Monday, July 14, 2008

CRM And Small Businesses

Perhaps resistance to many small businesses employing CRM is that they do not fully understand why they might need it. CRM, or customer relationship management, means that when a prospect is contacted it is with the hope in mind that they will soon become a customer. If they become a customer they become even more valuable.

It is therefore very sound practice to retain all the contact information for both the prospect and the resultant customer so that they can be contacted again with fresh offers. This simple practice leverages the fact that an existing customer costs much less to market successfully to than a cold prospect that has yet to purchase.

Knowing as much as possible about a customer allows the sales person to be able to tailor and market products to them in a much more focused way. This is where CRM, or customer relationship management, software comes in. It can do all the boring, difficult jobs for you, which you can then access at will at the click of a button. It employs strategies, methods and proven techniques to gather and organize the information in meaningful ways. It then makes all this fully accessible in a multitude of different ways, allowing the sales person a freedom that formerly was unknown.

Come back with me for a moment to the "old days." Customer details was all written down, or typed at best, and the contact information was stored in a rolodex. Bills and orders may have been stored in files, and archival data may have been stored anywhere. Imagine trying to figure out if Mr Smith of 234 New Avenue is below 40, is married, and if so, has children, and if so does he have two, three, or more?

It could be done, of course. But if you have 100, or worse still, 1,000 similar customers, and you need to find out similar detailed information about each one--well, I guess you get the point. Today it is all so much easier. First we had the desktop computer revolution. This encouraged programmers to write better and better software. Finally, along came CRM software, which now automates customer management and relationships better and more efficiently than ever before.

It's not that sales persons of yesteryear didn't know what they wanted or needed. It's just that they had to struggle so hard to get it. Is the CRM software of today making sales people more lazy? Not at all! They recognize a golden opportunity when they see one. Today people have more money in their pockets than previously. This means that there are greater opportunities for selling, and CRM has arrived at exactly the right time to take advantage of that unique situation.

So, where does that leave the small business? It doesn't leave them--it places them right in the forefront alongside the larger businesses. It empowers them to go on to bigger and greater things, if they bother to grab the opportunity awaiting them. It's not a matter of whether or not they can afford to implement CRM--training, deployment, managing, etc--it is simply a matter of how can they possibly not afford to.

Syed Ali, is the lead CRM consultant for a Toronto based company. His company offers, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Software Syed can be reached at Tel : (905) 815- 1995 ext 22, email :asyed@cqsolutions.com

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