I am in the process of reviewing different customer relationship management (CRM) software options for my business. I have used a Google spreadsheet to track how I interact with my prospects and customers, but the time has come for me to invest more focused effort to really understand how I’m building my business.
How business planning and CRM work together
Knowing how you acquire your customers is a critical part of your business planning. I have written about the difficulty related to knowing which half of your marketing really works in the past. There are only two ways to truly know if your marketing is working.
- You know how you are finding prospects and leads who may become future customers.
- You are building relationships with those people to eventually convert them into paying customers.
As John Jantsch writes in “Duct Tape Marketing” (affiliate link), small business owners are in the marketing business. Since it takes seven messages or more to reach a customer in today’s cluttered marketing environment, follow-up and consistent marketing efforts are absolutely critical. You simply cannot make one contact and move on to something else. Using CRM software will not change your marketing by itself. Like any software tool, CRM is only as good as your efforts to use it will be.
How does CRM help you make your business happen?
1. You will have a record of past communications and interactions – Today’s CRM software allows you to import e-mails, phone call records, and other communication documentation directly from other applications like e-mail. This saves time because you are not searching your e-mail records for a missing piece of key client information.
2. You can keep track of your customers on the go – We are not marketing our businesses staring at a computer screen. We must network, build referral relationships, and meet our potential customers in their offices and work sites. Any good CRM system has a strong mobile platform to let you access records from a tablet or smartphone.
3. You can track open deals and plan your next action – Good CRM applications let you link proposed deals and cases to companies and individual contacts. You save time and money by knowing the right person to contact to continue your efforts for winning new business. I did this when I won my first major bid. I knew I had to build a relationship with a specific company employee, and I made sure I tracked my conversations with that employee. CRM software would have allowed me to do that more effectively.
I will highlight three “under the radar” CRM options I am exploring in my 13 October 2012 version of the Weekend Wrap-up series. Finding the right software to improve your marketing can help you identify for the right projects and action steps to help you make your business happen.
How can the right CRM application help you be a better marketer? Share your thoughts below!