My brother owns a small photography equipment business with thirty employees in Northern India. When he realized that I work in some company related to marketing and sales (leadsquared) he approached me asking if i could help him. He said i has 7 salespeople, 1 person who handles online marketing and website and rest were in manufacturing. Like everybody else, he wanted to increase the sales with that limited staff and the main challenges he faces are :

  • He want to get more leads online
  • He wants to know which leads are good
  • He has no measure what sales people are doing.
  • He doesn’t know why the leads don’t buy
  • He doesn’t know how to get old leads to come in picture again.
  • He can not forecast this quarter sales.

Till now, they are working with excel sheets and it works ok. He clearly knew what he wants but he didn’t know he wants a CRM and I don’t blame him. because the term itself is confusing because it does so many other things than managing customer relationships. But, it wasn’t invented to do multiple things, considering the modern-day business challenges it evolved to do so many things that the definition is changing constantly. I think the term is so complex because people use it so differently and i think it has a lot to do with the history of crm. Let’s take a quick look.

timeline

Now it is evident that CRM is not just to manage customer relationships. In today’s world the key features it should have is

Small business Problem #1) Lack of Resources

Lead or Contact Management

As you can see from the history, CRM was invented for lead management. Lead management means keeping track of leads at one place and tracking them throughout the sales cycle.

What is the difference between a lead and a contact

A lead is a business opportunity, most likely the first stage of the sales funnel, which can be qualified by sales or marketing to be considered as a contact. A contact is the qualified lead which is your point of contact for a company or a business opportunity.

We are going to term lead management from now on:

To define the best crm for small business, I want to ask you what the best food for me.

The biggest problem small business face is the lack of resources (time, money and staff), the best crm would be the one which still helps you win and retain customers with the limited resources by

  • Easy to operate to compensate for lack of time. Less training time
  • Cost effective to compensate for lack of money
  • Supports multi functionality to compensate for lack of staff

Many higher education institutions’ yield rates—the percentage of admitted students who enroll—are steadily declining. According to US News & World Report, the average yield rate among national universities is 32%–a full percentage drop since fall 2015. National liberal arts colleges are even lower at around 26.6 percent, also down nearly one percent.

This is disheartening to say the least, especially when schools work hard to reel in qualified students, only to be declined. In fact, almost 80% of schools accept at least half of their applicants, meaning the issue clearly isn’t who is applying—it’s who is checking “yes” on their offer letters.

What can higher education institutions do to increase the number of students accepting their offers? And, if schools are indeed attracting worthwhile applicants, how can they set themselves apart from their competition?

A well-articulated value proposition could be the answer. A value proposition, as defined by Investopedia, is a “marketing statement that summarizes why a consumer should buy a product or use a service.” It communicates how a school can meet students’ needs—and why that school is unlike any other.

That’s why personalization is so important. Students have distinctive needs, interests and backgrounds, meaning different groups will respond to messages in different ways. A well-positioned, and strategically communicated, value proposition helps explain why a school is right for various types of students.

Personalization

…hence having a solid marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) software. A well-designed CRM helps staff adjust and communicate their value propositions to different student segments. This personalized approach also helps to strategically position a school’s brand, which tells the world what they stand for and value—and what sets them apart.

Like any marketing initiative, the secret lies in understanding one’s audience. Before the value prop can be personalized, staff must understand who they’re personalizing it for. CRM helps higher education staff do so by collecting data, like a lead’s geographic location, test scores and program of interest, and organizing and analyzing it.

“Having student data easily accessible allows admission teams to have a much more informed conversation with applicants,” says Jason Garner, a graduate admissions director at American University in Washington, DC.

 

Then, through features like smart list segmentation, staff can position their value proposition (and brand messaging) based on various groups. The feature segregates leads based on different variables so staff can create audience-specific e-mail lists.

“This type of technology helps admission officers be actionable with applicants’ needs,” Garner says.

This approach applies to messaging across the board. By understanding one’s audience, staff can easily adjust language across other platforms like landing pages, auto-response messages and staff-to-prospect conversations. The last is perhaps the most important, as today’s students prioritize one-on-one communication the most.

A personalized value proposition and a strategically positioned brand—both achievable through CRM software—isn’t the only solution to declining yield rates, but it is strong one. By adjusting messaging to one’s audience, schools can combat today’s average 32% rate. And, in the process, they’ll also show what differentiates them, gaining a competitive advantage that will turn “accept” into “deposit.”

Higher education is growing more and more competitive. The proliferation of schools is part of it, with the number of institutions increasing nearly 30% between 1980 and 2015. Students now have more choices than ever; and, with the creation of tools like the Common App, they can apply more easily, too.

 

Not surprisingly, applications are on the rise as well—especially at top schools like Harvard. This year, a record 42,742 students applied to Harvard College, an increase of 8.2 percent from 2017. Selectivity is also most acute at top universities, with only 5 percent of students attending schools considered “highly” or “most” competitive, according to this Pell Institute report.

 

Not every school has Harvard’s reputation, though—or their applicant pool. What can schools do to gain the attention of high-quality applicants? And, with so many to choose from, what can  higher ed institutions do to differentiate themselves?

 

A well-written—and strategically communicated—value proposition is part of the solution. Described as a “statement explaining what benefit you provide for whom,” a school’s value proposition is an expression of why they’re special, and what sets them apart. And it’s best communicated repeatedly over time, according to author Jeffry Pilcher, who notes that a brand’s “effective frequency” can be up to twenty exposures.

 

“Not only do consumers remember a statement that gets repeated, they are more likely to believe it,” Pilcher writes.

 

This is where marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) software comes in. The technology allows admissions staff to communicate consistently, and in a proper cadence, with leads through features like drip marketing and landing page form auto-responders. Schools can then consistently disseminate their value proposition—a key action in differentiating themselves.

 

“There is one thing everyone generally agrees on: messages are more effective when repeated,” states Pilcher.

 

Marketing automation also helps staff communicate with leads at the most opportune time. In drip campaigns, the software responds to a prospect’s behavior—like opening an e-mail or clicking on a specific link—by sending a pre-formed response. This means prospects receive immediate contact based on an activity, and, if strategically written, an interest-tailored response.

How to Attract the High-Quality Applicants You Want

This is especially important because value isn’t the same for everyone. Prospective students prioritize different aspects of a school, meaning a value proposition is most effective when positioned based on one’s audience. In essence, a school is most successful when it clearly articulates its value proposition and prospective students identify with it. This is no different than any consumer marketing approach, such as selling cars, clothing or food.

 

“Different types of applicants will absolutely respond to different types of messages,” says Katya Popova, a strategic communications director at American University in Washington, DC. “[Marketing automation] allows us to be clever about how we’re generating demand for our programs.”

 

The software’s smart list segmentation feature allows admissions to do so. Staff can segregate leads based on variables like demographic profile and interest, creating different, audience-specific email lists. They can then tweak their value propositions according to each lists’ profile.

How to Attract the High-Quality Applicants You Want

 

“We can speak to possible constituents in a way that resonates with them,” explains Popova.

 

…Which means school has a much better chance at attracting the high-quality applicants they want.

 

Consistently repeated communication of the value proposition, timely message delivery and strategically honed content—all features of modern marketing automation and CRM software—can help schools draw in the students they want. There’s still only one Harvard, yes, but, with a strong CRM and well-written value prop, higher education institutions can better compete in the marketplace—and perhaps attract their own number of record-breaking applicants.