I am in hot pursuit of my dream! You may know I’ve been self-studying how to run a small business so that I can make my dream of opening Lauriebell’s Bakery & Cafe a reality. You may not know that in a former/still-sorta-current-life I am a marketer. Lately, I’ve been speaking with several small business owners and hopefuls and it’s clear I have some knowledge to share.
I believe all businesses that truly focused on success and growth need a dynamic CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system from the start. I know first-hand the importance of a CRM system to any business no matter the size. So today for all my fellow movers, shakers and dream makers I’m going to share with you my “other knowledge” about the amazing powers of CRM with…
3 Simple ways a CRM can empower your small business
No one knows better than a small business owner that time is money. I would add to that, that knowledge is power. CRMs can improve both your effieciency as well as the knowledge of the state of your business with helpful organization, storage and access to your critic data. Below you’ll find a quick guide to why you need a CRM today.
1. Marketing – “Subject: Happy Birthday! Free coffee with your next visit!”
Let’s start with what I know best. I know several small businesses that have relied on word of mouth and perhaps social media to start their businesses. They are getting enough clients to get by but not enough to really push and grow.
Say you’ve done a few quotes for prospects that just haven’t turned into wins. Do you ever contact that prospect again? Do they know about your other services or promotions? Creating a mailing list allows you to build a credible list of potential clients that are more likely to convert to won business than cold calling or traditional advertising (such as print or paid ads). You have the information. It is GOLD! Use it! A CRM allows you to store that data, categorize it, export it and target it. And many CRMs have integration tools that make working between multiple applications, such as your CRM and an email marketing tool, easy peasy!
2. Organisation – “Where the hell did I put that quote?! Oh here it is. Can you read that email address? Is that a potato salad stain?! I have to stop eating in the car!”
CRMs are meant to mimic and improve your current pen and paper workflow. Or at least the workflow you wish you had…a little discipline is good for your business. You may have a drawer, or a molding cardboard box in the corner, with your quotes, receipts and invoices. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could electronically file and organize these documents while being able to automatically report from it on your pipeline and orders? A CRM allows you to do just that by linking your marketing campaigns to prospects…to potential opportunities…to orders. With all this information stored in a dynamic CRM system you can automatically pull reports on pipeline, orders, prospective contacts, successful marketing campaigns, etc.
3. Remote Access – “Oh I thought I had that information here. I must have left it back at the office. I’ll email it to you as soon as I get back.”
Most CRMs have an online version making it superbly easy to access your critical information online. As long as you have access to the internet, which shouldn’t be hard in this day and age with all the Wi-Fi hotspots floating around, you have your data at your fingertips.
Let’s not forget that this is also a great feature when you have multiple users who need access, such as your accountant. You can even define what access each user can have to your data.
Avoid the pitfalls
Let me stress that SIMPLE IS BEST. CRM systems are best when they first mimic your own pen and paper system, then to add bits over time. CRMs are built with lots of bells and whistles to try to cater for different industries. Don’t be intimidated and make the mistake of MANY companies, big and small, by trying to add all the bells and whistles too soon, getting way ahead of yourself. This causes many companies to go back to pen and paper after valuable man hours “trying to get that damned CRM to work.” Start VERY simple and test, Test, TEST before rolling out to others.
The screenshots used in the post above are from a brilliant CRM tool known as Insightly. You can build the application as your business grows by upgrading from the FREE Gratis plan (Up to 3 users) to the Extra Large (Up to 200 users). Insightly includes the following notable features:
- Technical support
- Reporting including pipeline views
- Automatic Address Book
- File and data linking
- Custom fields
- Tagging (aka keyword categorization)
- File sharing
- Web/Remote access
- Integration with other applications including MailChimp and Gmail
*Please see the About section for this blog’s Disclaimer.
- Calendars and events
- LinkedIn contact importation
- Email correspondence tracking
- Mobile App
Visit the Insightly webpage: http://www.insightly.com