COVID-19 has turned the business world upside down. The crisis will bring some companies to the edge, and unfortunately for some the game will be over. As we move into the next stage of recovery, business leaders need to tread the line between protecting their customers and employees, and safeguarding their own livelihood.

“There are still a lot of challenges to overcome, but preparing for upcoming disruption means minimising its impact.”

The light at the end of the tunnel is dim, but it’s there. Economists are weary about what the immediate future holds, and rightly so. Businesses need to rethink their strategies, have a fair look on how they manage every aspect of their business, focus on developing relationships with existing customers, and innovate ways to get new customers into their pipeline.

Thankfully, nothing is out of our reach with the proficient implementation of technology. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can organise and dynamise whole industries that have been brought to their knees by the crisis. It can help individual companies recover across those three, exact disciplines: new customers, existing relationships, and general post-crisis management.

New Customers

The first thing to understand is that as people face so much uncertainty, pressure, job losses, and new realities, your business will experience a drop in sales and see less leads entering its pipeline. Still, sales need to happen, opportunities need to be pursued, and ultimately growth needs continue. Well, CRM software places sales, new opportunities, and growth before anything else.

With the world working remotely, the gaps in company sales processes have widened. CRM helps businesses close those gaps by ordering and cohering sales processes. If the gaps aren’t there, new prospects and leads will find it much more difficult to fall through them.

How exactly can CRM help?

CRM offers epic flexibility in the features and integrations that a business needs to efficiently and comprehensively find new customers.

  • For lead prospectors, some CRMs tools, including NetHunt CRM, offer native integrations with lead generation platforms such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This means they have the power to comprehensively search for suitable leads, add contacts with one click to the CRM, and scrape available data to shared contact files, ready for cold sales outreach.
  • For inbound sales, users can connect CRM systems to online forms on their website. As new visitors visit the website and fill out webforms, their data immediately enters a company’s system and into its sales funnel with indicated lead source, region, and other vital information for your business.
  • The system helps to distribute leads among sales reps and automatically assigns them to the relevant salespeople, based on trigger rules such as geography, product type, industry, and other factors.

New customers are bound to feel some level of uncertainty. The quicker your business can get them into, and moving along the pipeline, the closer they are to making a purchase.

Existing Relationships

Customer-centricity is critical during a crisis, when your existing customers make up a disproportionate share of incoming revenue. If you want to keep your business afloat, it’s essential to invest in maintaining positive relationships with every existing customer. It’s important that each customer is approached with understanding, humility, and empathy at the very least, if you expect them to stick around.

How exactly can CRM help?

The clue is in the question. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.

  • Segmentation lets you slice through your customer base and create focussed lists of customers who are suitable for a cross-selling approach of products that can help them through a difficult time. Alternatively, some customers might be more suitable for upselling, when they haven’t been negatively affected by the crisis.
  • Bulk email campaigns help marketing teams reach out to hundreds of customers at a time with personalised emails. Reporting features tell them whether emails are opened and read, which in turn helps them to adjust and perfect their lead nurturing approach.
  • Sales pipeline analysis helps determine leaky stages and change email templates, call scripts, or communication methods to shorten drop offs. Set up triggers to address dedicated actions for the clients who are stuck at a certain stage of the funnel.
  • Excellent customer service is impossible without energetic and empathetic people; CRM adds even value by streamlining interactions. Getting a new support ticket, a support manager has access to an index of previous communication with the client they are dealing with, reducing the amount spent on any issue. CRM also helps to monitor the efficiency of customer support teams as it takes on extra weight during the crisis.

Post-Crisis Team Management

Employees are the ones that make it work, keep it ticking over, and are the heart and soul of your brand. They deserve protection, empathy, and compassion. The new reality is that companies are starting to embrace work-from-home employment models.

“Econsultancy and Marketing Week’s COVID-19 Business Impact Survey found that 82% of respondents have found new ways of working that they might use post-outbreak, including working from home.”

Working from home helps relieve employee stress of having to commute during a pandemic, protects them from exposure to the virus, and generally gives them more time for themselves. With a balanced approach to working from home and the leveraging of technology to help implement it, we could step out into a much fairer world for our employees.

How exactly can CRM help?

The whole point of CRM is that it places everything in one, centralised place, even if a team isn’t.

  • Cloud-based CRMs hold the lionshare of the market, and those that are built entirely in Gmail are the easiest and most efficient to implement. These systems bring home-working employees together by automating workflows, having access to customer data, and notifying employees when they need to take action.
  • Task management functions can be utilised to set automated tasks by and for at-home employees, eliminating the need for constant back-and-forth telephone conversations with their team leaders.
  • Automated reporting is a godsend for anxious sales managers when it’s likely that teams aren’t going to be as productive in the office. CRM automates reporting so managers can keep an eye on employee performance and set weekly and monthly goals for them, whilst maintaining the health of their business from the comfort of their armchair.

How to Choose the Right CRM for Your Business

Choosing a CRM isn’t easy. There are loads of potential tools with heaps of different features. You need to choose one that maps with your business workflows and processes. CRM serves as a hub for sales, marketing, business data, and leverages company growth. Here are a few things that you need to pay attention to when choosing your CRM software.

  • Identify the teams that are going to use the CRM system, and recognise the individual problems that you want to solve with its implementation. You need to know which operational processes need implementing or tuning.
  • Evaluate the integration capabilities of CRM with other business software. Once you get used to a CRM, you might want to integrate it with other tools to gain competitive advantage. For example, you can tie your CRM with a phone system or social media profiles to capture more leads, but you need to be sure to choose a system with that kind of featurability.
  • Opt for a CRM with extended emailing functionality such as bulk emails, sequences, email templates, and open and click tracking. It’s quite simple really, there is a lot of sense in email campaigns being backed by customer data. What’s more, you’ll save the money that you would be spending on seperate email marketing tools by having everything in the same place.
  • Go Cloud and go mobile. Customer data needs to be accessible from everywhere, especially if your sales team does field sales and are often out-of-office. Email correspondence, order history, and pipeline activity should always be on hand for a salesperson. Thus, if your CRM is cloud-based and mobile-friendly, you’ll be able to keep the ball rolling from any corner of the world.
  • Pay extra attention to user reviews. This allows you to find possible pitfalls that you might have missed while testing а CRM during a trial period. Moreover, do not neglect the trial period and always ask for feedback from your team that will be using the CRM.

It might feel as though you need a miracle, but you don’t. You need hard work, nous, and clever implementation of an existing technology to weather the storms ahead. If anything, the coronavirus has taught us that humankind can adapt almost overnight. In the aftermath of this crisis, we need to apply that newly-found adaptability more than ever.

We’re all in the same boat and your recovery is everybody else’s recovery. Good luck.