If you ask most small business owners what priority CRM has in their short-term business plans, chances are you'll get more than one blank stare. The fact is that most small business owners don't even know what CRM is not to mention how significantly it can benefit their growing company. This prevailing ignorance of small business CRM (customer relationship management) usually stems from just a few basic causes.
Excuses not to invest in small business CRM
The first and most common reason for disinterest in small business CRM is the very nature of small business. With limited financial and personnel resources at their disposal, business owners believe they can't afford the money or time that a small business CRM system would require to show a significant ROI. Often times the chief concern is just staying afloat long enough to sign that big contract or receive a large product order.
Still other owners of new businesses believe that they can build and maintain quality customer relations simply by the virtue of the their cordial personality or particular market niche. They see small business CRM as an unessential luxury to be enjoyed exclusively by their larger competitors. What these owners often find is that without sufficient small business CRM support their business will never expand beyond the number of customer names they can remember. The problem is compounded when the company expands into internet sales (an essential move by any growing company) and suddenly finds its present customer tracking system overwhelmed by the sheer amount of incoming customer information.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line, as all successful small business owners have learned, is that it takes more than one good idea to build long-term business growth and stability. You may be great at attracting new customers to your business, but if you fail to care for, track, and understand your customer base, not only will you hemorrhage your hard-won clientele, you will also fail to capitalize on future opportunities by not anticipating future market trends.
The good news about small business CRM is that there is an increasing number of automated systems available at prices that most smaller companies can afford without too much difficulty, usually around $2000 a year. Some CRM companies, effectively eliminating the need for small business owners to micromanage their CRM system, largely manage newer small business CRM systems. Now small business owners can reap the benefits of a smooth running CRM system with a minimal time/financial investment.
Features to look for in a small business CRM system
There are many features available to small business CRM users designed to not only track sales, but also cause sales. Here are some features to look for.
· Power Dialing-This feature allows your outbound sales agents to place 300%-400% as many sales calls, effectively quadrupling your workforce.
· Voice Messaging System-Allows you to automatically record and send sales calls designed to elicit a customer call back.
· Custom Fax and Email-Following up on leads with timely fax and email can mean the difference between closing sales and missing out on potential revenue.
Other 'must-have' features include:
· Marketing management
· Sales management
· Order and quote management
· Service management
With the ability to outsource these business functions, small business owners can concentrate on implementing strategies that they've had to hold off on due to lack of customer information and/or time.