Considering CRM for small business was once like taking on a massive enterprise project – a project with more zeroes than a lot of small businesses wanted to deal with.
I’m still always amazed at how much confusion there is regarding CRM. A top search on CRM is actually “CRM meaning.”
And, just in case you don’t know what CRM stands for . . . it’s customer relationship management.
It seems simple, but it’s really a big idea to get your head around. Customers are the most important thing for any revenue generating enterprise. There are few things as important as the tracking of customers and measurement of metrics related to them. Yet, many small businesses do a better job tracking other metrics in their business – like employee vacation time or lunch breaks, for example. That’s a huge mistake.
There is no reason any longer to use a spreadsheet to track your customers. Even worse perhaps are situations where salespeople have a secret spreadsheet outside of their company’s CRM tool. That points to a bigger problem and a whole other blog topic.
What CRM For Small Business Can Mean
Small businesses and the people that own or manage them are notorious for pinching pennies and making do with the resources at hand. I have no problem with that. What is problematic though is the amount of time and money lost because customer trends, events, and behavior go undiscovered. Time and money go wasted because processes are inefficient. The systems and processes in place to manage, track, and measure trends among customers directly impact the bottom line.
Think about it: Those same systems and processes also impact customer satisfaction. Inefficient, poor tracking and management of customer information is painful to both customer and employee.
A major payoff with CRM for small business comes when new trends and insights on new potential customers result from the freely available information on your existing customer base. You start to notice that customers of a certain type close in 90 days while another group tends to close faster. You find that phone calls are more effective among customers that meet certain criteria while emails to those same customers go unanswered.
In the end, CRM for small business isn’t just about keeping track of customer information. That’s the easy part – especially for small business. CRM can automate common tasks and communication, giving small businesses advantages that only big business previously had.
A Recommended CRM Tool for Small Business
Finding a tool to provide CRM for small business is difficult because there is a lot of noise out there. In previous experiences, I’ve used several CRM tools. All of them are now inadequate by comparison or extremely painful.
In contrast, recent experiences I’ve had with Zoho have been very positive. As with any CRM tool, there are countless decisions to make regarding customization and other aspects of the implementation. Plan on significant time to learn and customize it. The good part I’ve found is that most customization is completely doable in-house with little-to-no advanced technical expertise or any kind of code. The pricing is also surprisingly attractive.
And, if you find you’re even wrestling with the idea of software versus a cloud-based (or web-based) solution – go cloud. Trust me.
Even with the time investment – one you will experience with any kind of CRM for small business anyway – the payoff is exponential.
So what do you think? Goodbye, spreadsheet?