As small and medium business (SMB) grows from seed to expansion to established stage, your business challenges would vary and you’ll see a shift in the priorities over the period of time. But maintaining strong foundation for growth will always be a constant to help you power your businesses into the future. In order to build that foundation, you need to make the right decisions to:
- Keep your costs down so that your growth is scalable to increase profits over time. For example, if rate of increase in revenue is same as rate of increase of team, then you are growing, not scaling.
- Continue to innovate and improve your back-office business processes
- Attract and retain customers
Customer Relationship Management or CRM software can help SMBs with this level of decision making and management. CRM system can help eradicate complexity and propel your SMB successfully through the growth curve.
What are the advantages of customer relationship management system or why use a CRM?
Instead of sharing a list of features of CRM, I’ll answer this question by breaking it into two parts.
- What are the common problems for which SMBs are already investing in CRM system.
- How CRM can help SMBs to build a strong foundation for growth and scalability.
A. Some of the most common problems solved by CRM software
Recently, I interacted with two SMBs, both at different stages of growth. Both the companies have recently implemented CRM in their companies. This gave me a chance to learn about the pain points that helped them build a business case for the CRM implementation in their respective organizations. I’m sharing those insights here to give you a realistic idea about the kind of problems that CRM can help solve within your organisation.
Problems shared by the small business owner while briefing Cymetrix before the CRM implementation:
- Difficulty in tracking of sales team activity
- Forecasting revenue
- Tracking sales call history
- Inability to track leads effectively with a longer sales cycle.
- Disjointed and disorganised information spread across multiple platforms.
- Ineffective reporting leading to delayed business decisions
Pain points of a mid-sized financial investment advisory firm which they referred to while justifying recent investment in CRM software:
- Lack of internal coordination
- Difficulty in tracking and measuring the sales process
- Team management issues including tracking attendance, work shift hours and unmeasured team productivity.
- Silo-ed departments such as sales and IT which were unable to provide a seamless experience to the customer
- Unable to resolve customer queries “on time” due to dependency on various departments.
- Disorganized opportunity management
B. How CRM can help small and medium business?
Let’s take a look at advantages of using a CRM system especially from the perspective of SMBs. To present the benefits of customer relationship management, I’ve covered five aspects directly affecting the growth and scalability of small and medium businesses.
1. Focus on leads which matters
When a business witnesses a steady increase in lead generation, the juggling of resources intensifies in order to nurture and convert those leads. Simply expanding the sales team is not an answer. As a growing SMB, you cannot play by the same rules as the corporate giants, yet it’s crucial to manage this growth well. So start with focusing on leads which matter. Not all leads generated through marketing efforts are ready to convert. Park cold leads and spend more time in attending to those which have a higher probability to convert.
That’s where lead and contact segmentation comes in. CRM gives you the ability to create different groups of customers so that you can communicate with them in different ways. With features such as lead prioritisation, automatic reminders, lead nurturing and notes, businesses can expect to see improvement in the funnel management with a clear focus on the leads which matters. That’s one of the main CRM benefits for business of any size.
2. Keep your team on the same page
Your sales team wants to sell – not fight with cluttered inboxes or messy spreadsheets. But with a growing team, even a small business can mismanage tracking sales activities, in spite of decent email trails and up-to-date spreadsheets. And when the sales cycles are longer, or worse, of variable length of time, lack of coordination between the sales team is a perfect opportunity for leads to slip through the cracks.
What do you think is the problem in the following scenario?
Consider a service based business whose customers don’t take immediate buying decisions. Their website leads land up directly in the email inbox. The sales rep manually enters the opportunity/ lead into custom software or a spreadsheet. She then establishes contact with the lead to qualify it, update the spreadsheet with her comments. She arranges for the site survey, coordinates with the engineer and schedules the survey date. The team of engineers upload their filed data on Google Drive. This is manageable with a smaller number of leads, but confusion starts building up when the business starts receiving higher number of leads every day.
Imagine the pain of the sales manager when he tries to keep a constant pulse on the daily sales processes. Following up with the lead after the survey, negotiations, call logs. How much can up-to-date emails and spreadsheets help here?
Businesses can keep their teams at the same page by using one unifying platform i.e CRM. Many CRM systems let you collaborate with your entire team and even build on cross departmental collaboration.
3. Be known for a better customer experience
Some of the world’s leading companies have at least one thing in common- great customer Service. But such companies do not start paying attention to customer service after generating great revenue, but while they are evolving. Customer service is a part of growth plan of any successful company. Why? Because it’s the customers, not the products or services holding the keys to profitability.
The financial advisory business in my earlier example was ( and still is) witnessing rapid growth and they were increasingly facing challenge of keeping pace with customer support due to the dependency on other departments, until they invested in CRM.
By using a CRM software, businesses can resort to quick labeling of customer issues, using canned responses effectively to resolve customer complaints. CRM can also improve a company’s customer service practices, helping employees respond to clients’ queries quickly and effectively.
4. Increase revenue from existing customers
Strengthening relationship with your existing customers can help you in realizing their full profit potential. They have a much higher chance of buying as compared to persuading a prospective client to make a purchase.
But up-selling and cross-selling are not the only way to maximize profits from your existing clients. If they’re happy, they’ll tell their network. It’s really that simple. Customer referrals are still one of the key sources of new business.
Using your CRM software, you can send targeted emails to segments of your customer base that relate to them and their individual needs. But using your CRM software is not restricted to one-off promotional emails. In fact, you can set up elaborate nurturing campaigns that keep your customers in the loop about current offers, company happenings, and more. Thanks to its contact management, email, and nurturing features, you can reach your customers in a targeted, personalized way that encourages them to continue engaging with you. You begin to create loyalists, who will become advocates of your brand in their personal lives.
You might also be interested in: 3 ways a CRM can help build customer relationships
5. Accurate sales forecasting
For a growing small business, increase in lead generation could be used as a misleading factor to make business decisions to set targets, plan resources, compensations plans, investor expectations, etc. By using a CRM with sales forecast reports, sales teams can fine-tune their selling strategy. Sales reps can see how they’re tracking against their quotas at any given moment, while sales managers can make more informed business decisions on how their team should manage its resources.
The ability to organize and easily access customer information isn’t just about making it easier for you and your team. It can also make the experience much easier and more positive for your customers or potential customers. In fact, all benefits of CRM tie back to the underlying benefit of improved customer experience and as a result, deeper personal relationships. I hope I’ve answered this question question for you – ‘What can CRM do for my business?’
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Getting started with Customer Relationship Management
CRM is not just a technical solution, but a combination of methodologies, practices, strategies and technologies which collectively help business in developing stronger customer relationships. If your company wants to invest in your customers, a CRM consultant can bring clarity, strategic planning and an understanding of customer- based processes at the highest level.
When looking at the top CRM systems vendors, a simple search will show you that Salesforce put cloud-based customer relationship management on the map, and is an award winning CRM solution. Cymetrix Software can help you understand whether CRM is the right solution for your business and offer consultation to guide your Salesforce CRM project. Cymetrix is one of the leading Salesforce consulting partners and a trusted technology adviser for SMEs. The company has offices in USA and India.