Using a CRM Tool to Manage the B2B Customer Life Cycle

customer life cycleI am always happy to have the chance to participate in Innovation Factory’s monthly Sales Peer to Peer in Hamilton. This month we were lucky to have David Carter, Executive Director of the Innovation Factory, lead a session on customer relationship management (CRM).  David was able to draw from his past experience at large firms like Microsoft as well as from his own startup experiences at Awareness Inc.

I was very happy to hear David speak on CRM.  At VA Partners, we’re big believers in leveraging a CRM system as a core part of any sales effort.  Below you are some of the highlights from David’s talk at the Innovation Factory.

CRM Can Help Across the Entire Customer Life Cycle

At the start of the engagement with a new prospect, a CRM tool can be used to help with both marketing and sales activities.  After the prospect is converted to a customer, a CRM tool has many benefits for the customer service effort.  The steps in the customer life cycle that can be mapped with a CRM tool include:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Trial
  • Adoption
  • Loyalty
  • Referral

CRM Has Big Role in the Sales Effort

A CRM tool should be used every day by a salesperson. The most important components when using a CRM tool for sales include:

  • Leads: These could be inbound or outbound targets.  They are leads until they become qualified and start into the funnel.
  • Opportunities: This is the highest value component of a CRM tool for any sales team.  Opportunities roll-up into the sales funnel and could include key information such as deal size, close date, and next steps.
  • Accounts: Accounts include the contacts, activities, and opportunities.

Look to the Cloud

When selecting a CRM tool, today you should really be looking to a cloud-based system. There are many benefits including:

  • The ability to access the data on any device
  • Information is always live and up to date
  • No infrastructure to manage
  • Automatic updates by the vendor

Marketing and Sales Applications

Many CRM tools have marketplaces with applications that can be integrated and used, from marketing automation to social media solutions that highlight sales triggers. This is especially true of the larger CRM systems like Salesforce.com.

If you’re in the Hamilton area and looking for some great information on sales, come check out the next Sales Peer to Peer at the Innovation Factory on the first Wednesday of each month.  To learn more about using a CRM for sales, and other items to think about when growing your sales team, check out our white paper on Building a Startup Sales Team.