OPINION: Hang around any business group on Facebook and you’ll see a panicked “What’s a CRM and do I need one?” on a fairly regular basis. Marketers seem to love this question – as it’s a great opportunity to push their preferred solution.
The truth is you may need it, or you might not. And there are a huge variety of them to choose from so while we rate the two we use with clients, I’m not arrogant enough to believe they fit all businesses best.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management system. It helps you track the developing relationship between your business and a prospect, moving them to a lead, to a sale and then looking after them beyond the sale.
You’ve more likely got one of some sort. It might be a notebook, a whiteboard, or a spreadsheet. Or you’ve gone all-in and got yourself a cloud-based one that you can do fancy things with, like creating automation for certain actions, sending reminders to follow people up, and tracking your sales success.
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We often get asked if a business needs a CRM. If you have a retail business or are in E-commerce, we’ll most likely suggest an email marketing platform with automation to help stay in contact with your clients.
If you are a little business, not planning to grow your client numbers, and you know every contact well, you are not likely to need an online CRM – a whiteboard, a notebook or a Kanban board on your wall may be sufficient
But for everyone else, some sort of CRM is beneficial. Like anything, it’s only beneficial if you set it up right, and use it. Hopping from CRM to CRM can often happen when you choose an option that isn’t sustainable in the long run or was never set up to best suit your business. A good CRM can offer significant value to your business, especially if it also connects with other systems, simplifying processes in your business.
There are a wide variety of benefits to having a CRM, but here are my top five.
It stores information
It takes all the knowledge in your head and puts it in a central space so other people can access it. When the leads are coming in, it’s hard to stay on top of everything. Here you can pop your notes and any promises of follow up.
It helps you prioritise tasks
A CRM helps you easily locate where people are in the sales cycle (from initial thoughts to almost about to commit). You can then prioritise who you contact most and don’t forget people. It’s easier to forget when you are busy!
It reduces admin
I’m not a fan of admin, and I’m often the person in charge of sales for Identify Marketing. I’m, essentially, the weak link! However, I’ve found that a well set up CRM helps me spend less time on admin (and discovering I could just photocopy my meeting notes and attach them to each person’s notes was life-changing).
It helps project what’s coming
Small businesses often fall into the trap of not noticing the pipeline’s drying up until the sales stop. We’re busy working. With a CRM you can easily see how many people (and the value of the deals) at each stage of the selling journey, and check that people are still coming in at the top.
It helps you make decisions on your marketing
As a marketer, this is my favourite part. We’ve completely altered how and where we market after being able to measure why types of marketing gave us the best leads and the best customers. It’s cut our budget and time in some areas and increased it in others to improve our lead quality.
CRMs vary widely in price from free to thousands of dollars a month. Choosing the right one, and setting it up to best fit your business will provide your business with a powerful asset that can take your business further.
Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specialising in lead generation and content marketing who runs Identify Marketing, which works with businesses to create the strategy they need to tell their story better to the right people. Write your own marketing strategy for free with Rachel’s online marketing school.
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