We earn revenue from affiliate links on our site. We strive to keep our site updated, so if you notice any broken links, please tell us.
There is a lot of confusion around CRMs for small business owners. This article will try to clear them up. If you’re thinking about adopting a CRM, see our list of CRM vendors and also take a list of things not to do.
What is CRM software and what does it do?
CRM stands for “customer relationship management,” and it is software that helps you manage customer data. Think of it as your address book and your filing cabinets mixed together, although it can do much more.
CRM’s are meant to organize your business, so they are chock full of organizational tools to make things go faster. They keep your team on the same page by keeping contact details in one location, allowing every member of your organization to see the contact details of your customers, vendors, and suppliers. They can track emails from customers in a single inbox for all team members to see, track phone calls made by integrating your internet phone service into the software, and allow team members to collaborate across departments.
Imagine a small business that does metal fabricating. It might have had customers for 30 years. There’s the CEO that knows your CEO. The vice-presidents. The purchase order person that prepares your PO. The billing person that pays your invoice. The engineer that designs the thing you make and sends you specs and the technical people that test it.
Now imagine this customer of yours has four different locations, and you ship different products to each one. Now repeat this for multiple customers. Now add in all the suppliers you use and the shippers and truckers that get your products where they need to be. Now add in the warranties you provide for the products you sell or the service contracts you have. This is the sort of thing a robust CRM keeps track of and why it replaces filing cabinets. If that is you, you’re a good fit for a CRM.
Most CRMS had their roots in sales software, and organizing and jumpstarting sales are very much front and center. They keep track of customer contact details, qualified leads, deal flows, and of course, successful sales. You can track your sales team’s emails, phone calls, and lead generation, and allow team members to answer any incoming email or phone call by using the shared inbox or call routing features.
They often have email marketing web forms and landing page features built-in allowing you to track marketing campaigns, and most have email tracking pixels, allowing you to know exactly when a lead has opened your email and looked at it. They do extensive reporting on your sales goals and closed deals.
In fact, CRMs really shine when it comes to sales. The longer your sales pipeline, the better it works. We’re talking the kind of sales that take a month to close, with specs changing hands and various parties involved and a team of sales reps keeping track of which deal is which. CRMs excel at this sort of thing.
What are some killer CRM features?
- Two-way email sync: You connect your CRM to your email account. Then, you can click on any contact and send them an email and it appears in the CRM (and likewise when they reply back). You can set it up to allow others to see the emails for every customer, keeping an entire team on the same page, because now the information you need is no longer in separate inboxes, it’s in the CRM.
- Telephony: similar feature, it allows you to make calls right from the CRM. So a sales team always has the contact information at their fingertips. It lets you record calls and can take messages and translate them to text and store them. You can see when you last called someone and can set alerts and run reports on who you haven’t called lately. It also lets you assign an incoming call to a certain team, or directly to their rep, without going through a receptionist.
- Email notifications & event tracking: you can get alerts when leads open or read your email and click on the links. Sort of like analytics for emails. Then you can set up analytics that gives an alert every time one of your leads visits your website. You can track what they look at the most to see which features of your product interests them and where you might lose their interest.
- Reports: you can run reports on your customer data. Additionally, all parts of the CRM work together, so if you notice a company showing up in your report, just click on their name to email them.
- Sales pipelines: you can set up stages of a deal, so everyone can see where the deal is and what needs to be done next. You can give scores to leads, and then sort by high scores and assign those to salespeople first.
- Sales rules: you can set up sales rules, approve discounts, and validate sales. Customer portals for clients to log in to get special deals or a personalized sales pitch.
- You can gamify and do sales rewards. CRMs allow you to show your sales team who’s currently in the lead and have mini-contests for different tasks you want completed.
- Territory management: can set up a specific territory for a sales team to handle. All calls from a specific geographic area or area code can go to a certain team, and all calls from customers already assigned to a team can go to that team directly, even waiting until the first member is available.
- Automation: You can set certain events to happen when other events happen. For example, when a deal is marked closed, you can prepare an invoice automatically, alert the whole team or other events.
- Powerful integrations: bring your customer data into your other business software like accounting, billing, invoicing, and service.
- Monitor social media and capture leads from social media. Automatically pull in email and telephone numbers from websites you visit.
- Live chat, meeting scheduling across teams, sharing documents between teams and customers, email templates, landing pages, and more.
- Integration with your Google advertising campaigns.
- Developer platforms: you can build on the most robust CRMs to have it do exactly what you want.
Conclusion: CRMS can do some amazing things for your company and your sales teams. Do your research by visiting our CRM vendor page.
Check out other posts from the No-Nonsense blog
- Email Marketing Vendor AWeber Launches a Free Plan
- How to Calculate the Cost of Hiring a New Employee
- How to Use a Payroll Service Provider to Take the Fear out of Hiring Your First Employee
- A Roundup of the Current Top Website Creation Tools and Fast Prototyping Page Builders
- Square Updates Pricing Plans on Square for Restaurants and Square for Retail
Sign up for Startup Deals
Get the best offers and tips right in your inbox.
Revenue Disclosure: We’re upfront people, so we want to be upfront with how we make money. We make money through affiliate links and ads. How do we NOT earn money? We DON’T get paid to add companies to our categories or sell email addresses. That means no one can pay us to put them on the list in any category, move them higher up the list, or change what we say about them. We want small businesses and entrepreneurs to trust us to point them in the right direction, and we’re proud of the fact that this is a guarantee you won’t see on other websites.