Why (Almost) Every Business Needs Cloud CRM
28th September 2016 | Marketing & Sales
I’m only a small business, I don’t need a CRM, do I? The short answer is, yes – yes you do. It doesn’t matter how small you are, a Customer Relationship Management system is one of the most powerful and effective business tools you can invest in.
All businesses, by definition, have customers in one form or another. Although professional firms and commercial sales enterprises seem the most obvious to require a CRM, arguably any business can save time, reduce errors, and make more sales by better managing interactions with their current and potential customers.
Even a retail business relying on passing trade could use a CRM to encourage repeat or referred business by, for example, collecting customer contact details and contacting them via email, social media, or post with news and offers from time to time. For businesses relying on inventory and supplies, using a CRM can help manage supplier relationships, with one central place that you and your staff can access the details of current supply contracts and discussion history.
Back to Basics – What is a CRM?
A CRM or Customer Relationship Management system is a central database to store, organise, and manage business contacts, sales leads, customer interaction, and deal details.
A CRM can be the nucleus around which successful businesses are built, with some systems providing advanced tools to manage the entire sales cycle from prospect to lead to completed deal to loyal customer.
CRM software has evolved massively in the last decade. No longer exclusive to big business, modern day CRMs have been built with small business needs in mind. The complex and expensive installed models, requiring training, specialist consultants, and costly upgrades, necessarily carry on in the corporate world, but the benefits are now available for businesses of all sizes. Small and medium sized enterprises now have access to versatile, secure, enterprise grade, and affordable options. Beautifully designed and easy to use, cloud CRM is the way forward for most businesses today.
Small business owners often don’t own their own IT infrastructure, have an IT team or a big budget. For most of us, it’s the opposite, we need to make each pound go as far as it can. We need something easy to use, user friendly and affordable, available to access 24/7 to match our working habits.
Benefits of Cloud CRM
Cloud-based CRM offers small business owners a single platform from which they can collaborate with colleagues to build and grow their business. Using CRM software increases sales, improves productivity and creates better customer relationships and that’s the bottom line.
Cloud (or web-based, or online) applications have significant advantages over installed software. For a low monthly subscription fee, you have access via the internet to an enterprise grade solution, all backed up for you, fully maintained with 99% uptime in most cases. The software is secure and constantly updated and improved, often with 24/7 support. You can have multiple users accessing your data as you need so you can all work in tandem from one platform.
Online CRM Common Features
There are a large number of online CRM systems to choose from, and they all offer a different approach. The major features offered by web-based CRM software are:
- Contact Management: A central area for all the contact information for all your business contacts, accessible to your whole team, any time, anywhere on any device.
- Sales Pipeline: Log and track current leads, nurture them and convert into sales.
- Sales Analytics: Why did you lose that last sale? What can be learned for next time?
- Invoicing: Many CRMs have an inbuilt invoicing function, or seamlessly integrate with one.
- Task Management and Assignment: Clarity and accountability on who owns which client or task.
- Email Integration: Many CRMs integrate beautifully with Email Management Software or have their own version built in. Keep all your contacts informed of your latest developments and promotions.
- Social Media Integration: By combining CRM data with social data, you can enhance your advertising targeting, and better manage social media engagement.
Selecting a CRM System
Choosing the right CRM system for you is a combination of practicalities and personal appeal. The major issues to consider are:
- Cost: It really varies. Most offer a month’s free trial too so you can try before you commit.
- Cloud-based: Huge advantages over installed software. Backed up, fully supported, and automatically upgraded.
- Scalability: Will the CRM grow with your business plans?
- Collaboration: Who will be using your CRM? What user access levels might you need?
- Data Portability: Are you able to export the data should you need to? Either to move to another CRM or use the data in another application?
- Integrations: Does it integrate with other applications you use in your day to day business?
- Mobile: Will you want to access your CRM from a mobile device when you are on the go?
There are a wide choice of CRMs available to small business, with varying features to accommodate different business needs. Take your time and select the one that is right for you, then take advantage of your increased potential.