If you're running a small business, or maybe just starting up, the last thing you need is unnecessary expense and admin. So when someone suggests you need a CRM, you'll be seriously weighing up the pros and cons.
Here's our guide to what a CRM could do for your small business.
Do I really need one?
Firstly, not everyone needs a CRM. You probably don't need one if you are a sole trader with just a few customers, a short sales cycle and no repeat business. Also, if you only sell to consumers (not other businesses), particularly if you are selling online, there are other systems to record your sales history that may be a better fit.
But if you are operating B2B, have numerous customers or prospects, a team of sales staff and a lengthy sales cycle, a CRM is essential. It provides a central database to record the interactions with your customers across multiple channels, and lets you share details with your colleagues.
Every call, email, meeting, quotation and purchase can be recorded against the customer's account, giving you a full history of your prospects and sales.
Using cloud technology means data is updated in real time, so your team will always see the latest entries. A good CRM also links with your calendar, so you can set reminders to call a contact when you know they'll be ready to buy.
A typical scenario
Here's an example of how a CRM system can save a promising sales lead.
Smith Consultants - pre-CRM
Tom is in the sales team at Smith Consultants. He takes a new lead call from Jane at Jones Engineering. They discuss Jane's requirements, and the solutions that Smith Consultants can offer. Jane likes what she hears. Tom follows up the call by emailing a proposal, which he saves to his laptop.
Later that week, when Tom is out meeting another client, Jane calls with some further questions. Sales manager Chris takes the call, but is on the back foot as he doesn't know what's already been discussed. He tells Jane that Tom will call her back the next day, and leaves a note on his desk.
By the time Tom is back, the note has been buried under other documents and he doesn't see it. Two weeks have gone by before Tom goes through his quotes and remembers to call Jane. By this time, she has gone elsewhere, and Tom has lost the deal.
Smith Consultants with CRM
If Smith Consultants had used a CRM system, Tom could have added an account for Jones Engineering and recorded notes of his conversation with Jane. He could have created a quotation document and saved it to the account.
Tom's email to Jane would also have been noted, and he would have set himself a reminder to call back in a few days.
When Jane called whilst Tom was out of the office, Chris (or anyone else taking the call) would have been able to check what had been discussed previously, and read the quote. They would have had the information to answer Jane's questions, and could add notes of their conversation for Tom's reference later.
If Jane still wanted to speak to Tom, a reminder could have been set as required. The opportunity would be tracked through the CRM system's sales pipeline, and included in the business forecast.
Rather the losing the sale, timely relationship management would have meant Jane was more likely to buy from Smith Consultants. The sale would have been recorded in the CRM, and a follow-up call diarised for future sales opportunities.
Seeing the benefits
A CRM system isn't a magic wand - you and your team will need to use it and keep it up to date to see the benefits. Neither can it make you more organised, but it can help you create organisation.
CRM software doesn't need to be expensive or complicated. You'll find free and low-cost CRM systems available for start-ups that can easily be set up with no previous experience, and most offer a free trial.
Sponsored post. Copyright © 2018 Helen Armour, Marketing Manager at Really Simple Systems