How a CRM Can Streamline Your Company’s Operations
Think for a second: what does every company have in common?
What’s one thing that ties every single company together, no matter the industry they’re in?
The answer: they need customers to survive.
Your company won’t stand a chance without customers. And when you have customers, you quickly find you have a pressing need to figure out how to manage those customers and their contact information.
Starting my business and officially becoming an entrepreneur was an exhilarating experience. But that feeling soon faded with an influx of customers and the drudgery of official paperwork. I found myself struggling to keep my head above water and keep potential leads from slipping through the cracks. With my desk covered in sticky notes and juggling three different tracking systems, I realized that something needed to change. I was scattered, frustrated, and losing money from unrealized clients.
Simply put, I need a more organized system for tracking both my potential and existing customers. After a quick Google search, I discovered a type of platform known as a customer relationship management tool, also known as a CRM. I knew I needed to use a CRM to improve my business… but I quickly found out that there were a variety of CRMs available, and I wasn’t sure which was best for me. After extensive research, I picked the one that was best for my business and it changed the way I did worked for the better. I haven’t looked back since.
If you’re wondering what a CRM is, you’re not alone. I’ve talked with many business owners who have expressed their frustration of customer management, but don’t know how to pick or use a CRM to better track their customers.
Let’s take a deeper dive into defining what a CRM is, how it can help you, and the different kinds available to you. That way, you can assess which one best fits your unique set of business needs.
What is a CRM?
As I said above, a CRM is a customer relationship management tool. It’s a program that essentially tracks all your contacts. Its main goal is to make your life easier and keep track of all your future and current customers.
Each time you interact with a potential customer (or a lead), you’ll want to add their contact information to your catalog. Likewise with people who have already bought from you, you’ll want their info on hand in case you need to follow up for feedback on your offering, help them troubleshoot, or let them know about new deals.
Think of it like a virtual filing cabinet for all your contacts – only it can do so much more than simply store them.
What can you do with a CRM?
There are a lot of functions a CRM can perform and a lot of ways in which it can help you streamline the way you manage your contacts. As your business grows, your potential and existing customer list will grow with it. The faster it grows, the harder it will be to stay up to date with each individual customer or lead.
The right CRM makes that a lot easier. Here’s just a few of the tasks a CRM can help you with.
Contact information storage
This is one of the simplest features of a CRM, but it’s also one of the most necessary. A CRM leaves you with a comprehensive catalog of every person you want to keep tabs of. You can store any type of data you want on the person – their phone number, email address, customer profile, and other information.
Status updates on each contact
One of the trickiest parts of growing quickly as a business is that you may have a lot of customers you’ll need to stay connected with. You may lose track of where you left off with them when you need to reconnect. You’ll often ask yourself questions to keep up about the status of each individual contact. When was the last time I talked to Ms. Jane? Was it yesterday or 3 months ago? Which leads are signed up to get my automatic emails? Did Mr. John pay his invoice? If these questions sound familiar to you, you definitely need a CRM.
A CRM allows you to store data on the last interaction you had with a customer. This becomes invaluable as your number of customers gets larger, but it’s something you’ll find yourself needing at any stage of the game.
For a potential customer, a CRM tells you what stage of the sales cycle they’re in so you’ll know what approach to take. For a customer, you can track their last interaction to follow up on service questions or look for feedback on how they’re liking what you offer.
No matter what type of contact you have (and you will likely have a wide variety of them – more on that below), being able to understand when you last connected with them and their status is like having a superpower.
Your contacts will fall into different groups that you may have different messages for. For example, I know that for my business, I need to tailor my messaging depending on whether someone’s a potential or existing customer. With segmentation, I can do that.
Segmentation is a feature in a CRM that enables you to break up your different lists by any category you like, including their place in the sales cycle or any demographic you like. It helps you customize your approach with separate lists for different purposes.
Examples of CRM platforms
There are a variety of CRM platforms available out there, each with a different set of features. Here are just a few examples of platforms that offer CRM solutions:
- Zoho: A relatively inexpensive option that has a scheduler and allows you to accept payments online.
- HubSpot: Well-suited for higher customer totals. Great for if you want to develop products and/or courses to promote your business.
- Dubsado: Good for a smaller number of clients. It gives you the ability to store documents.
- Keap: Another platform fit for smaller customer counts. A pricier option that gives you the ability to accept payments online with a scheduler.
- Salesforce: Like HubSpot, this is another larger platform that’s good for large numbers of customers. It’s a good option if you need to talk to people before they buy a service.
- ActiveCampaign: Another platform that works better for higher customer counts. If you want to send mass emails, this is a great option.
Just my recommendations. Additional research is strongly suggested!
Understanding what a CRM is and what it can do is only the first step. The next step is to pair with the right option for your organization’s unique set of needs.
If you need help navigating the field? Let’s get on a call to figure out which CRM is perfect for you. Contact us today.