In the course of my work with early-stage companies, I often present the idea of using a CRM to track marketing efforts. The owners of these businesses often seem surprised. They are small businesses, operating on a shoestring budget, and with so many facets of their vision yet to be realized – and here I am talking about CRMs – “can’t that wait!”
My short answer to them is that “no it can’t”! I go on to explain that the nature of marketing and sales has changed dramatically over the past ten years, and that powerful tools are needed to successfully implement and track our efforts.
CRMs are “Customer Relationship Management Tools”, and as their name implies, they allow businesses to manage all facets of their customer relationships, from initial contact, to sales, to customer service, to retention.
When CRMs first came into being, digital interactions were just beginning to take hold – sure there were webforms and online marketing campaigns, but these barely hinted at the revolutionary changes that would follow.
Today’s marketing is conducted across a stunning range of technologies. Customers enter the marketing funnel through ads, keyword searches, website forms, phone calls, SMS inquiries, or chatbots, and their inquiries are responded to by auto responses, AI chatbots, or customer service reps. Each interaction yields business intelligence that can benefit your customers and give you a competitive edge.
There are several specific areas in which a small business can benefit from a CRM.
- A CRM can automatically capture the details of many types of customer interactions, including SMS, email communication, and website chat sessions, so they can all be viewed in one place. Auto-responses and auto-notifications can then be established to respond to certain types of queries.
- A CRM will help you formalize, implement, and track your sales-marketing pipeline and all its related marketing materials. By tracking marketing campaigns in combination with your customer data, you will get insight into the effectiveness of each marketing channel and message, as they produce leads, prospects, customers, and repeat customers.
- A CRM keeps the entire sales pipeline in view. This facilitates coordination and oversight between various functions (marketing, sales, customer service), and can help you identify bottlenecks, obstacles, or delays in your process.
- CRM’s allow for better reporting across various cross-sections of data – marketing campaigns, the sales pipeline, team performance, sets of customers, or even individual customers. This can be invaluable when making organizational and business decisions.
It used to be that CRMs were very expensive, and that using them required dedicated systems and specialized training. In this area, CRMs have also evolved – they are very affordable, cloud-based solutions, and, while training is still needed to get optimal results, the learning curve is much less steep.
Adopting a CRM is an initiative which can pay dividends right away, in terms of boosting customer engagement, streamlining processes, and planning for future growth.
When I work with business owners and marketers, I suggest they start with a simple, low-cost CRM platforms to explore how they will use it to meet their specific business goals. Once, they have a good understanding of the features they need, we select a CRM that can accommodate a 2-3 year growth plan.
While there are many CRM platforms out there, I have been particularly impressed with the offerings of GO HIGHLEVEL for certain types of small businesses. Their platform is designed specifically for service businesses that want to increase lead generation, capture, and conversion. GO HIGHLEVEL offers features that are comparable to those offered by top-tier providers, has excellent integration of many functions (sales, marketing, content development, calendars, email campaigns, and messaging) together with an intuitive user interface, and very affordable pricing. Are you looking to deploy world-class marketing for your small business? I’m thrilled about leveraging the potential of CRM technology, and have helped many clients do so. If you are wondering how a CRM might figure into your small business’s growth, please contact me for a free consultation!