It’s hard to read about marketing and sales without hearing about the magic of the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Systems.
There are many options for CRMs, all of them touting the benefits and necessities of migrating your sales and/or marketing into a particular software that will make your life easier and pay for itself.
For those that are not familiar with what a CRM is, here is a matchbook explanation.
A CRM is a system that allows businesses to manage client relationships and the data and information associated. A CRM will help you forecast revenue, see what is selling and make sure your leads and deals are receiving the attention they need. Please note that the term deal is interchangeable with the term opportunities.
Now that we have a basic concept of what a CRM does the question is if a CRM is right for you?
Every business and market is different, so it’s important to understand the benefits of a CRM and how it could benefit your specific small business.
You should also be cognizant of your target market and how you communicate with them (i.e., are you sending our emails every week or do you make cold calls) when considering a CRM. There might even be a CRM that is specific to your industry. The Real Estate business, for example, has several options developed for their business model.
Through our own experience and research, we have developed a list of the basic functions a small business should look for in a CRM.
You should be able to connect your CRM with your email systems such as G Suite or Outlook. This will allow you to track your email communication with your client. We use the free HubSpot CRM which connects with our G Suite email system allowing us to monitor and log emails to clients so other team members can view past communications with our client.
A CRM must be able to track deals for you. You should be able to enter deals and then follow their stages (i.e., new, qualified, set up an appointment, etc..). You should have a pipeline report that will show you your deals and where they are in your pipeline as well as their value.
Cloud-based with An App
Do not purchase some software to place on your PC for tracking our business. We are living in a connected world, and things move quickly. Make sure your CRM is cloud-based and ideally has a solid app for your smartphone. If a new opportunity comes your way, you want to be able to enter the basic information while it is fresh in your mind, not when you drive back to the office.
Connects to Your Website
Your CRM needs to be able to connect with the contact form on your website. You want contact form submissions to be automatically loaded into your CRM once the form has been completed.
Its great to have all of the data collected and organized. A task management system that drives activity around the leads and opportunities will bring the value.
A CRM allows you to schedule and monitor all types of tasks in one system so there is a comprehensive picture for everyone to follow. Many small businesses can struggle with getting everything done promptly. When tasks are parceled out and monitored through different manual systems, things can fall through the cracks.
You need the ability to see how your sales are doing from different perspectives. Make sure you view the reports offered before a CRM before you sign on the dotted line. If the reports make no sense to you then move on, they need to be intuitive.
Simplicity and Support
Find a CRM that will not require a dedicated employee to manage the CRM setting due to the level of complexity. The CRM company should provide support during your working hours in addition to providing training, tons of documentation and onboarding services (it might be an additional cost).
Communication and Customer Data
A CRM is, ideally, a user-friendly platform in which to store customer data, and all communications with those customers. Every member of your team with access will be able to quickly pull up a customer’s activity on your website, their buying history, support issue, and any direct communication that occurred between your business and that customer.
This feature can save a lot of time and energy when questions arise about communications or follow-through with a customer or prospect.
A CRM captures everything, including internal notes and memos, so a clear picture of a customer’s journey is always at hand allowing for optimal customer service.
Not every CRM will have all of these features. It's important to decide what features are important to you when you are looking for a CRM so that you select the right tool for your company.
One of the biggest benefits of implementing a CRM is its benefit to your marketing strategy. By learning your customers’ buying and searching habits, you are better able to define your target audience and market directly to them; one of the tenets of inbound marketing.
People are accustomed to being bombarded with marketing materials, but when you can make them as specific and relevant as possible to your target audience, then you have a greater chance of grabbing their attention and delighting them with what you have to offer.
The ability to segment your audience within a CRM is a huge benefit and one that swayed us to sign on with Hubspot several years ago. Most businesses have multiple target audiences in different stages of buying. When you use a CRM, you can easily separate those groups and create content that is just right for them.
A great example of the benefits of this is found in email marketing. A study by MailChimp in 2017 found that across the board, open rates and engagement were significantly higher in for segmented emails than for non-segmented emails.
Additionally, targeting subscribers with some value (interest, title, location) meant lower unsubscribe rates.
Many CRM systems will require you to set up goals before launching any campaign. Pausing to determine goals before you spend time and effort starting a campaign is a good thing.
It requires you and your team to focus on what you are trying to accomplish, how you will reach success, and what sort of time frame you should use to evaluate the results of your efforts.
A CRM allows you to automate many of the tasks necessary to grow your business. The automation for emails, newsletters, social posting, auto-responding to form submissions or assigning recurring tasks, automation can be a game-changer. For this type of automation, you will need a marketing automation platform. HubSpot's marketing platform is fully integrated with their CRM.
The popularity and growing necessity of CRM systems mean that there is a growing pool of choices, levels, and price-points available when choosing a system.
Some of our recommendations for CRM systems to get you started:
Hubspot - We are a HubSpot partner and find their system to be great. Hubspot offers both a sales and marketing CRM and they continually update and improve their system to meet the needs of their customers.
Insightly - A popular platform with several different pricing levels. Insightly has become a recognized and trusted name in the industry.
Salesforce - another popular and widely used CRM, they make it easy to schedule a demo to explore the features of this system.
Many companies will do a free presentation of their software, while others will offer an entry level with little to no cost. Our advice would be to approach a free option with caution. It’s best to do some online research and read reviews first.
Also, make a list of what you are looking for, the size of your company, or how many people will be working with your CRM, what kind of budget you can allocate, and how you hope for your CRM to integrate with your current system and website before reaching out to a CRM company.
Adopting a CRM for your business is a big decision, but one that could have equally significant benefits. If you are looking for ways to grow your customer base this year and be found by more people interested in your business or service, learning and implementing a CRM system is a solid choice.
Thanks for reading. If you have questions about choosing or implementing a CRM, please reach out. We would be happy to chat with you.