CRM Systems

Can you answer “Yes” to more than two of the following?

Does your company

  • have more than 500 prospects and contacts
  • have a long sales cycle for its product
  • have different sales reps for each stage of the sales cycle
  • have lots of customer lists scattered around the company
  • perform a lot of repetitive marketing tasks
  • interact with customers and prospects primarily through online channels

Got more than two? Then you could benefit from using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, for lead development and customer retention.

Essentially, a CRM (or Marketing Automation system) is a big web-based application that holds your customer lists, partially automates communication with prospects and customers, and hooks into your website and email system. Beyond that core set of activities, there are a bunch of other features which make sense for various kinds of companies.

The CRM most people know is Salesforce. Our personal favorite is Solve360. Lists of CRM’s for small and medium-sized businesses can be found here and here.

CRM projects, when done right, are quite invasive and time-consuming! Nonetheless, they are critical for developing a scalable sales and marketing effort.


List Management

A CRM’s database contains your list of people and companies. These are tagged according to where they are in the sales cycle, and are usually classified into market segments. This replaces your collection of Excel spreadsheets containing customer names.

The best CRM solutions are in sync with your email system and mobile devices, so a change to a contact record is reflected everywhere. contacts can be made private to one person, shared with a group, or available throughout the organization.

Responsiveness and Scalability

A CRM replaces manual handling of a lead. For example: An email is blasted out to a certain list. Someone completes a form on a website, and their information flows into the CRM. The contact can be assigned based on geography (or other rules) to one sales rep or another. A rep can trigger a scheduled series of responses, most commonly emails and phone calls. Automating customer communications in this way means fewer dropped balls, and a sales effort that keeps its efficiency as it grows.

Corporate Memory

To continue with the above scenario: The sales rep can key into the CRM their commentary on what each customer wants, and the names of others involved in the buying decision. If ther rep were to leave your company, his replacement would have a record of the engagement with the customer.


A CRM also allows you to control what is emailed to customers, and when they get it. Standardization of messaging preserves your corporate positioning, and makes testing easier.

Benkard Marketing Systems can help you understand if a CRM system makes sense for your business, choose the right one, and integrate it into your existing business systems.


Included With Every CRM Project

All CRM projects address our standard secondary considerations thusly:


Hugely important – if your salespeople are on the road, they are more likely to enter data into a CRM via smartphone or tablet. Solv360 shines here.

Systems Integration

As mentioned above, a CRM is best when after sinking its hooks into your website, email broadcast system and corporate email system. Good CRMs can also integrate with help desk ticketing systems (like ZenDesk), accounting systems, and productivity apps.


A no-brainer. CRM systems track leads all the way to closing. You’ll have comparative data on channel performance, and how your sales team is doing on each stage of the sales cycle. When combined with lead generation measurements on a monthly scorecard, you can best allocate your effort and budget.