Last night I was I have having a conversation with some women business owners and I used selecting a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in an example in our discussion. My explanation was met with blank stares as most of the ladies were unfamiliar with the concept of a CRM. Sadly the majority of small business owners are unaware of a tool that can be tremendously beneficial to growing their small business.
Wikipedia defines customer relationship management as:
“Customer relationship management (CRM) is a widely implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new clients, nurture and retain those the company already has, entice former clients back into the fold, and reduce the costs of marketing and client service. Measuring and valuing customer relationships is critical to implementing this strategy.”
In a nut-shell a CRM system is effective tool to enhance your marketing, generate more revenue, and increase business profitability. In talking to small business owners the most common response I receive is “I’ve never heard of it, if I have run my business this long without one I probably don’t need it.” I relate this to a cell phone; most of us can remember when cell phones didn’t exist. You were able to communicate just fine with friends, family, and business contacts. Although most of us at one time or another has been running late and felt bad because the person we were meeting was waiting for us at the rendezvous spot. We wished we had a way to reach them to give them an update but never truly felt a void because cell phones had yet to be invented.
The same can be said about CRM systems except they HAVE already been invented. Whether you realize it or not your business will likely benefit from using a CRM system. Using a CRM system gives you a 360 degree view of your customers, partners, vendors and other business contacts. All of the data you need regarding your business performance and history stored in one place.
What Does a CRM Offer? Contact Management, Sales Tracking & Forecasting, Marketing
At the most basic level a CRM system is a contact manager. You can tract all types of people you come in contact with such as prospects, partners, vendors, customers, and those you meet at networking events. Most CRM systems allow you to add custom fields or pick lists so that you can track all of the attributes that are important to you. Having all of the relevant data about those you interact with allow you to engage in the most effective way.
For example, if you are a boutique owner and you attend a networking event and jotted down notes on the back of business cards with body shape, estimated size, and style you could create those three fields in your CRM system and the next time you have a new item that is perfect for that trendy pear shaped women you could easily send an email to just those women who fit that criteria offering them a discount on that item for a limited time. Because what is being sent to them fits their style and taste they are less likely to ignore your communication, especially if you include a personal note in the email.
Another example, you are en event planner. You track all of your leads (proposals) and customers in your CRM system. You have a customer whose wedding you plan, you can then set up a report to see when that customer’s anniversary is and send them a note 3 months prior with your “Night Out” planning details. You plan their first anniversary which leads to their first baby. You then can reach out to get her best friends contact information and email them your article “Top 10 tips when planning a baby shower” with a note that lets them know that you are there if they need professional assistance. The snowball effect kicks in and you become the official planner for the couple. All of this data tracked in your CRM system you know their key milestones; you have all of your notes, photos, budgets, etc from past events. Each time making planning their even easier and therefore less expensive for them; you are their HERO!
These examples go far beyond contact management, as does a CRM system. Through your CRM system you can manage your marketing, track your leads, proposals, and sales, forecast your revenue, log emails, phone calls, notes and so much more. All in one place, that you can filter, report on, and analyze to help you make sound business decisions.
What is the biggest challenge in using a CRM System?
There are really two challenges that most small business owners have in using a CRM system. The implementation and the discipline to create and follow processes.
- Implementing a CRM System: To someone unfamiliar with CRM systems and how they work setting the system up in a way that works for your business can be challenging. Although the technical component of most CRM systems is easy to configure it’s thinking through the business processes and aligning that to the set up that can prove challenging.
- Discipline: Unlike Corporate America which is riddled with processes most small business owners lack formal processes. They just go with the flow. In order to truly reap the benefits of a CRM system you must allow process to become your friend.
Top 3 Benefits of Using a CRM System:
- Extraordinary Customer Service: When you track the relevant data points for the various contact types you are able to provide the highest quality customer service. From having notes on when a client celebrates their anniversary their history of purchases with you having that information at your fingertips is key to creating a positive customer experience.
- Sales Management: Any business that isn’t making money is just an expensive hobby. Using a CRM system allows you to track the various revenue streams you have coming in, when you are likely to realize that revenue, shows you what you are winning on and in what areas you are losing business and allows you to forecast your revenue.
- Business Analysis: By implementing a CRM system you have all of the data your business needs in one place. You are able to then evaluate what is happening in your business to make better decisions. For example, if you see that you are losing deals of a like kind then that may be an indicator or poor pricing or a misaligned target market.
Are you using a CRM system? If so which one? How do you like it? If not, do you think you could benefit from a CRM?
Customer Relationship Management selection, and implementation, as well as sales process development are among the services offered by Cassius Blue Consulting. If you are interested in discussing how a CRM system can benefit your small business do not hesitate to give me a call 678.590.5952.
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