What is CRM & Why Do I Need It?

CRM Marketing word cloudAs I have traveled and spoken with many agency owners around the country, I am noticing a trend. More and more agencies are starting to understand that with the competitive pressures, they must embrace certain technologies to drive both efficiency and effectiveness in their dealings with prospects and current clients. They realize they must increase communication with customers, as well as prospects, at all points of the sales cycle. In a typical day, how do you prioritize who you talk with and how can you collect their data for the future? With all the demands of sales, service, and running a business, it can seem a bit overwhelming.

“How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.” – Bill Gates

With CRM systems becoming more affordable for small businesses and agencies, I believe we are at the edge of another paradigm shift for the independent agency. Just a few years ago, a few voices in the industry were shouting from the rooftops that as part of a marketing strategy, agencies needed to do the following: get their websites up to par for mobile, utilize search engine optimization (SEO), and join social media to extend their reach to new prospects here in the 21st Century. Not everyone was on board. To be honest, some agencies are still leaving a lot of money on the table and compromising their future competitiveness by not getting those strategies squared away. But the majority understood and smart business owners have made adjustments. We are in a similar position on CRM.

Why Do I Need CRM?

Here we are again. Nowadays, when I mention the term CRM, more likely than not, I get a blank stare in return. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. This process uses technology to manage all your customer and prospect relationships, interactions, and all the data generated so you can be more efficient and effective. Just like adoption of websites and social media a few years ago, those who can use the data at hand to drive more sales will be the ones who survive and thrive in this competitive market. The results speak for themselves. The early adopters have dramatically outpaced their competitors, posting big increases in retention, cross-selling, referrals, new leads, and sales conversions (closing ratio). All of these pieces of the puzzle can add up to significant and sustainable gains in revenue and profit.

According to the John E Peakes Agency, automated marketing from a centralized CRM system, tailored for insurance workflows to manage and report on leads throughout the sales cycle, led to a 25% increase in agency revenue.

Mark Matrone, President of the John Andrade Agency, sums up how he looks at CRM systems, “We all want to meet with the customer at the kitchen table, but we just don’t have time for that. Our CRM system allows us to have this same type of relationship with our customers, but in a way that is efficient for our business.”

Utilizing a CRM system helps you tackle the activities in your business that increase sales, but also save time, and all through technology and without the evil spreadsheets. Jamie Grenney, VP Marketing at Infer, wrote about CRM for 2015 saying, “We’re entering an arms race powered by data…to help you understand which prospects are most likely to convert and impact revenue…to tell employees where to focus their energy. Businesses that are first to leverage these services will emerge as victors.”

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