Why small firms can’t ignore customer relationship management

Three monkeysIf you think a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy is just for big companies, then maybe it’s time to take your head out of the sand. CRM should be essential for any small business that wants to prosper, as Rachel Miller explains

No business — whatever its size — can afford to ignore customer relationship management. At its simplest, it is a method of record keeping that ensures nothing slips through the net. It could be a paper-based contact list, a simple database or a tailor-made system.

However you approach CRM, if you do it effectively you can increase sales, boost customer retention, improve profit margins and even reduce sales and marketing costs.

Be honest, have your customer details ever been written on post-it notes and gone missing? Or has a golden opportunity to get in touch with a customer come and gone unnoticed? Have some of your best customers gone elsewhere and you don’t know why?

Whatever business you are in and however small your firm, customer relationship management can help you to manage these problems more effectively. Here are ten reasons why:

1. Know your customers

Know who is buying from you, how often and have up-to-date contact details. Have access to their sales history so you can spot buying trends. See their preferences at a glance and contact them at the right time with the right message. Also notice when customers have lapsed — and try to win them back.

2. Put a value on your customers

Analyse your customers and their buying patterns to quantify exactly what each customer is worth to your business. Use the information to identify your most profitable customers and other important segments.

3. Have all your information in one place

Dedicated CRM systems allow you to join up your sales and marketing data with other records, such as accounts, stock-keeping and delivery. That way you can know everything about a customer’s dealings with your firm — from whether their goods arrived on time to whether they are a late payer. However you store your customer information, make sure you have all the information to hand.

4. Test and refine your marketing

With a simple CRM system, you can easily analyse the success of marketing initiatives and refine them accordingly.

5. Improve your sales figures

Research has shown time and again that CRM boosts sales. With all the customer information at your fingertips, you can target your sales effort more precisely, time your approaches more strategically, improve your conversion rate and up the number of sales per customer.

6. Boost customer retention

Keeping good customer records allows you to offer a more targeted and personal service that will improve customer satisfaction levels allowing you to retain good customers for longer.

7. Up-sell and cross-sell

Customer buying patterns help to identify opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell enabling you to maximise the value of every customer.

8. Increase your efficiency and reduce costs

CRM is about efficiency. Sales and marketing costs can be reduced if you improve your targeting and reduce wastage. And, by eliminating duplicate processes, you can save further time and money.

9. Spot trends and monitor changes

Many small firms are often operating on the back foot, reacting to changes in the market after the event. CRM can help you spot changing customer needs as they happen so you can respond quickly.

10. Find new customers using your data

The information on your existing customers can help you find and successfully sell to new customers that match the profile of your best clients. Keep details of enquirers and new prospects so that you can keep in touch.

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