The concept of customer relationship management (CRM) is not a new phenomenon, but with today’s cutting-edge software companies continually raising the bar, it represents an increasingly critical tool for businesses.
CRM is a calculated strategy designed to help businesses improve their sales and marketing capabilities and better understand customers by linking data and tracking customer trends. Through this philosophy, companies aim to foster better business practices that encourage the exchange of information within an organization to support its efforts to nurture existing relationships and promote new ones.
The software side of CRM offers a lucrative path to achieving those goals by enabling businesses to organize and coordinate their sales efforts with the help of user-friendly tools. There are a number of programs available that can help today’s businesses to efficiently foster relationships with their clients, and Sage and NetSuite are two global industry-leaders that offer such invaluable CRM software solutions.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CRM
When implemented properly, CRM software satisfies the need of businesses that rely on efficient systems used to manage their processes effectively.
“Five percent of marketing and sales activities is inspiration, while 95 percent is perspiration. This means that, in order to effectively run a marketing or sales team, 95 percent of the work is spent in managing processes effectively. Having CRM software helps companies to track leads and opportunities, and to minimize the steps that will need to be executed in order to achieve their goals,” says Mike Lorge, Managing Director of Sage Business Solutions in Australia.
In order for companies to be able to make good business decisions, people within the organization need a system that allows the ability to access accurate and up-to-date customer information readily available at their fingertips. “Sage believes that a CRM system in the back office, when properly integrated with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, allows a salesperson near limitless access to the tools of the trade, from checking the availability of inventory to placing an order,” Lorge asserts.
According to Chris Schafer, NetSuite’s Managing Director for APAC, “In order for a company to have the ability to move, adapt and retain its existing customers, it needs to establish a system of clean, precise and multiple touch-points with its customers.” He maintains that without the aid of a system to manage its customer interactions, a business itself can appear disjointed in the eyes of its customers, which may also lead them to assume that they did not receive the best experience possible.
CRM ON THE MOVE
With the emergence of the Internet, CRM has been taken to a whole new level, and transformed from a once-static solution to a completely mobile one.
Sage’s approach to product development includes the integration of a core CRM-engine featuring added flexibility to increase the software’s functionality and allow its users access to the program through multiple and diverse portals. For instance, the company’s SalesLogix application can be accessed using the desktop, a CRM server and even offline, as well as through a Web-interface or cloud solution. “Our technological design has allowed us to evolve our application and incorporate different ways for our users to access CRM-software,” Lorge said. Sage focuses on the power of mobility, and supports access to its applications through use of a Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Mobile Operating System and other devices.
Schafer is also amazed at the ways in which CRM has evolved in response to the advantages the Web presents. During a recent layover at the Singapore airport, he was able to track every marketing and customer interaction taking place in the region through NetSuite’s application on his iPad. “One of the reasons it’s possible is that this generation of CRM-systems is 100 percent mobile. Without that mobility, you’re not moving forward as an organization. This is true, not just at the executive level, but also at the sales and customer support levels,” Schafer affirms.
The Web has also changed the way CRM is being used and applied among the latest mixture of social media, multiple commerce platforms, new marketing methods and beyond.
Sage has found that organizations are increasingly searching for business-intelligence functionality within their CRM systems. In turn, Sage has put its efforts into developing business-intelligence tools that allow these organizations to analyze specific, sought-after information they need in order to make better business decisions. “CRM systems have become massive repositories for data. Unless you can intelligently analyze these and then hone in on the information, you’re not getting the full value out of your investment for a CRM product,” Lorge explains.
He says that the progress of the Internet has facilitated is a whole new kind of Web-based and electronic marketing. Using a combination of e-mail, websites and beyond, businesses can claim the means to market themselves like never before. “That kind of marketing requires the use of systems designed to manage it. CRM systems enable businesses to take advantage of the new world of electronic-marketing that is now possible on the Web,” Lorge said.
Numerous companies in Australia have benefitted from Sage and NetSuite’s CRM applications. Sage has a significant implementation with hotel chain, Best Western, and has a developed an application that tightly integrates its CRM and ERP. Best Western also manages its loyalty programs and back-office accounting operations through customized front-end and back-office integration. “Best Western offers a good example of an instance in which a CRM product is being used to manage traditional sales and marketing activities, but has added business processes within the organization,” Lorge said.
Linen House, another Sage client, is a large distributor with a sophisticated supply chain. Sage implemented its CRM solution, once again, tightly integrating it with ERP. Linen House can now view the progress of its supply chain, from point-of-delivery to payment status.
NetSuite has experienced similar success with its Australian clients, including Redmap Networks. Schafer remarks, “It’s amazing how their business has gone to the next level by putting a CRM-Enterprise platform in place.”
Redmap uses its CRM software to the fullest extent in marketing to its customers, tracking consumer trends and more. “The CRM module gives Redmap greater insights into its customer interactions. We are doing more communications with our customers. Because NetSuite is “cradle-to-grave,” we can use it to do all of our campaigning and prospecting through to closure, orders, support desk — everything. Once we set up a prospect and give them a number, the system tracks it through the full life of the client,” explains Kurt Carlsen, Redmap Sales Director.