This post isn’t a promotional for any single type or brand of “Customer Relationship Management” software. I just want to outline some of the benefits of using one for those of you who’re starting a business soon, or who may be on track to expand your new or established SMB in the near future.
I’m not going to recommend any specific software in this post. If you’ve tried CRM’s that are great – or ones that are garbage for that matter – please leave a comment after this article so everyone can benefit from your knowledge.
Benefits of Using a CRM for Your SMB:
How often do you find yourself in a situation where a team member is giving you the “I forgot excuse” when it comes to your sales or customer service process?
You can integrate a step-by-step process into your CRM for employees when they’re performing: lead-capture, sales calls, face-to-face meetings, followups, etc. – to make sure they’re following your established process.
This is much different from asking them to file a report later on and submit it. Employees can enter data while they’re on the phone, or immediately after leaving the client so no pertinent steps are missed.
More efficient lead capture
Whatever your lead capture methods are, a good CRM brings leadgen info from your phone staff, administration team, website contact forms, and smartphone data, into one place for storage and future distribution to appropriate members of your sales and management team.
Many valuable leads are lost because they simply aren’t followed up on in due time: e.g., sticky notes get moved, emails get deleted or stored in the wrong folder, harddrives crash, smartphones/tablets are dropped and destroyed. CRMs are designed to assign information to the right people for the job without data getting lost between one step in the process to the next.
How frequently is someone on your staff sent on a wild goose chase; prospecting a customer that will never sign, has already signed a contract, or worse: a client your company’s had a falling out with in the past? Not to mention the time-wasting that can happen when they leave “Customer A’s” office and drive 20 miles to “Customer C’s” office, when “Customer B” was just down the street from where they began.
That’s why cloud-based CRMs can be really helpful. Each time your team has an interaction with a sales prospect or established customer: the CRM system is updated, so there’s no confusion between management and workers.
Even if you, as a manager make a mistake, your employee will be able to see it when they pull the customer up. GPS data ensures both time-efficiency and transportation-cost-savings are maximized.
Single call information capture
By utilizing CRM software you can quickly and efficiently run the customer through a sequence of questions regarding their contact info and preferences, specific needs, billing information, etc. Information is captured the first time, every time.
Asking a customer for certain information more than once is an issue that can hurt a relationship fast. Even the most understanding among us doesn’t like to repeat the same information over and over – particularly if you’re the customer and you’re paying (or considering to pay) for something.
Individual and team benchmarking
You can have all the sales, customer service, and profit benchmarking data for your company readily accessible for anyone to see. This can give your on-the-road sales team the boost they need when they’re having a tough time getting motivated. It also keeps the poor-performers aware of where they’re falling short.
Your sales and customer service teams will automatically get reminders when they’re supposed to follow up with certain clients. When a customer call is missed, the CRM system will send notifications to the appropriate staff until the call is returned.
Also, if a clients wishes to escalate and talk to the business owner or a specific manager, that info can be input to the CRM immediately and the manager will be notified. This type of process takes human error out of the equation. Customers aren’t lost due to miscommunication or because they have to constantly reach out to you, when it should be the other way around.
Don’t Make Hasty Decisions: Research and Take Advantage of Free Trials
A good CRM will grow with you and your customer base: from the humble beginnings in the back of a garage to that highrise in your city’s big business center.
There are several of them out there. Here’s a list from Gene Marks in a Forbes article he did last summer:
Here’s another list that looks promising: