There’s a lot of talk about CRM systems – often by people trying to sell them, but is it just a load of ol’ rubbish, or could a CRM system help you grow your business?

What is a CRM?

First up, let’s get clear on what a CRM system is.

WHAT IS A CRM?

CRM stands for Customer/ Client Relationship Management. A CRM is an online system which allows you to store information about your leads, customers, clients and contacts and the interactions you have with them, in one central easily accessible place. A CRM allows you to share information with your team and ensures information is not duplicated or lost.

why you need a CRM

A CRM system can help you to keep track of valuable customer information such as:

  • Names and addresses
  • Contact information
  • Purchase history
  • Payment history
  • Phone or email conversations
  • Tasks relating to each client

Whether you’re in the office or out and about, your CRM system should allow you to access and update information about your clients.

The other main function of a CRM is as a sales tool. By recording the value and potential value to your business of each lead and client, you will make more intelligent decisions as a business. A CRM makes it easier to grow your business. By keeping track of who’s who, how far along the buying process they are and what you need to do to convert them – a CRM can help you make more money.

A CRM is more intelligent than a spreadsheet, because of its multiple layers of information and the fact that it can synchronise immediately ensuring that everyone in your team and in different teams can access and update important information instantly.

A CRM system will also integrates with your team’s diaries, and allocates tasks relating to individual clients to different team members, helping everyone deliver a great experience to your clients.

Basically, a CRM helps you put your customers where they should be – at the heart of everything you do.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING A CRM SYSTEM?

Here are some very good reasons why using a CRM system is a jolly good idea.

1. Get Organised

need a CRM filing systemAs your business grows, and your network of contacts expands, the amount of information you will need to handle is going to explode. Social media info, email addresses, birthdays, phone numbers, names of different team members, not to mention notes on the conversations you’ve had, the products they’re interested in, when they’re on holiday- the list goes on! The sheer volume of useful info about each and every lead and client is ridiculous!

Losing information, asking clients to repeat stuff, and making silly mistakes is not a good look.

Keeping all your information in one place is the most efficient way to work. Rather than chopping and changing, switching and swapping between files, documents and systems – find one good CRM and save yourself a ton of time and ensure you’re as organised as the champion of organisation at the organised Olympics.

2. Free your brain cells

Attempting to remember everything about your clients is impossible. If you’re busy running your business – and you want to focus your brainpower on important stuff rather than trying to remember every little tiny detail about your clients and the conversations you’ve had with them, a CRM system can help take the pressure off. I don’t know about you, but we have enough trouble remembering our own phone numbers, let alone everyone else’s. Don’t limit the potential growth of your business by relying on your brain cells – they’re much better at doing other things.

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3. Stronger relationships = More Money

Building strong relationships with clients is fundamental to the success of your business. A CRM system will help you to do this, in the most efficient way possible. At any given moment, having a clear view of who is waiting to hear from you, who needs chasing and who might have an issue that needs resolving will enable you to nurture your clients. If you’ve ever lost a client because they felt neglected, you need a CRM!

By keeping track of the important information relating to your clients it becomes easier to give them a great experience. It’s the little touches, like remembering the names of their kids, making reference to their last holiday, asking after their poorly dog, and of course remembering the products they expressed an interest in, will show them you care.

4. Close the deal

A CRM system will help you improve your sales process. Knowing exactly where each of your leads or potential clients is along this line makes it easier to allocate your time. Nobody will fall through the cracks, get forgotten or get too many calls when they’re not interested. Most CRM systems should literally allow you to move people along a sales process in a systematic way until the deal is done. Working in a methodical way like this, ensures your business grows in a sustainable fashion .

need a crm to make more money

5. Save time, automate

Some of our favourite CRM systems allow you to set up automated emails. It’s a genius way to nurture your clients without you having to lift a finger. You can choose to send welcome emails, useful tips, reminders, interesting articles and even email courses– after a certain amount of time has elapsed. We don’t recommend relying on automated emails all the time, but combined with a more personal approach, they can make a real difference.

If you end up repeating the same tasks over and over again for every new client – a CRM will allow you to set up a pre-defined set of tasks that kick in and are allocated automatically every time a new lead or client is created. Obviously the CRM system can’t do all the tasks for you (!) but this can shave valuable minutes off your workload.

6. Keep it safe

need a crm telephone

If you’ve ever had your phone stolen, lost your laptop, spilled coffee over an important client document, left your address book in the back of a cab or watched as the dog ate your Filofax, you’ll agree that there has to be a better way. If your business is built around your clients, which it totally should be, protecting this precious information is of the utmost importance.

A CRM can store your information in the cloud, where it is backed up on a regular basis and stored on powerful servers – safe from kids, dogs and glasses of wine. And if you like to carry bits of paper around with you, you can always download reports on a regular basis and print them off.

7. Get sharing

Remember when you chased chased up that awesome potential client, only to discover your colleague just rang them. Awkward! Needless to say, they didn’t choose to work with you.

Rather than a bunch of scribbles on the back of your hand, a CRM enables you to share information with your team. Using one centralised system that everyone can access and update helps you work effectively as a team. If someone leaves or you’ll still have access to their contacts and once they’ve departed, you can simply revoke their access to your system. As your team grows, you’ll be able to share this information easily – because key facts on the back of your hand are not that useful to the rest of the team, and besides nobody can read your writing.

Being able to see quickly what’s going on in your business and who’s doing what and when will help keep your team aligned. Rather than everyone in your team working from their own to do list, a CRM will allow this information to be based around your customers, and shared with the team. Tasks are allocated to different members of your team, but can always be viewed on a per client basis. Most CRM systems have a dashboard which gives you instant access to key updates and most systems can be set up to send email or even text notifications – thus ensuring that the important stuff gets done on time and your clients are kept happy.

8. Beyond the mail

Have you ever wasted hours searching for a particularly important client email? Nobody is sure who kept it or where it’s filed. Then, it turns out, after three phone calls to the Caribbean that Brian, who’s on a three week cruise, had saved it in his unfathomable email filing system. Finally, six hours later, after much swearing and panicking, you find it. Argh!

Filing emails in your personal folders is not ideal. And keeping track of conversations becomes crazy complicated as your inbox expands, and the moment you stop working alone and start growing your team, all hell breaks loose. A CRM system that integrates with your email is the perfect way to ensure everyone can keep track of conversations with clients.

9. Run the numbers!

You need a CRM to grow your business

It’s weekly review time and you need to pull off a report detailing your pipeline as it stands right now. Who’s warm, who’s been approached and who’s signed off? Without a CRM, chances are you won’t really have a clue.

Rather than spending valuable time scrabbling around pulling data together, using a CRM will make your life a breeze. You’ll have a clear view at any given moment of your business’ situation, making it much easier to make decisions and focus your efforts in the right place. Plus, knowing more about the past and present, will make it easier for you to make forecasts and plan for the future.

And imagine how impressed everyone will be when you present them (having, like, literally just pressed one button and turned on the printer) with a beautiful report. Brownie points for you!

10. Just in case

Monitor interactions and keeping emails, documents and recording calls in one place could come in handy if you face a difficult client or situation. Knowing who did and said what when, without having to trawl through everyone’s emails and files, could help you resolve issues with minimal time or fuss.

According to the folks at Lantern CRM, the main reason a business needs a CRM is “because it’s not possible to remember every person and every situation. Providing better service requires, one place of truth.” We couldn’t agree more.

A CRM allows you to look back on conversations that you and your team had with each individual client quickly and easily. You can monitor progress of each client and understand if they have reason to be pissed off, and what you can do about it, before things escalate, or you lose them all together.

So, it does seem there are a whole bunch of reasons why a CRM is a jolly good idea! In case you’re still not sure, we thought this might help:

You know you need a CRM when……

  1. Your meeting notes and to do lists are spread all over the place – from spreadsheets, notebooks, and word documents to the back of a fag packet to the bottom of your bag, or the door of the fridge.
  2. You have loads of clients, but don’t really know who is your most lucrative – so you tend to spend most time with the ones you like best.
  3. You don’t have time to worry about which clients are unhappy – you’re too busy rushing around trying to win new business
  4. A key contact at a potentially huge client is fired. You don’t have any other information about the company or other contacts there. Nuts.
  5. When you leave the office you rely on scraps of paper or the contacts on your phone to find info about your clients. Bit of a nightmare when you’re late for a meeting with them.
  6. If a client leaves, you often don’t notice, let alone understand why they left.
  7. Clients get shirty when you ask them the same questions for the third time. They get furious when another member of your team calls them to ask the same thing for a fourth time.
  8. You don’t always remember to take client contact information with you when you’re out of the office and usually end up calling the office to ask someone to text it to you.
  9. One of your team has just left, taking loads of client contacts with her. Nobody else in the team has access to her handwritten notes, so nobody knows what she was working on or who she was speaking to.
  10. Your job involves remembering so much detailed information relating to each client that at night you have nightmares about forgetting something important (instead of dreaming about Bradley Cooper/ Jennifer Lawrence – delete as appropriate)

What is a CRM?

If you’re thinking of giving dipping your toe into the world of CRM systems, why not read about our hand-picked favourites HERE.

HOW MUCH DOES A CRM COST?

Given all the amazing benefits to using a CRM, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a good system could cost you a load of money. The good news is that, depending on the size of your business, CRM’s start at a few quid per month, and some are even free. So, there’s no excuse!

If you have any questions about CRM systems, please feel free to ask them here, and we’ll see if we can help.