For small businesses, effective customer relationship management (CRM) can mean the difference between making just enough sales to get by at the end of the month and earning extra profit through repeat purchases, upselling, and long-term customer relationships.
Modern CRM is conducted with the help of specialised CRM software tools. Without these tools, CRM would require the kind of resources and human resources; few small businesses can afford. CRM software is, therefore, vital for small business success.
The present state of the CRM industry poignantly illustrates this point. According to a new report by HubSpot, CRM usage has been associated with:
- A 29% increase in overall sales
- A 34% increase in sales rep productivity
- An $8.71 return on every dollar spent on CRM
In the remainder of this article, we will go more in-depth as to why CRM is essential for small business.
- High Return on Investment
For a single piece of software, a reliable CRM system offers a sizable return on investment for small businesses. The reason why this is the case can be boiled down to three factors: affordability, cost-effectiveness, and scalability.
CRM providers frequently offer a free subscription tier for their service, giving small businesses with a limited budget the option to use CRM. And for a little extra investment, you can usually get a full feature suite, provided you stay within some limitations. And should you ever need to go beyond these limitations, you can scale quickly by signing up for a higher subscription tier.
- All-in-One Software Solution
CRM software originally came about as an effort to combine different types of business software into a single application. This had several beneficial effects.
For one, small businesses no longer had to rely on multiple software providers and applications for access to essential business tools. Instead of running a separate piece of software for email, customer service, and marketing, small businesses can now install their CRM tool of choice and gain access to all these features within a single user interface.
CRM software is also built with integration in mind. This means that should you ever need features that are not included within the core package; you can combine CRM with other tools to gain access to them.
- Ease of Deployment
Business software has something of a bad reputation when it comes to deployment. Setting up an office network, installing the required software on each machine, and making sure it all works together as a source of many headaches for small businesses. Fortunately, modern CRM software has basically made deployment a non-issue.
Most CRM providers offer a SaaS model for CRM deployment. All you have to do is set up a lightweight client application on each machine (or use a browser-based interface), and leave all the complicated stuff to the server. This approach to deployment also makes updating and maintenance much more manageable.
- Time-saving Automation
One of the top-selling points of CRM is the ability to automate business procedures and workflows. Thanks to this ability, CRM can save businesses countless working hours that would otherwise be spent on menial tasks such as entering data, sending emails, or searching through contacts.
CRM automation doesn’t end at task automation. Automated tasks can also be arranged in sequences or connected with event-based triggers to create automated workflows. These enable small businesses to fully automate all non-essential sales, marketing, and customer service activities, giving reps more time to work with customers and clients.
- Convenient Access to Customer Data
To make informed decisions while interacting with customers, the business has to leverage all available customer data at their disposal. Unfortunately, this data usually spread across multiple documents, spreadsheets, and databases, making it difficult to access on the fly. CRM addresses this issue by providing a convenient user interface for viewing and interacting with data.
CRM further emphasises ease-of-access by keeping all your data synchronised in a central location. This ensures each team member has access to the same data, which reduces productivity bottlenecks arising from mismatched information.
- Customer Segmentation
In addition to enhancing existing business procedures, CRM software enables small businesses to employ advanced marketing tactics such as customer segmentation.
Customer segmentation has four main types, including demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioural. By dividing customers into segments, small businesses can enact customised marketing campaigns for each component, drastically improving marketing effectiveness.
Customer segmentation ensures you won’t be wasting dollars by appealing to customers with marketing content that bears no relevance to their needs, wants, and desires. Each segment will only receive the kind of content that appeals to them.
- Advanced Personalisation
CRM software allows small businesses to further build upon customer segmentation with advanced personalisation. Before the advent of CRM, going from group marketing to personalised marketing was not a viable choice in terms of complexity and resource use. But thanks to CRM, even small businesses can afford to engage with customers on a personal level.
In practical terms, CRM gives small business the ability to create personalised email chains, product recommendations, content suggestions, and other forms of marketing content. These personalisations can then be narrowed down further based on how each customer responds to the custom content they’ve received and their reactions towards it.
- Consistent Customer Experience
Maintaining long-lasting relationships with customers hinges upon customer experience (CX). Businesses that cater to customer by providing a high standard of CX will cultivate a customer base that is eager to engage with their brand. CRM gives small businesses the tools needed to generate quality CX throughout the entire customer journey.
Consistency is vital for CX, and CRM software offers a variety of features to provide it. By keeping track of customer interactions across different channels, CRM gives small businesses a detailed overview of what the customer wants and how they behave. This enables them to match the customer’s needs in terms of CX.
- Sales-Marketing Alignment
So far, we have talked about how basic CRM features can help small businesses achieve better business outcomes. But in addition to these, CRM also gives small businesses the option to leverage more advanced strategies such as sales-marketing alignment.
Sales-marketing alignment is the process of integrating sales and marketing teams into a single department. The benefits of doing so include improved marketing ROI, sales productivity, collaboration, and transparency.
CRM helps facilitate sales-marketing alignment by giving both teams access to the same kind of data, as well as giving them the ability to transition customers from marketing to sales seamlessly.
- Reports and Forecasting
Long-term customer management tends to create a long data trail, which becomes too cumbersome to manage over time if you’re running a small business. CRM can help alleviate this issue through its automatic reporting feature. Instead of writing reports manually, companies can leave the task to CRM.
CRM data tracking also enables businesses to make better predictions and zero in on emerging trends in customer behaviour. This kind of foreknowledge allows them to adjust their approach to suit the needs of customers as soon as they begin manifesting.
CRM as The Key for Small Business Success
Small businesses were traditionally reluctant to use business software due to well-founded concerns over price, the difficulty of use, and questionable benefits. However, CRM software marks a shift in this attitude. Modern CRM tools address all of the issues mentioned above, giving small businesses the ability to leverage the full power of digital software.