Many of us start our businesses as a one-man show. Handling all your own marketing, meeting customers, admin and even filing. Because we start this way, it’s easy to just use an Excel spreadsheet and, for some of us, even a filing cabinet to keep track customers. However, as a business begins to grow, failure to invest in a good database or a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software will hinder your plans to grow. So a good CRM is something you need to consider.
As your business grows, you will have all sorts of contact with your customers. They may call with questions, even pass on a referral or you’ve agreed on some actions point. Handwritten notes typed into a spreadsheet are clumsy and might work okay if you have less than 50 customers because at that stage you’re likely to still remember everyone.
So, let’s look at some reasons why you should consider replacing spreadsheets with something more powerful to help you grow…
What did we talk about?
Remembering what your last conversation with a customer about gets fairly difficult. It’s just not practical to search your files or flicking through your notebook every time. This problem is easily solved with a CRM.
Almost all CRMs will allow you to make note entries into the customers online file. Some even automatically time-stamp the date and time you entered the note or activity. Also, many CRMs also have apps for the smart phone, so can have details available instantly. And you can also add/update information on the go.
Keeping those hard-won customers.
We know that the cost of gaining a new customer is more expensive than keeping an existing customer. Depending on your type of business, there are features that allow you track and issues reminders when you need to make contact with your customers. For example, you may want to schedule catch-up calls or contract renewals. The appreciation by your customers for this contact cannot be understated. Just knowing that you care enough to call and update them on any changes and offer new some options, makes them feel they are in good hands. If you have this need, select a database that helps you organise your activity to build loyalty among my customers.
Save time, be productive.
Perhaps the most logical reason to use a CRM for your customers is that it makes you more productive. If each of your staff saves 5 minutes per hour, each day because you have a basic but efficient CRM, that’s 140 hours a year or 4 weeks per staff member! It’s equal to instantly making your business more than 8% more productive.
With a CRM, all the information is right in front of you. You can literally pull up that customers file on your laptop as you are exchanging telephone pleasantries. By the time
they tell you the purpose of their call, you have already perused the history from your last call and ready to talk with them.
Sell more to the right people for less.
Full-featured CRMs are usually powerful enough to store and process everything, from customer contact details, activity history and even accounts, to new prospects, leads and business opportunities. Some CRMs help you select segments of your data to target, run and track marketing campaigns, such as product promotions and email newsletters.
Is my business growing?
Most business CRMs have some form of reporting capabilities – from analysing input data, sales, productivity and anticipating trends and customers’ needs. If you’re planning a strategy for growth, a good CRM system will be your business’ most valuable resource and the information within it a most valuable asset.
In addition, by introducing a CRM, you benefit from:
- Zero data duplication – all data entered once only
- Minimise data entry errors as many fields have input checking and controlled drop down lists
- Helps to standardise data for faster more accurate reporting
- Sharing data through whole business – no personal spreadsheets holding vital information
- Empowering staff by freeing them of tedious admin and allowing them to spend more time being productive
- Access security to manage who can review/change/copy information
- Backup security to ensure information can be recovered if required
Many of us work with tight budgets for the first few years of our business journey and have to choose wisely about where to spend our hard-earned profits. There are many free and affordable CRM packages available. Some industries even have specialised CRMs designed for their type of business activity. Researching the right one for you and then investing in the CRM is a wise decision because you are planning to be around for the long run.