If you manage the sales team for a growing small business, you have your work cut out for you.  Every week, there are more leads to follow up on, and they’re all different.  They all became leads on different dates, they all have different needs and wants, and they’ve all had different interactions with different sales reps.

There’s John Smith, and one of your sales reps, Harry, is pursuing him.  He became a lead 6 months ago.  Harry’s called him 4 times, and in one of those calls he told Harry he doesn’t like calls after 4 p.m.  You’ve sent him 16 emails and a packet of promotional materials.  He’s been on your website 5 times and read one of your eBooks.

Then there’s Mary Jones, whom another rep, Jim, is after.  Mary just became a lead last week.  Jim called her once, and during that call she told Jim she doesn’t like calls—she prefers emails.  So, you’ve sent her your introductory, welcome email.  She’s been on your website twice, first when she filled out an online form and read a blog, and a second time when she read the same eBook as John

That’s a lot to remember, or to manage with Excel spreadsheets.  Now multiply it by 5, or 10, or 100, or 1,000.  How do you keep track of all those interactions, preferences, and varying degrees of sales-readiness?

What Is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

Keeping track of, and effectively managing, the totality of data related to your business’s interactions with every current and prospective customer is referred to as customer relationship management.  It’s a way ensure that, at every touch point, your salespeople have the right information to be optimally effective and drive sales.  Salesforce defines CRM this way:

“Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategy for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with your customers and potential customers. It helps you improve your profitability. CRM enables you to focus on your organization’s relationships with individual people – whether those are customers, service users, colleagues or suppliers.”

So Many Choices

The good news is that there’s a multitude of CRM software tools on the market to help you do manage customer relationships.  The bad news is that there’s a multitude of CRM tools on the market to help you manage customer relationships, and they each have different strengths and weaknesses and come with different price tags.  That means you need to make some tough decisions.  With all those software options, how do you choose the best CRM tool for your small business?

Here are 4 tips to help you choose the best CRM for your business:

  1. Choose a CRM flexible enough to grow with your business:  before you select a CRM, you need to assess not only your current needs, but also where your business is likely to be in 5 or 10 years.  What new sales channels might you add?  How much do you expect your business to grow, and what does that mean for the size of your sales team and your customer base?  Make sure you choose CRM software which is scalable and can adapt to you changing needs over time.
  2. Go with software you and your team can understand and use:  CRM tools have varying levels of complexity to meet different business needs.  If you choose a CRM that’s too complex for you to work with, you could wind up with a very expensive tool that doesn’t really help you grow your business.  Look for a CRM that makes it relatively easy for your team to access the information they need most quickly, which can easily be integrated with current marketing strategies, such as email marketing, and which adds to your team’s sales productivity.
  3. Don’t pay more than you need to:  currently, almost half of all CRM is sold as a SaaS (software as a service), and for good reasons.  When you subscribe to a CRM service, as opposed to owning it outright, there’s a smaller initial investment.  In addition, with a cloud-based service, you don’t need to invest in new hardware or new people to maintain it.  Equally important, when you subscribe to a CRM service, you can start at the lower end of the scale and upgrade as your needs change.  For small businesses, subscribing and outsourcing is generally a better option.
  4. Take it for a test run:  you don’t want to sign on the dotted line before you’ve had the opportunity to try out an evaluation copy of a CRM.  This will allow the members of your team to test all of its features, reassure you that it will deliver on the functionality the vendor promises, and demonstrate that it will integrate seamlessly with other software you use for your business.

Conclusion

The right CRM tool will help you manage all of the touch points related to current and prospective customers, but choosing the tool that will work best with your business can be challenging.  To get help making an informed choice for your CRM needs, contact us today.