With the retail climate becoming more and more competitive with each day, merchants are looking for more ways to differentiate themselves from the competition.
New, eye-catching products, a slick sales process, marketing led by machine learning; the possibilities are endless when it comes to finding innovative ways to win sales. But it’s often the simplest solution that can be the most elegant – to have a customer-first business.
Marketers everywhere are dubbing 2018 as the year of the customer, which means you’re going to need to have an efficient CRM (customer relationship management) system in place. In fact, if you do this, Salesforce claims that “CRM applications can help increase sales by up to 29%, sales productivity by up to 34% and sales forecast accuracy by 42%.”
That’s some serious slice of the sales pie, so let’s dive into four of the main ways in which real-time CRM can improve your sales and marketing strategies.
1. Gain an up-to-date 360-degree view of your customers
CRM systems by their very nature are designed to provide you with a 360-degree view of your customers, ensuring your team has access to the same information as each other in real-time.
This information includes any customer data point from emails and call notes to order history and payment information and ensures you have a coordinated, customer-first approach across the business, no matter who your customers are speaking with at the time.
Quick Tip: Use the information gained from your 360-degree view of clients to understand buying habits. There’s vital analysis that can be gained from this type of information, such as what your customers are buying, when they’re buying and how they’re placing orders. Use this data to establish which channels you should be selling more on and when you should be advertising across social media, alongside other useful nuggets of information to help streamline your sales and marketing strategies.
2. Build lasting customer relationships with personalization
In the “year of the customer”, customer loyalty and building lasting relationships is increasingly important. And when you bear in mind that retaining new customers costs five times less than seeking new ones, it really is a win-win situation.
Real-time CRM systems provide you with access to a complete customer audit trail, which means you’ve got so much power at your fingertips to personalize your service to them.
If you know a certain group of customers love buying colorful t-shirts, why not re-engage them with a quick email that offers products similar to what other buyers of colorful t-shirts purchase. Think about how impressed they’ll be, just knowing that you’ve not only listened to their order history, but you’ve also acted on that knowledge.
Quick Tip: There’s more to personalized emails than simply including customer names. You can also personalize emails based on when they’re more likely to open them based on address information. You can also set up abandoned cart emails – sometimes all it takes is a carefully worded (personalized) email with a link to their cart, and hey presto, you’ve made another sale!
3. Access real-time accounts receivable management
If your customer data is real-time, including payment and order history, then your accounts receivable management will be in real-time.
This allows you to easily keep track of which clients still owe you money for goods and services they’ve received. Acting on this knowledge is vital for a healthy cash flow within the business, but also allows you to discover repeat offenders (particularly in the case of wholesale or B2B trade).
Quick Tip: If you do spot repeat offenders and payment issues, you may want to update your marketing campaigns to ensure these buyers don’t receive notifications of special offers you have running. Save these offers for loyal clients who you don’t repeatedly run into payment issues with.
4. Automate your email marketing
There are some expertly designed systems out there that are able to automate your email marketing for you, which can be easily used in conjunction with your CRM systems.
Look for a CRM that has the ability to automatically segment your customers based on things like customer type, buying history and contact status, and then use this alongside powerful email marketing platforms that can automatically populate lists based on your initial segmentation.
Quick Tip #1: Basing contact segmentation on buying history is also a good way to cut contacts out of mailing lists. Say a customer has purchased a washing machine from you. It’s unlikely they’ll need to buy another one anytime soon. They may however need fabric softener or other laundry accessories, providing you with the perfect opportunity to cross-sell other relevant products.
Quick Tip #2: Aside from segmenting based on product interest and buying history, it’s also common for multichannel businesses to segment by sales channel. As each channel can come with its own set of costs and fees, you may want to direct customers from one channel to another – perhaps with a discount code or other enticing offer – in order to reduce costs. This is all okay to do, just as long as the offer is worth the time and possible inconvenience of a customer buying from a different channel.
You’ve now heard what benefits we think real-time CRM systems can bring to your sales and marketing strategies. But don’t just take our word for it!
Listen to what UK-based cosmetics brand, Evolve Beauty, said after they implemented their CRM system:
“Customers can be tracked, tagged, emailed and updated in no time at all. Having an integrated CRM system has streamlined my sales and lead generation by making it easy to communicate with current and potential clients.”
We hope all of this advice comes in handy, but most importantly, have fun working with your customers and CRM data to design and build truly powerful sales and marketing strategies.
If you’re ready to shop for a real-time CRM, visit our Product Selection Tool for CRM software or click on the image below to get started.
Justine Cross is the Content Marketing Executive at Brightpearl – a cloud-based back office solution for retailers and wholesalers. Brightpearl allows you to provide a truly omnichannel experience for your customers, whilst unifying all of your sales channels, inventory, accounting, CRM, suppliers, fulfillment, warehouse management, reporting and POS in one single automated system.
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