How do you manage your customer’s contact details and communications? Many small businesses do this using their email inbox and an Excel spreadsheet, but there are far more effective tools out there. These are known as customer management software or CRMs (customer relationship management tools).
Do you dig through your email inbox to remind yourself of what you need to do for your client next? Customer management software will allow you to save your email and phone conversations, so all you need to do is search for the person’s name and you’ll have their entire history- both email and phone call conversations – right in front of you. That’s a huge time saver.
With a CRM you can schedule tasks to remind you when you’re due to follow up with a lead. This way you won’t forget to make those important calls that nudge your customers towards a purchase. Even better, you can set up your sales process or pipeline so you can track your progress towards the making a sale.
If you’re not sure what a sales process is, it’s the journey a customer takes that leads up to a sale. So they may become aware of you, contact you to arrange a call, go away and research alternatives, come back for a second call and finally buy. You can set up this journey in your customer management software and track your lead’s progress along it. You can also run reports that tell you how many leads each stage and your percentage close rate, which then tells you how many prospects you need at the beginning of the pipeline to give you the number of sales you want at the end.
If there are one or more people sharing the same customer data, such as you and a business partner or a virtual assistant, a CRM will allow you to store data in one place so you won’t have the errors associated with passing an Excel file between you, and you’ll reduce the number of emails in your inbox.
There is a huge range of CRM software to choose from, some even have a free plan such as Zoho CRM and Hubspot. So there’s no excuse not to give them a try! All of these can be used for any small business and Zoho in particular is very configurable to the needs of your individual business. But there are plenty that are designed for specific types of business including AccountancyManager for accountants and pest control software Pocomos. If there is a custom CRM available for your business, it’s well worth checking this first as it will save you a lot of configuration time. The specialist systems often go beyond the features of a CRM (ie mainly sales, marketing and sometimes customer service) and allow you to manage your entire business including billing and finance.
So if you’ve never considered going beyond an Excel spreadsheet for managing your customers, then give it a try because a whole new world awaits you!