CRM for small business: Everything you need to know

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Do you think small business when you think of CRM? No? You’re not alone. Admittedly, it’s often large companies that come to mind when talking customer relationship management.

That’s probably because when CRM software was popularized in the late ‘90s, it was a hefty investment that only enterprise-sized businesses with a large IT department could afford.

These days, however, CRM is definitely for small business, thanks to affordable cloud-based options as well as tools developed especially for small business needs. That has led to huge growth in the CRM software market, which is expected to reach more than $80 billion in revenues by 2025.

CRM for small business: What you need to know

The truth is, companies of all sizes face many of the same problems when it comes to interacting with current and potential customers. No matter how big or small, every business must contend with the challenges of today’s digital world, where customers find what they want through Google searches, online reviews, and social media posts.

From mom-and-pop shops to the Fortune 500, no business can be complacent in the face of savvy, connected shoppers who can switch to a competitor with one quick click.

In addition, when it comes to customer service, it doesn’t matter how many employees you have. All businesses must foster customer loyalty. A Gartner study found that if a customer has an easy or low-effort experience with a brand, they are 94% more likely to repurchase. The more you understand your customer — which is at the heart of CRM — the easier this becomes.

With the right CRM, you can deliver on your brand promise and create, build, and sustain long-term relationships with your customers.

Going beyond the Excel spreadsheet

CRM is all about gathering data that can then be used to glean insights about your current and potential customers, helping you cater to their needs. Whether it’s the company’s website, telephone, social media pages, email, or live chat, customer data insights become priceless nuggets that help close deals, boost sales, and delight loyal shoppers.

Very small businesses may start out taking care of CRM through Excel spreadsheets or some other manual system. Over time, though, this becomes unsustainable for most. Not only is it time-consuming, but the data may be inaccurate and doesn’t integrate with any other system a small business might use, such as accounting.

That’s where cloud-based CRM tools come in. With CRM, small businesses don’t have to worry about IT issues, software maintenance, backup, updates, or other expenses. They may even be available on a month-to-month basis so small businesses don’t have to commit long-term. The right CRM also works with other online tools to automatically pull in relevant information automatically, such as customer account data or information about how prospects found the business.

5 questions to help you decide if CRM for small business is right for you

So is CRM for small business? There’s no question that it is. But keep in mind, choosing the right CRM means making sure it meets the needs of small business owners and employees who wear plenty of hats and have to manage their time wisely.

These are five essential questions to ask yourself:

1. Is your CRM helpful and intuitive? CRM is no help if it is clunky and unintuitive to use and running reports becomes an exercise in frustration. Make sure it is simple, easy to navigate and user-friendly overall.

2. Does your CRM help you get more organized? Any small business owner tackling a wide variety of tasks needs to stay organized to remain on track. That’s why moving to CRM is important in the first place — so you can banish messy spreadsheets. Your CRM should make it easy to access anywhere, anytime on any device, while keeping data consistent and updated across channels.

3. Does your CRM offer training? Whether you are using a CRM for the first time or working to take your use of the software to the next level, you should have plenty of opportunities for training on your chosen tool.

4. Does your CRM help you deliver personalized experiences? Tailoring messages and content to the specific actions of prospects and customers is now table stakes for any business. That is a basic function of your CRM, so make sure you are easily able to take advantage of this core CRM opportunity.

5. Does your CRM integrate with your other applications? Today’s cloud-based CRM tools often have native integrations within the software, making it simple and easy to automatically draw in data from your business email, accounting tool, appointment scheduler and more.

CRM for small business is here to stay. The question is, are you going to make it work for you so you can stay organized, deliver top-notch customer service, and grow your business?

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Sharon Goldman
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Sharon Goldman

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