Consumer preferences and shopping behaviors can change on a whim. To anticipate needs, wants, likes, and dislikes — unless you’re a mind reader — you’re bound to need help. That’s where customer relationship management software, or CRM software, comes in.
It’s a godsend for businesses that expect robust growth. Without it, valuable leads fall through the cracks. Disorganized, hard-to-access data is wasted.
Quality CRM software will lighten your workload, provide insight into your business, and strengthen customer relationships.
The Benefits of CRM Software
This cutting-edge technology frees up your time, allowing you to meet with clients, develop your team, and test new products. Here are some additional perks of CRM software:
- eliminates guesswork and scattershot marketing efforts that waste time and money, helping you pinpoint leads and strategies that generate interest.
- keeps your contact list organized and up to date while pulling from diverse sources like your social media, the customer information forms on your website, invoices, live chats, and more.
- streamlines mundane tasks to maximize efficiency and reduce errors.
- helps you monitor client habits to identify sales opportunities.
- collects and analyzes a gold mine of data about leads, customers, campaigns, and revenue to highlight trends that inform your decisions.
- stores documents, data, business records, metrics, contact information, and even personal notes in one convenient central location.
You’re not the only one who benefits. CRM software vastly improves customer service and experience, too.
Challenges and Solutions
CRM software can significantly speed up business growth, but creating it is not without challenges.
New businesses that are up against established competitors must quickly get something in place.
Entrepreneurs face scaling, security, funding, and hiring challenges. Luckily, the right software will offer solutions for most of these problems.
I know what you’re thinking. Designing solutions was probably child’s play for Bill Gates or Michael Dell, but what if you’re not especially tech-savvy?
Don’t worry. You have options. Here are some of them:
If you lack the expertise to develop and maintain software, consider recruiting a tech pro to partner with you.
That person can take care of the technical aspects of the job as you handle other processes within your organization.
In-House Development Team
Insiders have an easier time customizing and scaling software as startups grow. They’re always around to do upgrades and troubleshoot.
Hiring professionals to cover this area can seem costly, but the benefits often outweigh the cost.
An experienced freelancer might be ideal for getting things off the ground, especially if an in-house team is not an option.
Just bear in mind that freelancers often have several clients at the same time. They’re not always readily available for maintenance or troubleshooting.
Outsourced Software Development
This option is usually the most budget-friendly.
Since professionals are already in place at software development companies, you skip the hassle of recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding. Software processes are already well established.
If you make your needs and expectations clear upfront, outsourcing could have very satisfying results.
Each of these options has pros and cons that will depend on your company and product.
When it comes to features, the possibilities are endless. However, loading up with features you’ll never use is just as bad as overlooking those you really need.
You can customize the software to suit unique business needs. There are even industry-specific options for restaurants, public relations, real estate, and other industries.
Whichever route you take, look for these essential features.
Ease of Use
Give plenty of thought to who will be using the software, the amount of training required, the visual interface, and the ease of access to information.
The simpler it is to use, the better the return on investment will be.
Keep the following things in mind.
- Is the interface visually appealing and easy to navigate?
- Does the software integrate seamlessly with social media, your website, your phone, and email?
- Can users get things done without switching back and forth between several windows?
A great advantage to CRM software is the ability to tailor it to specific people or roles.
For example, not all of the information it collects is relevant to everyone. However, you can set up individual dashboards to highlight the metrics and details that are most important to each user.
A quality CRM software is fast and efficient. It works for multiple users in various locations, and that promotes collaboration.
Using a solution like that also keeps everyone on the same page in real-time. Team members can utilize in-app chat features or leave notes for one another. As a result, you won’t have to schedule as many in-person meetings or waste time waiting for responses.
Ease of use makes good business sense for clients too. With information just a click away, customers who call with questions or orders will have dramatically reduced wait times.
Revenue is one of the most important metrics for startups. High conversion rates are nothing to sneeze at, but are you generating enough money per sale?
Were sales of your baseline product brisker before you added an upsell?
CRM software answers questions like these and many more.
You can see at a glance how much revenue was generated by a specific customer acquisition, conversion, or retention effort.
It allows you to identify both positive, repeatable sales cycles and opportunities for improvement.
Timely, trustworthy data will shape your decisions and strategies. It will give you the confidence to strike while the iron is hot. It will ultimately drive sales.
Revenue tracking is also useful for engaging potential investors who like to see increased sales over time.
Multilayered cybersecurity is indispensable. As hackers and their schemes have grown increasingly sophisticated, cybercrime has become the fastest-growing crime in the U.S.
Globally, damages are projected to top $6 trillion by 2021. Breaches most commonly occur through apps, infrastructure, and employee access.
Unfortunately, you don’t have to be a big financial entity or retail giant to lose sleep over this.
In 2011, small businesses were targeted in 18 percent of cybercrimes. By 2016, that had jumped to 43 percent.
Roughly 60 percent of victims were forced to close up shop within six months of a cyberattack.
In modern business, losing customers’ trust can be the kiss of death.
Therefore, an additional benefit of CRM software is that it securely encrypts customer information. It sends security update notifications, monitors all user comings and goings, and flags unusual or suspicious behavior.
As an entrepreneur, your goal is to manage customer relationships at touchpoints all along the sales pipeline. That’s tough to do manually.
The best CRM software does it for you.
Different aspects of customer care and outreach, such as personalized emails, are automatically triggered by specific customer behaviors.
Chatbots are another example. In an instant, they can provide order status or other simple answers.
Therefore, automation is more than a time saver.
Once you’ve set customer parameters for scoring leads, you can analyze the automation data to prioritize qualified leads.
You’ll have a better feel for which strategies trigger desired actions, enabling you to market specifically to niche customer groups with common interests.
With CRM software, your sales team can define performance indicators, build purchase funnels, set lead qualification criteria, and decide which actions to take at specific touchpoints.
The automated sales process will prioritize tasks and send reminders. Users can track the cycle from end to end.
Engaging customers in long-term, meaningful relationships is hard work. There’s a lot you have to know about them in order to succeed.
It entails gathering information about them so that you can tailor your service to their needs, as well as putting in the technical infrastructure that allows you to provide it to the highest standards.
They don’t call it information technology for nothing, so make sure you’re taking full advantage of CRM software for startups.