SCORE Small Business Blog

6 Ways CRM Software Can Benefit Your Growing Small Business
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Do you still rely on only a spreadsheet or basic database to track who your customers are and what and when they buy from you? As your business grows, are your data management tools growing with you?

The process of manually researching, maintaining and interpreting these kinds of customer records can be overwhelming. If you have a large and/or growing customer base, then a customer relationship management tool (CRM) is one of the best investments that your business can make to increase sales and boost customer loyalty. Best of all, it needn’t break the bank. Small-business-friendly CRM tools can cost as little as $15 per month, per user (thanks to an increase in cloud-based online tools).

Here are six benefits that CRM software can provide your growing small business:

Automate Tasks That Can Impact Your Bottom Line

Can’t keep track of sales appointments, lead follow-up or post-sales actions? CRM software will automate many of these easily overlooked tasks. By centralizing information, users can access and edit shared data about every customer touch point, phone call or email marketing blast your business makes—whether you are in the office or on the road. With CRM software, everything you need to ensure effective follow-up and task management is automatically facilitated. You can even automate post-sale surveys, customer appointment scheduling, upsell marketing messages (“you bought X—why not take a look at Y”) and update customer profiles with order status information.

Marketing Becomes a Breeze

Typically, sales organizations use CRM to track pipeline or bid-to-win ratios, but it can do so much more. CRM can help you understand who has bought what, how much they spent, and help inform demand for future product or market expansion.

This data is essential when it comes to launching a marketing campaign or promotion and hitting the right potential buyers. Think about it: without CRM, how would you do this? You’d have to go back over old invoices or purchase records to manually track who bought what, when, and then hit up a separate database to find out their email addresses. With CRM, you can segment your customer list by profile, purchase history, and so on (in minutes), helping you better refine your marketing messages to target audiences.

Get Insight into Your Business in Minutes

Need to see how customer revenue or buying patterns are tracking year-in-year-out? CRM gives you speedy access to key business performance indicators.

Help Your Entire Team Collaborate and Be Service-Oriented

Want to give your warehouse or suppliers a heads-up about a spike in volume coming down the pike? With CRM, you and your team can centrally track pipeline, sales probabilities and the impact marketing campaigns may have on the supply-side of the house. Your entire team can add notes, mark actions and act on potential problems—all in one place. CRM ensures everyone is in the loop and your business is seamlessly service-oriented.

Integrate Your Customer Communication Systems

Many CRM systems let you integrate your email and even social media activity, so you can manage, prioritize and respond to customer email and social media notifications in one place. The side benefit, of course, is that you also have with instant access to customer profile data, so you know who you’re dealing with, their purchase history, billing information and so on.

The Bottom Line: Keep Your CRM Tool Simple and Evolve It As You Go

Of course, a CRM tool is what you make it and how you use it, and while it may at first seem like an unwieldy solution, the trick is to keep it simple and evolve your use of CRM as your business becomes more familiar with it. You can add dozens of features and options that may just end up confusing those who have access to it. A good way to gauge how your CRM is working for you is to gain feedback as you go, such as “are some features redundant?” or, “could you do with more insight into a certain area?”

There are many small business CRM solutions on the market and businesses are adopting these systems at a rapid pace. Popular examples include InfusionSoft, desk.com, Base and Microsoft.

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Discussion (5) Comment


  1. Joe BaldwinVisitor

    Exceptional factors regarding crm software. Convenience of software program usage, and customer contact is certainly vital elements. Deciding on the appropriate software solution is important, as is the desire of the business to apply it. Commonly times there is a misconception regarding the complexity of the software application, or the possibility that they will shed their tasks. Getting the staff aboard is additionally vital. You need to make certain it’s basic enough to make use of each and every single day, without massive training, then you’ll be able to profit in any industry.


  2. Kashif SaeedVisitor

    Thanks for providing this information but there is a clud-based CRM offered by Banckle ( http://banckle.com/apps/crm/overview.html ) which is all in one solution for all your CRM needs. From sales pipeline, a contact database, email server to task manager, it covers all features. I would suggest you check it out.

  3. Excellent points all they way around. Simplicity of software use, and customer contact is certainly key factors. Choosing the right software solution is essential, as is the willingness of the staff to implement it. Often times there is a myth about the complexity of the software, or the chance that they will lose their jobs. Getting the staff on board is also key. It is imperative to show and share with the front line users how by streamlining parts of their jobs, they now have an increased role of marketing and sales to help grow the company, while delivering top notch customer service. Getting to know more about the company through information in the CRM system can achieve these goals.


  4. Brad HodsonVisitor

    Excellent article for prospective CRM software users. Why? Because you nailed the benefits and you made sure to address simplicity in the bottom line. I can’t tell you how many times a CRM has failed because a company relies on the sheer magic of that CRM to provide the benefits while they choose the wrong CRM for themselves.

    You have to make sure it’s simple enough to use every single day, without heavy training, and then you’ll be able to reap the benefits above.

  5. Maintaining a good relationship with customers is really important. Great suggestions!

 

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