When you manage your own business, maintaining control and visibility are vital. As companies grow, the importance of business intelligence  grows and grows.

Here are 5 ways you can use CRM to keep on top of your business activity.

FULL SIZE: View “CRM Intelligence”, an animated, interactive infographic

1. Forecast sales

What is the potential income of your business at any given moment?
Which opportunities have your sales team recorded in your CRM system?
Where does your sales team need to focus most on closing sales?

Using this data, your business can accurately forecast potential income and stock requirements, dealing with supply chain issues in advance.

“The fact is that one of the earliest lessons I learned in business was that balance sheets and income statements are fiction, cash flow is reality.”
Chris Chocola, President of the Club for Growth

“If you have to forecast, forecast often.” Edgar R. Fiedler, American economist

2. Find out who your worst-value customers are

Every business has customers who cost almost as much as they generate. CRM intelligence allows you to see which customers have the most issues, require the most hand-holding and generate the smallest returns. Armed with this information you can decide:

  • Which customers need account manager intervention to resolve issues
  • Which customers need to pay more for products and services
  • Which customers need to be encouraged to buy more
  • Which customers need to be offered services that are cheaper for you to supply

“You should focus on good customers and try to improve their quality and not just try to get rid of the bad ones. Firms should find cheaper ways to keep low-value customers because they are confusing your competition to your advantage and there’s a chance someday that they will become good customers.”
Jagmohan Raju, Wharton marketing professor

3. Monitor sales staff performance

CRM intelligence analysis allows your business to see which sales staff are:

  • Generating the most quotes
  • Closing the most orders
  • Generating the highest value orders

Using this business intelligence, you can then:

  • Decide which staff need additional resources to become even more productive
  • Identify positive sales methods that can be shared with other team members
  • Decide which team members need additional support to improve
  • Automate common sales tasks to reduce the need for manual intervention

“On average, sales and marketing costs from 15%-35% of total corporate costs. So the effort to automate for more sales efficiency is absolutely essential. In cases reviewed, sales increases due to advanced CRM technology have ranged from 10% to more than 30%.”
Harvard Business Review

4. Cure recurrent operational issues

CRM intelligence also allows your business to analyse customer support calls. This data can then be used to:

  • Identify issues that are common to all your customers
  • Fix these issues
  • Train staff to resolve common issues more quickly

Equipped with this business intelligence, you can:

  • Cut support costs
  • Resolve issues more quickly
  • Raise customer satisfaction accordingly

“Nearly 70% of consumers said they had ended a relationship due to poor customer service alone.”

The Cost of Poor Customer Service: The Economic Impact of the Customer Experience and Engagement in 16 Key Economies – Genesys

5. Segment your customers

With a broad base of information recorded in your CRM system, you can segment customers based on common preferences and purchasing history. These segments can then be used for:

  • Finely targeted marketing campaigns
  • Trend analysis to identify future markets and opportunities
  • Distribution of accounts and leads to suitably qualified account managers

When used carefully, segmentation should help increase turnover through the use of better targeted marketing efforts that are more appealing to your customers.

Getting your CRM Intelligence plan underway

  • Analyse the Opportunities which your sales team have opened and score them in terms of likelihood of successful closure. You can then use these figures as the basis for sales forecasting.
  • Analyse existing CRM and accounts data to identify your most and least valuable customers. If this data is not currently collected, start recording it from now on.
  • Your sales manager undoubtedly knows who the best and worst performers are on their team. Work with them to create training paths for the sales team to improve overall performance.
  • Speak to your employees and customers to identify recurrent issues and fix them. Create a culture of continual improvement using business intelligence mined from your CRM system.
  • Spend the time required to glean new insights from your existing customer database to create segments for future marketing campaigns. The effort will pay off.

If your existing systems do not provide the information you need to complete these tasks, the very first step is to source a CRM platform to help provide the business intelligence insights you need.

For more ideas on improving customer service, read Customer Experience Management: a business owner’s guide.