CRM is Going Mobile and Gaining
Insights for Food & Beverage
By Matt Keenan, Senior Vice President of CRM, Aptean
The food and beverage industry in the U.S. is expecting an average 14 percent sales increase and an
average profit increase of 10 percent
through 2018, according to industry
As in previous years, sales growth
is fueled by new customers, improved
sales performance and new products.
Market trends can change rapidly, and the tastes of consumers
can be difficult to predict. To stay ahead of the game, companies
need to adapt to trends and changes with great speed and agility.
One of the tools that leading companies have adopted to add
agility is Customer Relationships Management (CRM) software.
These CRM solutions have been designed to store data in a
central, accessible repository — helping to reduce the amount
of time it takes to win business, improve marketing efforts and
create stronger, more data-driven relationships, closely connecting
food and beverage companies with their customers.
In a hyper-connected world, CRM is acquiring new features,
with two trends standing out in particular: CRM is going mobile,
and CRM is turning social. Both of these trends are likely to make
CRM solutions even more attractive to the food and beverage
Mobile features allow users to access their CRM from
anywhere, on any device. This connected workforce means
account managers are readily available to prospects and
customers, as well as to management and support teams.
In years past, sales representatives often had to get back to
customers or prospects about questions they were asked; now
a few clicks can be sufficient to access key product features,
pricing information or product availability. Additionally, possessing
actionable insight into the customer’s purchasing history can drive
conversations toward potential cross-sell or up-sell opportunities.
Modern mobile solutions can easily and quickly register and
track actions taken during a meeting, providing valuable data for
follow-ups or an analysis of what has or hasn’t worked.
Real-time analytics embedded within mobile CRM solutions
can be used to improve marketing strategies, making campaigns
much more targeted, and messages fine-tuned. Push and in-app
notifications are possible, which brings important information
to the user’s attention without the added step of opening the
program. Dashboards present the right information in the most
useful way. Account managers can view their pipeline by lead
status or opportunity stage, while executives can check the pulse
of the organization based on performance against plan. If location
tracking is enabled, real efficiencies for the user can be gained by
mapping optimal routes to customer and prospect locations.
Recent years have seen a blurring of the lines between
personal and professional personas, and social networks have
accelerated this trend. The deep integration of CRM solutions with
social media is opening new possibilities to determine important
relationships, find new contacts and identify buying signals. Big
data gleaned from social media services, online activity and
information from customers with similar backgrounds provides a
treasure trove of additional facts that can improve the customer
experience. This information creates a richer overall profile with
data regarding preferences, interests and affiliations. These
enhanced profiles enable deeper levels of customer segmentation,
which opens ways for much more personalized interactions.
One of the newest, most exciting features of social CRM
is demographic profiling and prediction. Similar to consumer
websites that showcase “customers who bought this have
also looked at that” features, profiling and prediction functions
open up new possibilities for CRM users by prioritizing lead and
opportunities based on successes from similar customers.
The combination of mobile and insight features will provide
users with CRM solutions that are not just a tool or software
program, but work much more like a mentor or coach. In the
recent past, the user-friendliness of CRM solutions has been
perceived as inferior when compared to the technologies of
everyday consumer life, such as apps on smart phones. With
mobile and insight features coming into their own, this perception
is changing rapidly. As they become more and more intuitive, CRM
solutions will become more adopted and integrated in unforeseen
ways. As a result, companies will be able to make much more
proactive and impactful business decisions.
By utilizing the data collected by modern CRM solutions,
companies are likely to become much faster and more flexible
when they are adapting to changing customer needs and
behaviors. This will help food and beverage companies to place
themselves in the best possible position to face the challenges of
the industry — and continue to thrive.