Marketing Basics

What Is a CRM, and How Can It Improve Your Business?

Small business owners are often aware of software that exists for bookkeeping and financials, but what about customer data? CRM stands for Customer Relationship Manager, and it’s a type of software that can help streamline your daily tasks and keep your customer data organized. 

Adopting a new type of software for your business can be overwhelming at first, but a CRM will make your life much easier once you get the hang of it. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of CRMs and why they’re so important for your business. Then, once you’re familiar with the software, we’ll move on to talk about how you can implement it in your business. 

A CRM will make your life much easier once you get the hang of it.

What Is a CRM? 

Like we mentioned above, a CRM is a type of software that stores, sorts, and uses customer data. Different types of CRMs might include different information, but in general, they all store data such as: 

  • Contact information for customers, including names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers
  • The type of marketing you use to attract customers
  • The sales process you use for customers
  • Information on the service or products you offer to customers 

Why Do I Need a CRM? 

If you like to use old-school methods to organize your customer information, you might wonder what’s so different about a CRM than, say, a phone book. Learning about new software is intimidating, and it can be tempting to stick with familiar methods. However, a CRM is a marketing basic you should tackled because it helps you do certain day-to-day tasks more quickly than the old-school ways. 

Want to send an email to a group of contacts? Planning to send a feedback survey out to your customers? Using a phone book doesn’t allow you to do tasks like this efficiently. You need a CRM so that all your customer info is in one place and easy to access. 

Once your CRM is established, you can delegate tasks like group emails and surveys to other employees (and reduce work for yourself).

Plus, once your CRM is established, you can delegate tasks like group emails and surveys to other employees (and reduce work for yourself). Using a CRM makes it easier to train employees because the software is always consistent. 

Four Steps to Get Started with a CRM

Here are a few easy steps to help you get started with a CRM:

1. Start with a Spreadsheet

If you’re not ready to dive into new software right away, consider starting with a spreadsheet instead. In the columns, enter the information that you need from your customers, i.e. first and last name, address, phone number, and email. Then, in the rows, enter this customer information as you collect it. 

We don’t recommend using a spreadsheet long-term, because it doesn’t scale up very well as your customer base grows. That said, if you don’t have any way to collect your customer information yet, a spreadsheet is certainly better than nothing. 

2. Already Have a Spreadsheet? Take It Up a Notch

If your company is already using a spreadsheet to organize customer information, it’s time to upgrade to a more advanced tool — a CRM. This will empower you to make more complex business decisions. 

Do a bit of research and choose a CRM software that you think will work for you. They all come with different bells and whistles. Some are even industry-specific, which might be a good fit for your business. When shopping for a software, look for these 4 C’s: 

Convenient: The software is easy to access and use from anywhere.

Connect: The software is integrated with other commonly-used applications, 

like email, Google Drive, OneDrive, calendar, etc. 

Customizable: You can mold the software to fit your business needs.

Cost: The software is affordable and worth the investment. Is your business growing? Make sure the CRM will scale with you. Look out for services that charge per employee or per contact. These will rack up costs fast for growing businesses. 

Our Recommendation: We highly recommend Hubspot as our CRM software of choice. They offer a FREE version that will give you everything you need to organize your customer base and start gathering good data. 

3. Set Goals and Form Habits

Like a bookkeeping software, you need to look at and update your CRM on a weekly or monthly basis. Don’t invest in a software without setting some goals for how your company will use it. You may need to make a little extra effort to make it a part of your business’s day-to-day. 

Like a bookkeeping software, you need to look at and update your CRM on a weekly or monthly basis.

Set goals through calendar events or phone reminders. For instance, make a goal to go through your CRM every Friday for 30 minutes. In addition, you’ll want to build some systems that revolve around your CRM. Whenever a salesperson calls a customer, that employee needs to go into the CRM and log the conversation. If you get someone’s business card, upload that information into the CRM, as well (or delegate the task to an employee). 

4. Make Sure You Know Which Information You Need to Use

All CRMs will provide a way to store general info, such as customer contacts. Beyond that, how can you customize the system to your business? Think about what information you wish you had about your customers, and then create a way to log it. 

Think about what information you wish you had about your customers, and then create a way to log it.

For instance, what products/services are your contacts interested in? What did they buy? What is their expected timeline of purchase? How many times have you contacted them? Are they an actual customer yet or not? 

Once you’ve collected all the data you’d like, you can filter the information in your CRM by who’s in a certain zip code, who’s bought a certain product/service, etc. You can customize your CRM to make it work for you and help you capture more business.

Let Your Software Work for You

The biggest draw of a CRM is that it ends up doing lots of work on your behalf. Automating some of your customer data systems will ultimately take tasks off your plate and free up more of your time. 

To learn more about how a CRM can help you grow your business, schedule a Free Growth Assessment with our team. We’ll help you identify areas of improvement and specific ways that a CRM can help you meet your business growth goals.

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