Customer Relationship Management, commonly referred to as CRM, can be an important part of a company’s marketing strategy. However, there are some common misconceptions about what CRM really is, which I’d like to quickly highlight:
CRM is not…
- An I.T. role– I.T. tends to be involved in CRM, particularly in the initial deployment of a CRM solution. But CRM decisions need to be based on the core business and not technical details, and that means the people managing the systems should be directly connected to your sales and marketing staff.
- A piece of software – Yes, CRM generally involves some piece of software, but what specific piece you use doesn’t matter nearly as much as how you use it. The important thing is to understand your business process, then evaluate tools that fit your needs and support your goals. NEVER change your business process to fit a piece of software!
- An email list – While having a list of customer names and email addresses is nice, it’s just simply not enough. The value of your CRM system is directly dependent on the data you put into it. Do you have records of phone numbers, addressees, company information, previous transactions, demographics, preferences, phone calls, complaints, website visits, lifetime value, attendance, and more? Depending on your goals, you will need some to all of this information integrated into your CRM system in order to get value out of it.
- Email marketing – Yes, most organizations tie their CRM systems into their email marketing systems, but they are not one and the same. Email is just one channel to communicate with your customers. CRM is about creating a complete picture of each customer and tailoring all communications to build a valuable one-to-one relationship with them.
- A magic bullet – Just because you decide to implement a CRM solution doesn’t mean that the sales will come rolling in. It all comes down to how you use it. Does your sales and marketing staff buy in to the concept? Are the managers supporting it? Are you collecting the right information and giving the right access? Have your tailored the system’s features to fit your business needs? Starting and managing CRM as a part of your business is a very involved process, and deserves a lot of attention.
I am a firm believer that CRM is a key component in a successful sports business (or any business for that matter), so I hope this quick post is useful for you. I’ve done a lot of work in this area, and will probably elaborate on many CRM-related concepts in future posts.