Are You Ready for a CRM?

Do you have business cards, brochures, emails, and contracts stuffed into sagging, unruly paper files? Excel spreadsheets threatening to corrupt because they’re so overloaded with company information? Stuff like contacts, project status, employee information, and marketing campaign data? Want to make your employees exponentially happier?

This all-too-common way of organizing business information is horribly inefficient—and you probably know it. A fire, crashed hard drive, or misplaced file pose a serious threat to your business. Many business owners continue to use these processes either because they think migrating to a different system will be too disruptive, or because they’re unaware that simpler, more efficient systems exist. Well, it’s time to yank company efficiency up by the bootstraps.

That’s where CRM comes in. CRM, or customer relationship management, is software that can be easily put in place to improve your workflow in many areas, including:

Intake Forms

You see these everywhere: A brief form on a website, Facebook page, or other online source that people fill out to request more information about products/services. Customer service forms work the same way, cross-checking the database to ensure that all information relating to that one customer is contained in one place.

How can this help improve efficiency?
Tying the online form in with a CRM means that leads will be automatically entered into your database. Some more robust CRMs, like Salesforce, will even automatically assign these leads to specific sales reps or other employees, all based on your specifications. Online customer service forms can work the same way.

Order Processing & Inventory

Most CRMs can handle order processing, making it so that commercial aspects of your business are seamlessly integrated with your website, marketing campaigns, sales and order processes, and financials. Your inventory can also be managed through your CRM, making warehousing and tracking products even easier.

How can this help improve efficiency?
Rather than manually tracking inventory and sales, eliminate inefficiencies caused by miscommunication and other common inter-departmental problems by using the CRM to help organize and automate the entire process.

Contact Management

This is particularly useful for companies with sales teams, as the sales manager can assign leads to specific sales reps and then can track the progress and notes for that lead. Contact management is also useful for keeping well-organized lists of clients/customers for future marketing campaigns.

How can this help improve efficiency?
By eliminating the need to keep spreadsheets and print-outs of customer information and leads, you minimize any possible duplication of information and storage issues. Take customer service, for example: The customer service rep can access all notes and information pertaining to a customer calling in, without having to leave her desk or ask others in the office for pertinent information. Sales teams benefit in much the same way.

Marketing Campaigns

You can use a CRM to track ROI, click-through rate, and other information relating to marketing campaigns, such as pay-per-click campaigns, postcards and other mailings, and any other marketing campaigns that your business uses to attract sales or new clients.

How can this help improve efficiency?
Imagine that, for a marketing campaign that costs you $5,000, a system automatically tracks sales entered into the CRM that relate to that campaign, giving you a real-time view of your ROI for that particular campaign. Wouldn’t that make it easier to forecast marketing budgets and plans for next year?

Other benefits include:

  • “Cloud-based,” meaning your files and data are stored off-site in a secure, password-protected database that is accessible on the Internet
  • Reporting on marketing, sales, inventory, etc.
  • Communicating between staff members using tasks
  • Project management
  • Customized workflow processes designed to satisfy the unique needs of your business

OK, How Do I Get Started?

There are some excellent CRMs out there, but it can be tough to determine which one to use. The first step in selecting a CRM that will work best for your budget, company size, and needs is to research the most popular ones, which include:

You’d be surprised how easy it is to convert your data in its current state to any of these systems. As it is, the time it will take should be seen as an investment, since the boost to your efficiency in the long run will be considerable. Consult those who have evaluated and work with the various types to determine which one to choose, and you’ll be on your way!

Do you have objections to using a CRM? Or do you have one you recommend to your colleagues over those listed here?

Management consultant and brand strategist for small teams. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

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Eric lany
11 years ago

Wonderful post and really very informative. It is now quite important that a every business should have a website designed and market the same on internet. SEO, social media etc. has made bright path for any business to enhance their sales online. Once again very nice post and I have subscribed your blog, hope you will post more good posts like this in near future. Thanks