The Right Account Management Software Solution for Your Business
There are a lot of account management software options on the market right now, with varying functional capabilities. With all of these options available to you, the first thing you should do is decide if you need a simplified “electronic rolodex” for your customer contacts, if you are looking for a more sophisticated and elaborate system, or if you want something in between.
Sales Representative Focused Software
Account management or contact management software in its basic format provides quick access to customer contact information, which includes name, address, email address, and telephone number. More sophisticated packages provide additional functionality such as note taking, to-do lists, calendars, activity management, and email integration.
Typical contact management software packages are centered on the information needs of the sales representative. The software supports that individual’s selling efforts without the capability of collaborative selling and input.
In comparison, customer relationship management (CRM) software is centered on the customer. It links all relevant departments to customer information files to give a more holistic, real-time view of customer relationships. CRM software goes beyond contact information to support collaborative selling and input. One of the best features of this type of software is that you can run histories of customer interactions and correspondence from all departments. CRM software can track things like activity audit trails, customer buying histories, real-time inventory management, and customer satisfaction surveys.
CRM software usually scales and adapts to capture pertinent information for any given customer. You have a variety of options to pick from. Options can range from a document management system that tracks and stores electronic customer documents to a tool that handles the mix of labor and financial requirements for scheduling and delivery. Many small businesses will benefit from the time and money savings with a system that tracks the real-time sequence of activities leading up to shipping.
Transactional vs. Enterprise Sales Models
Account management software may be right for your business if it employs a transactional sales model where interdepartmental collaboration and team selling may not be helpful. This sales model is characterized by undifferentiated, well-understood products. Customers typically know exactly what they want, so the sales cycles are usually pretty short. With this structure, sales representatives don’t have to do much pitching or anything extra for the selling process, so this eliminates the need for over complicated systems.
In contrast, CRM software supports the enterprise sales model of team selling. Enterprise selling is long-term strategic selling. This model is advantageous for selling unique products or services with long sales cycles. Interdepartmental selling requires a sophisticated team-sales apparatus with an interface that helps all the different levels of decision makers in the sale process.
Who Manages the Customer Relationship?
To figure out which software service is right for you, you have to factor in the different needs of your business and its employees, but you need to factor in your customer as well. It’s important to consider who in the process is maintaining a relationship with the customer. If your business puts an emphasis on the sales representative having the connection with relationships, this bodes well for account management software. However, if you’re looking for a system that supports a company-wide, collaborative customer relationship, CRM software is the better choice. This software puts customer relationships into the company and not exclusively with a sales representative.
Cloud-based CRM solutions from subscription service providers are no-hassle alternatives to freestanding CRM solutions. The cloud solution usually removes the software and hardware fees, as well as eliminating the need to pay licensing fees. The cost benefit of the cloud is one of the major benefit to making the switch. Cloud-based CRM allows for quick deployment at minimal cost, minimal training, monitored security, and scalability as your needs change.
Before you use an account management or CRM solution to manage customer information, decide what your needs are and which one suits you best. Make sure the system helps enhance your current setup and not the other way around. You want it to benefit you and not redefine you.