As with any business, managing relationships with customers is important. They are the lifeblood of your business, and without a sophisticated understanding of who they are and how they interact with your company, product or organization, you may be taking shots in the dark. This is exactly where a customer relationship management solution really shines. In very basic terms, CRMs are divided into two distinct components: 1) A sophisticated database for tracking and managing customer interactions, and 2) a seamless process for converting potential customers into

photo credit: user KROMKRATHOG at
photo credit: user KROMKRATHOG at

paying, loyal customers.

Procuring a reliable CRM

Not all CRM solutions are created equal. Many overpromise and underdeliver. You need something reliable. After all, you’ll be storing massive amounts of sensitive customer data in your database. A reliable CRM isn’t hard to come by, but you need to know what to look for.

It needs to be much more than just a glorified address book. Yes, you will store copious amounts of contacts, but more importantly, your CRM should facilitate actual customer relationship management. That is, it should move you out of the rolodex and into real-world interaction.
It should be a place where you can easily import or expert sensitive customer data. The less time you have to spend doing basic administrative tasks, the more you can focus on interacting with customers.
If you’re going with a cloud-based CRM, it should be able to handle a large amount of inbound data without experiencing outages.

Getting started with your CRM

To get started you’ll need to immediately upload your customers’ data into the CRM software or online solution. Then you’ll need to create some sort of timeline for interacting with these customers. This means coming up with an actual schedule for contacting customers and prospects. From there you’ll need to analyze your current sales data. This allows you to create focused advertising campaigns based on what works and what doesn’t. Remember, data doesn’t lie.

Hosting your CRM solution

Most businesses have one of two cho

ices when it comes to hosting a CRM solution: dedicated or VPS hosting. For most small to mid-sized businesses, dedicated hosting is out of the question. They offer outstanding performance and control, but feature prohibitive pricing. For most businesses, a solution like Rackspace’s VPS hosting service allows for high levels performance available through a dedicated host, at just a fraction of the price. When you go with VPS hosting, you can easily scale your services to match your demand. If your company goes through a period of explosive growth, there’s no need to migrate to a new server when you can just expand your current one.

While deploying the right CRM may seem like a complicated endeavor, it’s a little easier once you know what you’re looking for. It’s always good to look at the track record of a specific CRM. When you do this it’s important to ensure your CRM has a long history of success with businesses like yours. At the end of the day, a quality CRM should be able to turn your prospects into paying customers, and your paying customers into lifelong customers.