Warning: Is Not Having A CRM System Costing Your Micro Business Sales?

 

What software do you need to use in your business?

Excluding any trade specific applications I’m pretty sure the top three answers would be:

  1. Email,
  2. Accounts and
  3. MS Office (or equivalent).

But where does Customer Relationship Management (CRM) come in that list? I’m not sure, but I hope to show you in this article that you should put it up alongside the top three.

Have you had CRM nightmares?

If, like me, you’ve had jobs in the past which required you to use a CRM system you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “not in a month of Sundays!”

Maybe you had to use a heavy duty, complex programme or your employer had a custom made system, whichever it is you probably hated using it, found it hard to navigate, unintuative, too complex and a chore to use. (I know I did).

All these ‘old style’ systems were developed with larger businesses in mind and became feature rich, over complex monsters with a monster price tag attached.

However these days there are a new breed of ‘cloud based’ CRM systems developed with the micro business in mind. They give you all the benefits without the frustrations or costs of the old.

Quality data is invaluable

Ok let’s get back to basics with a little exercise.

Think about how many customers, potential customers and business contacts you’ve interacted with this week.

Now think about how many different types of interactions and how many topics were covered.

A lot huh?

Well now think of a year’s worth of data!

To use all this information to it’s fullest extent you need something which will help you collate and interrogate it easily and accurately. In other words a CRM system.

You might ask why would you need to know all this information. The answer simple. It’s because information these days is almost as valuable as cash in the bank. In fact maybe even more so. If you can interrogate data you own in the right way you can gain a real commercial advantage.

But more importantly you can make sure you never lose a sale or lose a customer because you’ve been slow to follow up a sales lead or respond to a complaint.

Quick overview – 5 things a CRM can do for your micro business

  1. Track sales opportunities and customer complaints.
  2. Store all your customer records in one place
  3. Track your customers use of social media.
  4. Help you keep a record all emails, meetings and phone calls.
  5. Ensure you never miss a deadline again.

CRM that grows with you

CRM becomes even more important once you move beyond just you being in the business.

Imagine you want to take a week off. How do you communicate all the different issues, possible sales, quote requests, project deadlines etc to your colleagues? Do you spend half a day writing copious notes?  Leave your PC screen and desk covered in little post-its? Or worse still, end up fielding calls from work whilst lying by the pool!

In addition, maybe one day you’ll want to sell the business. You’ll make it 100 times harder to do if you hold all the important knowledge about the business in your head. This isn’t just technical knowledge, processes and procedures but also customer relationships.

Micro business friendly CRMs

It’s very important to remember a CRM system is only as good as the information it contains. If it’s hard to use or is a chore to keep up to date, when the business is busy, keeping it updated will fall by the wayside.

This is where the new breed of Cloud CRM systems such as Capsule CRM, Zoho CRM and Batchbook to name just three are able to offer an advantage.

Built with the micro business in mind they are easy and intuitive to use whilst being flexible enough to fit around your business. This flexibility offered by having the CRM systems based ‘in the cloud’ extends to being accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. It means your micro business can be run from home, garden shed, shared workspaces, client premises and my personal favourite any pub or wine bar with free wifi!

Finally they can be integrated with other cloud based systems such as Google Apps, Kashflow, Xero and many others which will then seamlessly share information with each other.

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

As with the exercise above think about how many customers, potential customers and business contacts you’ve interacted with this week. Then think about how many different types of interactions and how many topics were covered. Jot all these down on a piece of paper and see how many opportunities and customer issues you can remember.

Tanya Jayne Park

Tanya Jayne Park is a cloud computing evangelist and all round girl geek. Constantly connected to the internet helping micro businesses and non-profits increase profitability whilst reducing IT headaches. If you need some guidance on setting up cloud based apps then Tanya is a Google Apps and Capsule reseller.

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Comments

  1. Great article Tanya and couldn’t agree more about the introduction of cloud based software having a massive benefit to any microbusiness owner.
    The ability to manage your business from anywhere (am currently sat in Costa Coffee working from my iPad) quickly and efficiently gives us a massive advantage over larger slower competitors.
    Using mobile tech, web based software not only allows flexibility but can also save huge upfront costs.
    And of course it has allowed people like me to develop our own micro businesses
    Paul Cox recently posted..Small Business Processes: A Big Mac, Fries And Super Sized Lesson In Consistency.My Profile

  2. I’ve never really thought about using a CRM, thinking I’ll spend all my time uploading data…. But I’ll check out the ones mentioned and give them a go. I’m aware that sometimes I quote for a project and then forget to follow up… I’m guessing a CRM might help me remember?
    Jo Waltham recently posted..Warning: Is Not Having A CRM System Costing Your Micro Business Sales?My Profile

    • Yes CRM is great for reminding you to follow up quotes/proposals etc and your right that there is a trade off between how much time you spend putting data in and how useful it is. That’s where cloud based CRMs really help for instance Capsule CRM has a Google Apps Gmail ‘contextual’ gadget which will allow you to add contacts, emails, new sales opportunities, tasks and cases directly from the bottom of the email right within Gmail. Coupled with a simple intuitive interface this is a winning combination.

  3. Good article. Having used Siebel in the past the thought of using a CRM used to fill me with dread. I now use Mother, a system that provides CRM, project management and a cash book all in one place. It’s a great piece of kit, easy to use, web based and best of all cheap (unlike Siebel)! Take a look at http://www.clwonline.co.uk/ I also use ACT for another business I run and I find it buggy, slow and the iPad version next to useless.

  4. Excellent Article, In addition to the points you raised, there are many businesses that spend a lot of time networking, but don’t make the most of the contacts they’ve made, usually down to time, lack of a system, or the system being too complicated.
    I have a CRM product that can be locally based (on the hard drive of your PC) or cloud based. The advantage of a locally based system is no ongoing costs, or Cloud based.
    This CRM package not only allows you to manage your contacts/leads/quotes and follow ups, but also allows you to raise invoices, keep details of your expenses, and therefore produce some very useful financial reports for your business. I have to admit that it doesn’t have the integration with GMail or Outlook as some of the other packages do, but it does have other features that prove useful. Please feel free to contact me if you would like more information.

  5. Great article. I’m with the many that have barely given the idea of a CRM a fleeting thought – mainly because I’ve always thought they were for more sizeable businesses – not really useful for sole traders. However, based on this article I by-passed the micro-action and went straight to researching various CRM options. As a result, I now have a Capsule account and am now playing about with it and having fun. Thank you! 🙂
    Annette recently posted..Random No. 5 – AuthenticologyMy Profile

  6. Using this kind of technology is the ability to track maintenance calls. Keeping track of maintenance requests submitted by tenants is a critical factor in being able to provide incredible customer service. The use of this technology allows the manager to ensure all requests are addressed in a timely and effective manner.
    AffordableHousing managementsoftware recently posted..A Message from Our President and CEOMy Profile

  7. Nimble CRM is one to consider as well – it pulls in all their data from social media too, so you get more data about your contacts than you, alone, have collected. Very micro friendly.

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