Online CRM Drives 5 Stages of Customer Relationships

by | Sep 19, 2013

Everything has changed in the world of sales.  What is driving this rapid change is the attitude of the consumer.  With the customer in charge of the sales process, the only way to follow their lead is to use tools in an online CRM (Customer Relationship Manager).

Email automation using your online CRM is the secret to developing this type of advocacy.  Instead of selling your company to new sales leads, your current, satisfied and loyal advocate customers are selling your company for you.

5 Stages of Customer Relationship

Experts have defined the buying stages demanded by the buying public.  With the customer in control of the buying process, companies are challenged in each and every stage of the sales process.  Let’s cover the role of your online CRM in each stage.

1. Visitor

The online CRM is the entry portal to your company, however the visitor finds you.  Whether they visit with your representatives at a trade show, or fill out a web form, they enter the front door of your virtual company and into the online CRM to be greeted with a welcome and offered something valuable to them.  WARNING: Do not skip this important stage or your emails may be rejected later.

2. Engaged Visitor

Many companies feel nostalgic about the days when a skilled salesperson could convert a sales lead into a purchaser on the first appointment.  It very, very rarely happens today.  It’s like being nostalgic about the days of video tapes.  You can dream of the good ole days, but it does not change the reality of today.

Like it or not…you are barred by the buyer to make a sale immediately.  Your online CRM is able to engage the sales lead and rescue your sales.  The first place you engage the visitor is in the welcome email.  Be gracious and welcoming.  If you come off promotional and pushy, you probably will waste more sales leads than you will sell.

Instead of promoting, you might want to include something of value to this visitor.  The time immediately following a visitor’s introduction to your company is when the sales lead is most vulnerable to your message.  Set up an automated email in your online CRM with a brief welcoming message and an offer to give them a report, eBook, checklist, article or something your new prospects may want to receive.

3. Prospect

In some companies, just clicking on the link to the first offer will convert the sales lead into a prospect.  It may be time to have your salespeople call to offer help and guide the sale.  In your company, particularly if you are in B2B sales, it may take more time in a lead nurturing campaign to consider the cold sales lead a real prospect.

Whatever the sales process for your product or service, an email campaign delivered in your online CRM is the most engaging and personal way to get them to pay attention to your message.  The biggest enemy to success in email marketing is promoting the sale.  Instead, keep feeding the sales lead with good information they will be able to use whether they choose to do business with your company or not.

4. Customer

Way too many companies stop courting the business after they have become a customer.  Some feel that customers are not loyal anyway, so what’s the point?  Others believe that if they concentrate their effort on delivering good products and excellent service – it will be enough to earn whatever loyalty is possible.

The truth is…your relationship with the sales lead has only begun at the point of becoming a customer.  You have invested way too many resources into converting the sale to lose them.  You know well that it takes a whole lot more effort to find new sales leads than it does to make advocates out of repeat customers.

Never before in sales history has it been more possible to create deep relationships with current customers.  Your online CRM enables marketing automation that can be customized to exactly what your customers want to receive from you.

Each company will be offering something different to current customers.  The good news is you can analyze customer response to the email campaigns within your CRM software.  As you learn what they want – give them more of that.

5. Advocate

In an online world where customers can post their experience with your company to be seen by anyone who may be interested – customers have the enviable power to make or break your business.  As demonstrated by such companies as Apple, Zappos, Amazon and more, devout loyalty is possible when customers feel important.  They feel deeply attached to the companies who make them feel valued and heard.