Welcome to the first step in the process of picking a CRM: deciding if you even need a CRM in the first place! The question isn’t as easy as it looks, however. There’s no straightforward metric to decide whether or not your company could benefit from a CRM system. Solo entrepreneurs and big companies use them; customer service teams and sales teams need CRMs for day-to-day activities; executives want them for reporting as much as individuals want them for staying organized. Alternatively, your current setup could be working just fine, and a CRM isn’t necessary.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not you need a CRM.
1. Is your data centralized?
If you’re doing the post-it, spreadsheet, notes-on-your-phone song and dance, you could be hurting your business big-time, for a few reasons:
- Decentralized data leads to inaccuracies.
- You might not always have access to all the information you need.
- Leads can easily slip through the cracks.
- Your team doesn’t have access to the same, up-to-date database.
How can a CRM help? It puts all of your data in the same place. Your team can access and edit the same database; alternatively, you can monitor the individual contacts for each team member. Plus, if you get a cloud-based CRM, you can access and edit your CRM database on the go.
2. Is some of your data inaccurate?
Data inaccuracies can lead to big headaches (I don’t need to tell you that). They often result in lost leads, embarrassment, and wasted time trying to correct mistakes.
How can a CRM help? Aside from centralizing your data, CRMs can often automate data input by pulling information from other sources. When sharing data with your team, everyone can see and update the same contact’s profile, so you’ll never accidentally follow up with the same lead twice. Just make sure you click “save” when you’re done editing a contact’s profile!
3. Have you been losing track of leads?
Uh-oh. This is how you turn every customer into a one-time customer and every lead into a dud. Even if this happens only some of the time, you want every customer to be given the same gold-star treatment, or else you’ll start seeing negative reviews online and angry customer service emails.
How can a CRM help? CRMs track your leads through a sales pipeline, so you can always see where a contact is in the process, and what you have to do next. You can also see what your entire sales team is working on by sharing calendars, tasks and contacts. That way, if someone is sick or on vacation, other team members can pick up the slack. Think of it this way: if a CRM prevents even one lost lead a year, it will more than pay for itself.
4. Do you have a sales team?
Then you need to be communicating. There are plenty of great internal chat tools for sales teams (we use Slack at LACRM, and we love it). But sales teams have to do more that talk; they should also share data to keep contacts up to date, and administrators should be able to hold their sales team accountable.
How can a CRM help? With shared data settings and special permissions for administrators and accounts owners, CRMs can guarantee that sales teams are on task. It can also help prevent individual members from accidentally following up with the same lead twice.
5. Are you worried about data security?
This is something no one likes to think about. We all feel a little powerless against hackers (after all, if the Pentagon can get hacked, anyone can), and no one wants to mistrust their own sales team. Unfortunately, people do get fired and data does get stolen, and as the owner of the data, it’s your job to put in safeguards to prevent disasters.
How can a CRM help? A cloud-based CRM will provide data security for you by preventing outside sources from accessing your data, and limiting who can export your data. A CRM system can also lock out recently fired salespeople or prevent them from taking over an account.
6. Do you spend hours creating reports?
Oy. I hate to think of people stressing out over spreadsheets once a week, when a tool exists to do it for them in seconds! If reporting is a stressful and seldom done thing, you’re probably looking for a tool that can give you accurate information whenever you want.
How can a CRM help? You guessed it: it’ll make the reports for you, thanks to pipeline and analytic settings. By reading a pipeline report, you can see how many prospects, qualified leads, and closed deals you have for any given week or month, without having to comb through the data yourself.
7. Do you lose access to client data on-the-go?
In such a busy world, mobile access to client data is a must. That’s impossible when your data is stored on spreadsheets and you’re not parked in front of a computer all day.
How can a CRM help? With mobile apps and cloud-based CRMs, you can edit and access data as you go. This will help keep you and your team in the loop, even when you’re outside the office.
8. Are you focusing too much on prospects and not enough on retaining current customer business?
Business 101: retaining a customer is more profitable for your business than acquiring a new one. Need more convincing? According to a Harvard Business School study, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.
How can a CRM help? It’s all in the name: CRMs are great for customer relationship management. And what better way to retain a customer than to create a relationship with them? CRMs have plenty of great tools to remind you of follow-ups, a customer’s birthday, or notes about their last sale to help you understand the best time to reach out to them again.
9. Are you unable to name your top 5 customers?
Your top 5 customers are gold. Why? They can tell you exactly why they love your company or product, and their reasons might be different from what you already assume. You want every customer to look like your top customer, and figuring out who those people are is a great place to start.
How can a CRM help? First, it can easily help you identify who your top customers are with reporting and pipeline tools. Second, it can help you capitalize on these great relationships. Your top 5 customers are special, and should be treated as such. With a CRM, you can track birthdays and track loyalty programs for top clients, while also seeing which other contacts are close to becoming your best.
10. Are you more stressed that you should be?
This might seem like a cop-out. Of course you’re stressed! Everyone is, at some point in their work week. Stress can be good for some people: it spurs you to try and do better. However, too much stress is detrimental and can really disrupt your workflow and business. I add this last point to account for all the people who said “No” to 1-9, but are also losing their minds trying to stay on top of everything.
How can a CRM help? Very simply, it can take some responsibility and accountability off your shoulders. You can set reminders for events and tasks, automatically log emails without having to think about it, and get daily agenda emails.
As you can see, CRMs can help solve the problems a lot of new small businesses face. Fortunately, there are many different kinds of CRMs with unique features to suit every price range.