If you’re a small business owner, you’ve probably been told time and time again that you need a CRM. On the surface, what a CRM is (and what it does) is pretty simple.
Short for ‘customer relationship management’, a CRM refers to all the strategies, techniques, and tools a business deploys to develop, nurture, and retain relationships with its clients.
A strong CRM software can assist businesses in:
- capturing and managing leads
- keeping detailed, up-to-date client records
- accessing data from different locations and devices
- storing all client communication (emails, documents, meeting notes, invoices) in a single, centralized location
- tracking payments and observing projected income
- automating client-facing tasks: appointment reminders, email follow-ups, late payment notifications
- team collaboration
- segmenting customers for targeted marketing promotions
- having a more personal level of communication and interactions with clients, leading to more purchase opportunities and increased retention
Why go with a CRM platform?
This refers to keeping up-to-date records of your leads to communicate, interact, build relationships with them, and keep them coming. Contact management allows you to analyze and group your clients, improving your sales pipeline and funnel. It also facilitates easier workflow management and marketing task automation.
Nurturing relationships with clients
Establishing meaningful connections and fruitful relationships with clients is another building block of a capable CRM platform. But the platform can’t do all the work – there also needs to be sincere dedication to client satisfaction and service quality.
Growing client loyalty
If the clients are happy, your business will flourish and grow. Devoting attention to building relationships with clients will keep them coming back for more. Proper CRM helps you amass a loyal client base that is more than willing to pay for your services.
Happy clients will gladly tell their friends and family how well your business has treated them and maybe even bring them into your fold. Your CRM should let you provide the level of personal touch and customization that satisfies every client.
I own a small service-based business – do I really need a CRM?
As your business grows and your client list becomes longer, the more time you’ll spend on non-billable tasks. Scheduling appointments. Following up with clients. Invoicing. Billing.
Spending time on these tasks not only adds needless stress to your life, but also eats away at your earning potential. An hour spent in a spreadsheet or address book could be an hour spent with a client.
A CRM serves to eliminate time-wasting so you can provide the best service possible to your clients. The result? Your business is organized, clients are happy, and you can focus on attracting new prospects.
How to decide on a good CRM
When deciding on which CRM solution to go for, there are three basic pillars of customer relationship you need to keep in mind:
A proper CRM platform facilitates analyzing contacts to find the weak spots in your marketing strategy. This will help you direct your attention to the contact groups that need more consideration, target more personalized promotions for them, and generate leads.
The CRM platform automates lead scoring and email follow-ups so you can devote your efforts to designing new ways to attract new clients. A CRM can also decrease marketing costs by allowing you to focus your marketing spending on specific target groups.
Thanks to a CRM system, businesses can acquire useful details about their clients, including their names, interests, and business titles, along with recording sales calls and opportunities.
Moreover, such platforms allow you to monitor the voyage of every prospect as they advance toward becoming a paying client. And if they don’t become one, the CRM platforms still allow you to easily identify ways to nudge them in the right direction.
A capable CRM can also help you address problems in your customer support and service and mend relationships with clients that may have been damaged by a poor experience.
Additionally, it allows you to enhance your post-sales support, since the data you acquire through it can assist in solving issues and addressing concerns.
How to get started with CRM?
The first step is collecting all your existing contacts in a .csv file. Then, you’ll just need to import and map them.
Once you’ve done this, you can begin designing custom email messages, follow-ups, and reminders, assigning tags, creating pipeline stages, and carrying out other steps in your business management strategy.
If you run into any problems or need insight on how to do this, a capable CRM provider’s team should be able to assist you.
A beginner in the field of CRM should follow five simple steps in developing a CRM for their business, including:
- Assembling a CRM strategizing team: Think of what role each of your team members should assume in planning your CRM strategy to make it as efficient as possible. The choice of these people for specific functions may make or break your CRM strategy.
- Developing a change management plan: Make sure to have a change management plan in place as it will help you map out the implementation of CRM into your daily work activities.
- Planning a CRM budget: Your business might not require all the steps and features included in a specific CRM strategy or platform. Make sure to plan your budget carefully and not waste funds or time on redundant features and activities.
- Preparing to go live with your CRM: This step involves agreeing and synchronizing your CRM practices across departments and team members. For example, you will need to establish a consistent contact tagging system to avoid confusion and errors. You should also consider contingency for any issues that might emerge.
- Measuring the success of your CRM strategy: Identify your CRM targets and keep carefully monitoring them. Some of the usual key performance indicators (KPIs) you should monitor include business metrics, system activity, and record update tracking.
A CRM system in action
So is CRM software hard to learn? This post proves that it doesn’t have to be. Understanding what a CRM is might seem like a headache, but for service-based business owners, the need for one is crystal clear.
Eliminate those repetitive-time consuming tasks that keep you away from your clients. Take control of your business to provide the best service possible. Keep your schedule full and your clients happy. You only need some preparation and a proper CRM provider at your side to get you through.
And if you want to see what a CRM system designed specifically for service businesses looks like in action, we urge you to give vcita a spin today!