Which should come first, a long list of customers or CRM software? That’s a question that many new business owners and managers have to consider as they grow their companies. It seems logical that the necessity for a customer relationship management program requires that you have some customers, and CRM software is an expense that businesses may not want to take on right away. However, it’s also true that CRM software is designed to make sales tracking easier and more efficient, saving time that be spent on obtaining new prospects – so why not have it from the beginning?
One thing that industry leaders can agree on is that every company needs to have an engagement process in place, from the very start, for handling customer relationships. No matter what type of business you run, you want to be able to respond to your customers quickly and efficiently and to retain customer relationships. So whether you plan to invest in a software solution in the beginning or do your own tracking and record keeping, the need for some kind of customer relationship management is crucial.
There are some considerations to think about in determining how you will manage customer relationships. Here are a few to get you thinking:
Your Memory Isn’t Infallible
In the beginning, it’s easy to think that you will remember customers, their interests, and their potential value. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. While you may be able to keep track of 5, 10, or 20 customers in that steel trap of yours, it’s unlikely that you will be able to sustain that as your customer base grows. Your CRM needs to be accurate, up-to-date, and easy to access.
History is Important
There will come a time when you will want to reference past communications you or another one of your sales team have had with a customer. Why is a specific customer upset? If you have a CRM in place, you will be able to see for yourself what your customer’s past interactions were without frustrating him or her by asking for a recap.
Organization is Key
It’s possible to use email, task management systems, and calendars to manage your business. As your business grows, though, it may be beneficial to you to consider a CRM solution that consolidates all of that into one place. The key to running a business efficiently is an organization, and being able to access all important customer information in one big picture can help you achieve that.
Metrics Make Analyzing Easier
How many closed sales have you had in the past week, month, or year? Do you know your conversion ratio, or which method of contact is working best to reach your customers? Yes, you can calculate these with some math or an Excel formula, but is that really a good use of your time? Consider the fact that CRM software will have this (and much, much more) information ready for you with very few mouse clicks. Not having to crunch numbers yourself saves you time – and time is money, right?
Successes Bear Repeating
You will likely try a good many things to engage customers, convert sales, and increase your bottom line. It’s critical that you be able to measure how your engagement and marketing strategies perform, which will tell you what works and what doesn’t. You surely don’t want to waste your time on campaigns or marketing efforts that simply don’t work. Conversely, you want to know what does result in success so you can repeat it.
You’re Not a Fortuneteller
If only you could predict what the future will hold, you wouldn’t need a CRM program. But you can’t, and you do. Forecasting future sales is much easier when you can view the pipeline of potential prospects and probably closed sales. Of course, there isn’t a CRM solution out there that can predict outcomes with 100% accuracy, but they can give you a reasonable expectation of what is to come.
Whether you choose to go the old-school route or invest in new technology, a CRM process is important for your business. Keep in mind that many CRM software programs come with a lot of add-ons, so you can pick what you really need right now and add more features as your business grows. That will keep costs down and customer relationships up.