Customer relationship management systems (CRM) are at the heart of a company’s commercial activities and are an essential tool in the implementation of its products. CRMs contain your database, or marketing intelligence; it’s your biggest corporate capital. But who should you contact to set up a CRM in your own company? After all, CRMs require marketing to support sales, and this is all supported by technology.

Recently, the vice president of a manufacturing company asked me if Salesforce.com was a good alternative to his internal CRM. The latter has met with development challenges when attempting to meet the needs of its mobile and tablet users. Moreover, it requires a certain number of resources for its updates and maintenance. This vice president also had projects requiring that his CRM support the company’s distribution network and more marketing automation options.

Feeling that his project required more than a migration of company data towards another system, and to help his IT department meet his needs, he contacted a firm specializing in B2B that has detailed knowledge of marketing and sales operations and of the processes related to the use and performance of a CRM.

CRMs at the heart of sales and marketing integration

With marketing as with sales, a customer relationship management system (CRM) is essential. For these departments, both the CRM and its social version, the SCRM, are at the centre of sales and marketing integration, and their close collaboration, all while preserving the mission of each one.

At first glance, the reasons that motivated this vice president to ask me this question seem obvious. He’s looking to:

  • Reduce maintenance costs and update his internal CRM;
  • Respond to information access needs on smart phones and tablets;
  • Facilitate the work of the sales force.

In doing so, he’ll have the following advantages:

  • An optimization of the sales process
  • Updated information
  • The consolidation of the company’s information in one coherent base

Setting up a CRM is a very strategic move

Will Salesforce, like other solutions, be a good tool for the sales force of a company? The answer is yes, for Salesforce or any other commercial solution.

Yes, but with an important warning. Setting up a tool like this one should be done when revising business processes and strategic planning in terms of growth objectives, as well as a fundamental understanding of the sales, marketing and customer service departments.

Don’t underestimate the importance of consulting various users during the analysis phase, to train them and to implement procedures for updating information. It’s also important to consult the IT department in order to consolidate the implementation and/or to coordinate its connection with other systems in the company. These elements are often processed once the tool has been chosen, although this should be done beforehand.

Strategic planning and revising sales, marketing and customer service processes will all lead to a series of selection criteria and features sought after in a CRM. This exercise will also guide the implementation, the need for extension modules (plugins) and the customization of the preferred solution.

The importance of preparing for any unforeseen events

On a more technical note, it’s important to remember that your CRM is at the heart of your business activities. Make sure you have a backup plan in the event of an extended service failure if the solution lies in the clouds. If the solution is local, don’t forget to regularly, completely and reliably have backups.

CRMs are strategic tools. They are at the centre of your commercial and marketing activities, and are the driving force behind them. Strategically plan and review your business processes with the help of marketing and sales experts that understand the ins and outs of integrating these two departments. Then, consult technical experts, but only after discussing with sales and marketing teams. This way, you will have the solid bases necessary for your business development.

Setting up a CRM is hell if not implemented properly! If done right, it’s heaven!

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