Small business marketing coach Matthew Kimberley offers his insights on the need for, and the best choice of, a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Without your customers, your business is just a hobby, or a labor of love, or an enormous waste of time.
Because you need customers, right? It’s non-negotiable. You need customers, or clients, or patients, or whatever you call the folk who buy your stuff.
You need them SO bad, in fact, that once you’ve got them, you want to hang on to them for dear life.
But how do folk become customers in the first place?
They find out about you, or you find out about them. This person is now a “lead”. They look at what you do and don’t immediately throw up and run away.
This person is now a “prospect”. And then, by the magic of your marketing, charisma and height, this person becomes a customer.
So as a business owner, your NUMBER ONE priority is to make sure that your prospects become customers and that your customers remain customers.
How do you do it?
Putting aside the usual – and business-critical – advice to offer a quality service and don’t screw the people who give you their money, there’s technology that helps with this. If you’re not using it, you’re missing an opportunity.
CRM is “customer relationship management” software. It manages your contacts for you so that you don’t have to.
Chances are, you’re already using a CRM system in some rudimentary form. You’ve got a phone book, or a mailing list, or an address book. When people get in touch with you, you get in touch back.
That’s a start.
But it’s a bit like riding a horse when you could be driving a Maserati. Only a super-human with unlimited powers of recall can keep track of everybody they’ve ever met using a piece of paper and a mobile phone.
No, if you’re serious about not missing opportunities with potential clients, with keeping your existing clients happy and about offering rock-star levels of customer service, you need A System.
A decent CRM system keeps track of every conversation you’ve ever had with anybody remotely related to your business. You’ll have a permanent record of each phone call, email, purchase order, refund and complaint that any single individual who you’ve done business with has ever made, sent or paid for.
You can keep track of personality foibles, favorite brands of chocolate and dietary habits. You can keep track of kids’ birthdays, wedding anniversaries and net worth.
You are limited only by your imagination.
There are about a squillion different CRM systems, from the very basic to the incredibly expensive custom-made stuff built by geniuses for banks.
You could spend 15 years working out whether you need a system, and then researching which system to use, so let me help you.
Q. Do you need a CRM system?
Q. Which CRM system should I get started with?
A. Highrise from 37Signals (affiliate link)
Click that link and sign up now. They have a basic, free version.
Each day wasted is a day wasted.
There really are THOUSANDS of different systems. Salesforce, for example, is one of the market-leaders. It’s immensely configurable, customizable and adaptable. But it’s expensive and has a steep learning curve.
Infusionsoft integrates charmingly with your email lists, and offers shopping cart systems and affiliate management. But it might be more than you need, today.
I recommend Highrise (affiliate link) to all my clients because it’s incredibly attractive and as easy to use as email. You pay by the month, according to your needs, and you can stop at any time.
Get Started, Now!
Any CRM system, properly used, WILL transform the way you do business. I recorded a very brief video highlighting just one of its many uses. You can see that here.
If you’re not sure that you need one, then you’re wrong. If you’re a hair-dresser, you need one. If you’re a software vendor, you need one. If you’re a life-coach or financial planner or widget-maker, you need one.
Imagine NEVER forgetting a follow-up call. Imagine pulling up a list of people you’ve not been in touch with over the last month with one click of the mouse.
Imagine categorizing your contacts by city, by age, by value of purchase or by favorite color all without an Excel spreadsheet.
You can do it.
And if you don’t find some use for it, you’re not using it properly.
Matthew Kimberley is a certified Book Yourself Solid small business marketing coach.