interactions you've already had and which interactions you have planned in the near future.
• A specific section of the CRM detailing what your customer is trying to Accomplish, their progress toward that goal, and their behavior along the way is incredibly useful.
• Finally, a recorded assessment of any customer behaviors or activities that exhibit Adopt or Advocate tendencies will help insure your continued connection with your more veteran customers.
In short, your CRM should not just be the contact information for your customer. That's an address book. A customer relationship management tool is one that allows you to have full insight into what matters most to that customer, as well as how what matters to them overlaps in a Venn diagram of what matters to you.
In Never Lose a Customer Again, I mentioned a list of things that your CRM could track (as a reminder, you can find it here).
More important than recording all of this information is getting clear on what information you intend to use on a regular basis as you work to create remarkable experiences for your customers.
• Maybe it’s recording their birthdays so that you can surprise them with a thoughtful birthday message or a gift.
• Maybe it’s tracking the number of children they have so you can check in on what's happening in their life outside of work as it relates to their family.
• Maybe it’s noting and following their favorite sports team so that you can pay attention and anytime their team is doing something notable (on a streak, winning a championship, or even failing to win a close, hard-fought battle) you have the insight and ability to reach out and let them know that you care that they care about their team’s performance.
More than anything else, a CRM is a tool for deepening relationships.
A CRM is a tool that lets you continue to grow and hone the various points of commonality (and even points of polarity) that you have with your customers.
All of this being said, there are some CRM systems that just seem to work better than others. They've stood the test of time, or they are built with enough of a robust architecture underneath that they can serve their users well in a variety of situations.
Based on informal polling of my readers over the course of the last few years, the following five CRMs seem to appear more often than not in their answers (listed in alphabetical order):
To be clear, I'm not recommending that you use any specific one of these CRMs. But if you are looking to implement a new system, these might be a good place to begin your investigations, research, and considerations.
I wish you all the best as you work to develop a CRM system that not only will be one that your team effectively and actively uses, but one that will allow you to deepen the relationship and connection you have with prospects and customers alike.
I wish you all the best in the First 100 Days and beyond…
P.S. If you have any additional questions, or if I can be of further service, don't hesitate to go here and send me a quick note. I read all of these notes myself and would be happy to assist in any way that I can.