It’s fair to say that most CRM platforms these days do not consist of a single operational construct but are in fact collections of integrated modules that utilize data and influence workflows in their own unique ways.
Overall, of course, these platforms strive to bring cohesion and simplicity to what are usually very complex processes, primarily by tying each module to a single database. Individually, however, each module has its own objectives and internal functionality coupled with the ability to hand off projects to the next module in a usable form.
But what are the key modules for an effective CRM solution? In a broad sense, the right answer is as varied as the enterprise industry itself, which is a good thing considering most modern platforms allow you to mix and match various modules to create highly customized solutions. As well, different configurations will appeal to some industry verticals more than others. A transportation company might lean more heavily toward logistics and GPS, while a retailer might place more emphasis on inventory and customer feedback.
In general, however, five core modules should reside in all CRM solutions.
Effective contact management is the key to a successful CRM strategy. Not only does it allow you to maintain better, longer lasting relationships, but it enables deep-dive analysis into what customers want and how to streamline the process of getting it to them. This results in a higher level of personalization in customer interactions, producing greater satisfaction while reducing overhead and improving the decision-making process with more accurate data.
No matter what business you are in, the ability to forward leads to key salespeople in a timely manner is often the difference between success and failure. Of course, this becomes more difficult to do as the number of leads increases, which is why today’s CRM solutions bring a wide range of intelligent and automated capabilities to creation, scoring, communication, development and other processes. High-quality leads delivered in a timely manner are a necessity.
Each module will likely contain its own analytics tools, but a centralized analytics engine is considered a priority by many organizations. This level of functionality provides the smooth flow of data between processes and individuals, which otherwise would produce friction that leads to wasted time, duplication of effort, and results based on inaccurate or incomplete understanding of the data.
In the old days, sales teams were often rated using incomplete or incompatible records that were compiled and evaluated under painstaking manual processes. Better now to utilize a fully functional performance management solution with a wide variety of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), as well as the ability to focus on individuals, teams, products, territories and other targets. Powerful filtering tools can view results at any time according to multiple variables, such as the number of deals closed, revenue generated or lead opportunities provided.
Social Media Management
Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or any of the dozens of other platforms, social media is becoming the primary means of communication and collaboration for businesses and consumers alike. Much of this activity centers on the exchange of information regarding products, services, brand identity and key news events. Neglect to integrate social media into your CRM strategy at this point, and you could very well create a large number of missed opportunities, if not complete failure to spot negative trend lines until they start to affect the bottom line.
It goes without saying that the more modules you integrate into your CRM platform, the more complex the environment becomes. As long as the system is properly architected, however, much of this complexity should be masked under layers of automation and artificial intelligence so that knowledge workers can focus on the strategic objectives of CRM rather than the operational tedium.
And ideally, with the proper configuration of tools and technology, your CRM platform will begin identifying leads and other opportunities that would have otherwise gone unnoticed – making the switch from simple business platform to a valued member of the team.