For a small business in these cash-strapped times, a customer relationship management (CRM) system may seem unnecessary but it can actually save you money in the long term. A good CRM integrates your entire business in one place providing the data you need to make informed decisions. Among other things this valuable tool will let you:
- Track and measure your entire sales pipeline.
- Gauge how effective your marketing campaigns have been.
- Spot the sales leads definitely interested in your product.
- Identify where most enquiries originate.
- Develop a more personal customer relationship.
- Help you to organise your workload more effectively.
- Prompt you to make regular contact with your clients and prospects.
- Help you to produce forecasts and predictions.
- Save time by having all your data in one place.
- Assist collating targeted data for your marketing campaigns.
Does my business need a CRM?
If your customer information is in lots of different places or if your sales spreadsheets and other data are inaccurate because they are not updated on time, you will benefit from having a CRM. Perhaps staff are calling the same customer several times because they don’t have a record of previous conversations. Or you may want to develop your business but don’t know what changes will be most beneficial because you don’t have the right analytics.
For the small business that has ambition, making use of a good CRM can streamline and automate a number of important aspects of your relationship with customers and staff.
For instance, it can help keep track of customer communication so you don’t have to go searching through all those e-mails to find out why someone has a problem. It can follow what your sales force is doing – who were your top performers last week? How many deals did they make? And who were the worst?
A CRM can generate metrics on nearly every aspect of your business such as sales reports, customer satisfaction surveys, even stock availability. It allows you to keep track of important tasks and events. For example, during a marketing campaign, it will combine your approach over several media and show how successful this has been. A web-based CRM will also allow you to log on anywhere, so if you are with a customer you can bring up their details on your phone or laptop.
What to look for in a CRM
The main objection small businesses have is that CRMs are over complicated and not really suited to a company their size. The first rule of thumb is to keep it simple. The over complication comes from trying to track too many things at one time. Be sure about what you want to know for your particular niche and perhaps make a choice of CRM that has a good record of dealing with small businesses.
Don’t forget: you will also have to teach your staff how to use the new system as many of them will be inputting the data on a daily basis. It needs to be easy for them to use.
If you are not sure whether a CRM is a good idea, take a look at a web site like zoho.com who specialise in dealing with small businesses. A number of their facilities are free to use and can give you a valuable introduction into the way a CRM system works and how it can benefit and help develop your company. Zoho is internet based and so can be accessed from anywhere, which can come in very handy! We have used Zoho for 3 years and although we recently thought to upgrade to a ‘grown-up’ system, after a thorough inspection of the other systems available, we didn’t find any of the other paid for versions to be any better and in some cases they lacked some of the features and functionality we have come to rely upon.
We have recommended Zoho to a number of our clients of the years and all have appeared to be happy with the system and one became such an advocate we regularly get calls to help their friends and colleagues to customise their version of Zoho.
There are a plethora of CRM software companies out there, some provide industry specific software, our advice. have a good shop around and trial these systems before committing to one. Whichever one you choose, make sure you have one!
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