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"We've got a spreadsheet for that"

It’s common for smaller businesses to be operating without a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Typically, they are using a combination of systems, processes and “knowledge kept in so-and-so’s head” to run things. This may be fine in the initial stages of a business’s life, but sooner or later this is going to become an issue.

Many businesses hold off until it's causing them real pain in the form of lost orders, falling marketing effectiveness and business stagnation before starting to look at a CRM solution. So, if you want to get ahead of the game, and avoid all that unpleasantness, here are 4 warning signs to look for:    

1.     Your Data is All Over the Place

As a business grows, the data to be recorded, updated and turned into actionable information increases exponentially. This becomes a problem when there is no single, centralised repository for it. Data silos appear, including:

  • A vast array of spreadsheets containing customer, opportunity and lead information.
  • Email contact lists sitting on individual laptops which will not be accessible to other team members and may be lost if a laptop is stolen or suffers a major fault or accident.
  • Physical paper-based files which cannot be easily searched or updated.
  • Your financial system, which is only available to a small sub-set of your staff and only houses the information related to financial interactions with existing customers.

These silos mean that you can’t easily find the customer and prospect information that you need, and it will not be kept up to date. This will create operational challenges and impact your ability to run the business. This situation is one that will only get worse the longer you leave it.

2.     Your Leads Aren’t Turning into Sales

You made first contact, but when they weren’t sales-ready there and then, you forgot to follow-up.         

Sound familiar? The majority of the leads generated by your marketing activities will require some kind of nurturing to get them from the stage of initial interest, through to being ready to talk about a real sales opportunity. This ongoing engagement is a lower priority than sales conversations that can happen now. The result is that they get forgotten and the sales conversation that could be happening next month, next quarter or next year, happens with one of your competitors.   

3.     You Want to Know Your Customers Better

To provide products and services that your customer wants, you need to understand their needs. I don’t mean simple product specs. I mean what things keep them up at night. How can your business help them do better in their jobs, impress their boss and get that promotion.

Understanding your customers’ and prospects’ motivations is key to communicating effectively and generating new sales opportunities. This kind of information can’t be collected overnight; it comes from the sum total of interactions over a long period of time. This information needs to be captured, stored and built upon so that it can be used to create more targeted communication and build better, deeper customer relationships.    

4.     Management Can’t See What’s Going On

If you can’t review a sales opportunity without having a conversation with an individual salesperson, then you’re going to struggle to get a complete view of your business. That means you:

  • will not be able to forecast accurately and can’t proactively respond to the peaks and troughs in your pipeline, to manage product inventory or service delivery resources,
  • can’t get ahead of future slumps in sales by increasing marketing activity to flood the top of the sales funnel with new leads,
  • can’t easily see who your best customers are and profile who your next “best customers” might be.

Without this information, your managers can’t drive the business forward. It is common in these circumstances for managers to feel that they have to remain hands-on to keep the business going, resulting in them being too busy working in the business to work on the business.

next steps

If your business is experiencing one or more of these symptoms then you need to look ahead to review the costs and benefits of implementing a CRM solution. There are many different software systems available and choosing the wrong platform is a costly and painful mistake. If you would like to work with us to define your requirements and review potential solutions, contact us today.