There was a time when the common law of business was to always focus on product. The key was that if you have a good product, people will buy it. Now many businesses have taken a new approach called Customer Relationship Management, or CRM.
CRM is much more than a software program. The principle behind CRM is that you focus on the customer, and if you produce a product they want while giving them the service they want, at a reasonable cost, they'll buy from you everytime.
Let's face it, without customers, you don't have a business - it's that simple. You could have a revolutionary and high quality product at a great price, but if it's not something people need, or you treat customers poorly, you're not going to be successful. But that's not all. If you focus entirely on your customers needs, and ignore your own, you could easily run your company into the ground. You can't run a business without meeting your own needs, but you also can't succeed without meeting the needs of your customers. That's what customer relationship management is all about - managing your needs with the needs of the customers.
In order to satisfy the needs of the customers, you first have to actually have customers. That's another way CRM is important. It helps you identify your potential customers and what they want and need from a company. If you know what they want, you can not only provide the right goods and services, you can also target your marketing campaigns to highlight what you have that you know people are looking for.
It's not only important to find customers, you also need to make them happy so they keep coming back. Happy customers also refer their friends. This is why you need to know what your customer's needs are so you can satisfy them. CRM focuses on continuing customer relationships long after the purchase.
This sound like a good idea to you, but do you know how to get started? Applying the principles of CRM to your business is simple and can be done gradually so you don't have to do a total overhaul.
Getting started is as simple as talking to your customers. Are you working on putting out a new product? Then find people you think would be the most likely target for your product and ask them. It might be by going to a popular chat room or message board on the topic and asking people what they want, or putting a quick survey on a related page you manage. If you have a blog, open the floor up for discussion.
The most important thing to do once you have all these ideas and opinions is to use them. Sure, you're never going to be able to please everyone, but you can try to make the majority of the people happy. And satisfying the rest of the people is just a goal for the future.
Once you have customers and are tailoring your services to them, you can move on to the second important part of CRM: maintaining relationships. This may include sending your customers a short follow-up survey, offering them more products, or simply sending them update emails and posting on your blog. It's important to remain friendly and open to their ideas and needs.
If you've learned to be product or sales driven, it may take some adjusting to get started with the CRM principles, but you will quickly find that making your customers happy is not only profitable, it's also leaves you feeling accomplished and satisfied.