Small Business Benefits of Using Customer Relationship Management
Wouldn’t it be great to have one tool that can host your customer database, act as a sales funnel for your website, send follow-up customer emails, and aid in structured marketing campaigns for your business? There’s good news: This tool already exists!
All this marketing can be done under one platform called a CRM, which stands for customer relationship management.
In this article, you’ll learn how a CRM tool helps companies manage their interactions with customers at all points during the customer life cycle; keep them engaged from discovery to education, purchase, and post-purchase; and improve the overall customer experience.
What Is a CRM?
The goal of customer relationship management is to improve business relationships to grow the business. When you hear the term “CRM,” it usually refers to a CRM system, which is a tool that companies use to manage all their relationships and interactions with current, past, and prospective customers.
A CRM helps companies stay connected to their customers and streamline processes and touchpoints, including providing support and additional services throughout the relationship.
Who Is a CRM For?
There is a CRM system for every business type. A CRM helps organize customer information and stay connected to customers at different milestones before, during, and after your sales or purchase process.
If you’re a product-based business, you’ll want to pick a CRM that’s specific to product sales, and service-based businesses should choose one specific to services. There are also CRMs that are specifically designed for industries, so you’ll want to do your research upfront.
Having a CRM system gives your sales, customer service, business development, recruiting, marketing, and other roles in your company a better way to manage the external interactions and relationships that drive your business’s success.
CRM systems allow you to see how customers have interacted with your company, milestones in their journey, what they purchased, when they last bought from you, how much they’ve spent, and so on.
It also stores their contact information, which helps you identify sales opportunities and manage marketing campaigns more effectively, while also making this data accessible to anyone else in your company when they need it.
The right CRM can help companies of all sizes drive growth, but it can be especially beneficial to a small business that must find ways to do more with a much lower budget.
How Does a CRM Add Value to Your Small Business?
Implementing a CRM system for your business offers a lot of value. Below are some of the benefits that a CRM solution can provide your small business:
- Improved customer service: Customers don’t have to repeat their stories over and over each time they contact your company. With a CRM system, you can address issues more quickly and effectively, leading to better customer support.
- Increased sales: Using CRM to improve and streamline the sales process, build a sales pipeline, automate tasks, and analyze sales data leads to more sales. A CRM allows you to have all your customer-facing voice, chat, and email touchpoints accessible in one place and deliver the right message on the right channel at the right time in the sales life cycle.
- More customer retention: CRM tools can show you when customer churn happens, which is when customers stop using your company’s product or service or stop subscribing, so you can identify and address those pain points.
- Analytics you can use: CRM tools make your data accessible, understandable, and relevant to your business needs. All your sales data, finance data, and marketing data flow into the CRM to become metrics that help you make sense of everything and use it to your business’s benefit for customer acquisition and retention.
- Better business efficiency: Having all your day-to-day business functions in one place creates a better workflow, improved project management, and enhanced team member collaboration. CRM automates tasks to eliminate menial, repetitive work.
- Improved knowledge sharing and transparency: Collaborative CRM tools help you build a knowledge base, establish best-practice workflows, and facilitate frictionless communication among team members. A CRM platform allows everyone in your organization to gain visibility on your business processes, fostering better collaboration.
Types of CRM Systems
CRM software compiles customer information in one place. Having this data handy helps your employees interact with customers, anticipate their needs, record customer updates, and track sales performance goals.
CRM solutions can be categorized into three primary types: collaborative, operational, and analytical.
1. Collaborative CRMs
Collaborative CRMs, also referred to as strategic CRMs, centralize customer data where your marketing, sales, and service professionals can all access it.
They provide visibility into all customer communications, purchase history, service requests, notes, and other details, so customer support reps are better prepared to solve customers’ problems. Collaborative CRMs can also act on this information automatically to expedite service.
As this data is shared across the organization, each department can act on it as needed. For example, at a car dealership, the service department can use sales data, like when a car was sold, to automatically contact the customer to schedule their service appointments.
2. Operational CRMs
With sales and marketing, operational CRMs automate processes related to identifying prospects, keeping tabs on customer interactions, forecasting sales, evaluating marketing campaigns’ performance, and more.
This way, your sales team can spend more time cultivating relationships with customers, while your marketing team can target specific audiences with personalized messaging.
3. Analytical CRMs
Analytical CRMs aggregate customer information from various sources to identify patterns relating to customer trends and behavior.
These insights can be used to generate and convert more leads, develop smarter marketing campaigns, and enhance customer service. They can also help with sales forecasting, budgeting, and reporting.
What Is the Best Free Small Business CRM Software?
Many CRM services offer free plans hoping that you’ll eventually upgrade to a paid plan.
Free CRM systems allow you to try out the platform with your team to see if it provides value that makes sense for your needs—especially if you’re a small business or a startup on a small budget. Since it’s free, there’s really nothing to lose.
Below is a list of some CRM providers that have tools for product- and service-based businesses. We recommend that you explore these and other CRM services to see which features align best with your company’s CRM goals.
- Freshworks: Features basic contact and deal management functionality, but remains competitive with in-built calling, webform lead generation, and allowing unlimited users.
- Zoho CRM: Features workflow automation and can work with Zoho Campaigns to send up to 12,000 bulk emails a month.
- HubSpot CRM: Offers contact storage of up to 1 million records, custom data fields, website marketing, and up to 2,000 bulk emails a month.
- Insightly: Has advanced project management tools, including post-deal tracking, as well as customized reporting and bulk email marketing.
- Agile CRM: Includes customizable data fields, one workflow automation, and bulk email marketing.
Finding the best CRM solution for your business will require some comparison shopping. But whichever CRM product you choose, your small business will quickly see its advantages, and you may wonder how your company operated without a CRM in place!
The Oregon Small Business Development Center Network is committed to building Oregon’s best businesses.
Our 20 regional Centers assist small businesses throughout Oregon with advising, classes, and access to the resources they need to be successful. Each Center is backed by our statewide support network, helping small businesses access the proper assistance wherever they are in Oregon.
If you have any questions, connect with your local SBDC at OregonSBDC.org.