If you are new to CRM, it can seem impenetrable at first. However, with a bit of background knowledge, it needn’t be the tech jungle you fear. In this beginner’s guide to all things CRM, you will get up to speed on the basics and discover how CRM can energize your small business.
What you will learn in this article
- What CRM is all about and why you should use it
- The key CRM features
- How you can use these features
- Why a cloud CRM is best for small business
- How to get started with CRM
What’s CRM, and why you need it
CRM (long-form Customer Relationship Management) is a tool that is a new collaborative environment to conduct your business. It supports marketing and sales and builds stronger, more long-lasting relationships with customers, leads, and prospects.
CRM’s key features help you to :
- facilitate team collaboration
- integrates with social media and your existing tools
- provides a shared platform to get the company working together as one
- and works on mobile devices
If you are currently using a cobbled-together manual system, you are missing out on the key selling point of CRM. These include:
- Keeping up-to-date customer contact details
- Tracking every customer interaction
- and managing customer accounts
When you consider how much data a modern business generates, it’s challenging to keep track. But, with a CRM system, every phone call, email, meeting, and follow-up gets logged, so you don’t miss a single trick.
Without a CRM solution in place, you are relying on a swathe of unconnected storage; from people’s notebooks, laptops, or in their heads. This reliance on manual input makes it all too easy to forget or lose details or completely overlook meetings and promised follow-up calls. Even deciding which leads to prioritize is down to guesswork and gut instinct rather than actual data. In the worst-case scenario, data stored in people’s heads go with them if they decide to move on.
Therefore, a CRM system ensures efficiency and productivity and turns your raw data into actionable insights that can transform your fortunes. Records are kept in real-time, and if you select a cloud-based CRM, as you should, you can access your system wherever you are.
The essential CRM features
All CRM systems will have all these features in common.
- Contact management – All the real-time information about your customers, including contact details and buying history.
- Lead management – CRM enables you to track your pipelines closely, as well as tasks and targets. So you have the complete picture from prospect status to paying customers.
- Sales forecasting – Sales forecasting enables your team to stay on top of their pipelines more efficiently, qualify leads faster and more accurately, and see how close they are to hitting sales targets. Sales managers can use CRM to understand performance and manage their staff better.
- Instant messaging – CRM systems come with private, built-in instant messaging to help collaborate better and faster. For example, say there is some uncertainty about a customer request. The staff member can instantly get help from co-workers or management to resolve the issue.
- Email integration – CRM syncs your email accounts into a single inbox. Outlook and Gmail integration mean You can also access calendars and contacts across all your devices.
- File and content sharing – Users can upload data and share it easily and instantly with their co-workers.
- Analytics – As CRM is essentially a centralized database, information is aggregated and presented to users via personal dashboards. These dashboards can be customized to suit each user’s needs. The analytics gives users unparalleled insight into business performance.
Why cloud-based CRMs are best for small companies
Few, if any, small businesses today would contemplate having an on-site CRM system. Firstly, they are costly to implement and challenging to maintain; you need an IT department. In addition, they aren’t easy to scale up when your business grows.
By comparison, a cloud-based CRM is:
- Easy to use and secure
- Simple to customize
- Can grow with your businesses
- The CRM provider handles all updates and upgrades
Arguments for cloud-based CRM
- Cost: Minimal capital investment, no implementation delay, and straightforward monthly subscription.
- Security and maintenance: The CRM provider maintains the servers and is responsible for security updates as part of the monthly subscription fee.
- Competetiveness: New features can easily be switched on and off remotely and made immediately available to users.
- Mobility: Being cloud-based, you can access your CRM system from any web-enabled device.
- Disaster recovery: Data security and backups are included in the monthly subscription.
The other features are that cloud CRM integrates with your existing tools, and the technology has a proven track record of innovation. You’re unlikely to encounter problems if you have a robust internet connection.
With remote and home working increasingly becoming the norm, cloud CRM is well placed to facilitate this new paradigm and leverage advances in Artificial Intelligence.
Mobile CRM tools allow salespeople to access critical business data on the move. They can also update records while out in the field so that office-bound colleagues can follow up with real-time information.
How to get started with CRM
The best route into CRM for small companies is via cloud-based CRM providers. Your next step should be trying out CRM on a free trial basis. These are easy to arrange and an excellent risk-free window into customer relationship management software.
Trial demo accounts are usually good for 14-days. This should be sufficient time to establish – A) you like the feel and user interface, and B) whether CRM can take your business to the next level of growth and customer experience provision.
It has become increasingly apparent in recent years that CRM is the secret to unlocking business growth. Small businesses are following this lead – and the money – by investing in CRM, and you should too. Find out more today by contacting us. So don’t put it off, do it now. We sure are lovely guys and specialize in making CRM a success for small businesses.