Aug 18, 2021
A CRM Might Be More Important to Your Business Than Phones
Are your salespeople still using Microsoft Excel for contact management? Maybe saving customer data in a big email inbox? You’re missing out big time. Staying engaged with customers is a difficult proposition for most small businesses. It’s also more difficult than it’s ever been since the pandemic has driven a distance wedge between sales teams and customers as well as salespeople themselves. Keeping track of customers, the status of deals and opportunities, and managing the rest of your business’ revenue pipeline are all tasks that are now harder than ever. That’s why these days, a small business-focused customer relationship management (CRM) system, especially one served up through the cloud, can be as indispensable to your typical salesperson as their smartphones.
Several research sources bear that out. A study by Grand View Research showed that CRM’s market size was at USD 43.7 billion in 2020, but should grow to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6% between 2021 and 2028. Fortunately, most businesses, even small concerns, seem to have gotten the memo. The same research report showed that around 91% of organizations, even those with as few as 10 employees, said they used a CRM system.
CRMs Do More Than Just Sales
What’s even more telling concerning the growing importance of CRMs for even small businesses, is that another report, this time the CRM Cloud Survey Report led by SoftClouds, showed that around 82% of respondents said they were using CRMs for more than just sales management. These companies said their CRMs were also helping with reporting and process automation in addition to the technology’s more traditional contact and pipeline duties. And still another report, this time the aptly-named Not Another State of Marketing Report 2021 from HubSpot, showed that over 40% of its respondents have begun using their CRMs to manage marketing campaigns, particularly those that targeted account-based marketing (ABM) and social media.
The move into social media marketing is an especially important development since Grand View’s study also said that over 67% of customers are having brand interactions using social media platforms, especially the big names, like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and the often-underrated Reddit. Integrating your CRM with the rest of your business is one of the best ways to see a quick return on investment (ROI) on the software’s expense. Aside from social media marketing and business analytics, many companies also use their CRM’s customer data to aid their help desk support technicians and establish fast, personal relationships with front-line retail operations by hooking into the store’s point of sale(POS) solution.
CRMs are Tools Not Watchdogs
If you’ve heard that many CRM implementations fail, you’ve heard right. According to the Harvard Business Review, the failure rate of these deployments can range as high as 90%, depending on the organization and its vertical. However, the same data showed why most of those implementations are face-planted. It’s because most organizations see CRM simply as a watchdog, not a sales tool.
An unfortunately typical CRM scenario is one where management deploys the platform and then asks salespeople to report there. The CRM doesn’t help anyone other than those who want to know which salesperson is doing what. That might help managers, but it doesn’t do anything for your sales teams and that was the whole point in the first place. Now it’s just a chore they need to put up with rather than a tool that helps them close more deals.
Getting the most from your CRM requires more than just signing up for user accounts. It would be best if you had some careful planning and a good deal of upfront work, and ironically, that’s even more important for small businesses than large ones. If you’re smaller, every customer interaction is that much more valuable so you need to squeeze as much benefit from them as you can. T hat’s the only way your CRM can really help you build long-lasting relationships rather than just a long series of quick sales.
You should start by gathering all the customer data you’ve currently got names from marketing lists, help desk support calls, and whatever customer data your sales department has collected to date. Everything. Sort it, collate it, and then build CRM profiles for each customer. Not every entry needs to have the same information; just make sure it’s everything you’ve got for that customer.
Generally, CRMs specifically designed for small businesses, like Bigin by Zoho or Salesforce Essentials, make this data entry easy enough for anyone to do it. But if your tools are complex enough that you’ll need some help, that’s worth the money. You’ve already spent the bucks on the CRM, so if you need to spend a little more to really use it, then do that or your initial investment will be wasted.
A CRM shouldn’t be rolled out to salespeople as a big empty bucket they need to fill. It should already be filled with everything your organization knows about every current and past customer so they can use that information to close deals and create new opportunities out of the gate. Managing opportunities and your revenue pipeline will come as soon as salespeople start giving the CRM real, actionable data and the only way you’ll get them to do that is to make sure the software will help them from the get-go.
Using Your CRM Day-to-Day
Once you’ve got your CRM all rolled out, make sure there’s a step-by-step process for not just your salespeople but for anyone who might benefit from the system. So, for example, while your sales team is using the CRM to track the most likely process and record deal data, your product development team can use it to see exactly which products or versions are selling the best and even why.
And wouldn’t your help desk technicians be happier if when an irate customer called their softphone instantly popped up that person’s CRM record complete with how happy the salesperson perceived them to be, which products they bought over the past several years and why, as well as what kinds of other products or upgrades they might want? That information could flow back and forth between sales, support, marketing, and product development all because you’re using the CRM as an opportunity engine rather than just a deal recorder.
But the key to making this work is communication. If a senior manager or even the entire IT department configures the CRM and even adds all the data I just described and then rolls it out to the rest of the company, you’re still going to have a high risk of failure. Why? Because you didn’t communicate.
Talk to everyone you imagine can benefit from a big, constantly evolving database of customer information (because that’s what CRMs are) and find out how they’d use it. Not how you or IT think they’d use it, but the actual day-to-day habits these employees must get work done. And, yes, that’ll take a bunch of talking and a certain amount of trust on both sides. You’re about to see exactly how the sausage gets made. Match that information to what your CRM can do and what your data can provide and see how you can help them.