"We're a small business, we don't have, or need, a CRM"
--Small Business Owner
Every business has customer relationship management. If they create note cards and put them in a file cabinet, that's their CRM. If they use a master rolodex and put it in one person's office, that's their CRM. If they post notes up against a wall, that's their CRM. If you absorb only one idea let it be that customer relationship management is not software, it's an idea. Depending on the needs of your company, you may want the support of software.
A perfect example of a company with no software assistance, but still has excellent CRM, is the local coffee shop I frequent. A lead (or prospect) walks through the front door; they help the lead decide what product may suite their needs (if necessary) then record the order and deliver the product. If the product is flawed in one way or another, they fix the problem on the spot.
Conversely, one of my clients is a commercial real estate firm that works on deals spanning tens of millions of dollars. Potential customers spend months as leads and opportunities; time occupied with hundreds of phone conversation, thousands of emails and, at times, the involvement of dozens of agent. In this situation, they need detailed information about the probability (and value) of a purchase on a per lead or opportunity basis, and as a complete collection. They need to be able to segment and separate by a multitude of factors so they can acquire an accurate picture of future sales, performance of their marketing and the effectiveness of particular agents. They need to store all contact, events and files in an accessible central location. They need an automated system to make sure they never leave a prospect behind and this system must not interfere with their existing workflow, in fact it should make it more efficient.
In the formers circumstance, a report on the probability or value of a lead is unnecessary because the total time of the transaction is, at most, a few minutes. There is no need to have an automated (or otherwise) schedule for followup because they can simply ask if there is an issue with the coffee. And of course, there is no fear of leaving a prospect behind because they are in the same room as the sales agent for the entire transaction.
What makes these two situations different? There are three key factors:
- The time spent on each transaction
- The value of the purchase
- The number of representatives involved
If your business has long transaction times, the value of each customer is high, or you have multiple people involved with a single customer, you need CRM software. If you qualify on multiple points, a CRM system will dramatically improve your business efficiency.
What a CRM will do for your Business
A properly implemented CRM should:
- Store information about leads, opportunities and customers so that all the people involved stay informed
- Act as a central shared system for contacts, calendars and files
- Use reminders to make sure that you never leave a prospect behind
- Determine the effectiveness of marketing, industry segments or pretty much anything else
- Integrate into your existing workflow
- Reduce administration costs
Naturally, the reward of a CRM will vary across industries. A hair salon, dentist and architect all benefit from the centralized location of information and files. But only the architect would take advantage of the management of prospects (i.e. leads and opportunities) or the automation of tasks. With this in mind, you should adjust both the budget and urgency in which you implement a CRM based on its overall benefit.