Today, I bring you a guest post from Mike Spalding.
In case you haven’t heard the expression before, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and CRM software is commonly used in larger businesses as a means of erm… managing customer relationships.
But CRM software can be used very effectively by smaller businesses too - Businesses like yours in fact!
What Is CRM Used For?
Essentially the idea behind CRM is managing your customers, tracking your relationship (previous sales, communication etc.) and using that information to serve them better in the future. After all, better customer relationships means happier customers, and that’s a good thing.
But you can take this a lot further – it all depends on how you want to use it. Some CRM packages integrate into accounting software too, which lets you more accurately track your costs and your income.
How CRM Software Can Help Your Business
Example Use Case 1
If you track an Adwords campaign with your CRM software and track all of the customers you generate, you might find that as your customers become repeat customers, your campaign becomes profitable.
In fact, it’s not unusual to find a PPC campaign that was ended (due to being unprofitable) 12 months ago suddenly becomes profitable after a few customers have made a couple of repeat purchases (So long as you don’t make too many mistakes in your PPC campaign). Businesses who track that data can engage in profitable marketing avenues that their competitors think are unprofitable.
Example Use Case 2
Aside from the numbers, you should never underestimate the value in knowing your customers. If you have any more than a handful of customers (and most businesses do) then there is no way you can remember every aspect of your relationship with them.
So let’s say your business sells furniture. You track all of your emails and manage prospects and customers. Someone emails one day asking about an office desk, you respond and then nothing happens.
A few months later, someone buys a chair from your website and your CRM software flags up that it is the same person who asked about the desk a while ago. So you email thanking them for their order and ask whether they managed to find a desk, and if they didn’t you would be happy to give them a discount on one.
Your CRM software allows you to enhance your email marketing by treating every single customer as a valued person. Customers love being remembered like this and not only does this often get you extra sales, but your customers will be more loyal, knowing that you remember them and care about helping them out.
What Are The Options for CRM Software?
Ok, so you’ve decided that you want to get some CRM software, the hardest part is often deciding which option to go with. CRM packages often do a lot of different stuff, in some cases more than you need.
Which option to choose will depend on your business, how big it is and what you do. It will also depend on what you want to use it for. MS Dynamics, for instance, will integrate with your email solution and has finance modules which allow you to track your costs and link them to your accounts.
Some of the more popular solutions include:
- Salesforce: Salesforce is arguably the market leader in CMR software. They are particularly strong for medium businesses who want to manage suppliers & employees as well as customers.
- Sugar CRM: This is an open source solution, which means that the basic version is free, although you will still have to pay to get the more powerful packages.
- Microsoft Dynamics: Good option if you use other MS services and want to fully integrate your marketing, sales and finance.
- Infusion Soft: This package is specifically designed for small businesses and may be easier to use, it is helpful if you use a lot of email, but may not be as powerful as Dynamics or Salesforce.
Do you use a CRM solution for your business? If not, what questions do you have about implementing one?
About the Author
Hi there, my name is Mike Spalding and I work at Advantage.co.uk Business Systems. We are small business CRM specialists and we offer support for products such as MS Dynamics. You can connect with us on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for reading!