Customer relationship management (CRM) systems were once the domain of large enterprises that had the infinite resources and budget to implement and manage such complex systems.
That is no longer the case. The tools are easier to use. Cloud-based solutions have made CRMs more accessible to small businesses, both financially and operationally. In fact, CRMs have become valuable tools for thousands of small companies.
Even so, I’ve found that most small business owners are familiar with the term “CRM” but don’t necessarily know what it is or what it’s capable of.
A CRM system is exactly what the name implies – a system that helps companies manage customer interactions and data more effectively. A CRM uses technology and a cohesive strategy to integrate and organize information from all channels of communication into a single, easily accessible platform.
Simply put, every time someone from your company contacts a customer or prospect, information from that interaction is recorded and automatically organized in your CRM.
Sounds impressive, right? But how do you know if your small business really needs a CRM? See if any of these scenarios sound familiar.
If information from any part of your business – operations, marketing, sales, customer service, etc. – can be found in some combination of Excel spreadsheets, sticky notes, thumb drives, employee-owned devices, or the trunks of cars, you need a CRM.
If all of your employees have their own ways of doing things and leads from various sources are handled differently, you need a CRM.
If you’ve lost money because nobody followed up with a hot business lead, or sales are being lost and you have no idea why, you need a CRM.
If a customer asks you a question about a bill or service and you respond by saying, “I’ll have to check on that when I’m in front of my computer at the office,” you need a CRM.
If customers have to constantly resend information and repeat what they said in previous conversations with someone from your company, you need a CRM.
If you’ve lost the trust of a customer, or lost accounts, because the customer was neglected after their salesperson left your company, you need a CRM.
If you’ve made a poor decision because you couldn’t find or access the right marketing or customer data, you need a CRM.
If customers are frustrated because you and your employees regularly miss or reschedule appointments, you need a CRM.
You’re running a Google AdWords campaign. You know people are clicking. You know people are buying. But you don’t know how profitable your campaign is.
Why? Because most of the sales are closed offline, and you’re unable to connect online activity with offline, human interaction for analysis. In general, your marketing “strategy” is a mishmosh of disconnected campaigns.
You need a CRM.
You’re not sure what your customer wants. You think you know. But you don’t have the data to prove it. In fact, you often have multiple sets of data about the same customer that contradict each other.
You need a CRM.
Okay, I think I’ve made my point. Just about any small business on the face of the earth can benefit from having a CRM and using it effectively. But what business value is a CRM capable of delivering?
We’ll discuss that in the next post.