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Deciphering CRM buzzwords that confuse

When discussing all things CRM, you’re bound to come across a few terms that, for all kinds of reasons, might confuse you. It may be that you just don’t use them in your business or maybe, your business is just too small to bother with such technical terms. Well, whatever the reason, it’s always wise to keep yourself informed. So, here’s a list of CRM buzzwords that we’ve “deciphered” for your convenience.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a term that refers to the function of marketing to leads when they contact the business. An alternative term you’ll find in usage is “lead nurturing”, which makes a little more sense than “inbound marketing”.

The goal of inbound marketing is to convert leads by making their interaction with you worthwhile. So, when a prospective customer looks at your advertisement and makes contact, you engage in more marketing by answering their queries and simplifying any process that they might have to follow.

In CRM, inbound marketing involves measuring everything about the lead and educating them about your brand. CRM systems collect demographic and behavioural data throughout the inbound marketing process and offer automation to boost your engagement with the leads.

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Sales Pipeline/Funnel

The terms “sales pipeline” and “sales funnel” are generally used to describe the way customers are guided through the sales journey from their initial position as leads. However, the terms, though used interchangeably, actually have different definitions.

The sales pipeline refers to a system with specific actions that are executed in a sequence. These actions are executed by the sales team or sales professional with the goal of converting a lead into a customer. There are multiple stages in a sales pipeline and the sales professional is responsible for assisting the prospect at each stage.

The sales pipeline basically makes tracking deals easier and measure their distribution with regards to achieving the final sales target.

A sales pipeline report is published to highlight the value and quantity of every deal at each stage in the pipeline. Now, the exact structure of a sales pipeline may vary from organization to organization, but these are the general stages.

  1. The qualification stage, where the sales professional determines if the prospect has a need to purchase the product or service.
  2. The meeting stage, where the sales professional and the prospect actually discuss options.
  3. The proposal stage, where the prospect is offered the best deal possible based on his/her requirements and conditions.
  4. The closing, where the agreement to purchase is made.

The sales funnel, on the other hand, offers a visual representation of the conversion rate at each stage within the sales pipeline. The term “funnel” is used because it literally represents the process of leads being turned into customers i.e. they enter at the top (wide number of leads) and get narrowed down as they approach the bottom (actual conversions).

To cut a long story short, sales pipelines focus on what customers do at each stage of the pipeline while the sales funnel highlights the conversion rates throughout the process.

Customer Lifecycle

This term refers to the journey that starts with the prospect being a lead, then, a customer, and eventually, an advocate of your brand.

Now, this never happens in a linear manner, as prospects will express different levels of interest at each stage. However, the idea is to track where exactly the prospect is positioned in the lifecycle and respond with appropriate strategies to push them forward.

CRM solutions measure the customer lifecycle by offering information such as the duration of time spent at each stage in the lifecycle. This data can help businesses offer personalized solutions to move the customer further towards purchase and advocacy.

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