Actually, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, but it might as well stand for clients really matter, because they do. And a CRM system will help you show it.
Regular readers of this blog know how important I think it is to collect client information – for everything including marketing, pricing, identifying your ideal client, and many other business functions. This client information can go from the very basic (name, address, email, income level, etc.) to the more demographically and psychographically detailed (past purchases, client preferences, client interactions, etc.). A CRM is used to collect and store your customer information. For large companies, having a CRM platform is a given, but they are not as widely utilized in the small business world. I think they should be.
Technically, a CRM system is any system that tracks your client information in some sort of organized fashion.
So, at the top of the line, you have high-tech CRM systems like Salesforce, which provides significant resources, tools, and capabilities. But even low-tech and no-tech options qualify as CRMs – an Excel spreadsheet, a Rolodex, Post-it notes, email folders, or one of the many off-the-shelf software platforms out there that focus on one specific industry.
How do you know if you need a CRM system?
If any of these sound like your small business, you should probably look into implementing a CRM system:
- You ask yourself what your ideal client looks like, and you don’t know.
- You have a lot of clients, but no organized way to market to them.
- Whenever a client makes an appointment, you have to dig through your files, or go to multiple places to find their information.
- You have trouble projecting sales over the course of the year, or have trouble setting budgets other than general goals like “10% more than last year.”
- The person who handled your client information leaves, and it takes you weeks/months to piece everything together.
As far as determining whether it’s worth it to go to the expense of a CRM system for your small business, I really liked the content of this article from CNET. This provides a great discussion on CRM, some best practices for small businesses, and some things to think about if you decide to implement a CRM system in your business.
Ultimately my view is that a CRM system can be very beneficial for your small business. Not only will it organize your business, but it can also help you in many areas of developing and maintaining your critical client relationships. Additionally, many of the amazing uses of analytics we have discussed in past blog posts (remember Ann’s Pie Shop?) are extremely difficult without the use of a CRM system to track client and sales information.
I’ve always been interested in the applications and benefits that CRM can bring to a business, so if you are ever interested in discussing this topic in relation to your business, feel free to contact me and let’s discuss it.
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