Small business CRM has evolved since 2012. So much so that the barriers preventing owners to adopt a solution have all but gone. Typically, small business owners have been concerned over the technical implications around CRM as well as presuming it is something for ‘bigger companies’.
In today’s world small business CRM is very much a reality helping business owners improve customer relations and increase revenues. We are seeing lower fees associated to using CRM and more intuitive, friendly, interfaces that make using CRM one of the more easy tools on the market.
Small business CRM has become so simple and affordable, this quote from CRM Trends rings true:
The question is not whether to CRM or not to CRM. The question is how to do it effectively? ~ CRM Trends
What IS Small Business CRM?
First, we should clarify that many enterprise solutions, like Salesforce.com, offer affordable solutions for small businesses. The
principals behind CRM are the same as IT. Think about Windows and Microsoft Office, you’re probably using that or a similar solution right? They offer packages based on the size of company and it’s needs, the same applies to CRM.
So, what is CRM?
Customer Relationship Management solutions have been around for a long time. (What’s important is CRM’s evolution, more on that later.) They also do exactly ‘what they say on the tin’, that is to enable you to manage customer relationships effectively through their entire life cycle.
This makes CRM more than a database.
This makes CRM more than a contact management system.
This means CRM is an asset that helps users control their customer information.
- A solution – Typically cloud based, meaning there are no ‘big’, complicated, downloads and all your information is secure. In the industry, CRM is oftentimes recognized as the solution that pioneered the term, Software as a Service (SaaS).
- A philosophy – Even though CRM is a solution its use is more often related to the the principles, practices and guidelines that an organization follows when interacting with its customers.
- A strategy – When leveraged as a strategy CRM empowers users to understand their customers, gain a 360 degree view of their activity as well as plan and implement effective sales and marketing.
As far as sales, marketing and business management tools/software go, CRM is the only solution many businesses need. So, is it for you?
“Is My Small Business Ready For CRM?”
This is a question we get asked a lot. Fair enough!
Does your business interact with prospects and/or customers at any point during the sales process?As we mentioned at the beginning, CRM is still thought of as ‘expensive’, complicated and for large companies. Even though this is far from true today, answer these questions:
- Do you currently generate leads from multiple sources? (For example; networking, events, campaigns, sales calls, referrals and more?)
- Are your customers from more than one industry and/or geography?
- Does your business currently have, or would like, a database storing contacts (prospects, vendors, customers, partners etc.) information?
- Would your sales and marketing benefit from knowing more about who your prospects/customers are, how effective your past and current activity is and having relevant information available at your finger tips?
- Is your business run on processes? Or, would you like it to be more process driven?
- Do you ever feel ‘overwhelmed’ when it comes to remembering when to interact with contacts?
- Do you have other tools/systems/software that you use for email, project management and more?
- Would you like to increase sales, decrease time to revenue, improve productivity and have a platform for managing everything?
If you answered ‘yes’ to more than a couple of these questions, then you are ready for CRM.
We know the last question may come across as a ‘sales pitch’ for CRM, but you get the point. 🙂
The fact is, that most of the people and businesses we interact with have their contact information across multiple platforms, struggle to stay on top of their customer interactions and don’t have the necessary information to plan/execute effective sales and marketing activities.
This can be changed, by using CRM.
How Can CRM Help Your Small Business?
The evolution of CRM means your business is the main beneficiary from all the testing developers and earlier adopters have done over the years. As a solution, CRM has progressed from a ‘fancy database’ to a powerful sales and marketing machine.
The previous section may have given you an indication of how CRM can benefit a small business. When leveraged as it is meant to be, CRM can help in many ways. Here are some of the key benefits:
- Customization – Some CRM solutions, like Salesforce.com and Zoho, enable you to customize just about anything you want so you can see the information important to you and your business.
- File Storage – If can store any documents you like in a central location or attach it to a customer/contact. This is great for proposals, invoices, projects and more.
- Data storage – Adopters can securely store their customer and contact information as well as gain access to important information as and when needed.
- Proactive Task Management – One of the reasons CRM should be logged into constantly, is because of the reminders, alerts and functions around Task Management. No more post it notes all over your desk to remind you when to call a prospect, send an invoice or keep in touch with a partner! This feature alone will boost your productivity and have a positive impact on your sales.
- Proactive Relationship Building – Through social media integration and more, you can see who you have and haven’t communicated with over a period of time and start the conversation, seamlessly.
- Revenue Forecasts – With customized opportunities/proposals you can gain visibility on your pipeline, determine what needs to be done to win the deal and see forecasts of your projects sales.
- Dashboards – Want a ‘snapshot’ of how you’re performing in key areas of your customer interactions? No problem. This is powerful at a business level and if you have sales staff.
- Trackable Information – CRM empowers users to be able to track information. If you want to know the return of investment from a campaign or expense (for example, membership to a networking organization), know what activity is generating results or something else, you can. This helps with planning sales and marketing, prioritizing time and effort as well as helping you increase the bottom line.
- 360 Degree Customer View – CRM uniquely gives you a complete understanding of your customers from prospect to client and beyond. You can see all your history easily and manage customer service ‘cases’ and projects.
- Visible Information – Everything is searchable and easily found.
- Mobile Access – Through a mobile device or taking advantage of the cloud based offering on the web, you can access your CRM anywhere.
- Integrating Your World – Running a business today requires several tools. Most of the time, other software and solutions (for example, email) can be integrated with your CRM meaning less administration time.
There you have it!