The Benefits of Relationship Management Software
Want to better manage the relationships inside or outside of your organization? Researching different options for...
Want to better manage the relationships inside or outside of your organization? Researching different options for relationship management software and feeling a little overwhelmed by the many different features on offer?
Before you get too deep into your options, it’s a good idea to start with your why. Figure out what the potential benefits of a relationship management app might be for your organization. This will help you figure out what software might best suit your needs —- and prepare you for the weeks and months to come as you undergo demos, trials, and onboarding.
We’ve put together a list of many (but not necessarily all!) the benefits that might come from using a relationship management app.
What is Relationship Management Software?
Firstly: what do we mean by relationship management software?
There are a number of products on the market that are designed to manage relationships. Perhaps the most well-known category is CRMs (Customer Relationship Managers) that are designed to support the sales process. There’s also relationship managers for specific types of relationships, such as constituent relationship management, employee relations, donor relationship management, and supplier relationship management software.
However, our Simply Stakeholders relationship management app is much broader than these tools because it allows you to track and manage any kind of stakeholder or business relationship — inside and outside of your organization. And instead of being designed around a linear process, it’s set up to support long-term relationship building, across multiple projects and teams.
10 Reasons to Invest in Relationship Management Software
If you’re considering making the move to a relationship management application like ours, you might be wondering… what are the benefits over a generic CRM? Or even… why should you move your relationship tracking away from an Excel spreadsheet?
Based on our experience working in this space for more than a decade — plus many conversations with businesses all over the world — we’ve assembled some of the reasons why you might prefer a purpose-built relationship management app over the alternatives.
1. Manage More Than Just Customers
The first and most obvious reason to shift from a CRM to a business relationship management tool is that you probably need to manage more than just your customer relationships. In fact, most companies need to manage a variety of relationships in order to run their business and move forward with projects. You might need to engage with landowners, residents, clients, suppliers, freighters, wholesalers, factories, primary producers, governments, industry groups, and various community groups. Customer relationships matter, of course, but in order to serve your customers, it’s a good idea to broaden your reach to other stakeholder groups, too.
But perhaps you don’t have customers or a CRM, but some other kind of software system. Perhaps you’ve been engaging with a specific stakeholder using a specialised system (like donor management software). And maybe like The Nature Conservancy Long Island, you’re keen to expand your reach and build relationships with a wider variety of individuals and groups. A system that can handle all types of stakeholder relationships will help to support this goal.
2. Track Complex Relationships
A CRM system is mainly set up to track one kind of relationship through a very linear process. But many companies have multiple types of relationships they need to track — often across multiple projects and multiple teams. There’s more dimensions to these relationships than what a CRM can track. If your relationships are more complex than an Excel spreadsheet or CRM can handle, you’ll need a relationship management tool that can track them.
3. Centralize Relationship Data
In a lot of larger organizations especially, relationships with stakeholders, customers, collaborators, and employees aren’t just one-to-one, but many-to-many. For instance, you may need to be able to track multiple relationships within your partner organizations, along with the various internal team members (finance, legal, executives, etc.) that interact with those individuals in different ways. Unless you have someone leading all those relationships and participating in every conversation, the information will quickly become siloed across multiple contact points.
Ideally, you’d track these multi-layered relationships and centralize your relationship data so that you can make the information available to others. And you can only really do that using an advanced relationship management app like Simply Stakeholders.
Learn more about How to Get More Value From Your Consultation Data.
4. Analyze the Health of a Project or Organization
Of course, it’s not just important to track your business relationships — it’s also worth looking at the health of your relationships and (by extension) the health of your project or organization.
Some ways to discover these insights through your relationship management software might be:
- Reviewing your existing relationships for any strengths, weaknesses, and gaps
- Reviewing the number and type of connections between people
- Checking the last response and point of contact with an individual
- Checking whether key people have built relationships with multiple points of contact within your organization — and whether you have connections with multiple points of contact in external organizations (a good redundancy measure)
- Analyzing sentiment to determine how various individuals feel towards your project or organization
- Seeing how your existing relationships are distributed in terms of their level of impact, interest, and influence
5. Scale Up Personalization Capabilities
Personalization is nearly always a good thing for building relationships. In marketing communication, consumers feel more positively towards an interactive, personalized approach over one-way communication, just as they tend to prefer more personalized relationships.
Big data is a key enabler for personalized relationship management on a large scale — as long as that data is appropriately structured. Relationship management software gives businesses a way to capture that data and structure it. For instance, depending on what is relevant to building and managing your relationships, you might record:
- The various people who your organization is connected to
- Contact info
- Who they’ve spoken to within your organization
- Any other relevant relationships connected to that individual
- Any meetings/conversations/communications (and what was said)
- What projects they’re involved in
- Level of impact, interest, or influence
- Their location
- Demographic info
- Communication preferences
By capturing this data, you can provide full context, history, and visibility into your relationships, ensuring the information is accessible to any other staff that may interact with these individuals. This can enable staff to personalize the topic and tone for each interaction, which can also improve your stakeholder experience because people won’t have to repeat themselves over and over again.
6. Get Valuable Insights From Relationship Data
Let’s say you’ve got some people that you need to manage or engage with, whether it’s a department, organization, nonprofit, supplier, major customer, landowner, or someone else. If you can’t collect or structure all the information associated with engaging with or managing these people, it can be hard to properly report and reflect on that engagement, extract full value from the relationship data, and then engage with stakeholders in a way that really meets their needs.
Simply Stakeholders makes it possible to tap into various analytics about the contacts and relationships within the system — and generate reports on them. It structures your relationship data in a way that’s simply not possible inside a spreadsheet or CRM.
7. Segment and Prioritize Your Relationships
Most CRMs do offer segmentation capabilities. In other words, you can sort your contacts into groups. However, relationship management software differs in how you can segment those contacts because it offers more advanced relationship data and ways to structure that data.
For instance, you might create a segment for people who:
- Are located within a certain radius of your project
- Also expressed negative sentiment towards that project
- Have an established relationship with other stakeholders
This is just one example of how granular you can get with segmentation when you have a lot of relationship data. And that segmentation can make it easier to quickly establish priorities for who you should engage with early in the project — or check in at regular intervals to see what relationships may need to be more closely managed.
We cover this in more detail in our blogs on The Importance of Stakeholders: Identifying and Prioritizing Stakeholder Engagement and How Do I Identify Key Stakeholders?.
8. Gain Visibility Into Your Total Database
In big companies with multiple divisions and departments, there’s a lot of relationship building activity going on all the time that you likely won’t hear about. If you’re not aware that one of your colleagues has already met with or been in contact with an entity or service provider, your actions or communications might fall short of expectations. Perhaps you repeat the same message as your colleague or worse… contradict them. In either case, you risk annoying the person on the other end, wasting both your time, and permanently damaging their relationship with your organization.
Visibility into your total database of contacts is critical to prevent these problems from occurring. And ideally, you want visibility into everything that might be relevant to the relationship.
9. Develop Stronger, Deeper Relationships
Strong relationships can have a substantial impact on your organization or project. To illustrate this, a study of logistics providers found that both interpersonal and inter-organizational relationships and trust were linked to economic benefits that would otherwise be difficult or costly to achieve.
Relationship management tools make it possible to retain and access details about your connections so that you can strategically build better, longer-term relationships. And those relationships can be key to driving all sorts of outcomes and goals.
10. Work as a Team
Finally, the right tool will allow you to manage your relationships as a team. Not only will you be able to assign roles and ensure visibility across your relationships, but tools like Simply Stakeholders come with other built-in collaborative features. For instance, you can assign actions and tasks to individuals and manage the relationships associated with specific projects. And of course, with that shared visibility into all your relevant data, handing over relationship management if a team member is unavailable or moves roles is as simple as ensuring they have access to your relationship management tool.
Ready to Upgrade Your Relationship Management Solution?
If you’re missing out on any of the above benefits with your current relationship management systems and you’re ready for an upgrade, we’d love to help.
Simply Stakeholders is a powerful relationship management app with capabilities in tracking, managing, analyzing, segmenting, and mapping all types of relationships — as well as collaboration, reporting, tagging, email integration, and many other useful features.
To get the process started, reach out to our team to request a demo or find out more about how our product might be able to support your team to build, track, analyze, and manage relationships inside or outside of your organization.
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