If you’re a small business that’s growing, then your internal processes will be growing too. Michael Hadfield explains the importance of implementing a CRM to grow with your business and crucially provide the information you need when you need it most.
This is when customer relationship management (CRM) comes into its own. It’s designed to grow with your business and crucially provide the information you need when you need it most. So what, in layman’s terms, does CRM actually do?
Chances are you already capture most of the important data from your customers via Sage or spreadsheets; what CRM allows you to do is bring this information together in one place, allowing you to manage accounts more effectively. Here are some of the ways it can help to streamline your business.
A lot of what you do will follow a set pattern, such as taking an enquiry through to the order stage, or producing a complex quote that requires the input of many people.
CRM allows you to automate this process and set timescales for completion, as well as moving the task on to the next person when a stage has been completed. Nothing need be lost, forgotten, or put on the bottom of someone else’s to-do list, and more importantly, at the touch of a button, you can see where everyone is up to and prioritise instantly.
Simple task setting
Sales calls, actions from meetings or anything else you deem worthy of a deadline can be allocated to the right person. Staff can also use CRM to prioritise their own workload and become more efficient in their daily routines.
CRM functions can be used to drive sales in the field and ensure prompt sales reporting while giving your sales force the information they need without having to fire up the laptop. From credit limits to order history, sales brochures to address details, everything is at their fingertips
Sales teams can also write up reports, set tasks and read the latest customer history/ contact, all out in the field. You can even customise screens by job role so that staff only see what’s relevant to them, while contacts that are so often just the preserve of sales staff are now available to everyone.
Connected to the phone system
Your customer’s record displays before you pick up the phone, so there’s no time wasted digging out their details.
Most accounting packages will plug into your CRM system so you often won’t have to upgrade to a new system. You can also customise the reports you need to see.
If you buy an off-the-shelf package, the chances are you won’t need all the bells and whistles it comes with, but there will be a lot of fields that you do need that aren’t there.
The CRM provider will be able to tailor the system to suit your requirements and this is often a great time to get the team together and ask what they’d like to see in order to make their roles more efficient.
This last point is very important; if you intend to install a CRM system then you’re making everyone more accountable and visible, and therefore changing the culture of the business. A CRM system works best when the owners have taken the opinions of employees into account when implementing it - you’re much more likely to get staff buy in if they’re part of the process and feel real ownership.
If you’re happy to run an off-the-shelf CRM, then you can download software for free; the hook for the developers is that once you see the power of the system, you’ll want to upgrade. Treat it like a satellite TV package and pick the modules you most need; as your business grows you can buy movies and sports and by doing so keep the cost down.
There are, of course, many different CRM systems on the market but among those mentioned by the small businesses I work with are; Insightly which is popular due to its affordability, flexibility and ease of use, Zoho (have a look at the demo’s here) works with different currencies, is easy to customise and is cloud based so you can access anytime, anywhere, while Sugar is also easy to use and you can also download a free mobile version.