Do I need a CRM?

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Elenathewise

It’s Monday morning, and you’re staring at your computer, waiting for the coffee to kick in. Your inbox has 3,700 emails, and 152 of them are unread. You’ve got three hundred or so contacts in Outlook (or is it Gmail?) and a stack of business cards on your desk.

What do you really know about the people your business serves? Your email contacts and spreadsheets with notes (and that pile on your desk) have some useful customer information, but you don’t have a system to help you dive into your work this morning. Which leads should you contact first? Which customers need attention right away?

And how should the rest of the team divvy up the hot leads or reach out to current customers? Whether your team works in the same office with you or they work remotely, they can’t see that pile of business cards on your desk. They can’t see your emails or your contacts, and they don’t know which leads and customers are a priority today either.

So maybe you do need a CRM. You’ve thought about it and even looked at a few options. But you just haven’t had time to think about how you’d go from managing your business the same way you’ve been managing these past few years to figuring out a whole new system that seems complicated, seems hard to set up, and seems expensive.

But what is your current “free” system costing you? What does disorganization really cost you in terms of lost business and lost opportunities because your team isn’t synchronized and your customer information isn’t organized?

How the Best Small Businesses Function

Small businesses have a competitive advantage over big corporations: They have flexibility and speed that a large organization just can’t match. Successful small businesses are built on relationships with other businesses in the community.

Small businesses are more flexible, but there are some things you can learn from the way large enterprises operate. Large businesses keep things moving with systems and processes that are powered by organized data about their prospects and customers. And those processes help a large team work better together to market products, close sales, and serve customers.

Armed with detailed data about their customers, large businesses segment their customers, so they can provide more personalized communication, even at a large scale.

You work on a smaller scale, but a CRM helps you, as a small business owner, better manage your important business relationships to help your business thrive.

Getting the right CRM in place can help you and your team see how those relationships translate into sales and happy customers. And that information can help you improve the systems and processes that help fuel your company’s growth.

Get Real About the Complication and Cost of Moving to a CRM

Change is always hard.

But your business is changing all the time, and you adapt because the market changes, or your customers’ needs change, or your team changes.

CRMs are not one-size-fits-all. If you’ve started looking into different CRM software options, you’ve undoubtedly seen that there are dozens of vendors and many price points, ranging from free to hundreds of dollars per month.

But the majority of small businesses haven’t yet adopted a CRM. Maybe it’s the perceived complication of moving from their current ad-hoc systems that keep small businesses from adopting CRMs.

Only 6% of small businesses currently use CRM software. But of those early-adopters, nearly all of them (83%) are using a monthly paid cloud-based CRM.

That tells me that for the small businesses that are willing to make the change, they are finding that their CRM system is worth investing in, and that the robustness of paid plans (over free options) is giving them a boost in sales and service to their customers.

Cost isn’t really an excuse, since many platforms offer a trial period or a no-cost or low-cost product that will let you get started managing your work with a CRM.

The reality is that it’s complicated and costly to keep managing your business’s relationships from a disconnected set of spreadsheets, email inboxes, and piles on desks. It’s time to make a change!

What Can a CRM Really Do for You?

Once you’ve gotten over your fear of change, and started shopping for the right CRM that fits your business and your budget, it’s time to get excited about what’s in it for you! Here’s an overview of what your CRM can offer your business.

Visibility

I recently implemented  a CRM for a small non-profit team, and during one of our training sessions, the development director had one of those a-ha! moments. After seeing one of the early CRM reports, she said, “I am getting all these new ideas now that I know this!” Some of the visibility you can gain includes:

  • Seeing what your most valuable customers have in common, and that can inform your marketing ideas.
  • Identifying and tracking potential customers, so you can measure closed sales and optimize your sales process.
  • Finding out who your most profitable customers are by understanding the actual cost of acquisition along with your project costs.
  • Understanding who your account managers are working with, so you can manage a growing sales team.

Segmentation

Since your business operates within your community, you can use segmentation to help you nurture the different kind of relationships your business has. When you have a detailed database of these people, you can reach out to them in a strategic and personal way. Some possible segments you could track include:

  • Customers
  • Potential customers
  • Referral partners
  • Network connections

Automation

If you could make everyone on your team more productive and avoid some of the repetitive and tedious work off their plates and off yours, and you could do that without hiring another person, of course you would do that. That’s a no-brainer, right?

The automation that can help you run your business depends on good data and good systems to power it. Setting up your CRM is a critical first step to automating some of your work.

Once your team has made the change and has begun to use your CRM, it will be easier for you and your team to identify processes that can be automated. The reports you can get from your CRM give you insight into what’s working, and that sets your team and your business up to innovate and grow.

So what are you waiting for?