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CRM is such an overplayed word these days, yet so many people still do not understand what it actually is. CRM is more than just an online Rolodex. It is more than a place to organize and manage your contacts. It is a place to develop and build relationships with both existing and potential clients/ customers.

The relationship between a brand and its customers is a two-way street, and since customers are savvier than ever, they often control the flow of traffic. The buying landscape has evolved so much over the past 20 years that the rules that once applied no longer exist. Leads enter into our sales funnel from a multitude of different directions. There are countless ways they engage with your brand and it’s harder than ever to keep up. This is one of the BIG reasons why traditional CRM is incomplete and no no longer able to accomplish your business objectives.

It’s is more complicated than a situation when you’re just looking at ‘this software over that software’. It is more about the underlying culture of your company. As consumer behaviors change, doesn’t your company need to evolve as well? We live in an ever-changing world, where in order to compete, you’ve got to shape-up or ship-out.

Just like our highways and power lines have increasingly become connected to one another, so does our information. If you want to drive across the country, there are highways that will take you there. The same goes for what we refer to as the “Network Economy.” Much like the Industrial Revolution, we are in an Information Revolution that is changing the nature of business and its structure as a whole.

Information is now shared so freely and inexpensively on such a universal scale that the days of centralized bureaucracy and the pyramid structure of control and power are gone. Technology moves quickly and this sudden transition shocks and even scares some people, as the need for change is now.

So, what does this mean for businesses and how they are structured? According to a theory prepared by Joseph and Jimmie Boyett, in ‘The Guru Guide to the Knowledge Economy’, an interactive or open network is far more beneficial than a closed or compartmentalized system, because value stems from connectivity. As the lines between your brand the consumer blur, the more information you share the more powerful you become vs. keeping the information in alienated, disjointed nodes.

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This is where the idea of a ‘complete’ CRM comes into play. Traditionally, CRM tracks your activities and workflows associated with each contact. This, however, is only a single part of your relationship. Just like dating, you want to know more than just what you guys do together, and what you talk about. You want to know what they enjoy doing outside of when you two are together. Did they go for a hike? Perhaps, they participated in an event that you would like to know more about.

A ‘complete’ CRM allows you to track more than just your phone calls, emails, and meetings. It enables the business to see what website pages they visited, what webinars they attended, the emails they opened, and links they clicked on. You can view if they had any issues and submitted a support ticket or inquiry in another department. All of this information and more makes you a pretty informed business, doesn’t it? Won’t that lead or customer appreciate the fact you know and, most importantly, understand what they are going through or interested in? I think so.

It is great to have the software, and the software definitely facilitates this type of open communication; however, it is crucial to note that this belief must be embedded into your culture. Software alone cannot completely change the way you do business.

When a business adopts a networked structure, they become more informed, closer to their customers, and therefore provide more value and an overall better customer experience. A better customer experience = loyal customers = more revenue. It’s a win-win, as we see it.