The moment you start reaching for a CRM, what's behind that (naturally) is a need for your small business to become more organised.
Critical questions against your business goals are important for this, you might not need (or desire) a fancy CRM to start with. (That's great!)
Here are some common options for CRM management for small business:
Ask someone for a demo
Ask an actual business, don't rely on a sales page. It's just easier to get to grips with a CRM tool when you can see how a fellow business is using there CRM. This gives you an idea of the options- if you're hotdesking, ask around and look at the examples. Don't be afraid to pop over their shoulder for a few minutes (ask permission!) it speaks volumes to see a CRM in use vs a fictional demo.
Painfully obvious, but different business have different sales processes (just because SalesForce, Hubspot is right for them..etc). It pays dividends to ask yourself:
How do I want my customer relationship flow to work?
- Put yourself in control rather than: "This is a tool I'm using and therefore I must change my business process entirely to use it"
What are my business customer relationship goals, can I measure them with this tool?
- For example, is this for existing customers? Is a Net-Promoter-Score (NPS) metric a goal for your business (see Surveyapp). Different tools come at things from different angles.
Here's ours for example:
The Trusty Spreadsheet
If you're not technical and just want to get started quickly, or don't have in place at all. Do this. Why? Because it's volumes better than nothing. Do not take this to the extreme, but it can work- I have seen spreadsheets wider than a small house at Robert Bosch in Germany, and they seem to be doing quite well... Don't turn your nose up at the spreadsheet it may well be all you need. Remember, if you use a Google Docs or Microsoft Office 365 spreadsheet you can:
- Collaborate between teams
- Leave comments anywhere
- Access anywhere (mobile/laptop)
All from a spreadsheet.
Don't turn your nose up at the spreadsheet it may well be all you need.
Is a great way to get locked into a CRM solution, this might work but understand the model it's as much about vendor lock-in as it is being an excellent customer relationship tool.
Simple. If you're good at email then you're good at Good ToDo. If you like simplicity this is for you. You can simply email yourself reminders, for example (email@example.com) "Wash the dishes" and this will trigger an email for you tomorrow to grab the dishes.
A practical example of this is with how customers actually interact with you (on email). As much as you'd love all your customers to use your CRM (Zendesk, Tawk Chat etc), things always fall through the cracks and customers end up directly emailing you anyway.
Practical example: A prospective customer replied to your quote saying "This is awesome, but I don't really have time for this until mid June..". With Good ToDo, you can simply reply to the customer and copy (cc) into firstname.lastname@example.org and the service will automatically remind you in June. Pretty cool huh?
Too many CRM options for Small Business
This list could go on, which is why it's more important to ask around and see them used in practice.
- Trusty spreadsheet
- Good To Do
- Act CRM
- Asana (project management, with CRM type tools)
- Tidy ERP
- Wekan (Trello like alternative)
The above are not recommendations, just if you're drawing a blank of where to start looking. Point one still stands - Ask someone for a friendly demo!
Dump the tech?
If you're working in a small team and talking together everyday. Why not have a scrum board? Break out from all that technology!
Finally, think about exporting, security and privacy
If you were ever to leave a product, data portability is very important. Have a test at exporting your data into another system, how costly will a move be in one, three or even five years time.
- How new is the company? It makes sense to back-up your data and not trust it will always be there
- Where is your data? If it's not in the same country as you, this might be problematic.
- What sort of data are you storing - are you allowed to store it there?
Read the Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).