A customer relationship management (CRM) tool offers many benefits for your small business, but how do you know when it’s the right time to put one in place? Learn more about what this software category has to offer your company and some starting places for your application search.
Many businesses rely on a manually updated spreadsheet or even paper lists of leads. Using this method, however, means you could lose important client information in someone’s email inbox or the trash can. Updating these documents takes a lot of data entry time and the potential for human error is high. A CRM gives you a centralized lead management platform that brings all of this information into a single, accessible location. Your staff can easily retrieve lead data and add new information as it becomes available. You can see how many leads are in the system, the last time they’ve been contacted, whether they are current customers and many other details.
Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes in your organization, and being able to tell which ones are likely to add to your bottom line is essential. A CRM gives you several views on your pipeline. You can look at the overall deals that are coming soon and those likely to close in the next quarter. Drill-down into the details to find out who’s working on it, how big it might be and what stage it’s at.
A CRM is also useful for keeping essential emails accessible for your sales, marketing and customer service tasks. You don’t have to worry about a vital client getting overlooked because an email got hit by a spam filter or otherwise ignored. It’s easy to tell how long someone has gone without getting a response, critical contacts that need a follow-up, and how many emails have passed between your organization and a prospect.
CRMs come in all shapes, sizes and price points. Some plug into your email platform, while others are stand-alone. Here is a brief overview of some of the popular options available.
- Salesforce: This is the biggest name in the CRM world. They offer a lot of out-of-the-box functionality and third-party support.
- HubSpot: This popular marketing automation platform also has a CRM solution that integrates heavily into their other products.
- Nimble: This CRM specializes in social sales strategies, with a social media-centric feature list.
- Streak: Streak keeps things simple by transforming your Gmail inbox into a robust CRM.
When you find your company struggling with lead, deal or email management, it’s time to put a CRM in place.