When I ask people, “What is the most valuable asset in your business?” I get all sorts of answers. To me it is the one that can attract and retain customers, which is the job of the CRM – Customer Relationship Management database. While large companies spend millions of dollars on CRMs, surprisingly many small businesses still don’t have one despite the low entry cost for SMEs.
What Does a CRM Do and Why Do I Need One?
Rolodexes, paper files or Microsoft Excel were a reasonably effective way to manage information but are slow and disjointed and elements can be lost. Modern CRMs streamline how you manage, access and utilize your data by collating it all into one point, giving you a powerful centralized tool which becomes the intelligence centre, or brain, of your business – it moves a business from ‘seat of the pants’ management to ‘strategic data based management’
The value of a CRM system
1. Collect Prospect Information
Record prospect and customer details, tag them according to their interest, and keep them ‘warm’ until they are ready to take action by targeting them with campaigns suitable to them.
And once they become a customer your CRM helps retain them by keeping them engaged by targeting them with information and offers.
2. Improve The Customer Experience
By quickly providing accurate information to your customers and prospects eg pricing, stock levels, timeframes. You can even view their contact and purchase history, showing them you are organized, informed and efficient and that they are important to you.
3. Create New Opportunities.
The CRM keeps prospects and customers alive and engaged with you through email marketing strategies, reminders, special birthday/anniversary offers and so forth. It opens up possibilities that Excel and paper files never could.
4. Retain Your Information
Often the core information in your business is held by key people and if they are away or move on from the business, your information is lost. The CRM stores all this information locally so it is accessible to whoever requires it.
Automate many tasks from staff coffee orders to invoicing which will save your staff time and do the tasks that don’t get done. The wage savings through automation alone can often justify the cost.
6. Planning & Decision Making
Generate reports and dashboards that show what is actually going on in your business. Highlight sales per region, person and/or product as well as profit margins and expenses. You set it up to track and report on the areas that are key to you so you can plan and make informed decisions.
A CRM puts the customer at the centre of your business, making them the focus.
It is the fastest way to increase sales and profits, and add significant value to your business. It is an essential tool of the future focused business.
To get going, some CRMs are free and others have lite versions where you can add on components as you build it up. Most have extensive training videos or you can use people such as myself for advice and to get it up and running for you.
Work Smart & Prosper.