Regardless of the size, managing customer relationships is crucial for every business. However, it holds special significance if you own a small business. With ever-increasing competition, small businesses must work hard to keep and increase their market share. Unless you use the advantages of technology, it’s even more difficult to keep up pace with your competitors. This is where customer relationship management (CRM) software comes into the picture.
A small business CRM solution can help companies streamline their entire business operations. From sales and marketing to operations and services, a CRM solution can help you on many fronts. Our blog post – “What can a Good CRM do for Your Business?” – covers this important topic in detail.
However, selecting the CRM solution that is best suited for your business is vital. Utilizing just any CRM software won’t optimize the areas that are relevant for your specific set of needs. To make your selection process easy, we at eZnetCRM have created a guide that covers the advantages of a small business CRM, the features you need to look for, and how to choose the right CRM.
Advantages of a CRM Solution for a Small Business
A CRM can help level the playing field for a small business, better enabling you to compete against larger competitors – or even comparably sized competitors that have a larger budget for marketing and advertising. If your business is brick-and-mortar, it also allows you to be competitive against e-commerce websites that quickly deliver both on online orders and relevant contact with customers – such as email campaigns suggesting new purchases based upon a customer’s buying history.
With customer expectations on the rise, a small business CRM can provide the following advantages:
- Whether you plan to open up a new business or want to expand your existing one, CRM software can help you streamline your operations. Managing all of your customers manually is cumbersome, time-consuming and prone to error. When you implement a CRM solution, you can manage your customers’ expectations better.
- A CRM helps improve the productivity of your employees. With all the information in front of them at all times, they don’t have to waste time searching for relevant information.
- A robust CRM can help improve customer satisfaction. When all the relevant information about your customer is there in front of your employees, it helps them serve your clients better. When you serve your customers and look after their interests, there is no reason why you won’t improve customer satisfaction.
- A CRM system can help improve your sales and marketing efforts, improve coordination, and streamline your customer service activities. As Milton Herman’s article for Small Biz Daily points out, it can also be essential in qualifying leads – as the enhanced contact information allows companies to determine buyer profiles (i.e., the common traits shared by their most successful customers). Prospects that don’t meet these requirements can be automatically dismissed.
- A CRM system can improve customer retention and boost your revenues. Companies using CRMs can retain customers for a long time, improving profit margins. It is no secret that acquiring new customers is complex and costly. If you can hold on to your customers, you can improve your profit margins.
- Another advantage of using a CRM solution is automation. CRM software can automate your business processes, improve your employees’ productivity, and boost sales for your organization.
- A CRM system can help improve internal communication. With a CRM system in place, the flow of information between departments becomes seamless, resulting in better coordination and improved productivity.
- A CRM system can look after your entire sales funnel. To do well in the business landscape and stay ahead of competitors, businesses conduct a great amount of research on their target audiences. And a CRM system facilitates these tasks. You get valuable customer insights that help you understand your customers better.
Top Features to Look for in a CRM
There are many CRM options available on the market. However, you must look for a robust CRM solution that offers essential features, such as the following, as broken down by Robert Izquierdo in his article for The Ascent:
A unified view of your customers – A CRM should store all the data related to your customers. Besides contact information, your CRM should also provide all the information and communication your customer has had with the company. From calls to emails, the CRM should store all the info. With everything in front, your employees can better serve your customers.
A CRM should also log the level of engagement generated by your marketing efforts from start to finish. From direct marketing emails to the pages visited on your website, you need to know everything about your customers. And your CRM must be capable of showing you all this information. The data helps you in segmentation, lead tracking, gauging sales and marketing effectiveness, as well as nurturing new opportunities.
A CRM should also show you all the stages in a sales cycle. You need to know when your prospects turned into leads, then into opportunities, and finally into your customers.
Lead management capability – This allows you to determine your best leads among your potential customers, and gives you an overview of your best lead source.
Stores all of your customer interactions – All information and data you exchange with your customer gets stored in the CRM. With all the details in front of you, making a sale becomes significantly easy.
Allows management of deals and progress toward business goals – A CRM solution allows you to track all deals from start to finish. This is necessary to determine if your strategies are doing well or need an adjustment to hit your objectives. With a CRM in place, you don’t miss anything.
Tracks customer life cycle and segmentation – You need a CRM that allows you to track and segment your customers automatically through their life cycle. It helps track your sales and marketing efforts and the effectiveness of your employees. Segmentation is also vital because it permits prioritizing clients based on their level of engagement.
Allows you to improve your customer service capabilities – Another crucial feature you should look for in your CRM is customer service capabilities. Creating a better customer experience for your customers and prospects is the single most essential objective for businesses these days. The better you look after your customers, the more loyal they will be. Make sure you equip your team with the solutions to improve the customer experience. Generating tickets, assigning them to the concerned employees, and escalating matters when required should all be part of the CRM capabilities.
Accessibility across all platforms – “Today’s business teams perform work across multiple devices,” Izquierdo writes. “For instance, a sales rep spends most of their time visiting clients, so their lifeline to the office is their mobile phone. Therefore, access to the CRM on mobile phones and tablets, in addition to desktop computers, is a must. If sales reps have to be in the office to enter every customer contact and update their sales activities, it reduces the likelihood that these updates happen in a timely manner.”
Analytics and reporting capabilities – With analytics tools and reports templates, you don’t need to worry about compiling reports, as was the case in the past. You can also use analytics to forecast sales and keep track of the assigned goals.
Provides data insights – You need a CRM that allows you to generate all kinds of reports. There are some CRMs that provide you with insights that go beyond reporting. For example, you can get to know from your CRM your most profitable segments. Some CRMs also offer insight into your sales and marketing efforts that generate the best results.
Tracks your business goals – Your CRM must track your business goals. You need to know the strategies that work for you and those that don’t. The sales dashboard and reports should provide you with a comprehensive picture of what is working for you and things not generating the desired results. For example, you need to know whether each member of your sales team is making a minimum number of sales calls every month or not. A CRM that allows you to track business goals can show all of this and more on your dashboard.
Improve your communication and have collaboration tools – Utilized properly, a CRM can improve internal and external communication. It should help you to deliver personalized messages to your client based on their needs, rather than generic messages.
Process automation – Your CRM should automate business processes, as there is no point in duplicating tasks. A CRM should have the capability to automate repetitive tasks. For example, your CRM should be capable of sending regular emails to clients and prioritizing leads. Your CRM should also allow you to send personalized emails to your clients without too much manual intervention.
Sales automation – Sales automation can save your team members a great amount of valuable time. It eliminates duplicate tasks and improves the efficiency of your sales staff. For example, you can automate your follow-up campaigns and outgoing calls.
Marketing automation – You can set targeted ads to reach your targeted audience and adjust them if required. You can also automate your email campaigns.
Social CRM capabilities – Social media plays a vital role in building your brand. A social CRM can collect your customers’ behavioral data from different social media platforms and handle your content on social media.
Customization capabilities – Make sure you choose a customizable solution. Every organization has some unique needs. It can benefit your company immensely if you customize the solution to suit your requirements. From adding Mailchimp to custom tools, you should be able to customize the solution to meet your specific requirements.
Email and cloud integration – Sending emails to all of your prospects is a big task – which you can simplify if your CRM allows you to integrate with your email service provider. You can also choose a CRM that allows you to store all your data in the cloud storage of your choice.
Reminders about calls and meetings – A CRM can remind your employees to make calls and attend meetings at the right time. A missed call or meeting can mean a loss of revenue. With a CRM, your employees will remember all they have to do.
Easy access to your pipeline – With a CRM, you can see where your prospects are in your pipeline. You know where you need to invest your time and energy to get the maximum returns.
How to Choose the Right CRM for Your Small Business
The first step in choosing the right CRM solution for your organization starts with assessing your goals. Once you know your objectives, focus on the functionalities you need as you begin your search.
Contact management – A CRM converts all your spreadsheet data into digital data, eliminating spelling mistakes and typos. It also gives you data about contacts, giving all the relevant information to deal with your customers.
Task management/reminders – A CRM can prepare a to-do list and automate reminders for tasks ahead. With a CRM, it is impossible to forget follow-up calls, meetings, and other sales-nurturing tasks. It facilitates collaboration and improves coordination among teams.
Reporting – With a CRM in place, reporting becomes much easier. From financial forecasts and budget decisions to campaign management and employee management, you can get all the reports you want to streamline your business operations.
Integration – Your CRM should integrate well with the tools you are already using. You cannot change all your applications to reap the benefits of one solution. Companies these days use a wide range of tools like an e-commerce website, HR software, or email marketing tool. You would want these tools to integrate well with your CRM.
Email/communication – Look for a CRM solution that can streamline your communication. It should pull in emails from Outlook and Gmail. Also look for a solution that allows you to send emails directly from the platform.
Document management and storage – Your sales team needs to send a large amount of content to your clients, including contracts and other crucial documents. The CRM you choose should have a proper document management facility to cater to your customers’ requirements.
Accounting and billing – Accounting and billing are central to every organization and most use some kind of software to streamline this vertical. Your CRM will also perform part of the accounting and billing function that relates to the deals in the pipeline. Make sure the CRM you choose allows you easy integration.
Open APIs – Most CRMs have open APIs that allow you to integrate your existing applications. However, it is not always easy to integrate other software into your CRM. Therefore, ensure that the CRM you choose can integrate well with your existing applications.
Automation of sales and marketing campaigns – “The process of simply calling a lead who requested more info and pushing the sale have been replaced with sophisticated sales and marketing funnels that siphon the right information at the right time,” writes Herman. “For instance, someone who subscribes to the blog with a title like ‘marketing coordinator,’ will likely not be the final decision maker. However, this lead can be nurtured with marketing content that helps them do their job. Over time, they may show more interest and request a demo. At this point, the lead can be moved over for sales so they can earn the opportunity to meet with a director or executive. This software allows teams to complete this process without incessant calls and meetings.”
If a CRM system has been on your radar, but you’ve always thought it was only for medium-to-large businesses, it’s time to reconsider. eZnet CRM is a robust, customizable CRM solution that can be scaled to meet the needs of your small business. It offers an intuitive, user-friendly system that is easy for employers to implement and for employees to use.