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5 Reasons To Get Serious About a CRM Solution…Right Now!

When you first start a business one of the biggest challenges you’re going to face is how you actually do things. In the beginning, you might be forgiven by vendors, customers, and counterparts for lacking processes. There’s something so natural about enterprise to Americans that, almost at the DNA level, we understand that businesses need to find their ‘sea legs,’ on the rough water of capitalism. The first few months, you might get a pass.

But there comes a time when processes need to be implemented and the lack of process is no longer considered part of the natural order, but rather becomes a reflection of your lack of progress as a business builder. One of the things you need to consider at this point is why you need to invest in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software.

CRM software is a system for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. But why do you need it?

1. Information is scattered in multiple systems.

In any business, information is the key to success. When you were starting out – sticky notes and paper files may have been easy to manage. Heck, they might have actually saved you time. But as you’ve grown, a digitally central, easy accessible place to find and store information will only improve your process and ability to respond to customers in a timely fashion. Inefficiency in the ability to access customer information will impact your response time – and as you’ve already learned, time is money, especially to a small business.

2. Too much data entry.

Any decent CRM is designed to automate the majority of your mundane tasks, especially data entry. A central digital location means that your sales, marketing, and customer service departments do not have to replicate information – once it’s in the system, it’s in for everyone to access.

3. You aren’t mobile enough.

Many sales departments are mobile, chances are, you may need to occasionally visit your clients. Should you forget something at the office – from an address to a customer’s history file – it’s pretty easy to see how your meeting is not going to go as planned. A good CRM will have a mobile component which means you’ll be able to easily find critical or even superfluous, yet personal, information at a moments notice. You may leave a file at the office on accident or lose a sticky note with an address but it’s highly unlikely you go anywhere without your phone.

4. Lack of reporting.

It’s not part of a good process if you have no clue about the potential revenue your business should be expecting to generate. In the beginning, before data was available, there was not only no reason to know this, but no way to know this. As you’ve grown, data is available and you need to be able to plan. This helps with supply purchases, infrastructure purchases or credit purchases. Sure, a decade ago these reports were done manually but could only be described as tedious and ripe for mistakes. Remember pouring over pages of spreadsheets trying to make sense of what the heck those numbers meant? With a good CRM you can easily discover the number of potential sales you have, calculating the value of your funnel, understanding at what stage most deals close – all with just a few key strokes.

5. Collaboration is difficult.

There once was a time when the typical business model was that each department of a company operated within a bubble. It wasn’t ideal but there was no real other option. If one department had incorrect information, it may have been months or years before the other department knew of it. Customers may have felt slighted at the idea that their communication with one department wasn’t shared with another department. Departments and employees work in symphony with one another to elevate customer expectations, and meet those expectations when they’re able to rely on a CRM solution that handles the heavy lifting in terms of info. This means a better reputation for you, incremental business, and probably referrals.

Typically, robust CRM solutions have a cost associated with them. The software usually has a subscription fee and then there’s the cost of training. At some point, you may need an individual dedicated to managing the software. In the long run, the cost savings and increase in revenues and profits should more than make up for these expenses.

In terms of organization, alone, you’re going to find that CRM solutions are invaluable to a growing business. As a small to mid-sized business, reevaluating your process is not only critical to your cost efficiencies, but your customers, your vendors, and even your employees.

They expect it and so should you.

Photo courtesy: Steve Wilson