What is a CRM and why do I need one?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. A CRM system is the computerized system or application you use to manage all of you customer information.
In its basic form, a CRM is a database of customer names, addresses and contact information. However, CRM software has become a hot commodity over the years and now many companies use a CRM system at the center of their customer and administrative processes. They can do so much more than just track customers!
From a growth standpoint, a CRM system is used to find leads, follow up with prospects and nurture them through the sales pipeline. A CRM system is also used to maintain customer loyalty by storing key information to boost sales — for instance, by personalizing the experience and providing excellent customer support.
Although there are many solutions that can do this for businesses, the beauty of CRM software is that it can accomplish these tasks automatically, using just one solution. It can also integrate data from other areas of your business without any additional work.
CRMs are by far my favourite software systems to build and use and they really enhance my philosophy of working smarter since many tasks can be automated. All businesses should have a CRM however, which CRM remains one of the biggest questions to be answered since they all have different features and functions and all cost different amount. The criteria for choosing a CRM can be split into three questions or categories:
• How much are you willing to pay?
• How many people do you need to access your CRM system (these could be staff, contractors and/or customers)
• What features does your business require in a CRM software?
Price and number of users are usually fairly easy to come up with, but features of the system is where it gets tough. If you are not a process oriented person it can be hard to visualize all the areas of your business that a CRM can assist with and, like most software, it’s only as good as the user. Some companies pay hundreds of dollars for fancy CRM software only to get lost in the interface and not make the most of all the bells and whistles, so it’s important to consider where you are now and where you want to be in five or ten years. Picking a scalable CRM now means not having to change systems when your company grows which can, in the long run, be costly as you spend time or hire someone to move all your data over.
Here is a list of the most common functions that can be found in CRMs. Note – not all CRMs will have all the functions and there is not a one size fits all system. Unless you are planning on paying thousands of dollars for a custom built system, you may have to settle for as good as you can afford!
Prepared to be wowed by the astounding list of features some CRMs can handle:
• Customer Relationship Management
• Project Management
• Social Media integration
• Task/To do lists
• E-mail marketing
• Contract management with digital signatures
• Payment Gateway
• Online Sales/POS
• Workflow Automation
• Integrations with other software
• Lead Management/Capture
• Subscription and payment schedule management
• Help Desk functionality
• Online Booking
• Calendar integration
• Telephony Integration
• Web Engagement (landing pages, web forms, etc.)
• Analytics and reporting
• Staff/employee management
• Vendor management
• Sales pipelines
Multipurpose or high sales
Systems can be split into two types: multipurpose and high sales.
Multipurpose CRMs are those that are geared towards more service oriented businesses and can carry out multiple functions. One of the biggest features of multi-function CRMs is the ability to send and receive digitally signed contracts, estimates and proposals.
High sales systems are designed to work with your sales platforms such as your website, landing page and social media pages and are geared towards businesses that are doing hundreds of product sales per day. Their biggest features are around Communication and Marketing.
There are also CRM systems designed specifically for certain industries such as Automotive, Retail, Transportation, and Consignment to name but a few.
Here are some of my favourite small business CRMs, however this is by no means an exhaustive list!
• Agile CRM (multipurpose/high sales)
• Dubsado (multipurpose)
• 17 Hats (multipurpose)
• Infusionsoft (high sales)
• Timely Salon CRM (multipurpose)
• Hubspot CRM (high sales)
• Bitrix24 (multipurpose)
• Sugar CRM (high Sales)
Find your CRM solution
Bottom line – EVERY business should have a CRM. It certainly can give you a great ROI if it’s the right one for you, properly configured and used to the best of its abilities. Choosing and building a CRM however is not everyone’s forte and if you feel that you don’t have the confidence or skills to take this on, then it’s worth while having it selected and built by a CRM expert. Speaking of which, you don’t happen to see one around here do you?