Running a company is no picnic. You have to be in touch with everyone's needs, especially that of your customers. You have to pay attention to everything happening at your company itself, particularly between you and your staff.
To top it all off, you have to create invoices and contracts, ensure payments are being made, receive and respond to customer feedback and even their complaints (hopefully not too many)...and the list goes on, and on, and on.
It's stressful, isn't it?
What if I told you there's a way to simplify the way you run your business and keep your customers or clients happy at the same time? It may sound too good to be
true, however we have great news: this is entirely possible and doable.
Enter customer relationship management software, or CRM for short.
What is a CRM System?
A CRM system is software designed specifically to help you manage your customer data and above all, your relationship with them.
Relationships with customers are the heart of every successful business out there. They are the central focus of all your hard work and effort in promoting your business to new customers, while also retaining your most loyal followers and growing your business.
Several CRM systems are now available for all avenues of managing your customer
data. There's software for invoicing, planning future marketing campaigns and projects, mapping your customers' buying journey from beginning to end, and even more.
Maybe you're reading this, and you've already found some ideas for a CRM system—the trouble is, you're feeling overwhelmed by your choices. Sound familiar? If so, we're here to help simplify and streamline your process of making the best decision for you and your company.
Here's how to choose a CRM system for your business, made easy.
Tip 1: Keep your priorities in mind
No CRM system is created equal. What will suit one company's needs may not suit yours. It all depends on what you are currently prioritizing in terms of your business's growth, as well as what you need to maintain and reserve your current customer base.
Are you looking to grow your leads? Improve your sales, or your workflows? Do you need the software to integrate with your email? Or do you need to stay organized with invoicing and task deliberation?
Knowing what your business needs first and foremost in terms of priorities is key to choosing the CRM system that will benefit everyone in your company.
Tip 2: Make a plan
We suggest doing this first and foremost: write down all of your goals. All of them. Big or small, meeting them today or tomorrow, it doesn't matter. Give yourself the
most visual representation of the goals you want to accomplish via a CRM. This could be as simple as a list or as colourful and massive as a drawing.
Be sure to share this visual with everyone on your team and communicate with them your ideas. After all, they're going to use the software as well.
Once you have a good visual idea, pick out the 'pain points' you're all feeling that are currently holding you back. Is it time? Money? Access to resources? All of that? Or something else?
Finally, take a look at each potential system's features—not simply to know what they do offer, rather what they don't. For example, if you run an online ecommerce
business, you're definitely not going to want to choose CRM software tailored specifically for financial companies or a consulting firm, to name a few examples.
A few other details need to be considered at this point also. For example, if you have only a marginal amount of training in technology, then you need to think about training yourself and others on how to use the system. Also, the way in which a system is accessed such as on the Cloud or via a web browser will also determine your choice.
If you don't see what you're prioritizing in terms of CRM at your company in one
system's offerings, then move on to the next consideration until you do. Life is too short to settle on something that proves inadequate to your growth and daily needs.
Tip 3: Going with the flow matters
Every business is run differently-- even if it's a part of the exact same industry. Likewise, the education, backgrounds, and branding of each company is going to vary, even if you sell similar products or offer the same kind of services as another company down the road from yours.
Much like life itself, your company will change and evolve in the way it conducts
business. Employees may leave, or maybe a re-branding will take place. A lot can happen even in the span of a single year. We only need to remind ourselves of 2020 to understand how significant change is to a company.
This is why you need to keep flexibility in mind with your CRM software choice. An
ideal system should go with the flow in which your company is heading towards, not force you to adapt to its programmed boundaries and make you frustrated as a result.
If you're not sure about this tip, try considering the following. What do you think will happen if your customer base changes, but not the software you're using? What if the opposite were to happen? What would the benefits of change be versus the consequences of not changing?
Asking these questions should not be left alone to yourself; this is a great discussion to share with your staff. Like I said, they'll be using the software too, and the more input you have, the smarter your choice will be.
Tip 4: Determine your budget
Thinking about the cost of CRM software is really thinking about the big picture. Naturally you won't want to spend a great deal of money on a CRM system that is overcomplicated to learn or inaccessible to staff members who really need it. Yet, perhaps your company is only starting out in your industry, so naturally money is a concern of yours. So...what to do?
I will tell you this: determining your budget for this software is going to be the most difficult part of making your choice. It's because of all the inner workings that come with the systems in question.
There's not only the cost of implementing the system to consider; there's also the cost of keeping the system in place and running that can cost you if you're not careful.
You will need to consider the ease of use to import or export customer data you already have onto the system.
As well, you need to consider the cost of training your staff on how to use the system also.
See what I mean about the inner workings?
The other thing worth knowing about most CRM systems is they offer two kinds of their software: the 'freemium' kind, which usually consists of a free trial, and then the 'pro' or 'premium' plans. Now 'freemium' may sound tempting, however you will not get the absolute best features that the software has to offer. At the very least, it's more worth your while to sign up for at least the professional plan.
Every one of these aspects needs to be taken into account when you're calculating the overall cost of your new CRM system. You really need to know what to expect from your new choice; otherwise, it'll cost you more.
Tip 5: Get going with your choice
The hardest part is starting to implement the new CRM system. For some business owners, learning new technologies and strategies come more naturally, while others may have a bit more difficulty. You may also be feeling pressed for time; after all, you've got a business to run!
Let me tell you something that everyone goes through: starting anything new is the hardest part, and yet it's also the simplest thing to do. Just start using your new software. Once you click around and give yourself and your staff enough time to learn, you may find the integration process goes more smoothly than you expected.
Of course, if you find you're still struggling with your initial choice, or integration is proving more complicated than you realized, it never hurts to reach out to a CRM consultant and get that extra helping hand.
Do you still have questions?
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when choosing a CRM system. Ultimately, at the end of the day, you need something that will work for you, not against you.
f you still have any questions about this post or you still need a hand with making your decision, I would love to hear from you. As a CRM specialist I've been helping business owners integrate, configure, customize, and optimize their CRM systems for over 10 years.