What is a CRM and does your business really need one?
By Craig Townley, for NetDec.
“Oh yes, we must get a CRM. Every company growing as fast and as successfully as we are really should have a CRM. Not only that, you can get some really good ones for free. Wipee!”
Ah yes, how many times have we heard things like that being said? Admittedly, there is some truth there, but there’s a fair dollop of optimism too, so let’s start at the beginning.
What is a CRM, or ‘customer relationship manager’? Simply, it’s a software system, or database that helps companies keep track of their relationships with their customers. Most will help with tracking prospects too and used correctly, a CRM can be very beneficial. An example would be logging a telephone enquiry that leads to a sample being sent out. At this point it’s easy to forget to follow up the sample, and therefore a potential sale could be lost. Another example might be flagging up when a customer’s subscription renewal is due.
Now, potentially all this can be done within a fairly straightforward spread sheet, but as your company grows it’s easy for things to slip, and this is where a CRM can really help.
It’s true that for smaller organisations, some systems are free, but whether they’re free or not, you have to set them up correctly right from the start. This can often be frustrating and time consuming. Every CRM claims it can be customised to the company’s individual needs, although this is where I stand up and say, “Yes, but….”.
CRMs all come with a vast amount of fields and potential variables, which you can modify to your own needs. The fact is though, they usually have far too many options for most businesses and it’s easy for the CRM to end up controlling the business, not the other way round. Too many times, we’ve seen companies wasting so much time and effort going through torturous processes, just because the CRM wants it this way.
No, no, no, the CRM should make your life easier and fit into the way you want to work and how your business operates. It should free up your time to concentrate on your business, whilst giving you facts and figures at a glance, confidently knowing you aren’t missing an important deadline.
The key to it all is in how the system is set up. If you start with a CRM from scratch, you’ll have to spend ages learning how it works before you even consider how it might help you. Using a CRM expert to help you set up the system at the beginning means you don’t have to go through this learning process.
If you use a CRM specialist, you’ll be able to discuss, face to face, what you want the system to do for you. It’s up to them to either modify or build from scratch a suitable solution.
Sounds expensive doesn’t it? Well it needn’t be, especially if it’s an off the peg system that just needs to be tailored and set up correctly. Not only that, there are various funding opportunities available to help companies become more technically savvy, and a CRM would fall into this category.
We have a team of CRM experts here at NetDec, but before you even get that far, we’re more than willing to have a sensible chat to see if you actually need a CRM!
NetDec, 15 Riversway Business Village, Navigation Way, Preston, PR2 2YP