When your business starts out, it's all hands on deck - time and money are in short supply and people get things done, any way they can. But after a time, 'this is how we do things' starts to hold you back.
So how do you know when to take the next step, and invest in some tools to make your team more efficient and effective?
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application manages most of your critical customer information so you can see it all in one place.
We’ve pulled together 7 signs you really need a CRM:
1. No single source of information.
This one is probably familiar - post-it notes stuck on people's desks, paperwork around the office and important customer details sitting in one person's address book. Having information in different places or multiple systems wastes time for staff - but it also impacts on customer service, because no one has a 'single view' of their history.
2. Little to no visbility.
As your business grows, do you still know exactly how your team is performing? Have you got visibility into every customer interaction - and the outcomes - or do you feel increasingly in the dark, as you become more hands-off?
3. Reporting = tedious and painful.
Pulling reports and getting business data - more painful than it's worth? You should be able to easily see sales forecasts and business data that's up-to-the minute; imagine that!
4. You're losing data.
If you don't have a single source of information (see #1!), then you're definitely losing information - which is annoying and potentially expensive. What happens when someone leaves your business - where does that important data go? Make sure it's kept within the business - and that you can easily find it.
5. It's hard to stay in touch when out of the office.
Do your staff have to be chained to their desks to get work done, or can they be effective on the road? Imagine if sales people could update details from their device and it was instantly updated back at the office - or updated on your smartphone, wherever you are.
6. Every customer is treated the same.
Not every prospect or customer is equal - you probably generate 80% of business from only 20% of your customers, but are you treating them differently? Do you have the ability to target your sales and marketing - or is it 'one size fits all'?
7. You don't have a plan to scale quickly.
How will your existing systems and processes scale as your business grows - without sacrificing productivity? Your time is better spent focused on the business as it grows, not on upgrading systems and 'growing pains'.
If any of these make you cringe, then it's time to start looking at a CRM solution.
Author – Melissa Apte, salesforce.com
Melissa Apte works at salesforce.com as a Senior Marketing Manager, where she gets to combine her passions for marketing, small business and technology.