Customer Intelligence Tools: Why You Need Them

Jennifer Schulze

Companies of all sizes rely on customer relationship management tools to automate sales processes and manage customer contact information, and these days many are making the transition to cloud-based solutions. For small to midsize businesses, the ability to increase efficiency by automating sales processes, provide deeper customer understanding through analytics, and drive profit by social selling makes it an essential platform from which to launch sales and marketing efforts.

Automation builds relationships

It may be obvious how automated processes such as those CRM offer can improve the lives of sales reps, but automation can also improve customer experience. These systems allow a small business sales team to create a unique sales process, combining automated touchpoints with personal ones. They also capture data from every interaction a prospective customer has with the sales team, and this data informs the messaging they receive. A prospect always receives the right number of touchpoints and the right kind of messaging to keep them moving toward conversion.

Understanding through analytics

Data drives understanding, and capturing customer data from multiple touchpoints throughout the buying cycle and beyond is pivotal. While we may commonly think of tracking interactions from online advertising, email marketing, and landing pages, a cloud-based CRM system can also capture and house data from:

  • Social media
  • Content pages
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Customer service

This provides a trove of rich customer behavior information as well as a detailed record of customer engagement.

How does all of this data result in better understanding? High-functioning tools can transform data into predictive behavior insights, providing a holistic view of every customer. This ability to see and engage each customer as an individual enables sales to better anticipate challenges a particular customer might face in the buying process and identify opportunities for contact. Marketing can target campaigns toward specific customer needs and interests with laser focus, then deliver messaging on a preferred platform.

Great customer management systems can also record key interactions with other internal teams such as service, accounting and any other customer-facing department. This unified engagement history creates a better customer experience, as every department can quickly access a customer’s complete history with the company and cater to the customer’s needs or address issues faster and with more personalized attention.

Social selling is about connection

One of the most exciting tools a great customer engagement system offers businesses is the ability to sell on social.

Put simply, social selling is utilizing social networks to engage influencers and buyers within a prospect’s organization. Building connections through social creates a wide network of shared connections, further informing a customer’s unique profile and driving better sales efforts. An integrated tool that gives insight into customers supports social selling by proactively identifying social information of leads in its database.

The software can also feature social feeds so sales reps can stay current on prospects’ and customers’ news, events, and content. Social interactions can be automated based on trigger behaviors, keeping a company relevant in the customer’s mind, reducing the possibility of duplicate contacts, and saving time for the individual sales rep.

Ultimately, the tools and features a customer management and marketing tool offers small business sales teams aren’t about “the sale.” What they offer are more opportunities to communicate with prospects, better conversations through greater understanding, and the ability to connect with customers on the platforms they prefer.

For more customer satisfaction tips, see Software Essentials For Superior Customer Experience.


About Jennifer Schulze

Jennifer Schulze is Vice President of marketing for SAP. In her role, she manages customer marketing as part of the office of the COO. She has over 15 years of technology marketing and management experience and is a small business owner in the San Francisco Bay area.