CRM – What does a CRM do and is it a must have for an SME?

You’ve probably heard the term “CRM” if you are a business owner or sales manager. But what does it really mean?

CRM is an acronym that stands for Customer Relationship Management. At its most basic level, a CRM system allows businesses to manage business relationships and the data and information associated with them. With CRM, you can store customer and prospect contact information, accounts, leads and sales opportunities in one central location in real time. In essence, a CRM system should present a company with a 360 degree view of their customers, with each function of the business having the data information made relevant to their particular needs. Ideally the CRM system would exist in the cloud so the information is accessible by many.
While a CRM system may not currently attract as much enthusiasm as social networking platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, any CRM system is similarly built around people and relationships. And that’s exactly the reason why it can be so valuable for a growing business.

Any business starts out with a foundation of great customer relationships. You, the vendor, connect with people who need your product, the purchasers. Yet, as your company grows, these business connections can grow to become more sophisticated and complex. So it’s no longer not just a simple transaction between the buyer and seller. You start to manage a multitude of connections, over time, within each organisation that you do business with. You need to share data and information across the various teams within your own organization who are making contact with the same customers. A CRM system can serve as the central resource to help maintain and manage the many connections that happen in a growing business.
For small businesses, a CRM system may simply help you put your data in the cloud, making it accessible in real time, across any device. But as you grow, a CRM can quickly expand to include more sophisticated features to help teams collaborate with colleagues and customers, send customised emails, gather insights from social media conversations, and get a holistic picture of your business health in real time.

These days growing businesses manage customer connections and information in a variety of ways. Some continue to rely on the traditional Rolodex or card system. Others may store information on their mobile devices. Others use Excel spreadsheets or Google documents. While that may help in the short term when you have a small team and don’t plan on scaling your business, if you want to scale for sustainable growth, it may be a good time to consider a more suitable CRM system to help you collect your vital business data into one place, make it accessible through the cloud, and then free up your time to focus on 100% customer satisfaction rather than letting valuable insights and information go unnoticed.

To ignore using a CRM process will result in you missing out on key opportunities to develop a robust information gathering process that can be used across all the functional areas of a business.

The key advantages of a CRM are:

• Management decision making is fast and responsive – improved identification of market and customer opportunities

• A CRM sales process generates higher quality leads – these can be segmented and targeted accordingly, which makes it easier to identify the ‘hot’ opportunities

• It builds an effective sales pipeline which can be automated – this is the ‘life-blood’ to sustainable growth, and helps to reduce admin and/or management time

• Helps to better identify customer needs. This improves the ability to ‘fit’ the product or service offer to those customer needs which reduces client churn

• Total seamless information available across business functions e.g. customer histories for sales team, sales history for the finance team etc. All business units can coordinate activities and process across one information platform.

Is it time to consider whether you need or are getting the most of your CRM. Missing out on the advantages it brings may compromise your ability to maintain a competitive edge.

Maybe it’s time to see how your company can harness the benefits of a better CRM process today…

Contact nuOrder to ask for Independent advice.

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