Long before mobile phones, the Internet and social media, there was a small desktop file device called the Rolodex, the name of which comes from a combination of “rolling” and “index.” The Rolodex is an easy-to-use rotating card file that has hundreds of removable index cards in alphabetical order. Each card features contact information of customers, clients, and prospects. In many cases, business owners and sales people also add notes, status updates, and other relevant information to their customers’ Rolodex cards. Today, customer information is just as important as it was in years past, but there are now faster and more secure ways to input, store and access it.
We are talking about customer relationship management (CRM) systems, which essentially take the Rolodex, spreadsheets, and other outdated methods of record keeping to an entirely new level. CRM software can be used to gain insight into your customers, prepare and process quotes, forecast sales goals, track sales performance, share documents internally, track emails, and more. If you are looking to acquire CRM software for your company, this Balboa Capital blog post is a must-read. It explains five huge benefits of CRM software for small businesses.
What is a CRM system?
Before you purchase or finance a CRM system for your business, you need to understand what it is, and what it can be used for. As mentioned earlier in this blog post, CRM is the acronym for Customer Relationship Management. It is an integrated and customizable software solution that enables businesses to manage information about their customers and prospects from a single location, often referred to as an online portal or a data repository. Information can be entered, updated, and saved anytime, anywhere with a secure Internet connection. This enables sales representatives, marketing managers, and customer service representatives, among others, to access and review the latest information about their customers in real-time.
CRM systems can also be used to track and nurture sales opportunities at every step of the buying cycle, from cold leads to warm prospects to actual conversions. Plus, CRM systems do not stop working once a prospect becomes a customer. They are also used to cross-sell and up-sell customers after their initial purchases, gather customer feedback, promote company news, send birthday messages, and much more. When done right, a CRM system can boost productivity, increase sales, and provide customers with a five-star brand experience.
1. Helps drive sales results.
It goes without saying that your small business cannot survive without sales. That is why you need more than capable, knowledgeable sales representatives and account managers on your staff. You also need a well-structured sales process that makes it easier to close deals. CRM software can help make this happen.
You can use it to create customer profiles, build a sales pipeline, send automated tasks and messages to your sales team members, and provide your customers and prospects with the right information when they need it.
2. Builds strong customer relationships.
Understanding your customers’ goals, preferences and expectations, and knowing what they have purchased at your business, can help you provide customer service and follow-up in a timely and more personalized manner. For example, if you own a clothing boutique and an existing customer calls to inform you that a shirt they purchased does not fit quite right, you can use your CRM to access important and useful information.
This includes the customers’ purchase history, contact information, email address, and previous communications notes with your employees. By having access to your customers’ profile, they will not have to repeat their story and explain their issue, and you will be able to address their problem quickly and easily. This can result in happier customers and positive word-of-mouth for your business.
3. Increases employee productivity.
It is easy to lose focus at work because of unavoidable distractions. Text messages, emails, unscheduled meetings, ringing telephones, last-minute requests, busy offices and crowded sales floors can all hinder productivity. CRM software cannot prevent common distractions and interruptions from occurring, but it can help you and your employees overcome operational obstacles such as unorganized databases, outdated address books, and inefficient sales tracking systems.
With a CRM system, you and your employees will no longer have to jump from one place to another to access customer information, sales data, and marketing reports, to name just a few. A CRM system has these and many other features and capabilities in one convenient location. This saves time and helps you and your team stay focused and productive.
4. Provides accurate analytics.
With CRM software, you can finally put all of those spreadsheets with sales forecasts, financial data, inventory lists, marketing information, and more into a single, “digital warehouse” that updates everything instantly. This eliminates the need to manually run a bunch of reports each month. So long as sales numbers and data are entered correctly into your CRM system, you will always have accurate information readily available.
There are CRM analytics tools available that provide estimated win/loss probabilities for deals, estimated close dates for outstanding deals, and projected revenue based on the deals in your sales pipeline. Finally, if you own a small business in the retail or hospitality industry, you can integrate your point-of-sale (POS) system with your CRM system to track customer purchasing habits, run sales reports and keep tabs on your inventory.
5. Automates your marketing efforts.
Managing a digital marketing campaign requires a lot of time, effort and testing. As a result, small business owners who are too busy with their day-to-day operations often overlook marketing. CRM software give you the power to automate some of your digital marketing efforts.
You can schedule promotions, discounts and news about your small business, and send them to your customers via email at the right time. As an example, a bike store might automatically send its customers promotions for safety equipment, new tires or twice-yearly bicycle inspections and tune-ups.