CRM is the strategy by which you manage your firm’s relationships with customers and prospects. In industries where goods are becoming increasingly commoditised, one of the main ways that wholesalers, distributors, merchants and retailers can differentiate is through customer service.
But customers are all different, want different things, and contribute differing amounts to your business. A CRM strategy is all about understanding how customers vary, what good service means, and then prioritising your resources accordingly.
CRM software will enable you to manage your CRM strategy and go beyond targeting customer segments to give customers service that feels personal and individual. Research shows that investment in a CRM system can offer a return of more than £8 for every pound spent, and can increase sales by up to 30%.
Why does CRM Matter?
Because customer service has never been more important, you should optimise it with a CRM. It is becoming harder to differentiate on price, but you can differentiate from your competitors by offering:
- Individual promotions and discounts: you may wish to offer goods to different customers at different price points, depending on the value of the customer, and the volumes in which they buy.
- Bespoke offers and services: Analysing customers’ behaviours will enable you to create highly targeted offers that feel individual to the customer.
- High quality, meaningful interactions: Is all the marketing you send to customers relevant and interesting to them? Do you know customers’ contact preferences? Do you respond effectively to complaints or feedback? If not, you are missing opportunities to connect with your customers.
Do you need a CRM system?
The distributive trades are characterised by huge volumes of both customers and transactions, making it hard to keep track manually. CRM systems enable you to:
- Record every interaction with every customer, across every channel: As well as giving you the data you need to service customers at an individual level, this means you can aggregate the data to spot trends, segment customers, and create and track sales and marketing initiatives.
- Improve internal communications: All your staff will have access to the same customer data, no matter where they sit in the organisation. This facilitates teamwork and supports your departments to work towards the same goals.
- Give great customer service: You can interact with customers according to their preferences, making them feel valued.
- Up-sell and cross-sell: Giving your sales staff access to detailed customer records, not only enables them to provide better customer service but will help them create opportunities to sell additional or higher value items.
What to look for in a CRM system
There are any number of systems on the market. We recommend that wholesalers, distributors, merchants and retailers look for systems that:
- Are designed specifically for the distributive trades. Whilst most systems can be customised to some degree, it is easier to work with a system that has been specially designed to meet the needs of your business. If you go for a specialist system, the supplier will have experience in your sector and can guide you through implementation, and ensure you get the best from the system.
- Offer seamless integration with other systems such as ERP, finance, sales and e-commerce, so that your whole company can document interactions with customers in the same system and all benefit from the rich data you will build up.
- Are easy to use. This may sound obvious but it is no use investing in a sophisticated CRM system if your employees find it too hard to use
Remember, CRM allows you to tailor your customer service to each individual customer and can bring big rewards for your business.
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