The days of keeping up with your current customers with your Rolodex are long gone, but relying solely on your phone’s contact list isn’t enough for an active business owner. In today’s business climate, you must have access to more technical tools to manage customer relationships and seek new prospects.
What is a CRM Anyway?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. A CRM system allows you to manage your business relationships, and the data and information associated with them. A CRM allows you to store, organize and manage contact information, accounts and leads, as well as sales and marketing information, all in one central location. And the information is accessible at any time.
There are a variety of CRM systems available, and what is right for your business will depend on your budget and other technology needs. For many small businesses, a CRM system may only consist of a contact manager system which integrates emails, documents, jobs, and scheduling for individual accounts. For others, a more sophisticated system may be the best choice.
Focus on Your Customers
It is critical to make sure you have an easy-to-access customer database. How many times have you wasted time sorting through hard-copy sales records and lengthy email chains when a customer contacts you? CRM applications allow you to access their purchasing history almost instantly. Access to that type of detailed information will help you interact with clients on a more personal level, improve customer service, and ultimately boost sales.
This data allows you to take a look at the bigger picture; helping you determine the ideal customer for your business. Start looking for buying trends. Start with the customers who spend the most amount of money and determine what sets them apart from other customers. This will help you develop more personalized sales strategies and marketing campaigns, suggest new products based on past purchases, or offer some VIP deals.
If It’s Not in the Budget…
If you aren’t in a position to purchase a CRM system right now, that’s understandable. There are less expensive and even free tools that can help you in the short term, including Google documents and Excel spreadsheets. And you can use your Outlook calendar to schedule regular follow-ups for contacts and accounts.
No matter what system you choose– make sure you don’t let valuable information or opportunities fall through the cracks.