When we first meet with a new customer, one of the first things we do is ask them about their current use of software and information technology. This provides us with a baseline to improve against and allows us to form an IT strategy going forward. In smaller organisations, we commonly find that the business is not using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. This is a big problem, as a good CRM can greatly multiply the effectiveness of your sales team.

What is Customer Relationship Management software?

The end goal of any CRM software is to help a business manage the relationships they have with their customers. The bigger question is how it does this. A good CRM has the following three core components:

  • A database allowing your sales team to store information about:
    • contacts (people) and organisations (businesses),
    • marketing efforts,
    • leads and sales opportunities,
    • and meeting and tasks;
  • Synchronisation between that database, your email client, and your phone, so that information is available everywhere to all staff;
  • Reporting tools that allow you to determine how well your sales efforts are going.

Why is not having a CRM a problem?

Having a customer relationship management system in place allows your business to:

  • Share contact, organisation, and sales information amongst all team members automatically. There’s no digging around trying to find out who last contacted Bob from ACME, it’s right there. What is Susan’s number? Immediately available. There is no need to ask around trying to find the information from an email signature buried a thousand emails deep in one person’s inbox.
  • Get reminders to take action. This is probably the most valuable aspect to having a CRM. You can set up reminders to make sure that clients are called back, and that action is taken on every sales opportunity to get it closer to a final yes or no. This results in fewer missed opportunities, and more sales growth.
  • Report on both the general health and productivity of your sales efforts, as well as pin down the effectiveness of individual sales and marketing efforts. For example, if you cold called some potential customers, you can track how many scheduled meetings, and how much revenue resulted from that effort.

Without a CRM, your business will be floundering around in the dark, and lacking insight into why that is the case. Every business relies on sales, and every business needs to keep track of sales data, make sure that action is taken, and report on the effectiveness of that action.

Some businesses might counter our arguments with “we can do all that with Excel!” And yes, it’s true that you can. We would however argue that there are much better tools for the job. An investment of even $50 per month in a CRM (or even $0!) will save you and your staff hours of time per week, and increase revenue. It’s a fantastic return on investment.

What is our recommendation for a CRM?

A man updating a CRM on a laptop, whilst holding his phone in a coffee shop.
Updating a CRM immediately after a sales meeting is critical to effective CRM implementation.

Given the massive benefits of having a CRM compared to not having one, we could recommend anything and it would be an improvement! However, our recommendation for the majority of the small to medium-sized professional services businesses that we work with is HubSpot. HubSpot has a free version that will get you going, it’s relatively easy to use, and it’s a big name in the CRM space.

If you need help setting up a CRM and getting your business on board, get in touch. We can also help you with recommendations for the customer relationship management software that is best suited to the unique needs of your business, or customisation of software if that is necessary.

Whichever customer relationship management software you choose, the key to getting the most out of it is ensuring it is up to date. Take a couple of minutes after every sales call or meeting to keep the details updated in the CRM, and the CRM will do the rest. But you need to have the discipline to get the data into the CRM.

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