Posted by Paul Anderson
How does a CRM work for small business?
The idea of customer management is not a modern concept. Even in the past businessmen have emphasized on maintaining good and cordial business relations with customers to retain them and to earn their loyalty. Even then, merchants used to maintain log books with information on customers that could help them in reaching out to their clients in better ways. Modern entrepreneurs have reevaluated its imperativeness and therefore, are targeting on making their businesses more customer focused. This has lead to the demand for automation software that will make amassing and thus, managing customer information easy. Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a suite of applications that have made the task easier.
This article has discussed the definition of sales process automation and how it can be implemented for the benefit of small and medium businesses.
Sales process automation
Today companies target at conducting business in fast and efficient manner and this can be accomplished through automation of sales process.
The process of sales automation comprises many steps to save time and bring more order to daily business activities. These can involve gathering and updating customer information; scheduling call times and meetings; emailing; generating reports etc. The automation process can be achieved through integration of effective CRM software to the organizational system.
Given the rising demand, quite a few varieties of customer relation automation solutions are now available in the market. The broad classification includes:
- Operational CRM
- Collaborative CRM
- Analytical CRM
The operational CRM constitutes the base of an automation solution. It provides the platform for sales representatives to insert customer information in the software from where it can be accessed easily. The customer software is equipped with features like call tracking, meeting scheduling, task allotment and more. Depending on the market type it may also give options to the users to add specifications for the product in the interface. Sales automation helps reducing error in communication and makes it faster – ensuring better customer management.
The collaborative CRM collects data and shares it amongst the different units of an organization so that the entire business operates from a single platform. It helps building cooperative relationship between interdependent units like sales and marketing; marketing and finance, customer relationship department and sales, etc. Through collaborative sharing of data you can ensure proper management of leads, deals, follow-ups, customer service and other related aspects that can seriously affect your customer relationship. One can log every phase of customer interaction in this platform, which will eventually lead to better customer management and experience.
Advanced sales automation software is also doubling up as analytical tools for entrepreneurs. The software runs on built-in intelligence which helps businesses in processing the data received through it in forms of charts, graphs and statistics and prepare a comprehensive analysis of customer behavior upon which future business strategies can be decided. CRM solutions now come loaded with dashboard features that help you get a pictorial progress card of your business through graphs and charts. One can now directly access standard report formats from the software to present before the management and interested parties.
CRM in small businesses
It has been in debate for quite some time now that sales automation is not an option for small business owners. It has been argued that since small businesses lack in investment fund a software solution would burden their finances further. But more and more SMEs are adopting automation solutions for streamlining their businesses because:
- It helps streamlining business and ensures better performance even with the limited resource available.
- Helps lowering operation cost by inducing accuracy, cooperation, coordination and reducing the amount of paper work through efficient document management.
- Helps Identifying your strengths and weaknesses with intelligent lead analysis technology.
- Helps you in plugging in the loopholes in your marketing strategy.
- Identifies who your best customers are and how customer behavior is changing towards your business.
- Analyzes customer satisfaction quotient and helps identifying the scopes for improved customer service.
- Generates more sales through proper analysis of exact customer requirements. It also expands possibilities for cross-selling.
- Since most SMEs target a small section of customers to sell their products a software solution can help them in identifying potential clients and eventually can strengthen trade.
How Small business CRM works for SMEs
Based on the above classifications one can choose the appropriate sales automation solution for his organization. The current genre of open source CRMs are specifically targeting small entrepreneurs to offer vertical specific solutions. These software solutions can be customized to meet both the needs and budget contingencies of small scale industries. SaaS customer relationship management software further helps businesses in lowering their hardware and IT infrastructural requirements and hence, makes the most prudent choice for SMEs. Following are the steps on how to use customer relationship software in small businesses.
- Once the customer contact details are loaded in the customer management software one can proceeds with adding tasks by attaching appropriate importance to the event and assigning them to right person. You can use the built-in calendar and memos to add specific information about your clients.
- Create lists for interested clients and prospects and monitor your progress in closing the deal through effective deal pipeline management system. You can also use this feature in exploring possibilities of cross-selling to your existing customers.
- The document management system will ensure that you wouldn’t have to run to and fro for data sharing. For customer software hosted in cloud live updates on leads and sales are always available and can be accessed even through mobile devices.
- Use the CRM for managing your current accounts. Create a log of every interaction that has taken place with the customer for future analysis. This will give you an idea if the customer is satisfied with your services and steps need to be taken to retain him. For SMEs every customer is important and the customer software solution will not only help you in growing your customer base but also in retaining your existing ones.
- The smart marketing tools will let you run email campaigns from within the software and you can also take advantage of its DRIP marketing features to keep your customers interested over a period of time with appropriate and exciting deals.
Customer relationship software can prove to be effective in small and large enterprise environment alike if proper analysis of needs and scopes are done. The high failure rate of CRM project implementation can be attributed to insufficient insight on the topic. Hence, proper guidance and professional expertise are imperatives.