You have heard of it, you may have even thought about it, but does your business actually need it? Yes, your business does need CRM and here we will explain why. The business world is undergoing a transition, one in which decisions are made based on data, rather than opinions and gut-feelings. Although business smarts and intuition are still essential traits for decision makers (it would be foolish to completely abandon your instincts), their value and accuracy could be greatly enhanced. How? By implementing a CRM system in your business, which will not only help draw clients into your business, it will also help you make informed decisions. Customer Relationship Management (or CRM) Customer Relationship Management (or CRM) entails all aspects of interaction a company has with its customers. It involves the organization, synchronization and management of activities such as marketing, sales and customer engagement. CRM is often thought of as a business strategy that enables businesses to understand customers, retain existing ones, attract new ones, all the while increasing the efficiency and productivity of the business. Of course if you are able to attract and keep customers efficiently that will positively impact your bottom line. CRM is probably one of the most valuable systems that any small business can implement. It is an investment into the future of business itself. Recent studies have concluded that companies with fully utilized CRM system can increase sales up to 29% and sales productivity by another 42%. See what we mean by ‘investing into the future of your company’? Now off to some examples. Unlike other articles you may have read that are filled with technical talk, here we will explain how your small business can benefit from a CRM system and how to make the most of it. #1. CRM doesn’t need to be complicated. As a small business owner you probably don’t have much Marketing or IT experience. Relax, you won’t need to invest in specialised staff either! There are CRM applications out there, specifically designed to meet the needs of small businesses. They are not overly-complex but rather user-friendly and easy to navigate. Additionally, once you have the system, try not over complicated it yourself. For instance, try not to add too much information about customers. All you really need is name and contact details for the client, when and what did you talk about last, follow up date and action who. If you use CRM as a segmentation tool (separating your contacts into clusters such as existing customer, potential customer, suppliers etc.) try not to overdo it. Few well defined segments are always the better option than too many vague ones. #2. Make sure you have linked your CRM app to your other business tools and platforms. It is strategically beneficial and efficient when different applications complement one-another. You could easily import contacts from spreadsheets, you can have your CRM app linked to yours and other employees’ email accounts and calendars, as well as social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Make the most of your CRM software by using every single feature it offers! Using a number of different systems and not having a single source of data leads to wasted time trying to piece together a coherent view of the customer. Where was the phone number of that client? What did another customers buy the last time they visited your store? Sounds familiar? CRM is about creating a single view of the customer and the business itself that everybody in the organization can see. By having all your customer information, emails and contacts’ lists stored in one place you will achieve efficiency. #3. Make sure you are using the CRM platform to its fullest potential. Following from the previous point, employ all of the tools in the CRM box. Make use of the reports, for example. Get feedback on how your campaigns are doing, when was the last time you contacted your clients etc. In addition, try and learn from your customer database. By analysing data, such as customers’ shopping habits and what they have bought last, CRM can help you determine when and which customers should receive promotional materials. #4. Train your staff. Make sure everybody who is using the system knows how to use it properly. The whole process and your operations would be so much more fluid and efficient if every single employee has been trained and has the skills necessary to operate the CRM software, rather than having just one or two people appointed staff. Train your colleagues and then reward them for a job well done. Additionally, train your staff to be consistent. That is, to always use the software after they have been in touch with a client. Because, unless it is in the system, it never happened. Make a habit of updating your database whenever you speak to a customer. And do not forget to lead by example, unless you- as a business owner, are using the programme, none of your employees will. Conclusion As you can see, in this article we have tried to compile some good and simple pieces of advice about how to use CRM systems. CRM is an invaluable for small businesses. It is an absolute necessity for any company, especially in today’s technologically progressive e-marketplace. In our experience, we have found that ease of use is the number one thing small business owners look for when selecting a CRM application. That is why we recommend entry level CRM systems that incorporate both simplicity and accessibility. Furthermore, it is crucial to remember that investing money in the application is only the first step to success. It should be maintained and updated as well. There is a saying in the business circles, any CRM system is only as good as the data entered. Success, in this aspect, is a top down approach. Everyone, from the most senior member of staff down to the very last employee who interacts with customers must use the system. Managers must play at the same field they expect their members of staff to play in. This team effort will pay off in spades and you will soon have your small business firing on all cylinders in no time!