I have yet to see a business that, sometimes in spite of themselves, didn't benefit from implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or a simpler Contact Management software solution.
Your small business might be the rare exception, but if you can relate to some of the following scenarios, you may be ready to take advantage of the improved and inexpensive CRM systems coming on-stream.
Mary, your star sales performer, has just been poached by your opposition. She departs your employ with immediate effect. You are left wondering:
What deals was she working on?
What is the status of those deals?
Mary's replacement would be able to hit the ground running, taking over where Mary left off if you have a small business CRM solution installed.
You need to do an e/mail marketing campaign to your customer base, but even the simple task of extracting a targeted list of all your client's names and addresses proves difficult. And you haven't even begun to send out your mailer yet, never mind manage and follow through with your responses.
Your sales people spend an inordinate amount of time preparing themselves for the next day, deciding who they are going to call or visit. That information should be spat out by the Task List of the CRM or Contact Manager, freeing them up to spend more time productively doing scenario planning, and selling.
Is getting reports from your sales people like pulling teeth? Do your reps spend far too long compiling data and reports essential to forward planning?
This is time that you'd far preferably have your employees spend doing what they are paid to do - sell your
products. We only have a finite amount of time to contact and meet clients. Employees should, as far as possible, discipline themselves to perform the bulk of admin 'after hours', rather than during office hours. The right CRM tools will yet again put you on the right track.
These are all reports that could be generated at the touch of a button, and winging their way to your inbox with another, if you have the right CRM solution in place. You could even, depending on your choice of CRM solution, have reports extracted and forwarded to you automatically.
Nobody can sleep well in the knowledge that their biggest asset, their customer database, is in a mess! It may look pretty, but does it work?
Here are some other possible questions that you need answers for; the facts may remain elusive without the benefit of a functional CRM solution.
Why did you lose that deal?
Just when did you promise to get back to ACME Inc., after their budget gets approved?
Exactly how much did you quote them?
Who last engaged with that client from your sales/service or accounts departments; when, and what transpired?
When does their contract with your competition or with you expire?
What is the weighted value of those potential deals, forecast for the next x months?
You have a great new deal sweetener and need to get a mailer, fax shot, emailer out to your clients in a hurry, but how?
Who are your VIP customers - by region, product, rep or any other user-defined category? How do you rate or profile them?
You can't pinpoint just why Johnny is having problems closing deals.
You want to sell your business but you can't show your prospective buyers a professional, current list of your pending deals or active clients, the goodwill that makes much of the real value of any business.
These are just a few of the questions a competent CRM application should be able to answer for you.
Next time up, we'll examine the different types of CRM or Contact Management solutions that you should consider for your small business.
One thing is for certain ? a few short months after implementing your CRM solution, you'll wonder how on earth you ever got by without it!
About the author:
Perry Norgarb has specialized in CRM solutions for small businesses for the last 15 years.
Contact him or find out more about Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Contact Management and other Sales Tracking software tips and solutions for small businesses at: http://www.smallbizcrm.com.
You are free to re-publish this article as long as this bio box and copyright remain intact and the links 'live'. ? 26, April, 2005.