The Customer Relationship Management industry (CRM) has exploded. It’s estimated that 91% of business with more than 11 employees now use a CRM system. CRM is a term that refers to the strategies, technology, and practices that companies incorporate into their business to manage and analyze customer interactions and data. However, many businesses are not realizing the full benefits of CRM because they’re entirely focused on the data and ignore the human side of CRM. The data will tell you how to manage customers, but not how to build relationships with them. Computers don’t build relationships; people do.
In today’s highly competitive marketplace, the success of your business depends upon delivering customer-focused experiences and processes. I have outlined below a few tips I’d recommend for staying focused on the human side of CRM.
Don’t overlook the human side of CRM
“Helping is the new selling” are the latest buzzwords being bantered around these days. It speaks to relationships and a service-oriented mindset. Although CRM has the potential to provide deep insight into both individual clients and general trends, it’s imperative that you connect and engage with your customers in a meaningful way or you diminish the value of your CRM system. No amount of data can provide the human touch.
Implementing a CRM system doesn’t automatically deliver results
Databases full of client information are the basis on which to improve customer engagement, but never lose sight of the relationship-side of technology. The success of your business depends on the human element.
This is crucial in any industry. Your sales team are the ones that can help your organization achieve its revenue goals. The human interaction between your salespeople and your customers is what will ultimately differentiate you from your competition, and bring them back again.
This skill is highly underrated. Do your sales people listen? Do they understand what your customers value? Can they educate and inform? Can they close the deal?
In order for CRM to deliver on its promise, ensure that the data and the human element are fully integrated.
Want more advice on how to get the most out of your CRM system, or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you.
As a business owner, you wear many hats, two of the most important being “manager” and “coach”. What I’ve noticed most business owners have trouble with is differentiating between the two roles, and when exactly to wear each hat.
There is a very clear difference between managing and coaching, and it is important to recognize the distinction in order for your company and employees to achieve success under your leadership. So what is this apparent difference exactly?
In the simplest sense, managing is all about directing. As a manager, you are telling others what needs to be done, how to do it, and when it needs to be completed. You have a specific outcome in mind, and you are directing a group whose purpose is to achieve it.
Coaching, on the other hand, is all about facilitation. Your purpose is to create a relationship with your employees as a guide and mentor, working towards long-term improvement and a number of outcomes.
While a manager and a coach may have the same authority, the way they approach each situation varies greatly. While managing, you’re concerned with the strategy and planning, delegating the tasks to the appropriate people. While coaching, you are present, providing encouragement, support, and making suggestions/revisions along the way.
So at what point do you wear each hat? They’re both effective under different circumstances. When facing stressful deadlines or crisis situations, acting as manager is what’s needed. When you are building your team and focusing on your staff’s development, you are coaching them.
A combination of these two styles is ideal, and by evaluating the task at hand first and the individuals involved second, you can then decide on your management style. Managing an employee who is new or unfamiliar with a task makes sense, while coaching your experienced staff can assist in developing their growth.
In what situations do you find it difficult to distinguish between the leadership styles and which to use? Share your questions or concerns in the comments.
Building strong business relationships seems quite simple, but actually requires a lot of time, effort and tact. The key to building lasting and successful business relationships with your clients is to provide real value to them on an ongoing basis. In other words, you have to help your clients see that there’s more to your relationship than a financial transaction.
Developing and maintaining these connections can be challenging at times, but I’ve found the rewards are well worth it. A personal relationship, whether developed over days, weeks, months, or years, can lead to more connections, positive referrals, increased sales, and a general sense of fulfillment.
The following tips should help you strengthen and build rock-solid business relationships with your clients:
- Treat others the way you want to be treated. This is possibly the most obvious suggestion, and often the most forgotten. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and provide the same level of respect and services that you would expect from someone else.
- Pay attention to body language. People can tell, consciously and subconsciously, how you feel about them. Keeping your arms and legs uncrossed, smiling, and making eye contact are simple ways to keep clients engaged and feeling at ease during meetings. I find the best tactic is to be yourself and not overthink things.
- Honesty is key. Like any other relationship, your business relationship won’t survive if you aren’t honest with each other. Clients are smart and know when they are being manipulated. Being open and honest in all aspects of business is critical, and to cultivate the kind of long-term relationships your business’ success depends on, you should build a reputation with integrity. Keep in mind that meaningful relationships (business or otherwise) take a substantial amount of time to develop and only a moment to destroy. White lies can damage your reputation, so take a genuine interest in the relationship and the rest will take care of itself.
- Be a useful resource. The more value you offer to clients, the more they will depend on you. Provide information clients may find useful, whether or not it benefits you. With that being said, don’t waste their time by sharing irrelevant news and offers you know wouldn’t appeal to them.
- Manage time well and always meet deadlines. Getting work finished well and on time is fundamental to maintaining strong client relationships. When you say you’re going to do something, do it – there should be no questions in your client’s mind that this may not be true. That freedom from worry helps build trust, and clients will stick with you if they can rely on you.
- Think of clients as more than just “clients” – think of them as people! Every client has his or her own likes, dislikes, preferences, issues, concerns and opinions. Your bond with your client will grow the more genuinely interested you are.
- Reward loyal clients. It’s easy to make the mistake of growing complacent with existing relationships and focus efforts on acquiring new clients. Rather than leaving old relationships to get stale, honour clients for their loyalty and business by giving them the treatment they deserve. Whether it is through reward programs, exclusive discounts, charity donations, or tickets to a basketball game, find a way to say “Thank you for your continued and highly valued business.”
- Be more than an email address. Email may be quick, but it’s also impersonal. Try a phone call, Skype chat, or set up an in-person meeting to bond with clients.
- Keep things light. At the end of the day, it’s all about connecting. Make clients feel more comfortable by joking around with them, and if you don’t know their sense of humour just yet, you can always poke fun at yourself to lighten the mood!
Do you have any client relationship building tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your ideas and about your experiences, so share them with me in the comment section!
In the world of business, I’ve noticed that the term “managing” and “coaching” are often mistakenly interchanged, especially in more informal settings between two parties in the workplace. So what is the difference between these two roles, and are we channeling our managing skills when we should be coaching and vice-versa?
When we think of the word coach, we might initially picture a sports coach- energetic, passionate and shouting encouragement from the sidelines. How does this differ from our perception of a manager? Perhaps we associate a manager with a work setting, and an exchange of instructions or expectations between a senior individual and his or her direct report.
While the roles often become blended in the workplace, what are some of the key differences between a manager and a coach?
- Coaching requires relationship development: In order to be an effective coach, a relationship of trust, respect and interest in the others’ success is required between two individuals.
- Managing is directive, coaching is teaching: A coach provides tools and skills to assist the individual achieve the outcome. A coach will allow the individual to make decisions, cultivate their creativity and learn by doing. A manager provides instructions and monitors performance.
- Managing is often task-oriented and individuals perform their tasks to meet specific project outcomes; Coaching is long-term and involves supporting already high-functioning people to achieve both the goals of the project and improve their individual skills
There is nothing inherently better or worse than being more of a manager or a coach, however, you will find that different situations call upon you to apply qualities that are specific to one role or the other and being aware of when it is best to coach or to manage is a skill on its own.
When to manage:
- A crisis or high-stress situation: Managing would be best employed in a situation where a specific outcome needs to be realized and employees or colleagues may require direction instruction and follow-up.
- Individual who is learning a new role and still developing skills: More hands-on management is required for new employees in order for them to understand the workplace culture and a manager’s expectations for performance.
When to coach:
- High functioning work team: High functioning individuals already know the expectations of their roles and are competent performers. They require support and vision from their coach and they are motivated to perform their best because they have the trust of their coach.
- When mistakes can lead to constructive learning: When the situation allows you to take risks, a coach will allow their employees to employ trial-and-error tactics and potentially make mistakes to discover the best way to accomplish something. This ultimately leads to greater learning, understanding and ownership over a project.
- *Most of the time: As a coach, you are encouraging initiative, learning and the development of a personal style, which not only helps you achieve the goals of your company, but fosters motivation and productivity in the workplace.
Can you identify times when you have been a coach or a manager? What other situations require a more managerial approach? I look forward to your thoughts below.