Here at sales-i, we are proud to have an extensive network of partners that we work closely with. For today’s post, we are delighted to have had the chance to catch up with Neil Saviano, President of CRM International.
When it comes to Customer Relationship Management systems, Neil is one of the go-to sources for information and advice. Not only does he have an extensive sales and marketing background, but also Neil is a renowned international public speaker in the CRM arena. So he definitely knows his stuff and we of course jumped at the chance to pick his brains about everything CRM.
sales-i: Neil, tell us who the ideal CRM user is.
Neil S: The ideal CRM user can be anyone. Any salesperson, any telemarketer, and any manager are all ideal candidates for CRM software. You don’t even really need to be particularly technology savvy, the past few years in the CRM world have really been a game changer. Systems have become easier to use and it is just as easy as using your phone. A CRM system will work for anyone, there is no limit or restriction on business type, industry, or a number of employees…as long as you have customer information, you will benefit from a CRM system.
It is worth remembering that a CRM is not simply a sales tool. Or in fact, a marketing tool. It is a holistic business tool. The entire company will benefit from customer visibility. Finance will know when to chase debt, operations will know when to arrange delivery, customer service will know what each customer has ordered and when – any issues can be resolved efficiently and everyone in the business will have access to the inside track for each customer.
sales-i: As the business world becomes more social, can you explain the impact this is having on CRM today?
NS: Together, CRM and the social world are the perfect team and social CRM strategies are becoming more prevalent in today’s B2B arena. Taking into account the dynamics of a community-based environment, the customer is becoming an incredibly powerful player. They have the ability to self-educate, influence others and become a qualified part of your sales cycle even before you’ve made that first call. This will work hugely in your favor as customers will be ‘sales ready’ when you do put in a call.
sales-i: What are the key factors to help assure a successful CRM implementation?
Neil S: A lot of people think that implementing a CRM system is a time-consuming, technical process. But it isn’t. Of course, as with anything, it does take a bit of time and effort to get it up and running, but nowhere near as long as you would think. It is critical to define what success will look like before you even get started, sit down with all the involved parties and outline their expectations so you know what they want to achieve from the CRM system. Is the priority to increase sales to existing customers? Is it to generate new leads? Or to have a single view of customer relationships? Or all of the above?
One of the main reasons for CRM systems failing is the quality of data. It is absolutely paramount that data is thoroughly cleansed before migration to the CRM system. There is no point in degrading the system before you have even started with it! Remove old contacts, update email addresses and telephone numbers, and check the job positions of key contacts…keeping your data clean will only work in your favor.
sales-i: How can a CRM system help a company to gain a competitive edge?
Neil S: When implemented properly, a CRM system will allow a company to easily segment their customer base and identify trends. Not only will this let your marketing team send out personalized, targeted promotions but also as a salesperson or telemarketer, you already know how to approach the call. Adding a personal touch to your customer relationships will make you more memorable to your customers and you will be outsmarting your competitors in no time.
The result? More customer loyalty, better marketing success and more client referrals. Your CRM system will become your information hub every time you pick up the telephone to find out who you are speaking to, how you know them, what they were promised, what has been discussed in the past and what has been delivered. A CRM system will become a truly valuable business asset that centralizes all of your customer information, sales opportunities and communication history.
sales-i: Why is CRM now almost exclusively implemented in a Cloud environment?
Neil S: To put it simply, it is just so much easier. Hosting a CRM on-site is not only an expensive upfront investment but you need a pretty tech-savvy team to maintain and install the hardware. In the Cloud, the CRM provider’s remote server will be doing all the legwork, so all you need to do is log in with a working Internet connection and you are up and running. Cloud-based solutions are much more convenient, with a simple per-user pricing model. Moreover, a Cloud system will scale with your business, so that as your empire expands, you can just increase the number of users with no need to upgrade expensive servers.
Our huge thanks to Neil for his time and for letting us quiz him on this post. If you’d like any more information about Neil or CRM International.