For a small business their customer & lead database is the heart of their sales process. Without an organized system for tracking who you sell to, how you sold them and what they bought a sales team will find themselves engaged in a wild goose chase on inefficiency and low profits.
Large corporations often have entire departments dedicated to standardizing the sales process and training their sales reps on their highly customized CRM process. Small businesses, however, don’t have the luxury of cost or time to establish extensive procedures or elaborate systems. None the less, small businesses have a very real need for a streamlined system to track their customer relationships. Luckily in the past few years some excellent services have appeared that can help your small business maintain an improved system of customer engagement.
While a spread sheet and a tidy Outlook contacts file are a good start you might want to consider one of the CRM service options if you’ve found yourself suffering from any of these common sales process road blocks:
- Remembering you talked to somebody at Acme Client but you’re not quite sure who it was or what asked for.
- Sent out a whole bunch of sample kits but lost track of where they went and how long ago.
- Passed a client off to the next in the sales chain but you’re not sure if they ever followed up with them.
- Find yourself sending out the same single email to people throughout the day/week/promotion.
- Continually realize there are ways your current system fails or creates gaps in your efficiency.
This post isn’t intended to endorse one service over another -we will leave you to do your own investigating- it is intended to help you recognize the need for having a CRM system in place and some factors to consider when looking in to your options. So, here is a list of things to keep in mind before you sign up for a CRM system:
A good system will allow you to easily:
- Track contact w/ each customer (Phone, email, face-to-face)
- Take notes about client interaction
- Integrate with your other systems
- Track the sales process with each lead and customer
- Manage your timeline of interactions, emails, appointments, etc and alert you if a deadline is approaching.
- Most importantly, look at your existing process and identify the weaknesses you should hopefully be able to find a solution that resolves most, if not all, of those issues.
Before you approve the payment ask:
- Do they have a service level that fits your budget? CRM services can help make you more profitable but don’t put all your money into the system and not the clients.
- Can you easily navigate the user interface? Most services will allow you a trial period, if you find actually using the service to be cumbersome or confusing from the start you’ll most likely end up abandoning it eventually.
- Is there room to customize? Your sales process is distinct to your business you should be able to tailor the service you use to maintain that process.
- What kind of customer support do they provide? Do they offer webinars or training so ensure you understand how to properly use all the service’s bells and whistles? If something goes wrong will you be able to rely on them to help you find a solution?
Now that you have a starting point go forth and find the solution that best suits your company’s needs. With a standardized CRM process in place you’ll be able to focus more efficiently –and hopefully, profitably- on your customers.
Some Options To Consider: