Get more from your sales teams with CRM and machine learning

Published on 21/10/2019 by Sonia Navarrete

There’s a famous saying in business that the customer is always right. Most companies strive to develop meaningful interactions with customers that lead to long, mutually beneficial relationships. But achieving this is not always easy, especially for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with limited resources. Here, we look at CRM and machine learning, and how the latest techniques can improve the way your sales teams deal with clients.

how can crm and machine learning improve sales for SMEs

How can CRM software help my business?

CRM software helps you manage all interactions with clients to improve customer service, make your teams more productive, and lower the cost of sales. While many CRM products exist, all with different features, most act like a database with a record for each of your customers. That record contains a history of the customer, what they’ve purchased, what issues they’ve had and how your support teams solved them, when their products need servicing or replacing, as well as a complete history of interactions they’ve had with your sales teams.

With a CRM system, this data is centrally stored and accessible to those in your business who need it, not kept on various spreadsheets (which was the case at 32% of SMEs last year).

The number one benefit of CRM software is the ability to provide better customer service. You can automate much of the communication and management that sales teams have to do to maintain good customer relationships. More advanced packages exist that help you analyse customer data, which lets you automatically segment customers to target them with appropriate sales and marketing campaigns, for example.

The best CRM for small business

What is the best CRM for your small business? To get an idea of how small business have used CRM to increase sales and grow their business, take a look at these case studies.

Multideur is a Dutch company making industrial and garage doors. It replaced various manual processes – many still on paper – with a modern cloud-based CRM in Microsoft Dynamics. Now, larger clients have more confidence in Multideur’s ability to serve them, sales have increased, and the company has doubled its headcount.

Salespeople at Redsquid – a unified communications company – were storing customer information in online folders that were not always easy to access when on the road. Nor could teams easily report on customer activity. Redsquid found a solution in OpenCRM, which centralised documents, call records and previous sales to improve visibility across the organisation.

Machine learning: the next step for CRM

Machine learning is a hot topic in both computing and business right now. It describes techniques that let systems – like CRM – learn from data and make decisions based on what they find without being explicitly programmed to do so.

Large CRM providers have boasted machine-learning capabilities for several years now. Salesforce, the original cloud-based CRM, lets users score leads based on past sales or recommend products to customers depending on what interactions your employees have had with them.

Zoho has Zia – an AI-powered assistant – which, it claims, can spot whether your monthly sales targets are in danger and provide information to help you rectify the problem before it’s too late. It can even tell you when a prospect is most likely to pick up the phone.

How can SMEs benefit from machine-learning-powered CRM?

Machine learning helps humans spot patterns we’re not ‘programmed’ to see. Conventional CRM software can organise customer data, sync between systems, or log calls, but machine learning gives CRM systems the ability to find hidden insight in data.

benefits for crm and machine learning

Take customer segmentation. Traditional wisdom would have sales and marketing teams split customers into standard demographic groups: by age, income, the size of their business, or location. Machine learning can analyse data for unconventional groupings that let your small business run hyper-targeted marketing campaigns for the niche customer groups you never knew existed.

Lead nurturing is an area where most major CRMs have machine-learning capability. From the moment a customer first interacts with your business – by visiting your website for example – an intelligent CRM can develop a journey that funnels that customer towards a sale. It analyses their actions – what they clicked on, what they scrolled past, who they spoke to at an event, how they interacted with your business on social media – to serve the most appropriate content. This could be web or email marketing, sales calls, or custom offers, to turn a lead into a sale.

Machine learning and predictive analytics often go hand in hand. This gives SMEs the ability to more accurately predict the outcome of a bidding process, make more precise pipeline and revenue forecasts, and gauge how likely sales teams are to meet quarterly targets.

The benefits of intelligent CRM systems are compelling. According to Salesforce’s third Sate of Sales report, high-performing salespeople are nearly 5 times more likely to use AI-assisted selling than their less successful colleagues. They also consistently rank AI and machine-learning capabilities like intelligent forecasting, lead prioritisation, and opportunity insights as having more potential impact.

Whatever your size and requirements, you can find the right CRM for your business on our website