CRM vs. CMS: Which does your business need?

CRM or CMS? With those shared Cs and Ms, you’d think CRM and CMS would be more similar. In reality, the similarities between the two end with those two letters.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Content Management Systems (CMS) serve two different purposes in the business software landscape: CRM is all about managing customers and clients, and CMS is about managing your website.

Most businesses start with a CMS, especially those that need an online portal to showcase or sell their product or service. If your business has a website, you’re already using a CMS (think WordPress).

A CRM will come later in the process, as you build your client base and need to keep better track of your sales pipeline and your customer interactions (think Salesforce). A CRM is especially useful for B2B businesses that need to record lots of client interactions and to follow up on leads.

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Monitoring employee conversations: Drawing the line between privacy and protection

Monitoring employee conversations: Drawing the line between privacy and protection

Update: This piece was updated 04/10/2019 to reflect recent survey results.

Back in 2015, we ran a survey to get business owner opinions about monitoring employee conversations on internal communication tools. The results came back with a “less is more” attitude: 38% of respondents said they do not monitor employee conversations on internal chat tools, believing it to be an invasion of privacy.

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3 steps to turn your CRM into a centralized customer database

3 steps to turn your CRM into a centralized customer database

If you think you’ve got your customers packaged up neatly in one place, think again: A recent study from Forbes shows that only 34 percent of executives feel like they have a single view of their customer.

Disparate data sources spread across departments are causing a fragmented view of the customer. When data from customer service, marketing, and CRM software is siloed, no one really gets an accurate or complete picture of who their customers are. Leads turn cold, and customers vanish into thin air.

The only way to get a holistic view of the customer is by creating a centralized customer database that has a strong architecture and pulls data from other sources. As the default home of customer data, your CRM is a great place to start. There are such things as dedicated customer database platforms, but if you’re just starting out, a CRM is your most accessible entry point.

Making your CRM the central hub of your customer data will give you a holistic picture of customers and will increase your customers’ lifetime value by providing more useful information to be able to target customers more accurately.

Here’s how to find your real target customers by creating a customer data hub.
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Built on sand: 3 risks of skimping on your CRM architecture

Built on sand: 3 risks of skimping on your CRM architecture

A CRM is worthless without data—it’s the basis of a business’s knowledge about its customers, its ability to make accurate sales forecasts, and its justification for driving organizational change.

Consequently, poorly kept data can pose real risks to a business, costing up to 30 percent of its revenue.

The key to avoiding the risks of bad-quality data is a strong CRM architecture. As the storage house for customer data, CRM software needs an architecture that prioritizes organized data collection and storage. Without it, a business risks hurting its bottom line.

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The 3 AI use cases you can implement across departments

The 3 AI use cases you can implement across departments

You’ve heard that AI is transforming businesses, providing millions of dollars in growth opportunities while streamlining processes and automating tasks. Jackpot! But you can’t win big if you don’t know how to play. You won’t see any benefits from AI if you don’t know how to use it.

According to research from Gartner (available to clients), small businesses face the challenge of identifying the right AI use cases. Marketing, sales, and customer service are all seeing the benefit of technologies that leverage artificial intelligence to better connect with customers. But who gets first dibs? How do you choose which department should adopt AI before the others?

Maybe you don’t have to.

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Small business data security: 50 percent of SMBs still don’t know what GDPR is

Small business data security: 50 percent of SMBs still don’t know what GDPR is

Note: This article is intended to inform our readers about the current data privacy and security challenges experienced by companies in the global marketplace. It is in no way intended to provide legal advice or to endorse a specific course of action. For advice on your specific situation, consult your legal counsel.

Data hacks and cyberattacks were big news in 2018. Facebook, Best Buy, Delta, Kmart and Under Armour are just a few examples of companies that left millions of users and their data exposed to cybercriminals over the past year.

These corporate giants survived, but the recovery process was long and costly. Small businesses, which account for 58 percent of targeted cyber attacks, aren’t always as lucky. Smaller IT teams and less PR power mean that a single data breach spells the end for 60 percent of SMBs.

Given this sobering statistic, we wanted to see how seriously small businesses are taking their data security. We ran a survey with 190 small business respondents to find out.

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Data, AI, and sales enablement: CRM predictions for 2019

Data, AI, and sales enablement: CRM predictions for 2019

What should you expect from customer relationship management in 2019? As another year rolls around, small businesses continue to look for new opportunities to maximize profit and productivity while minimizing spend. Now more than ever, technology will play a crucial role in being able to achieve that.

According to our research, 63 percent of small businesses see productivity improvements as one of the top three factors for triggering investment in new technologies. According to 50 percent of respondents, however, one of the top three challenges is identifying the right technologies to invest in.

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Emerging technologies in small business CRM: Turn data into foresight with predictive analytics

Emerging technologies in small business CRM: Turn data into foresight with predictive analytics

Data is the currency of choice for companies looking to cash in on customers. In a world of start-ups and seed funds, being cash poor matters less when you’re data rich. Data is the basis for the effective use of machine-learning, AI, and one of this year’s hottest trends in customer relationship management—predictive analytics.

From pricing to forecasting to lead management, predictive analytics uses technologies that leverage customer data to be able to make smarter predictions about business outcomes.

Yet, knowing how to effectively translate data into actionable insights is challenging for companies with little to no experience in data analysis.

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The 4 sales tasks that AI will take off your plate in 2019

The 4 sales tasks that AI will take off your plate in 2019

AI is making a big impact on how sales teams function. It won’t replace your sales manager, but the use of artificial intelligence in sales can automate some of the menial tasks involved in successfully closing a deal. Eliminate data entry? Check. Source leads? Check. Spend less time crafting an email? Check.

The problem is that small businesses struggle with incorporating AI into their sales processes on a tight budget. Knowing which software to invest in—and what gives the biggest ROI—is daunting for small businesses that don’t know enough about AI to comfortably navigate the landscape.

The easiest way to get started is by using sales tools with built-in AI capabilities. Many CRMs and sales software tools have incorporated AI and machine learning into their offerings, allowing for an accessible introduction for small businesses looking to use artificial intelligence in their sales processes.

And it’s wise to get started sooner rather than later.

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The 3 roles that AI won’t replace in your business

The 3 roles that AI won’t replace in your business

Talk of an AI-automated workforce is making people nervous. With predictions nearing 50 percent of the entire US workforce being replaced by some form of automation, AI is a glaring threat for employees unsure of the capability of this burgeoning technology to replace them.

Last year, HubSpot published an article outlining the jobs that were most and least likely to be replaced by AI. Based on a landmark study out of Oxford University, it analyzed the likelihood of AI replacing jobs depending on their level of repetitiveness and the amount of specialized training and social intelligence they required.

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