Business Adaptability
It’s time for small businesses to capitalize on their edge in agility

It’s easy to think of small businesses as scrappy underdogs when they’re stacked up against the deep pockets of national and multinational competitors in their industry, but the truth is there are plenty of ways for small businesses to use size to their advantage. The little guy (or gal) is seldom tied down by bureaucratic decision-making processes, they are generally able to adapt to market changes more quickly and – when it comes to customer relationship management (CRM) strategy and technology – they can really flex their muscle.

Large corporations tend to view CRM as a bridge between disparate internal departments. Sales, human resources, product development and organizational leadership are among the divisions likely to utilize its company’s CRM technology, and each team has its own set of goals and requirements. Enterprise-level CRMs have the lofty task of accommodating the various needs of multiple employees working within different departments – and that quest to please and provide for the needs of everyone can be a recipe for middling results.

Fortunately, small and midsized businesses don’t have this problem, providing a significant edge when it comes to engaging in successful customer interactions that lead to sales.

Here’s how a small business can use its adaptability, flexibility and mobility to its advantage.

The adaptability advantage

The CRMs employed by large-scale corporations attempt to provide a little bit of everything. Instead of the technology adapting to the business’s specific needs, it’s designed to be used by everyone and for a wide range of functions. They offer macro predictions, lead conversion models, and provide a complex web of automation between teams. It all sounds impressive, but the truth is such systems are almost always cumbersome and too bulky for small and midsized businesses. Most importantly, they aren’t designed to adapt to their unique needs.

Small business owners are better served by using a CRM that reflects the specific set of needs and challenges of their company, and one that can be customized to meet those requirements.

For instance, a small business owner looking to improve sales and customer service should find a CRM solution that can be built around those functions, specifically addressing the needs of those business functions, given the business model and industry. The CRM should be adaptable to focus on capturing information related to your exact needs.

Small business-focused CRMs that can be adapted for ease of use yield great benefits – particularly for sales teams. InsideCRM found that 55 percent of sales reps named ease of use as the most important feature of a good CRM.

Flexibility is your friend

A CRM’s main purpose should be to help a company successfully meet its needs and goals. To accomplish this, it must be malleable enough to serve small businesses across a multitude of industries.

Small businesses reap the greatest benefits when they have the ability to adapt their CRM to capture complex data sets. The CRM you choose for your small business should help capture and organize the customer data it needs for its demographics.

There’s no need to settle for a one-size fits all CRM solution. A financial services company has a different set of customer data needs than a real estate agent, for instance. Businesses are recognizing the need for industry-specific CRMs and CRMs that have the flexibility to meet the needs of their industry specifically. According to a recent study, the real estate market is seeing the biggest demand for an industry-specific CRM, followed by the manufacturing and consulting sectors.

Small businesses must find a solution that’s flexible enough to allow them to capture the information they need for their business, both now and as they grow. This will help them engage with their customers most effectively at every point of the company’s development.

Meet goals with mobility

We’re living in a mobile-centric world, where employees and customers alike are using mobile platforms to connect. The growing popularity of mobile CRMs has boosted the performance of sales representatives, who can connect with clients at all hours as they work toward making a sale.

And those around-the-clock efforts are paying off.

One recent study shows that 65 percent of sales reps who adopted mobile CRM strategies achieved their sales quotas. Conversely, just 22 percent of sales reps using non-mobile CRM reached the same targets.

Needless to say, mobility has become a critical component for small businesses. It helps them achieve meaningful customer engagements in an environment where sales are made – and customer support is provided – outside office hours. However, a full-featured mobile version of a complex CRM solution can often lead to frustration and minimal use among small businesses.

The best small business CRM tools are adapted and optimized with the most relevant features and customer information the business needs while they’re working on­-the-go. A streamlined mobile CRM adapted with the right features will allow small business users to remotely access necessary data more quickly and efficiently to better serve their customers.

The CRM industry is continuing to evolve as it works to best serve the small business community. It recognizes the value in capturing complex and relevant data sets, and is helping businesses work with more sophisticated collections of information. Leading CRM software providers are responding to customer requests for less rigidity and more data entry adaptability by introducing new, improved and industry-specific features.

For small businesses, success can be as easy as embracing these new technologies in a smart, strategic and meaningful way.