In the previous post, I explained what a customer relationship management (CRM) system is and laid out about 10 scenarios that would indicate your small business really needs a CRM.
When it comes right down to it, a CRM, when properly implemented, will improve how you do business, from tracking your sales pipelines and managing your finances to improving how you communicate with clients.
Put yourself in your client’s shoes for a second. Wouldn’t you love to do business with a company that never used the phrase “refresh my memory” and forced you to repeat yourself?
You may have gotten by with using color-coordinated sticky notes when you first launched your business. Some clients might have found those sticky notes charming in an entrepreneurial, fun-to-be-a-startup kind of way.
But if your company is serious about growing, and expects to be able to manage that growth, you need to get serious about taking control of your data and making it work for you. That’s where you uncover the true value of a CRM.
You probably have important data in an email and calendar tool like Microsoft Office or Google Apps. The finance people probably have data saved in an accounting platform like QuickBooks. Maybe the marketing people use email marketing software like MailChimp or Constant Contact, or an automation system like HubSpot or Marketo.
That’s a lot of data in a lot of different places. A CRM brings all of this data into a single platform that can be accessed from the palm of your hand.
Once you’ve integrated your data into your CRM, you can customize it to automatically trigger workflows and deliver the data you need so you’re not scrambling to do it manually.
Suppose a prospect fills out a form on your website to download a white paper. Your CRM springs into action. Data is automatically fed into your lead database. You’re automatically alerted of the request. The prospect instantly receives an email with a link for downloading the white paper.
Boom. Done. And you didn’t lift a finger… or a sticky note.
When this data is fed into your CRM, you can then benchmark and report on sales performance, client referrals, social media outreach, and marketing campaigns to get a firm grasp on tour return on investment (ROI).
Marketing pioneer John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
John apparently didn’t have a CRM. If he did, he would have known exactly what marketing initiatives were working and which ones weren’t. A CRM makes it possible to calculate ROI instead of treating marketing and sales like a game of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”
When you’re able to measure and understand your data, you can use it to make more informed business decisions. A CRM helps you minimize the guesswork and risk involved with managing your business, your employees, your finances and your customers.
Finally, having visibility into all of this data from virtually any desktop or mobile device can give you a major advantage over your competition. Salespeople are always on the road. Workforces in general are becoming more mobile. If a client has a question, and all data related to that client isn’t immediately accessible, you risk losing that client. Period.
Keep in mind that there are dozens of ways that a CRM delivers business value, and this is a very high-level overview. I’ll discuss specific advantages of a CRM in more detail in future posts.
In the meantime, I want to hear from you. Do you have specific questions about how a CRM can deliver value to your small business? Not sure if a CRM can be integrated with your business tools, applications and processes? Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll respond privately or in an upcoming blog post!