For businesses of any size, or turnover choosing to use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system can mean the difference between long-term success or failure. In today’s age of endless data, having a unified system that holds all of your client, supplier, partner and lead information, just makes life easier.
Regardless of whether you work on your own, employ a team of people or use on again off again consultants per project, it just makes sense to hold everything in the one place. Yet I am still surprised when I find myself talking to businesses who still keep their client contact info in an array of spreadsheets, or an old legacy custom build system that, honestly, the company outgrew years ago.
But before I get into why that is so often the case and what you can do to stop it happening to your business. Let’s first take a good look at what a good CRM system should be.
What Makes A Good CRM?
The answer to this question can be very different, depending on individual company needs. But don’t worry, I’m not going to weasel my way out of properly answering that question quite that easily. It’s the very fact that every company needs something different, that is why the first thing you should be looking for in a good CRM is Customisation. The ability to customise a CRM to suit the way you work is essential because the last thing you want to be doing is spending hours trying to bend your processes to fit with an out of the box, one size fits all solution. No. You need to know that regardless of how you deal with enquiries, sales, service or supply, your system can work the way you want it to. So let’s look at just a few things you will need to be able to customise:
- The names of elements/sections within the system
- Your workflows & processes
- Contact data entry fields and the information they capture
- Your products/services and the information you hold on them
The second most important aspect of any CRM is its ability to Adapt. 5 years ago, did you run your business the same way as you do now? No, I doubt it. So if you are going to invest your time, energy and dollars into using a CRM you need to be sure it will grow and adapt as your business does. But what exactly does this mean? Well in order to be able to change with advances in technology, changes in the marketplace and marketing practices, the best CRMs are provided in cloud-based format, rather than having software you install onto individual devices. This means that the technology behind the CRM can constantly be updated and improved, without the need for onsite updates, concerns about outdated technology infrastructure or having to pay for a new version every time an update arrives. Windows 10 anyone?
Choosing a cloud-based CRM means your business can stay connected to your data in and outside of your office, as well as on the move. You will have access to your information on your mobile, your tablets, as well as when you are in your office and this can lead to a massive shift in the way your business can work. Freeing up your staff to work from home if their children get sick, or enabling external sales staff to update data while on site with clients. Cloud-based software is becoming more and more the norm. With the only downside to this new found freedom being that your company will have to start paying out ongoing monthly or yearly access fee’s as opposed to a once off large software purchase fee. However, all costs are tax deductible, of course, so this is often considered a benefit rather than a concern.
What Are The Barriers To Moving To A CRM?
Ok, so coming back to one of our original questions. Often the reasons why a business has not yet committed to a CRM comes from either a lack of understanding around needing one, compounded by gradual growth of the business without perceiving the need for investing in one. Unfortunately, often by the time a business realises the value of incorporating a CRM into the business, it has become a massive task and one which comes with its own set of issues including staff training, data consolidation, change management, process & policy reviews, not to mention the impact on the businesses capacity to operate at usual capacity during the transition.
So why put yourself, and your business through all this?
What Are The Benefits To Using A CRM?
There are many. Which is exactly why it is best for any business to incorporate a good CRM sooner rather than later. Preferably right from the start.
Time management keeps you and your employees on task, allowing goals to be set, monitored and reached effectively.
Multi-tasking, can be seen by some as a good way to get a lot done quickly, but it’s been proven to make you work much less productively because your focus is constantly changing. A CRM provides you and your workers with a list of tasks to work through each day, all connected to the relevant data pertaining to each task. A CRM can sync your teams calendars, send out daily task reports based on priority, and automatically keeps all your business information synced. All making it easier and quicker to stay on track.
Access Your Information Anywhere, Anytime
I already touched on this briefly earlier, along with some of the benefits to having this.
Today instant access to your data is a necessity. Most people feel ignored if they don’t hear back from an email immediately, or if their Facebook post on your page hasn’t yet garnered a response.
CRM technology makes it possible for all users to add, access and update information from anywhere at any time. This makes a world of difference for those using the system.
When multiple people are reaching out to new leads or contacting clients, instantly updating the database makes it possible to avoid embarrassing situations like reaching out to the same potential client multiple times.
Spending a fortune on marketing is useless if your leads aren’t followed up on in a timely manner.
Generating new leads is an expensive process that spans many different marketing strategies. Nothing is more important to growing a business than capitalizing on new leads. Yet without a centralised lead management system you risk missing out on opportunities to convert these leads because their info gets left in someone’s inbox, forgotten about or delayed because something else ‘more important’ came up. How many customers information has been lost to a scrawl on a piece of paper, never to be called back?
There is nothing more costly to a business than a poorly developed lead management process. CRM’s put an end to those concerns and provide the business owner with complete visibility into every lead generated. You can see exactly how many leads were received in any given day AND ensure they were all responded too, knowing important follow-up processes are in place.
Improved Customer Relationships
This is by far my favourite and most cherished aspect of implementing a CRM within your business.
Companies that actively manage the relationships they have with customers have a much higher Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). Customer Retention and high CLV are key to running a successful, profitable business that grows organically. The happier the customer, the further they will help promote your product or service to the world.
By storing customers based on their needs and desires, companies have a much clearer idea about how to contact them and what to contact them about. Helping companies personalize the experience they provide each and every customer.
Personalizing your business-customer relationship is becoming extremely important when trying to stand out in a crowded marketplace. If you can make your customers feel special, like they matter, rather than just another buyer of your product or user of a service. Then they will start to feel a connection and develop an affinity with your company. By creating a relationship (and being able to properly organise each and every relationship efficiently), a company can get as close as they can to guaranteeing their customers never stray to the competition.