Customer Relationship Management: how a CRM system can be used in the sales process

The conditions for doing business are rapidly changing. Consumptions patterns are different, there are new technologies for distributing and collecting information, and the competition on the market is increasing domestically as well as globally. In order for companies to survive and grow they must find new ways of thinking, which has led to that new approaches has emerged in marketing research. First, Relationship Marketing appeared and now Customer Relationship Management, CRM, is in the center of interest. CRM highlights the importance of using Information Technology in creating, maintaining and enhancing customer relationships. However, there is a need to develop a better understanding of CRM and of how companies can use IT, a CRM system. Thereby, the purpose of this study is to describe CRM and the realization of CRM in companies by using a CRM system. The research in this study can be considered as both exploratory and descriptive, but mainly explorative. Three case studies has been conducted, where both secondary and primary data were used. The analysis is based on the empirical findings, as well as on the theoretical frame work for this study.

The analysis show that the goal with CRM is to maximize company profits by maximizing the value of interaction with the customers. In order to do this, companies need a business strategy that focuses on the customers and that generates a process-oriented view of the organization. The business processes needs to be supported by a CRM system, comprising CRM functionality, that makes it possible to create a single view of the customer as well as of the company. The CRM system also facilitates collection and analysis of customer data, which results in more effectively managed customer interactions. The analysis also show that the stage in the CRM development process affects a company’s view on CRM.

Furthermore, the analysis show that companies have a need for CRM functionality to support the Marketing, Sales, Order, Production, and Service Process. CRM functionality can be divided into three main categories, which are Marketing Automation, Sales Force Automation, and Customer Service & Support. Where each category comprises a number of different functional groups. The fact that companies are operating within the service or production industry doesn’t seem to imply that the need for CRM functionality differ noticeably. However, there are several other aspects that seem to have an influence on the needs, such as the stage in the CRM development process, and the process-orientation of the organizations.

In order to describe how companies can use a CRM system, this thesis includes a description of how CRM functionality can be used at different steps in the sales process. Certain functionality is generally applicable and can be used at many different steps in the sales process, while some functions can be connected to a specific step. The analysis show that the functionality included in the three main functional categories are used in all phases in the sales process. For example. Customer Service & Support functionality isn’t only needed for service activities, the results from measuring customer satisfaction can also be useful when deciding who to target in a campaign. Consequently, the connection between CRM functionality and the sales process gives a complete view on how a CRM system can be used.

Author: Persson, Petra

Source: Lulea University of Technology

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