In the early days of your startup or small business, there comes a time when you need to focus on productivity. This realization could hit you as you watch your sales team juggle multiple spreadsheets, search for Post-It notes they scribbled while on a phone call last week or spend hours keying in data manually instead of closing deals and talking to customers. Whatever the impetus, it’s time to focus on choosing the CRM system that fits perfectly to your business.
What you will learn in this article
- How a CRM system will help you and your business thrive
- What you need from a CRM system
- 4 tips for choosing the right CRM for your business
- CRM pitfalls to avoid
- How to get started with CRM
How CRM can come to the rescue
A CRM system lets your employees work together by giving them a shared working platform. Instead of operating separately in information silos, the right CRM solution lets you:
- Organize your customer data in one place
- Make marketing and sales work smoothly and seamlessly together
- Boost productivity
- Close deals faster and more efficiently
- Build lasting relationships with customers
What you need from a CRM solution
But choosing the right CRM provider can be a tricky proposition for small businesses. There are several items to remember, including:
- And the total cost of ownership
However, to help you on the road to the perfect CRM provider, please see our checklist of hot tips.
4 hot tips for choosing the right CRM system
Start at the end
What this means is to envisage where you want to go with a CRM system. First, take time to reflect on the fundamentals. What are your goals, and which specific problems do you want to solve with a CRM system? Don’t be vague; set achievable goals using the SMART method, i.e., Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-limited.
You are effectively drafting out your entire CRM strategy, so make sure it’s a good one. Your goals should be to close any gaps in marketing, sales, and customer support. And to provide friction-free support to the customer throughout their life cycle.
Some examples of SMART goals are:
- Cut customer churn by a fifth in the next quarter
- Reduce the length of your sales process by half
- Increase revenue by a third by the end of the financial year
Once you have well-defined goals, you can make solid plans to find the CRM vendor to get you where you want to be.
Identify your needs
Once you have a firm idea of the features you need to run your daily operations, it’s time to go CRM shopping. But hold on! You want to write a shopping list first. That way, you won’t get side-tracked by the flashy features and forget what you actually need. In addition, you will be able to check what the CRM vendor is offering against your checklist of functionality.
This is a critical step as it is estimated that around half of CRM features paid for never get used by the customer. This somewhat underscores the need for a shopping list based on:
- The integrations and customization you require to mold the CRM to your business
- How much training you and your staff will need
- And the level of support you need (though this in most cases should be 24/7)
Cloud-based or On-site
This is a significant question. But for small businesses, there is only one practical and feasible answer: cloud-based CRM. Both have pros and cons, of course. But, so long as you have a solid and robust internet connection, small businesses are well-advised to always opt for a cloud-based solution.
On-site solutions are expensive and a major upfront investment in servers and staff with the necessary IT skills to implement and maintain the system.
Cloud-based CRM, on the other hand, is subscription-based and charged on a per-user basis. So you know precisely how much you will pay each month. Plus, the servers and all the technical aspects are handled by the cloud CRM provider. All you do is sign up, log in and use the CRM like any other site you visit.
Shortlist and compare
As with any business decision you as a small business owner make, CRM involves the same evaluation process. Likewise, with CRM vendors, the process is the same: draw up a shortlist and compare and contrast. Just be sure that the comparison is meaningful and comparing like for like. Switching CRM systems – or implementing one for the first time – is a big task in itself. It’s therefore worthwhile taking your time and getting it right the first time. Here are some ideas to consider in your evaluation:
Service and support – Does the CRM provider run training events like webinars?
Online self-help – Are there case studies? Is there an extensive FAQ section and a knowledge base/learning center?
Customer support – Do they offer phone support? Do they have live chat 24/7? Is it easy to raise a ticket and get help?
Free-trial – These are essential to get a proper understanding of what is on offer. For example, how long is the free trial?
How to get started with CRM
Now that you have a plan tightly screwed down, the next step is to start the selection process. Small businesses should focus exclusively on cloud-based CRM solutions to short circuit what could be a protracted process. These are by any measure far more practical and affordable than on-site CRM will ever be for a small business.
Like any business decision you make, go into CRM with a plan. You can’t overestimate the difference a thought-through strategy will make in selecting the perfect CRM solution. Small businesses stand to gain massively from CRM. Don’t put it off any longer. Contact us today. We are the cloud CRM specialists for CRM and will help you make CRM a reality for your small business.