Your Company Needs CRM
When you open a business there are some tools you need and some you grow into. A website, some accounting software and a phone are necessities but you don’t need customer relationship management software before you have customer relationships to manage. So, how do you know when you need to invest in CRM?
You’re Tracking Sales Activity With Excel
This example may be cliché but it’s all to common. You can also swap Excel for Outlook, Google Calendar or your smartphone. All of these tools – when used together – have the ability to track contacts, store data and send communication. What they don’t have is the ability to tie that information to a central database and make it accessible.
A common complaint about using a CRM system is that entering data takes too long, but haphazardly tracking data across a handful of different systems takes even longer. It can also leave massive blind spots in your sales process and wastes even more time when you struggle to track those records down in the future.
You Have Multiple People Talking To Your Customers
All of the above might be manageable if you’re a solo entrepreneur with a mind like a steel trap. However, if you’ve got multiple employees interacting with customers, whether they’re salespeople, technicians or office staff, it’s easy to start tripping over one another.
Any CMR worth its salt – Dynamics CRM 2013, for example – allows you to set emails regarding specific contacts, accounts and opportunities. Every piece of correspondence regarding that person, company or opportunity will be visible to every member of the team, which means no more cc’ing, forward or fighting about who said what, to who and when.
You Don’t Touch Each Account Every Quarter
Effectively responding to customer needs is the first step in successful relationship management. However, if you’re waiting for your clients to complain about an issue or call you up to buy something, you’re probably leaving money on the table. Your goal should be to touch each account once every quarter to stay top-of-mind.
This is possible with Outlook, recurring appointments or a spreadsheet but it’s a lot of work. When something is a lot of work, it’s probably not going to get done. A CRM system will allow you to view the accounts that haven’t had any activity for weeks, months or years. It makes keep up to date with your clients easier than remember to call your Mom on her birthday.
Customer Service Issues Keep Recurring
Customer complaints shouldn’t feel like déjà vu. The goal should be to eliminate recurring issues or, at the very least, make them as simple as possible to resolve. Before you can do that you need to identify which issues really are recurring and data does that more effectively than anecdotes.
Most CRM systems have a service management section in addition to the sales management piece. (Though some are only available for anadditional cost.) This allows you to take advantage of the same type of analytics available to sales departments and proactively address issues you may not even been aware of.
You Dread Vacations or Turnover
Does work on a deal stop cold when a sale rep. goes on vacation? When someone leaves, do you need to sort through their email to figure out what they were working on? You can jerry-rig all kinds of stuff (see the first point) to get you through the good times but a solid CRM will keep you on track when things get a little shaky.
With a CRM system you have the ability to sort records by owner and then transfer those records to new owners. You can also grant one user – like the one covering for you while you’re in Cuba – temporary access to records they need to ensure things keep moving when you’re not in the office.