July 19, 2022
CRM & Customer Retention: 3 Strategies to Earn Loyalty
Customer relationship management (CRM) software and customer retention go hand in hand. This is because CRM systems have the ability to produce actionable data to help businesses understand their customers’ behavior better—allowing them to provide more personalized services. It also enables them to gather customer feedback through service features that allow them to constantly identify and work on areas for improvement. Here are the top three strategies to increase customer retention and earn customer loyalty made more effective using CRM software: 1. Actively Listen to Your Customers An easy way to improve customer retention is by listening to your customers. Regularly solicit their input, then use this feedback to personalize and improve your products and services. The best way to do this is to conduct customer satisfaction surveys. Luckily, while there are plenty of survey tools in the market, your CRM can be also be used to design and deploy these surveys, which can save you from having to maintain a separate service. , for example, allows users to create surveys within the CRM system and send them to one or many customers stored in your CRM database. Survey deployment can be automated with triggers such as purchasing a specific product or the amount a customer recently spent. One of the most effective CRM retention strategies is to actively listen to your customers and see what they are saying about, or directly to, your business on social media. makes this possible with the tool that businesses can use with their CRM to post content, monitor posts, and send direct messages on their social media platforms. It is also important to monitor social media activity for retention because understanding how your customers feel about your products and services helps you identify areas for improvement. Furthermore, people now expect brands to keep customers engaged on social media, and not doing so can have a negative impact on your business. In fact, customer churn rate can increase by up to 15% if businesses fail to respond to customers on social media. Additionally, relevant insights gathered through surveying, social media monitoring, and ticket feeds should be used to enhance the customer experience and improve customer retention. For instance, customer feedback can reveal ways to improve a product or service, streamline customer support, or address some other pain points in the customer journey. Actively listening to your customers enables you to personalize and improve their user experience. By personalizing a customer experience, your business is showing that you are listening and are willing to offer value for things that the specific customer would benefit from. A common way this is done is by targeting offers based on individual customer behaviors. , through its integration with , has the capability to monitor customer category affinities, or products that the customer frequently views. Your business can use this information to send personalized promotional offers. 2. Be Proactive by Leveraging CRM Data Customers stick with businesses that anticipate their needs. The customer data your CRM collects helps you to be more proactive, which then enhances the customer experience. Real-time data can tell a story about things like where your customers are coming from, what they are buying, and how long their sales cycles take, and descriptive information such as the job title or industry of a lead can help you provide an overall better customer service experience. Once you start seeing patterns in data trends, that information can also be used to predict future demand, improve inventory management, and optimize hiring to have more service reps available for customers and during certain time periods. Artificial intelligence (AI) tools within CRMs can help businesses see and analyze trends. , for example, finds trends and provides them to the user when they ask Zia, their AI assistant, questions. is one of the most popular CRMs available for data reporting and analytics. It provides information on current sales opportunities as well as other client information such as payments, service tickets, and communication history. For example, the Salesforce billing reports dashboard shows how customers are paying and the reasons for unsuccessful payment transactions. Your CRM data may indicate that a high majority of your customers prefer to pay using a specific payment method. Knowing this, you can then invest in solutions to upgrade their payment portals to make the customer’s payment experience a better one. After all, 90% of consumers say immediate response is an important element of a solid customer experience. CRM data can be used to ensure high customer service and to optimize sales decisions, such as which lead sources to invest more resources into and which leads should be assigned to specific sales reps. For more information on how to use data in your CRM, check out our article on the types of data that you should have in your CRM. 3. Be Consistent With Your Customer Engagement Another useful CRM retention strategy is to engage customers on a consistent basis and constantly communicate with them about things that might interest them. These include upcoming promotional events and new products or services, and checking in with them to make sure they are happy with what your business is offering. A CRM is a great tool to stay in touch with existing customers for several reasons. Your CRM can integrate with email systems like and to easily send emails to customers, which is found to be 56% more effective for retention than any other communication method. CRMs also can integrate with applications like to design and deploy promotional emails on an automated basis. Another way to use CRM as a customer retention tool is to use its built-in design templates. Some CRMs, such as , have newsletter designer features within their CRM that help design and send company newsletters to current customers, keeping them informed of company updates. Sending frequent newsletters to customers shows them how valuable they are as it can update them on developments within your company. This provides a more emotional connection between your existing customers and your business, creating a better chance at their retention. One benefit of constantly staying in touch with existing customers is that it allows you to be proactive in retaining them. If your business only communicates with customers when it’s time for their renewal or to make a repeat purchase, they may shop elsewhere for their products and services. In fact, when companies have a history of transparency and proactive communication, nine out of 10 customers are likely to give them a second chance even after a bad experience. In addition, leveraging CRM and customer loyalty can be a way to positively engage your customers. Rewarding loyalty shows that your company acknowledges and appreciates customers’ loyalty to a brand. In fact, 30% of customers will switch providers if they feel there is no incentive for remaining loyal. Your CRM system can be used to manage customer loyalty programs and customer history in order to see if they qualify as VIPs. CRMs can be configured to auto-send notifications to customers for where they are in loyalty points, how to use them, and what they need to do to continue being rewarded. Why Having a CRM-powered Customer Retention Strategy Is Essential High customer retention rates equate to consistent, recurring revenue without the high cost of acquiring new business through practices like lead purchasing or advertising. However, this benefit is often forgotten. In fact, 44% of businesses focus on customer acquisition while only 18% focus on customer retention. This wastes the opportunity to easily convince an existing customer, who is 50% more likely to try a new product or service than a new customer. A high customer retention rate is not without its cost, but a CRM makes it easier to achieve. By using a robust CRM system, you can put many tasks related to experience management and engagement on autopilot through workflow automation capabilities, saving your business time and money. Benefits of Using a CRM Customer Retention Strategy Excellent customer retention empowered through proper use of a CRM system has valuable benefits both financially and to your company’s brand. It means customers are continuously purchasing from your business, increasing sales, and are satisfied to the point that they have a positive image of your company. Here are the three main benefits of high customer retention rates: 1. Customer Retention Is Cost-effective Retention is far more cost-effective than acquisition. Acquiring new customers entails sales, marketing, and customer onboarding costs, which can cost up to seven times more to bring in new customers compared to existing ones. 2. Customer Retention Increases Profits Even the slightest increase in customer retention can have tremendous effects on your business’ income statements. According to HubSpot, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase company revenue by 25% to 95%. 3. Customer Retention Is a Result of Satisfaction Remember, high customer retention means your customers are satisfied with what your business has to offer. An increase in satisfaction not only translates to retention, but can also result in a positive brand image for your business. Poor customer satisfaction can have severe retention effects, with 34% of customers saying they wouldn’t buy from a brand again after just one bad experience. How to Measure the Success of Your Customer Retention Strategy The easiest method to track your customer retention rate is to use the built-in analytics tool of your CRM. However, it is possible to calculate this number manually provided you have a way to record how many customers you have at the beginning and end of a designated period. Use our customer retention rate calculator below to quickly find your customer retention rate: Learn more about how to effectively measure and track your retention rates in our in-depth article on how to calculate customer retention. Whether you use a CRM or track your customer retention rate manually, your ultimate goal should be to increase retention rates to levels higher than industry benchmarks and competitors. Below are some customer retention rate industry averages: Retailers' customer retention rates: 63% IT service businesses' customer retention rates: 81% Professional service business customer retention rates: 84% Industry retention benchmarks can be used as a baseline for evaluating whether or not your customer retention is at a healthy level and if it needs improvement. Bottom Line Customer retention is an integral part of your business strategy because your customers are instrumental in growing your business. By using CRM as one of your customer retention tools, you are able actively listen to what they have to say and enhance their experience using the data you collect. Engaging them consistently with the omnichannel communications CRMs provide is also one of the most effective ways to improve customer retention.
July 18, 2022
8 CRM Best Practices for Small Business in 2022
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a powerful solution for organizing lead information, communicating with customers, and streamlining sales processes. However, you must incorporate specific actions during the adoption process and in your day-to-day use to reap its greatest benefits. We explore how to select the best CRM platform for your needs and discover CRM best practices to attain the most value. Download our free CRM e-book to learn more about choosing and implementing CRM software for your small business. 1. Take Time to Choose Your CRM Always take advantage of product demos and free trials before settling on a CRM system to ensure the software fits your business needs. As a baseline, it should fit your budget and essential usability requirements. Providers like HubSpot offer a free-forever plan with basic features such as contact management. is also well-known for its clean and intuitive interface—requiring minimal technical skills to navigate. You then need to consider the feature capabilities to ensure they meet your desired functionality goals. While our example, , is regarded as a general-purpose CRM, your specific operation may require what’s known as an industry-specific CRM. For instance, is a CRM platform compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and has tools and integrations specific to health service providers. Your desired platform features are determined by what you want to gain out of your CRM. The chart below offers examples of goal statements, their associated CRM features, and software providers highly acclaimed for those features: Once you’re confident in the product you’ve chosen, the next seven CRM tips and tricks will help you obtain your desired return on investment (ROI) from your sales software: 2. Plan Your CRM Adoption Strategies The next step also happens to be one of the most difficult initiatives businesses face today—software adoption. Adoption refers to the degree to which users consistently utilize the platform and features. For a frame of reference, the average adoption rate for a CRM across all industries is only 26%. Without adequate adoption numbers, you risk running a sales operation with incomplete or missing data and wasting time completing tasks manually that could be automated. There’s also the lost value of subscribing to software for unused features. Some CRM implementation best practices include clearly establishing CRM goals and benefits as well as getting an early commitment from employees and management. 3. Provide Consistent Training After the initial implementation, provide CRM training on an ongoing basis to keep your reps comfortable with the features they already use and to learn about capabilities new to them. Formal training demands a series of goal-setting, tracking, and following up by team leaders and sales managers. To keep it positive, offer incentives such as gift cards, cash prizes, or time off to increase training engagement. The key is establishing a schedule for team members to complete new training modules, enforcing that regiment, and supplementing their knowledge with one-on-one coaching. Many CRM solutions offer online training videos and tutorials on their websites. For example, HubSpot has its own on its website. In addition to basic training on sales and marketing, they have specific modules dedicated to using their CRM software. 4. Customize Your CRM to Your Unique Needs Regardless of which CRM you subscribe to, each product has a level of system customization. Users can design data fields, sales pipeline stages, tabs, pages, dashboards, and modules unique to their needs. The more relevant your CRM is to your sales process and operation, the more likely employees will continue using it. makes customization easy for teams to set up their CRM to their preferences. Within the settings system, users can create and tailor data fields (referred to as “properties”) in records for leads, deals, or contacts and design association labels to tag a record with relevant information such as their lead source or customer persona. Additionally, calculation properties within a record can be configured to set up equations based on numerical values such as dollars or time increments. There’s even the option to create object pipelines—indicating a process toward an outcome such as all of the steps in your sales process needed to finalize a deal. 5. Take Advantage of CRM Automation Automation is somewhat of a hidden gem within CRM systems that gets overshadowed by lead, pipeline, and data management features. Businesses using a CRM with workflow automation capabilities can shorten their sales cycle. CRM workflow automation tools can also eliminate the need to manually complete repetitive activities such as data entry or task assignment, and engage leads without using actual personnel. Most CRMs, including , have built-in automation builders or integrate with , third-party software that transfers data across external applications. When taking the Zapier route, users can create “Zaps,” which offer workflow automation. For example, you can design the process to create or update contacts in HubSpot CRM any time someone new is added to Google Contacts or they have new contact information. Within the CRM system, HubSpot lets you design and deploy automated emails based on customer segments and how they interact with your campaigns. You can automate other activities as well, including lead rotation and assignment, data enrichment, and chatting with website visitors through an automated chatbot. 6. Utilize Third-party Integrations Getting the most out of your CRM means centralizing as many other business processes as possible into one platform. In other words, if you are using other popular third-party applications for small businesses such as , , or , you should integrate them with your CRM to synchronize data across platforms. This helps eliminate the need for double data entry and allows more cross-departmental collaboration. Some integrations even let you use some of its functionality with a CRM system. For instance, certain CRMs that integrate with Slack, such as , let you add a task to the CRM database from a messaging channel. Teams can also integrate accounting software like QuickBooks to track and send payable invoices from the CRM. 7. Run CRM System Audits A great CRM data management best practice when using a platform and managing other users is periodically conducting system audits and viewing activity. This can be done through manual checks or by compiling information automatically on a report or system log—accomplishing the following key objectives: Tracking sales performance: This evaluates whether investing in a CRM produces as much value as you hoped. Within , you can pull custom reports on sales activity and production—giving management the ability to view metrics like calls placed, emails sent, or more concrete performance indicators such as revenue generated. Ensuring data integrity: This ensures information security remains intact. HubSpot lets system administrators view all user activity like logins, data entries, the modules each user has access to, and whether they've downloaded anything from the CRM. Tracking lead or customer data exports from departing employees is vital to protect your sales opportunities. Checking feature usage: This ensures all critical features, most notably the data management functions, are being used. If your CRM users aren’t entering and updating sales data in the CRM, you need to address the issue so no one is working with inaccurate information. You can manually assess this by checking in on contact or opportunity records to make sure they contain up-to-date information. 8. Take Advantage of Data Analytics Analytics tools in CRMs take stored data and turn it into valuable insights for critical decisions. Because CRMs store tons of information about leads and sales opportunities, you can use CRM analytics to find ways to improve conversion rates, make revenue predictions, identify top lead channels, and find ways to improve overall sales performance. For instance, say you were using to evaluate your team’s deal funnel to see where the bottlenecks are. Using conversion analytics, you might find that one particular stage in the sales pipeline is losing the most leads. From there, you can attempt to improve that specific step by providing relevant sales training, investing in a software tool to streamline that stage’s tasks, or assigning more personnel to assist there. Bottom Line CRMs offer the potential to help businesses achieve revenue growth due to the provided collaboration features, automation, and data organization tools. To fully reap its benefits, however, small business leaders must follow a proper framework that boosts CRM engagement and proficiency. These CRM tips should be used as a guiding resource for implementing and using your CRM system and managing other users.
July 15, 2022
23 Sales Statistics You Need to Know for 2022
Working in sales is a constantly evolving craft that must adapt to the current technology landscape and changing buyer preferences. Data and sales facts taken from reps, prospects, and customers paint the picture of what buyers are looking for and what sales teams are doing—allowing you to effectively make adjustments in your operation for improved performance. Here are 23 sales statistics you should know for 2022. Sales Prospecting Statistics Prospecting is the act of seeking out potential, early-stage leads through online research, connecting at professional events, or asking for referrals. This step is required to fulfill the other stages of the sales process and should be a top priority to produce high-quality leads with solid deal-closing rates. Below, we list stats regarding how sales teams feel about prospecting and opportunities to connect with these early-stage leads. 1. 40% of Sales Reps Say Prospecting Is the Most Challenging Part of the Sales Process Takeaway: Since almost half of sales personnel find it difficult to determine target leads, managers need to better clarify what the “perfect” customer looks like. For instance, customer personas and profiles can be used as a guide to present the best prospects in terms of attributes like demographics, behaviors, industry, firm size, and job title. Upon finding the best potential leads, reps often also have information on the best method to pursue them. Let’s say you’re targeting small business owners and created multiple personas for them. Within each profile is behavior traits in which you may indicate one persona surfs and posts on LinkedIn a lot, one is constantly on their computer doing admin work, and another is always at networking events. Based on that, you would likely use LinkedIn to contact the first persona, phone or email for the second, and attend events for the third. (Source: HubSpot) 2. Eight Out of 10 Prospects Prefer Talking to Reps via Email Takeaway: A huge proportion of today’s prospects wish to be contacted over email, compared to about 5 out of 10 preferring the telephone. Moving forward, sales teams should adapt to this trend by developing a sales plan that utilizes both email and phone activities to generate awareness and create new leads. (Source: RAIN Sales Training) 3. Need & Budget Are the Two Biggest Factors in Whether a Prospect Connects With a Rep Takeaway: During initial outreach via phone calls, sales emails, or in-person, there are two key indicators as to whether a prospect agrees to a product demo or introductory meeting. Seventy-five percent of prospects agree to a call because they have a need for the product or service at that time and 64% agree because they have the budget capacity to purchase from you. Both should be considered during prospect research and before initial introductions to yield the best results. (Source: RAIN Sales Training) 4. At Least Half of Prospects Aren’t a Good Fit for What You’re Selling Takeaway: Imagine how much time is wasted when half of all prospects you’re pursuing aren’t a good fit for your product or service. Research and in-depth lead qualification are essential to maximizing efficiency in your sales activities. Be sure to narrow in on a niche market you know has the need, budget, and authority to purchase from you to increase closing rates. (Source: Sales Insights Lab) Sales Enablement Statistics Sales enablement involves providing technology, processes, information, or knowledge to make sales reps more efficient. Sales management and leadership use enablement initiatives such as coaching, sales training, marketing resources, or software to improve the overall performance of their sales teams. Below, we share stats that show the effectiveness of “enabling” a sales operation. 5. Sales Enablement Correlates With a 15% Improvement in Lower-performing Reps Takeaway: As you evaluate the performance of your sales reps, be sure to look at whether or not you’re providing them (and that they are using) software tools and sales knowledge to perform at a high level. It could be the key to significant improvement in a less-than-average sales rep’s production. (Source: SaaS Worthy) 6. 76% of Companies Report an Increase in Sales Between 6%-20% After Implementing Sales Enablement Initiatives Takeaway: Teams dedicated to sales enablement will inevitably see revenue growth. Automation software, knowledge of sales techniques, and collaborative tools make reps more efficient, generate more leads, and push them through the sales process quicker—ultimately increasing revenue numbers. The key is finding which parts of your sales operation need enablement and then selecting the right solution. (Source: SaaS Worthy) 7. Over Half of Sales Leaders Have Rolled Out a New Process in the Past 120 Days Takeaway: Enablement doesn’t need to come through coaching or technology. In fact, much of improving your sales numbers come from process or workflow adjustments. For instance, many firms switch to outsourced lead generation by purchasing lead data from a provider rather than in-house research. This forces a new process of determining targets, purchasing the data, assigning leads to reps, and starting initial outreach. (Source: Spekit) 8. A Majority of Reps Spend 3 to 11 Hours per Week Seeking Answers About Tools, Processes, or Information Takeaway: Just investing in an enablement tool isn’t enough. It's important to realize early that solid sales training and resources should be available to your team for newly rolled out software, processes, information sets, or sales techniques. It should be clear regarding how and when to use the new solution as well as where team members can go for further guidance. (Source: Spekit) Lead Management Statistics Lead management involves generating, qualifying, and nurturing leads in your sales pipeline to move them toward a purchase decision. It also encompasses organizing your lead information, such as contact data and pipeline status, in a database such as a CRM system or alternative solutions like a spreadsheet or project management tool. 9. 50% of Marketers Say Online Forms Are Their Primary Source of Inbound Leads Takeaway: While many people assume online web forms are a lost art, they are still a top source for collecting inbound lead information. Marketing and sales teams should collaborate on content and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies for getting leads to the website to submit an inquiry of interest. These strategies should incorporate processes for sales reps to quickly follow up upon a submission. (Source: WP Forms) 10. 57% of People Are Encouraged to Make a Purchase if There Is No Pressure From Reps During Follow-ups Takeaway: It’s no surprise most people don’t like pushy salespeople. Therefore, reps should prioritize building relationships during their lead nurturing activities by trying to understand and customize a solution that fits the prospect’s unique needs. Additionally, while following up with prospects is important, be methodical to avoid over-contacting and hassling leads. (Source: Invespcro) 11. Companies Automating Lead Management See a 10% Average Revenue Increase Within 9 Months Takeaway: Numerous lead management automation tools create quick revenue increases for your business. For instance, we mentioned earlier how lead scoring is an automated tool for qualifying an opportunity. Lead nurturing can also be automated through email drip campaigns found in popular products like . Users can create rules for content types and when an email is deployed to a certain lead, depending on their behaviors. (Source: WP Forms) 12. 27% of Businesses Say Organic Searches Generate the Most Leads Takeaway: Most inbound leads come through a website form. But how are they getting to your website? Not surprisingly, organic online searches are where many people look. You can dramatically improve your website traffic through a robust SEO strategy. Sales teams should obtain knowledge of the SEO framework because the searched keywords help reps better understand prospect lingo and their pain points. (Source: Ruler Analytics) 13. Companies That Blog Generate 67% More Leads Takeaway: Content marketing is an excellent small business practice that involves creating articles, videos, podcasts, or reports on issues and solutions relating to your target market. From there, it can push to get leads interested in how your brand can assist them. Generating two-thirds more leads simply by drafting and publishing a weekly or monthly article seems to be a no-brainer as long as there is follow-up by your reps after leads are generated. (Source: Popup Smart) 14. Only 25% of Leads Are Ready to Advance to Later Stages of the Buying Process Takeaway: Yes, most leads generated are considered marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and are merely interested in your content, website, or learning more about your offerings. It should be understood that these types of leads are crucial to a healthy pipeline as they offer a supply of long-term opportunities to keep nurturing. Reps should never be discouraged by leads who are not ready to make buying decisions. (Source: WP Forms) Sales Productivity Statistics Have you ever wondered how sales reps spend most of their time and what the key indicators of solid production and performance are? Below, we dive into stats you can use to optimize the productivity and efficiency of your sales team. 15. Top-performing Reps Only 'Pitch' 7% of the Time Takeaway: Top-performing reps spend significantly more time doing conversational selling rather than giving sales pitches. In other words, they develop a personal relationship instead of constantly pushing a product or service on a lead. This means that our age of direct sales has a different buyer journey than in the past. Buyers want to form bonds with salespeople they find to be experts and trusted professionals. (Source: Sales Insights Lab) 16. Top Performers Spend Less Time Web Surfing & More Time Driving to Meetings Takeaway: When looking at how high-performing sales reps spend their time compared to average ones, the two largest differentials were traveling to meetings and surfing the web. Thirteen percent of top performers find themselves constantly driving to meetings, and 12% spend less time surfing the web than their peers. Motivate your reps to get off their computers and out of the office by scheduling a high number of demos and presentations. (Source: Sales Insights Lab) 17. 81.6% of Top Performers Spend 4 Hours or More on Sales Activities Daily Takeaway: Another impressive indicator of sales performance is time spent on sales activities like prospecting, demos, presentations, follow-ups, and proposals. Ideally, you should be constructing your operation to automate, re-assign, or outsource as many non-sales activities as possible like CRM data entry, sales training, or internal team meetings. (Source: Sales Insights Lab) Sales Referral Statistics These business sales statistics are related to how effective referral marketing is to individual reps and the company as a whole. Acquiring business by word-of-mouth recommendations is an effective lead generation mechanism for top-quality opportunities and customers. 18. Referred Leads Offer a 30% Better Conversion Rate Than Any Other Lead Channel Takeaway: The implication of this statistic is simple—your sales team should be spending a lot of time seeking referrals. Through networking event participants, satisfied customers, or referral sources, reps can request referrals or develop partnerships with complementary businesses to bring in an influx of qualified leads. This route makes your operation more efficient and exceeds the average sales close rate, which ranges from 15% to 30%. (Sources: Invesp and HubSpot) 19. Referred Customers Offer a 16% Higher Lifetime Value Compared to Non-referred Customers Takeaway: Not only are referred prospects better sales opportunities, but they also make better clients long term. Upon closing a deal and onboarding a new customer, developing the ideal relationship takes time and fully delivering the solution you promised. If that customer is already coming in from a reliable source, you can expedite the trust-building process to create longer and more valuable relationships. (Source: SaaSquatch) Social Media Sales Statistics When it first became popular, social media platforms were primarily used by marketing teams to build a following and run digital ads. Now, sales reps can leverage these channels to generate leads and develop relationships with potential buyers. Here are some sales stats regarding the world of social selling. 20. 92% of B2B Buyers Are Willing to Engage With a Rep Who Is Known as a Thought Leader Takeaway: Most thought leaders viewed as specialized or innovative experts in a specific market or industry use social media to communicate their insights. Sales reps, particularly business-to-business (B2B) sellers, can also use similar tactics to gain a following for leads. Social selling is even more intriguing when you learn that 84% of C-level executives use social media to make purchase choices. (Source: OptinMonster) 21. 90% of Top Sales Performers Use Social Selling Tools Takeaway: The most successful sales reps take full advantage of new buyer preferences that use social media sites for research. Not only do nearly all top performers use it, but social sellers are 51% more likely to attain sales quotas than non-social sellers. If you have the budget, it’s a solid investment to provide your sales team with premium accounts on sites such as LinkedIn to help find, generate, and nurture leads. (Source: OptinMonster) Sales Training Statistics These stats detail the importance and implications of consistent sales training. Training as well as coaching ensures reps, both new and experienced ones, are equipped with the knowledge and techniques to sell more efficiently and improve performance. 22. Continuous Training Yields 50% Higher Net Sales per Employee Takeaway: This shows that training should not stop after initial onboarding. When looking at growth potential, these higher sales rates should be significant enough to make you invest in sales training programs and design action plans for each rep depending on their current strengths and weaknesses. (Source: The Brevet Group) 23. It Takes 10 Months or More of Sales Onboarding & Training to Become Fully Productive Takeaway: Be patient with your new sales reps before demanding top-notch performance. A firm’s offerings and unique sales process need almost a year to become fully situated. That doesn’t even take into consideration how difficult it often is to develop a network and base of potential leads and referral partners. Reps need time and assistance before growing into the high-performing team you desire. (Source: The Brevet Group) Bottom Line As you’re setting sales goals and developing a plan to achieve them, consider these stats as a way to build the framework for sales success. High-performing reps and teams employ certain habits, technology, training, and optimal lead channels to achieve solid production numbers. It's essential to remain up to date on sales trends to ensure you’re meeting buyer expectations and taking advantage of the sales tools available to help hit peak performance.
July 14, 2022
8 Customer Service Statistics for Small Business in 2022
Customer service directly impacts your bottom line. Clients who are satisfied with your products, services, and customer support become repeat customers, increasing overall sales. Therefore, providing reliable and high-quality customer service must be a part of your overall business strategy. In this article, we share eight relevant customer service statistics revealing how exemplary customer support fosters stronger customer relationships and business success. 1. 68% of customers will spend more money with a brand that treats them like an individual Customer service is more effective when there is a human touch. As a business, you receive countless customer queries on a regular basis; however, it is essential to remember not to treat customer service cases as purely transactional. Every case is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your customers when handled with a willingness to help. Keep in mind that there is a real person behind those queries, so treat your customers the way you want to be treated. Go the extra mile and have a genuine intention to help them resolve their issue instead of treating it as another task to cross off your list. This also translates to sales as customer engagement statistics show that 68% of customers are willing to spend more on a brand that understands them and treats them like individuals. 2. 78% of consumers will forgive a mistake if customer service is excellent Building robust relationships with your customers gives you the elbow room to make occasional mistakes—just make sure you avoid doing so repetitively. Customer satisfaction statistics show that 78% of customers will still do business with a company even after a mistake if they have previously received excellent customer service. Mistakes happen, and maintaining a good relationship with your customers means they are more forgiving in unfortunate circumstances. Apart from providing your customers with timely and proper support, acknowledge mistakes if they happen and be willing to rectify the situation as soon as possible. Owning up to your mistakes and showing your customers you are willing to correct them is a sound customer service best practice. Not only does it reflect humility, but it also shows accountability. 3. 76% of customers would switch to a competitor due to multiple poor customer service experiences Not working to improve the quality of your customer service is costly. Not only does it make you lose valuable customers, but it also encourages them to switch and try the offerings of your competitors instead. This is evident in a customer service stat that says 76% of customers would switch to a company’s competitor due to multiple poor customer service experiences. To assess the quality of your customer service, you must identify certain parameters to measure customer satisfaction. These give you data-backed insights that allow you to craft concrete plans of action for areas of improvement. Measuring this can be done through various methods, such as computing using a customer satisfaction survey to analyze your Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), as well as analyzing your customer churn rates and social media sentiments. Customer service software platforms like let you send customer satisfaction surveys to clients after each case is resolved. Apart from gauging their satisfaction, you can also ask them to leave comments on particular areas they found useful or need improvements. This helps increase your overall customer satisfaction rates. 4. More than 70% of consumers believe companies should understand their history Having a centralized customer database with detailed records is crucial in providing your clients with excellent support. Having an integrated system makes it easy for any agent to take on a case and still have the full context of the query or complaint. This affirms the customer service fact that 70% of customers expect agents to share information and collaborate in handling their concerns so they don’t have to repeat information to different reps. Customer service or customer relationship management (CRM) software usually has a contact management feature wherein the system builds a profile using all the information associated with a customer. It typically includes customer profiles, past purchases, archived and active cases, as well as communication history. This addresses the expectations of 63% of consumers who believe businesses should know their unique needs and expectations. Consider using a tool like with specific customer service features under its HubSpot Service Hub solution. The software allows you to record all relevant customer information that can be accessed by the entire team any time there is a conversation with a customer. 5. 69% of consumers first try to resolve their issue on their own, but less than one-third of companies offer self-service options Providing quality customer service doesn’t necessarily mean every case requires human interaction. Having informative materials on your website and online channels is equally important, too—especially for 69% of consumers who try to resolve their issue on their own first before reaching out to an agent. Unfortunately, few companies create self-service tools, such as a knowledge base or frequently asked questions (FAQ) page. Creating a dedicated resource page where informative materials can be found is not only helpful to your customers, it actually saves you time and money because it lessens the need for actual human interactions. This gives your agents more time to focus on complex cases that require real-time conversations with customers. Customer service providers such as have a knowledge base creator tool that allows users to develop various self-help resources. It has tools to create how-to guides, FAQs, as well as a platform to upload prerecorded instruction videos and educational articles. It also lets users create community forums where customers can ask or answer questions. 6. 69% of customers say they are willing to interact with a bot on simple issues Apart from having a knowledge base, another resource-saving customer service channel is the chatbot. In fact, customer service stats show that 69% of customers are willing to interact with a bot on simple issues. Chatbots are designed to simulate human conversations, handle commonly asked questions, or lead customers to relevant pages on the website to address their queries. Chatbots are typically programmed using conversation workflows to provide information to customers. The software has helpful bot features like a no-code chatbot builder, chatbot testing tool, and prebuilt conversation templates. 7. 59% of customers say it feels like most businesses need to improve the training of their customer service agents Having a dedicated customer service team is not enough—you have to ensure they are equipped to do their job by giving them proper training and guidance. Unfortunately, this seems to be widely lacking as customer engagement statistics show that 59% of customers feel like most businesses need to improve the training of their customer service agents. One of the key areas of having a sound customer service strategy is building and training your team. This includes coaching them on processes and procedures, handling difficult customers, familiarizing them with information on products and services, and teaching them how to use your customer service software. 8. 90% of consumers consider issue resolution their most crucial customer service concern Ironically, the top concern of customers is the issue resolution itself—further highlighting the need for companies to train their customer support team to handle cases effectively. While having a robust customer service tool, a rich knowledge base, and multichannel support are great, these are not enough if agents don’t know how to use them to support customers. Implementing a comprehensive customer service training program can help businesses address this. Bottom Line Customer service is a crucial part of your overall business. Remember, the best products and services attract customers, but excellent and reliable customer service makes them loyal to your brand. Use these customer service statistics as a reference to improve the various aspects of your customer service activities, including training your team and providing personalized service to clients.
July 11, 2022
6 Ways Small Businesses Can Increase CRM Adoption
CRM adoption involves gaining buy-in and support from your team members on using a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to manage sales activities across the organization. Involving your team in different stages of the process, including finding out features they want the CRM to use and providing ongoing CRM training, can all help to increase usage and adoption. Below, we explore six ways to increase CRM user adoption to optimize your business’ customer relationship management experience. 1. Establish Goals for CRM Use & Promote Key Benefits Whether your business is investing in a CRM product for the first time or migrating to a new solution, determining what your business wants to get out of it should be part of the evaluation. It’s important to note that different CRMs may be industry-specific, or designed to serve certain business sizes and functionalities, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Some benefits and goals you can communicate to your team include: Better customer management: CRMs provide a platform for businesses to manage contacts, save customer profiles and preferences, as well as gain visibility into purchase history. This allows sales teams to provide personalized customer service. Increased productivity of your sales team: Having access to customer profiles and tracking leads and deals easily through the platform makes agents’ work faster and easier. Automated sales processes: CRM solutions typically offer workflow automation that reduces manual tasks—expediting the sales process and making sure nothing falls through the cracks. Accurate and effective data processing: CRM software can track current revenue and project incoming sales based on historical trends and data, allowing businesses to make smart, data-driven decisions. Improved agent performance tracking: CRMs show the tasks accomplished by agents, including the volume of deals closed and the amount of revenue brought in. This helps businesses identify their top-performing reps and those who need more coaching. 2. Request Employee Feedback Early & Often One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a business owner or manager is not seeking the counsel of your employees on issues that directly impact them. In this case, it’s regarding the software they will be using daily. Generate employee involvement during the planning process to lessen potential CRM adoption challenges. One way to build interest is by asking them what they would like to get out of a CRM—especially if it’s addressing a pain point. For example, ask for recurring challenges encountered by the sales team, such as timely manual data entries or lack of sales automation to move deals along the sales pipeline. Another crucial consideration is getting feedback on the CRM features they think would help make their jobs easier. Some of the typical requested CRM features include contact management (94%), integrations (88%), and scheduling (85%). Choosing a CRM with a mobile device app is also essential as it increases the productivity of 50% of sales teams. 3. Make CRM Adoption a Top-down Commitment Around 34% of businesses without a CRM platform believe that resistance to change is an obstacle to adopting a CRM, most of which is from top-level management. While it’s crucial to get insight from employees, the business owners and managers make the decision and oversee its implementation. Top-down commitment needs to be both strongly apparent and long-lasting. Even after CRM implementation, managers must continue to show commitment by holding employees accountable for using the CRM and offering resources to enhance the employees’ experience. 4. Ensure Your Data Is Imported & Entered Correctly No one will use the CRM if the information it processes isn’t accurate. So, import your data manually or use data transfer services many CRM systems have. Many companies offer CRM experts to help you do this, so ask if it’s a feature they offer when choosing a CRM. Conduct ample training with your sales team to ensure everyone knows how to input new data correctly. The process of either migrating to a new CRM or setting up one for the first time should be treated as a full-fledged project. One issue commonly encountered in CRM adoption is data transfer. Manual data entry is listed as the number one challenge to CRM adoption, so when setting up the project tasks, see which areas can be automated using mass import and export tools. 5. Conduct Regular Training & Refresher Updates During the CRM adoption process, 38% of businesses cite the lack of technical skills as a barrier. Formalized training must address technical items like setting up each user, using the basic CRM functions, integrating with third-party applications, and using some of the tools employees requested during the planning phase. Training should be segmented and tailored to your employees to ensure they get the most out of it. If you need CRM training guidance, check out our article on training your team on your CRM. In addition to training throughout the CRM adoption process, more training should be provided even after fully implementing the CRM. This allows employees to reinforce their knowledge of the CRM’s capabilities and gain an understanding of any new features released by the CRM software provider. A formal CRM training program should have a schedule where each of the various modules or tutorials is completed by the employees. For example, you may require each employee to complete two modules per week for the next 15 weeks. Many of these modules can be completed through the CRM product using tutorials offered by the provider. 6. Follow Up on CRM Adoption Progress Re-examination of the CRM user adoption process should be never-ending. Business owners, sales managers, and CRM project leaders need to continuously follow up with employees on their satisfaction with the CRM and confirm it is properly utilized. Failure to conduct periodic follow-ups can create an environment where employees feel they can go back to old habits. Post-adoption evaluations should also include solutions to mitigate any problems that were discovered. In addition to scheduling check-ins with your CRM users, it is also possible to quantify your CRM’s adoption rate. This is a helpful way to calculate if you are improving your team’s usage and making the most out of your investment. Measure the CRM adoption rate by calculating the percentage of users who are actually using the CRM compared to the total number of user accounts. Revisit the rate at least every quarter to gauge how much you are getting out of your CRM and to plan training on using it correctly and efficiently. Why It Is Essential to Increase CRM User Adoption A CRM’s main purpose is to help businesses manage and improve relationships with their customers, as well as automate sales activities to drive revenue and increase sales. However, data shows that only 47% of businesses have an adoption rate of more than 90% in their company. Companies must realize that effective use of a CRM and increasing its usage among employees have positive and tangible business benefits. In fact, data shows that improved CRM adoption rates saved an average of $8.7 million. Therefore, using a CRM does not only help increase productivity and better customer data organization—it significantly impacts your profits as well. Below are some interesting CRM user adoption statistics that highlight the importance of getting your team to use your chosen CRM system: Bottom Line High CRM user adoption rates translate to better data organization, team collaboration, and a more streamlined sales operation, ultimately leading to higher revenue growth. CRM adoption is a recurring priority for both large and small businesses. Its success requires an organizational culture that values managerial commitment, employee feedback, and consistent accountability.
July 8, 2022
13 Best Sales Management Software Tools for Small Business
Sales management software helps managers and business owners track, enhance, and oversee the performance of their sales teams. Users can optimize their teams' workflows and close more deals using customer relationship management (CRM) or specialty software for gamification, enablement, project management, or analytics. We’ve evaluated dozens of software products for sales management and selected the top 13 for small businesses. Best Sales Management Software : Best CRM for sales process tracking and analytics : Great for sales managers who need low-cost CRM system customization : Excellent sales CRM for helping teams perform through built-in telephonic capabilities : Best sales management CRM for ease of use when tracking and reporting activities : Solid choice for analyzing performance and coaching sales reps : Best performance management tool with a rewards system : Excellent platform for assisting reps with lead management and engagement : Top pick for managers looking for robust phone communication and a contact center solution : Ideal for managers looking to supply sales reps with business-to-business (B2B) leads : Great option for those seeking a simple project management tool : Best project management software for teams seeking an interactive interface : Good choice for managers seeking in-depth pipeline analysis : Terrific analytics tool with simple forecasting reports Best Sales Management Software Compared See fullscreen table × *Billed annually; monthly billing is also available at higher prices **Tier-based pricing model Best CRM Software for Sales Management CRM systems are used to organize leads, communicate with contacts, automate sales tasks, and track current opportunities in the sales pipeline. Because this type of sales software stores real-time data relating to a sales operation, CRMs offer an all-in-one solution for tracking and enabling lead generation and deal production activities. Some CRMs also provide performance management capabilities such as gamification, goal setting, and quota-monitoring features. 1. amoCRM: Best for Process Tracking Tools *Based on six-month billing; other billing options are also available for higher prices is an excellent CRM platform for organizing contact data, managing leads, and monitoring the sales pipeline. This platform also has automation capabilities, including lead scoring to quantify the best current opportunities and process automation that auto-creates tasks based on the activity that occurs. As it relates to sales management, amoCRM offers analytics and reporting functions to view key performance indicators (KPIs), analyze calls, set and track goals, and run sales forecasts. Reporting can be segmented by teams or branches and evaluate both activity input such as calls made and output such as deals closed. There are even process analytics that help managers find bottlenecks in their sales process for improvement. 2. Zoho CRM: Best for CRM Customization *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available at slightly higher rates is a cost-effective CRM solution for automating workflows, managing leads, and collaborating on opportunities. This product includes many modules for managing sales, such as gamification, pipeline tracking, activity reporting, auto-lead assignment, and analytics. The analytics features, many of which use artificial intelligence (AI), provide insights into processes you can automate, task suggestions, and a prediction builder to forecast any type of measurable outcome. While Zoho has a wide range of built-in capabilities and native and third-party integration options, the system customization is the most appealing. Managers and business owners appreciate the tailoring of data fields, pipeline stages, reports, predictions, automated workflows, and full modules this CRM offers. This is especially useful for firms with a unique operation that demands a niche selection of CRM components. Want more information about Zoho? Our Zoho CRM review tells you everything you need to know about the features, pricing, usability, and customer support Zoho can offer your business. 3. Freshsales: Best CRM With Telephonic Capabilities *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available at slightly higher rates is a CRM with various communication channels, including live chat, phone, text, social media integrations, and sales automation tools. For instance, managers can get automated sales insights like lead scoring, whether a deal is “rotten,'' and suggestions as to which deals should be included in a sales forecast through the Freddy AI tool. It also has automated lead and deal assignment that pairs nicely with the contact management features. This software is an excellent tool for giving your team the resources they need to perform through the built-in telephone system. Its features allow reps to place and receive phone calls, record conversations, log call information, and manage the call waiting queue. These capabilities are available with Freshsales and the native Freshdesk Contact Center for handling new business opportunities and current customers. Learn more about Freshsales and its powerful tools for helping manage sales opportunities by reading our in-depth Freshsales review to see if it's right for your business. 4. HubSpot: Best Easy-to-Use Activity Monitoring Features *Pricing is for the Sales Hub. Bundled options with Marketing, Customer Service, CMS, and Operations Hubs are available for a bulk deal. Pricing also based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for slightly more. is an excellent sales and marketing CRM for tracking leads, opportunities, and designing and deploying marketing campaigns. This platform has advanced features like analytics, automated lead rotation, deal scoring, and revenue forecasting. Managers can also create and store sales playbooks for reps to use for reference during their day-to-day and do coaching based on call transcriptions collected in the CRM. The activity monitoring and reporting tools are notably simplified in HubSpot. Managers, even ones new to using a CRM, can simplify goal setting and quota management by assigning activity or production minimums to teams or individual reps. They can then pull the real-time information and display it on the reporting module for evaluation with just a few clicks. HubSpot has various products available to bundle for sales, marketing, content management, customer service, and operations teams. Check out our HubSpot CRM review to see if their solutions are right for your organization. Best Performance Management Software Performance management software is used to increase the effort and knowledge of sales reps—allowing them to improve their activity and sales production. These sales management systems are typically in the form of gamification software to create friendly competitions between reps that use rewards and recognition for success. 5. Ambition: Best for Sales Coaching Features is an all-in-one performance management solution with a module for encouraging teams using gamification. Here, reps can compete to receive accolades, improve their scorecards, and compete with their peers in a sales contest. There are also goal-setting and monitoring features and performance tracking using key performance indicator (KPI) and preset goal metrics. In addition to gamifying a sales operation, managers can coach their reps using check-ins, scorecard analysis, and customizable programs to improve their knowledge of sales techniques to generate leads and close deals. Action plans with in-depth timelines can also be designed to put individual reps on the best track to become better at their craft. Want to learn more performance management tools applicable to other departments outside of sales? Here are our picks for the top performance management systems for 2022. 6. Hoopla: Best for Rewarding Great Performance is considered a workplace engagement platform that helps recognize and encourage high performance. For gamification, team leaders can design various one-on-one, tournament-style, and multiparticipant contests to get reps excited to contribute. Winners can then be recognized through newsflashes within the platform or on directing messaging tools like and . Users can also take advantage of the Hoopla rewards system. As employees receive points for achieving goals, hitting quotas, or conquering KPIs, those points can be traded in for an array of electronics, vacation, and other prizes from the system’s reward store. Using rewards employees love not only pushes them to do their best, but also promotes a positive sales culture that yields lower employee churn and higher job satisfaction. Best Sales Enablement Tools Sales enablement tools encompass a range of software, information, and other resources managers provide to reps to help them become more productive, organized, and efficient in their day-to-day activities. While the term is relatively broad, any data-sharing, automation technology, content, or communication tools that make a sales team’s job easier is considered an enablement solution. 7. VanillaSoft: Best for Helping Teams Directly Engage With Leads is sales software that helps businesses better handle leads. This platform is applicable for both inside sales teams who conduct initial outreach to set up appointments with interested contacts and outside teams who handle the client-facing and deal-closing activities. With the multichannel communication tools, reps can contact and monitor conversations through a built-in phone, live chat, SMS text, and email system. Teams can also track their opportunities in terms of associated activity and performance to find trends and see which lead or communication channels are most effective. Users build out call scripts for reps to handle objections and adapt to changes during their conversations. There is even the ability to do inbound lead capture through online forms, queue-based routing depending on how “hot” the lead is, and set sales appointments. 8. Nextiva: Best Sales Management Tool With a Comprehensive Call Center *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for slightly more is a communication platform that enables sales teams to contact leads or customers through phone, video conferencing, or SMS text and track those conversations. Teams can integrate their contact database with CRMs such as , , , and to keep all of their information in sync across systems and collaborate through team task tracking, file and screen sharing, and internal chat. In addition to the communication channels and collaboration tools, Nextiva also offers basic pipeline and lead tracking. There’s also a unique customer experience score feature that lets you gauge the current mood of prospects and customers based on interactions with them. This helps generate automated smart recommendations to know what you should send to a lead and when, so you can get optimal results. Find out if Nextiva is the right voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) platform for your business with our in-depth Nextiva review. You’ll learn which businesses this solution is best for and get details on all the features it offers. 9. UpLead: Best for Providing Reps With B2B Leads *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available at slightly higher rates Sometimes, the best way for a manager to enable a sales team to close more deals isn’t with technology or coaching, but with data. is a business-to-business (B2B) contact database users can use to search, filter, and generate lead lists based on industry, job title, company size, location, and the technology in use. A relatively new feature is the Intent Data tool that helps optimize outreach timing based on when a decision-maker is seeking a solution or searching for a term. This powerful tool removes the guessing game during lead generation and qualification, as your team will only attempt to connect or prioritize connecting with prospects looking to buy the products and services you sell. Did you know that UpLead also is one of our picks for the top lead data providers? Check out our buyer guide on the best places to buy leads to find the right solution for you. Best Project Management Software Sales managers often find themselves managing large or long-term activities on the side and not directly part of the day-to-day sales operation. Things like content development, CRM or sales data migration, and training programs, for instance, are projects which once completed, help the sales team improve their performance and efficiency. 10. monday.com: Best Simple Project Management Tool *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for slightly more is a simple solution for managing projects, tasks, and collaborating with a team. Through a system of items and boards, users can create, assign, monitor, and communicate on tasks associated with a project or workflow and view its progress on the dashboard, Kanban, timeline, calendar, chart, or map views. There’s also the option to enhance the team experience through file storage and sharing within items, integrations with third-party software products, and automation of repetitive tasks on your board. This work management system is cost-friendly, easy to use, and offers prebuilt boards teams can use, including a CRM system for tracking leads and the sales pipeline. Want more details on this excellent project management tool? We have the insights on everything you need to know about the pricing, usability, and features in our monday.com review. 11. Airtable: Best for Designing Interactive Interfaces *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available at slightly higher rates is well-known as a workflow and process management tool with an array of dynamic views for project records, including grid, calendar, Kanban, gallery, Gantt, and timeline. Users can attach files to records, comment on them, and create task automation both in the Airtable system and with outside applications. Additionally, records can be simple data entries like text and numbers or utilize more advanced field options such as check boxes or drop-downs. One of the features appealing to sales managers, especially if they are managing complex or unique workflows, is the interface designer. This drag-and-drop function lets you create custom interfaces that put all your dashboards, layouts, charts, and data in one place. For example, if you want to link an inventory record with an address, you can add a map to the interface that goes to that inventory's source location upon clicking the specific record. In addition to being a project management tool, Airtable can be used as a CRM system to manage leads and opportunities. Learn how in our article: How to Use Airtable as a CRM. Best Sales Analytics Software This type of software is for gaining intelligence regarding your sales operation. Managers use information about their sales projections, pipeline health, lead sources, and rep activity to make resource allocation and strategic decisions as well as use for coaching opportunities. These tools typically pull data from a CRM system and use artificial intelligence (AI) or other analytics features to provide actionable insights. 12. Clari: Best for Analyzing the Sales Pipeline was designed to help teams win more deals and better monitor their sales operation. Using AI, the platform allows managers to make accurate revenue projections, see the most important indicators of their revenue, and track changes to a projection, such as a prospect unexpectedly de-committing from a deal. There are also excellent analytics into prospective accounts and sales activity conducted to see where reps' attention should be. Arguably, the most valuable feature of Clari is the pipeline management and analytics tools. With total visibility, users can see in real time which deals are on the move, halted, or at risk of being lost. They also identify bottlenecks in terms of which stages seem to be where opportunities are lost in order to coach individual reps. There are even insights as to why a pipeline’s health has changed and opportunity scoring to help teams prioritize deals. 13. Gong: Best for Simplified Sales Forecasts is a revenue intelligence platform with modules for tracking activity, monitoring deal pipelines, and coaching reps in sales, marketing, or customer success teams. The interface is notably easy to navigate, and pulling analytics reports is simple thanks to the AI that captures buyer interactions and data for accurate insights. One of the most popular Gong features is the sales forecasting modules. In addition to AI pulling in information, the users can commit and approve deals that will be closed within the specified time duration. The forecasting takes into account pending pipeline deals, shows you which ones are doing poorly and why, and presents you with estimates related to individual or team revenue targets. How We Evaluated the Best Sales Management Systems Because sales managers have a wide range of responsibilities, including planning, executing, and monitoring a sales operation, we only considered products that could assist with one or some of those requirements. From there, we evaluated various product attributes relevant to selecting a provider including: Pricing: We evaluated the affordability of each product in terms of free plan availability and scalable subscription options that allow growing businesses to slowly upgrade. Additionally, the ability to pay monthly or annually was considered as well as the overall value for getting solid features at competitive prices. Relevant functionality: This attribute refers to fulfilling capabilities associated with its primary function. For instance, project management tools are expected to offer a wide range of tools, views, and capabilities specifically around project-based work, just as sales analytics platforms are expected to have various reporting and intelligence capabilities. General features: General features are capabilities found in all business software, regardless of primary function. This includes third-party and native software integration options, the availability of a mobile app, and system customization for data fields and automated workflows found within the platform. Ease of use: Product usability is the intuitiveness of setting up your account, operating the features, and navigating the interface. We also evaluated the technical skills required to integrate with other platforms and import data from other applications. Customer support: Having a service department to assist helps with any issues users encounter while using the products. We measured this based on having multiple lines of communication channels such as phone, email, and live chat, as well as whether they offer 24/7 or business hour support. Online resources and self-help guides were also taken into account. Bottom Line Sales managers, executives, and business owners have demanding jobs that require them to wear many hats, including operations lead, project manager, data analyst, sales coach, and enablement specialist. Any tools that assist a manager or team lead in making proper decisions or providing adequate knowledge and resources to their team can make the difference between a high-performing sales department and a lackluster one.
July 6, 2022
7 Effective Customer Service Channels for Small Business
Customer service channels are platforms businesses use to communicate with customers. Maintaining an open line with customers, whether through one or multiple channels, is crucial as it provides essential information that can lead to a sale or influence a customer’s sentiment toward a company. In this article, we share the seven most common customer service channels, including live chat, shared inboxes, social media messengers, texts, and phone. 1. Live Chat Live chat has become an essential customer service channel as it provides an immediate response to customers visiting your website—some of which may be in the middle of their purchasing decision process. Having this tool on your website not only answers queries but can also directly impact your sales. In fact, 79% of businesses said using a live chat tool as a customer service channel helped increase sales, customer loyalty, and revenue. Providers like offer users a robust set of live chat tools, such as message sneak-peek (allows agents to see messages before customers send them), canned responses, file sharing, and chat transfers to other agents. It also provides users with analytical tools to gain visibility on the number of active cases, monthly tickets, and agent ratings. 2. Chatbots Chatbots are similar to live chat because they provide real-time responses. However, the biggest difference is that it is run by chat robots, and conversations are conducted based on predetermined response workflows, so some of the answers may be limited. Chatbots simulate human conversations and provide users with canned responses and options they can click through to proceed with the conversation. Chatbot tools from software like and have sophisticated chatting capabilities. HubSpot Service Hub allows users to include links and clickable responses in the bots’ messages, leading customers to relevant pages on the knowledge base page. Chatbot, on the other hand, allows users to include rich media, such as file uploads and access to calendars. 3. Shared Inboxes Shared inboxes offer customer service teams a centralized platform to receive incoming emails and assign each case accordingly. This lets the teams track incoming customer email requests and ensure each case is attended to promptly. In addition, users can easily follow the progress of conversations by referring to the email trail, which includes previous discussions and the agent involved. lets customer service teams manage emails in a single collaborative space. It allows them to auto-assign threads, pick up conversations from other team members, assign emails to colleagues, and follow specific conversations. Users can also access preset message content for common queries, so any agent can use them to respond to customers with consistent tone and information. 4. Social Media Messengers Sixty-nine percent of Facebook users who message businesses say it makes them feel more confident about the brand—underscoring the importance of social media as a customer service channel. Integrating social media accounts in your customer service software lets you monitor all incoming messages from various platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also create message workflows to expedite assistance to your customers. enables users to message their customers in various social media support channels, such as for Business, Facebook Messenger, , and , from a single inbox. It also has analytics capabilities that let users analyze customer sentiments and monitor the performance of their customer service agents. 5. Text Messages Communicating with your customers through SMS or text messages is one of the most convenient customer service methods. It allows customers to reach out to businesses through their mobile phones even without an internet connection or data. It also enables businesses to capture their customers' mobile numbers and save them in their database easily. , through its integration with , allows users to communicate with their customers through SMS. For example, customer service agents can send and receive messages straight from their dashboard. They can also automate marketing and promotional messages and send order confirmations and appointment reminders. 6. In-app Phone Another traditional channel, in-app phones allow agents to make calls straight from their desktop software while accessing all pertinent customer information, such as purchase history and personal profile. According to CFI Group, 76% of consumers still prefer phone calls as the medium for customer service. This means even though digital channels continue to gain momentum, it is still important to keep traditional channels, especially phones. , our top pick for the best CRM software for small businesses, has robust in-app phone support capabilities. It lets you make and answer calls from your desktop, record conversations and call notes, transfer calls, and purchase local and toll-free numbers. It also allows you to conduct conference calls and analyze overall call trends, such as the total number of monthly calls and call duration, using its analytics tools. 7. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Using CRM software for improved customer service activities is common because many CRMs provide omnichannel communication tools to reach out to customers. While these channels are typically used for sales outreach, they can also be utilized as service tools. This makes it easy for businesses to record communication history with their customers—allowing them to give highly personalized support. Some CRM systems, such as , offer integrated customer service communication channels and integrate them with their customer records. By using the software, users gain access to essential communication platforms straight from their CRM dashboard, including shared inbox, live chat, chatbots, SMS, and in-app phone. How to Choose Your Customer Service Channel Choosing the right customer service channels for your business entails various considerations. Below are some factors to think about in your search for the best customer service channels for your business: Team Size Determining which customer service channels to use primarily depends on the availability of team members who can manage them. Therefore, if you are running a micro-business, it is ideal to choose only one or two channels to maintain, such as email or phone. If you are running a larger business and have a substantial customer support team in place, then managing multiple channels is more feasible and may prove more convenient for your customers. Budget While some providers, such as , provide free customer service tools, some require paid monthly subscriptions—especially if you want to access advanced tools like analytics and reports. Decide how much you are capable of spending on customer service software and level of plans on a monthly basis and scout for potential options. If you have a limited budget, check out our guide on the best free customer service software. Customer Preference Determining your customers’ preferred channel may require you to sign up with a customer service software provider with analytics and reporting tools. Providers like show the volume of customer service inquiries you receive per channel, making it easy for you to determine which channels to use and which ones to let go of. Bottom Line While having various customer service channels is best to make it easier for your customers to reach you whichever channel they prefer, it is important to only choose the ones you can realistically maintain. Having various channels doesn't matter if you are not able to respond to your customers in a timely, effective manner. Consider your team capacity and customer preference to decide which ones ultimately suit your business and customers’ needs best.
July 1, 2022
Zoho vs Salesforce: Which CRM Is Best for Your Business?
Zoho CRM and Salesforce are popular customer relationship management (CRM) software platforms that serve sales teams of all sizes with excellent lead management features. Zoho CRM, however, stands out for its price value, ease of use when operating the features, and low-cost automation capabilities. Salesforce, on the other hand, takes an edge when it comes to customer support, advanced analytics tools, and its intuitive mobile app. When comparing Zoho vs Salesforce, first evaluate your specific business CRM needs: : Better option for small businesses seeking a low-cost, yet powerful option for managing sales opportunities : Excellent choice for larger sales teams who want advanced reporting and analytics features Zoho vs Salesforce at a Glance *Based on annual billing. Monthly billing is also available at higher prices. Most Affordable: Zoho CRM *Based on annual billing. Monthly billing is also available at a higher price. offers a free option for up to three users with limited features for contact, lead, and document management. The paid plan begins at $14 per user, per month and reaches $52 per user, per month to access all the features and modules. Zoho also has its Bigin solution for $7 per user, per month, exclusively giving teams pipeline management capabilities such as deal automation and dashboard views. is a more expensive option that starts at $25 per user, per month for the Essentials plan. There is no free option, and comprehensive features on the Unlimited plan cost $300 per user, per month. Another important thing to consider is that many features usually included in a standard subscription plan require add-ons for Salesforce. Some of these add-ons include: CPQ and billing: To send quotes and prices, the cost is $75 per user, per month (included on the Professional plan and above) Sales Cloud Einstein for AI analysis: $50 per user, per month (included on Enterprise plan and above) Sales engagement: Productivity management for inside sales teams costs $75 per user, per month (included on Enterprise plan and above) Sales enablement: On-demand gamification features cost $25 per user, per month Winner: By a large margin, is the winning product for affordability. Not only do they offer a free option, but the paid plans are relatively inexpensive, especially compared to Salesforce. Many of the tools are already included and do not require add-on costs. Most User-friendly: Zoho CRM and both have their own relative system usability issues and strengths. While both platforms struggle with interface navigability due to the high quantity of buttons and tabs on each page, Zoho touts its low technical requirements needed to operate the features. Salesforce, on the other hand, tends to be far easier for new users to set up and design their system but it is difficult to use its tools—especially the advanced ones. Winner: Only by a slight margin, Zoho is the winner of the vs Salesforce matchup in the usability category. It significantly tops Salesforce in the knowledge needed to use its tools and modules, giving the platform a small edge. Best Customer Support: Salesforce Both CRM systems have an incredible arsenal of online resources such as tutorials, documentation, and self-help guides. Each also uses a tier-based system where customer support options are dictated by the package you select. has live chat, email, and phone support ranging from standard business hours, 24/5, and 24/7, depending on your tier. only has live chat and phone support, but offers them 24/7 on most plans. Winner: edges out Zoho slightly for two main reasons. One is that the online resources are straightforward to use, and it has programs for users to be certified in CRM and sales-related subjects. The other reason is the availability of 24/7 support. Compared to Zoho, Salesforce provides 24/7 live chat and phone support on more subscription plans. Specialized Features: Tie Both CRMs have advanced features such as workflow automation, artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, and predictive analytics such as sales forecasting. Where each product stands out based on sophistication, usability, and price, however, is a different story. has workflow automation capabilities available on the free plan—something not common for CRMs to offer for free. With this feature, teams can put certain processes on autopilot, such as creating a task after an event, emailing a new customer after they’ve become a closed deal, or entering contact data for a new lead generated by a web form. Zoho’s Zia AI tool even offers insights on more things you can automate. specialty feature is the Einstein AI tool, which is far superior to Zoho’s. This advanced assistant helps users auto-capture data based on communications, recommend contacts in their network, and score leads and opportunities to help you prioritize. There are also high levels of predictive sales forecasting and analytics capabilities that provide insights based on millions of data points to find trends and gaps to close more sales. Winner: Both have great features they can say are unique and valuable depending on the user’s preferences and goals. Therefore, this category for Zoho CRM vs Salesforce results in a tie. Best Integration Features: Salesforce and both integrate with popular software products such as Trello, Slack, and Facebook. Each also offers plenty of native software integration options for project management, finance, and human resource management that can connect with the CRM system. The big difference in integration capabilities isn’t for general use and popular third-party software—it's the industry-specific ones. , because of its popularity, has worked its way into numerous industries, such as healthcare, mortgage sales, and IT management, because it can integrate with platforms used in those businesses—giving it thousands of integration capabilities. For instance, , a popular loan origination system (LOS) used in the mortgage industry, allows data needed for loan underwriting to be synced with Salesforce. This makes the sales process much easier as loan officers can take the information they acquired and stored in their CRM and then undergo the mortgage origination process automatically. Winner: Relatively speaking, Zoho CRM has many integration options for third-party and native products. However, because of ability to expand past general-use applications and into industry-specific ones, it wins this category. Best Mobile Application: Salesforce A mobile application allows teams to use their CRM to manage leads, communicate with contacts, and track opportunities on the go. Both options provide a mobile application but differ in their respective capabilities. is limited to mostly task and record (lead, contact, deal) viewing and management. There’s also mobile analytics functionality for viewing the current status of the sales pipeline and funnel. Alternatively, lets you search and view all types of deals and lead records, message teammates, pull up reports and dashboards, manage tasks, and organize customer cases. Users can also edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations from the app and fully customize their entire mobile system with layouts, design, and custom application modules. Winner: Because of the highly advanced functionality that mobile application provides relative to Zoho, it takes the prize for the mobile feature category. Best Reporting & Analytics Tools: Salesforce CRM reporting features allow managers to track sales activity such as calls placed, emails sent, or proposals generated while also helping monitor sales production in revenue or deals closed. Analytics tools that are built in or derived through AI provide insights into trends, predictions, and suggestions—making them critical for key decisions. and , compared to other CRMs, offer elaborate and customizable solutions for tracking performance and seeking opportunities. Head to head, both allow users to make tailorable predictions, report on essential key performance indicators (KPIs) and activity, and create reports and dashboards for their liking. The main difference in this feature is sophistication. Even though each CRM uses AI for many analysis aspects, the Einstein tool for Salesforce, as we’ve discussed, can do more than Zoho’s Zia. Salesforce also has a wider reporting range that allows any combination of data points in the system to be congregated and analyzed for trends or predictions. Zoho is mainly limited to certain KPI and funnel measurements, some of which aren’t available until you subscribe to the Enterprise plan. Winner: Because of wider range of reporting capabilities and advancements of its Einstein AI tool, it beats Zoho CRM in the reporting and analysis feature category. Best Lead & Contact Management Features: Tie Both systems serve their primary purpose and let teams store and track contact and lead information. This includes their identifiable information such as name or address and contact data like phone number and email address. These modules will also manage supportive data such as previous activity, communication logs, web links, and relevant documents for that record. and allow users to view records in a list format searchable and filterable, as well as a single-page view that shows all data fields on one page. Each system can also detect potentially duplicate records, though Salesforce will block you from entering a duplicate while Zoho detects and assists in deduplicating it. Data enrichment, which automatically keeps information up to date using web sources and social media profiles, is available for both CRMs. Zoho has a built-in tool for this feature, while Salesforce requires a third-party integration. Winner: Both platforms offer contact and lead tracking on the list or one-page views as well as deduplication, enrichment, and tagging. Because neither separates themselves from the other for this feature, the result is a tie. What Users Are Saying About Zoho & Salesforce For the most part, users of Zoho CRM and Salesforce are happy with their investment with a few common issues lingering for each platform. Per review scores from popular software evaluation websites, here’s how each CRM was rated: Zoho CRM G2: 4.0 out of 5 based on 2,116 reviews Capterra: 4.3 out of 5 based on 5,621 reviews GetApp: 4.4 out of 5 based on 49 reviews Salesforce G2: 4.2 out of 5 based on 12,616 reviews Capterra: 4.4 out of 5 based on 17,055 reviews GetApp: 4.4 out of 5 based on 17,000 reviews For Zoho CRM, the main issues reported are poor customer support and a negative user experience when operating the features, while the lead and pipeline management features are positively endorsed. Salesforce users mostly dislike the user interface design and have trouble with the automation tools. Regarding the pros, users report loving the innovative features of Salesforce and the plethora of integration options available. Best Alternatives to Zoho & Salesforce While the matchup of vs is certainly close, there could be a particular feature or product aspect missing that necessitates looking at other options. Here are some of the best alternatives to Zoho CRM and Salesforce: *Based on annual billing. Monthly pricing is also available at higher rates. How We Evaluated Zoho vs Salesforce To compare and , we looked at critical product attributes small businesses consider when comparing CRM software. In an apples-to-apples comparison, we evaluated pricing, features, usability, customer support, and our expert score, which gauges what real users are saying about the products. Bottom Line and offer excellent features that help businesses organize, track, and close sales deals. While both are solid options for small and growing teams, the distinguishing attributes of each product make them better suited for certain businesses. Small firms looking for a low-cost and easier-to-use option will gravitate more toward Zoho, while larger teams seeking advanced features will likely prefer Salesforce.