— December 17, 2018
Whether you work in insurance, financial services, retail or ecommerce, the holiday selling season has arrived. Consumers are looking to fill stockings, organizations are looking to set their budgets for Q1 and professionals have an eye out for the tools and technology that will give them an edge in 2019.
Small and midsized businesses can be opportunistic and capitalize on the increased sales possibilities during this magical time of year by taking a long, hard look at their CRM strategy and determining whether or not they are properly positioning themselves for success with the information they have at their disposal.
Not every customer journey is linear and not every piece of customer information captured in November and December will lead to sales that are closed before the New Year. However, if you keep these 12 tips for CRM holiday success in mind, your small business will be ready to deliver a superior experience for current and prospective customers that leads to meaningful sales growth during the holiday season—and into 2019:
- Start with the basics. Just because you didn’t formally outline your customer conversion and retention plan in Q1 doesn’t mean it’s too late now. Make it a priority to sit down now and evaluate what your customers are looking for, what their pain points are and how they prefer to communicate with you. Your small business will significantly improve its chances for elevated holiday sales numbers if you just take the time to look at this baseline customer information, which should already be captured and stored in your CRM.
- The time for marketing automation has come. The best all-in-one small business CRMs will natively integrate advanced marketing automation technology that can help your business better understand and target prospective customers for sales this holiday season. For instance, asset tracking technology can help your marketing team understand whether or not a customer opened a specific email, PDF, or piece of collateral, how long they spent reading it and whether or not they then clicked through to other assets, your website, etc. All of this information can prove invaluable in providing a personalized (and optimized) customer experience that leads to sales that drive meaningful organizational growth.
- Tip the scales in your favor. It’s not cheating if your CRM offers predictive analytics technology that can help guide your team by offering suggested next steps along the path toward making a sale; in fact, it’s highly recommended!
- Understand what you already have. Sometimes it’s not about new tools, integrations, strategies or customer engagement features. Sometimes the most valuable CRM technology is the functionality that’s been staring you in the face the whole time—but haven’t been taking advantage of. Is your CRM clearly telling you that your customers prefer to be contacted via email, but your sales team often calls instead? Does your CRM have information about the challenges your customers are facing—which you might be able to help with—but you haven’t taken the time to make that connection? Take a fresh look at your CRM this holiday season to make sure the tools and information already available to you in your CRM are being utilized to help drive positive customer interactions that lead to sales.
- Dance with the one who brought you. Selling additional products and services through to your existing customers is an essential component of almost any small business’ growth plan. An effective CRM tool (and plan) will provide an opportunity to capture data relating to your customers’ additional needs and interests outside of the specific product or service you already provide. Maybe you can meet those needs, maybe you can develop a new product to meet those needs next year at this time, or maybe you can partner with another business to provide a specific service your customers are looking for. Find ways to deepen your relationship with your existing customer base and sales won’t be far behind.
- Speak it into existence. Voice-activated technology has been making it’s way into our lives over the past few years and today’s more forward-thinking CRMs have truly capitalized on this movement to make accessing customer information faster and easier than ever before. When you’re pressed for time during the holidays and need to begin pulling up records of previous interactions with current and prospective customers, the right CRM will allow you to simply ask for that information and voilà, there it is right in front of you! Making a habit of leaning on your CRMs voice-activated capabilities can save you and your customer service/sales teams valuable time at a point in the year when time is of the essence.
- Pull in the same direction. While your CRM is blurring the lines between sales, marketing and customer service technology, use this as an opportunity to open up the lines of communication between the different roles in your business. A rising tide floats all boats and your CRM has the ability to make everyone better at their job if they are pulling in the same direction, communicating and working together to improve the customer experience.
- Get out there. Take your CRM for a spin. Today’s CRM tools have mobile capabilities to help improve customer engagement and close sales in the field. And, the best ones go a step further by identifying and featuring the pieces of your CRM that are most valuable while on the go.
- School is in session. The best CRM technology in the world won’t help your business if your team doesn’t understand how to utilize its key features. Invest in education this holiday season. It may only take an hour or two to ensure your employees understand all the great features they have at their fingertips.
- Find the right fit. Are you a business of 3? 25? 150? 500? Any of these are considered small businesses, but depending on where your business falls within this range your CRM needs may be very different. Take a fresh look at your CRM tool and evaluate if you need and/or are using the key features they tout. For many CRM providers, the goal is to develop and highlight the features that are most valuable to their biggest customers—those in the enterprise space. But don’t fret! There are some great small business focused CRM tools on the market this holiday season that squarely focus on needs for businesses your size.
- Your CRM is your basecamp. The right CRM tool should serve as a hub between customer service, sales and marketing. There are all kinds of third-party integrations and tools available on the market today and the best small business CRM’s take advantage of these tools by seamlessly integrating them into their tool so everything is accessible directly from your CRM dashboard.
- Look ahead to next year. No CRM strategy is complete without a forward-thinking component. You won’t be able to close every sale this holiday season but you can capture invaluable customer data to help your sales team better engage with current and prospective customers heading into the New Year. Improving the customer journey in a way that leads to meaningful organizational growth is a long-term game. Prioritize maximizing the customer information you are able to capture this holiday season and set your small business up for success in 2019.
Originally published here.