How CRM Can Help Your Small Business
|Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.|
How CRM Can Help Your Small Business
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can be a key tool for small businesses looking for a more efficient way to nurture leads, expand sales, improve customer service and promote collaboration.
CRM tools are designed to centralize customer information so sales reps, customer service and operations professionals can access and update information without having to look for customer data in different systems, or to re-key data more than once.
CRM offers are more powerful and efficient way to track leads and customer data such as contact details, calls and emails between your company and the lead or customer, their order history, and any service requests. Some platforms include the ability to monitor customers’ social media feeds to identify trigger events or other buying signals. Some may offer tracking details such as website visits, email opens and content downloads so reps can better understand a prospect’s needs and interests.
Other powerful features include automated reminders about when to follow up with leads, which can play a key role in keeping a lead warm and converting them into a customer.
Most CRM tools also offer the ability to personalize offers to customers or prospects that meet predefined criteria. If, for instance, you want to offer a loyalty discount after a certain number of purchases or reach out to customers who haven’t ordered in six months, CRM software makes it to identify those customers and contact them with a targeted email offer.
Storing customer and prospect data in a centralized cloud platform is more efficient than trying to track leads in spreadsheets or in individual sales reps’ devices. CRM tools promote collaboration and data-sharing between sales, marketing, customer service and operations employees. This will produce a seamless experience to the customer, and is more likely to promote overall satisfaction and retention.
In addition to contact details and the ability to manage leads through the sales cycle, CRM platforms also include calendars that help reps receive reminders when it’s time to follow up with a prospect and to track meetings.
Many CRM tools offer integrations with other cloud services such as your company’s calendars, email service provider and financial management tools. These integrations can promote marketing automation as well as your being better able to track the financial results of your sales efforts.
Reporting capabilities will help you track revenue and opportunities by customer, location, sales rep, product or service, or nearly any other metric that may be important to your company.
As you compare potential CRM tools, probably the most important thing to consider is how easy a system is to use. Adoption is a common challenge with many CRM implementations, and a system being confusing to use is probably the most common obstacle to broader adoption.
Any CRM tool will only be as effective as the data that’s entered into it, and if people are reluctant to embrace a CRM tool, it will be less than useless to your company.
Beyond ease of use, it’s also important to pick a CRM tool with a mobile app. This will allow reps to access and update information in the field, such as immediately after a sales call. Mobile CRM tools also help reps identify nearby opportunities, and to call prospects directly from the app.
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