CRM Magazine is an excellent resource if you’re considering CRM software for small business.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a popular type of enterprise software that is slowly working its way into more and more small businesses. But do you need CRM for small business? Let’s take a look at some pros and cons.
CRM software is essentially built on exploring the relationship between the business and its customers. The data gathered and maintained within these tools is customer-focused, and often consists of customer identifiers, purchase histories and other vital customer information that can help enable sales and/or close deals much more quickly. At least that’s the “promise” of the multiple solutions out there.
Here are some of the pros and cons of using a CRM package to power sales for a small to medium-sized business:
Pros of using CRM
Convenience – Many CRM packages are delivered via the cloud, which means there’s no software license or special hardware required which can make CRM for small business a good idea. Usually a subscription version delivers all the functionality of the programs without any of the overhead. In this way, companies can benefit from on-demand services as well as change or upgrade services as needed, without a lot of cost and effort.
Sales History – CRM software helps salespeople and others to always know the history of the customer, or the company they are working with. This can be crucial during personnel changes, or in a company where multiple customer services reps are dealing with the same company.
Mobile Capability – Most CRM’s work across multiple devices, so field reps can easily access information anywhere. This helps facilitate more sales efficiency, as well as providing (in some cases) integration with other back end systems.
Data Analysis – Data from CRM systems can be invaluable for making better decisions, viewing trends, or even just building more accurate mailing lists. A good CRM system will have a strong, customizable reporting arm for management and owners to review on a regular basis.
Cons of using CRM
Cost – One of the biggest drawbacks with CRM for small business is the cost. Subscription rates can be quite high, and that’s a monthly cost that business administrators have to build into the expense ledger. Most subscription costs are based on the number of users, so this can also get prohibitive as you grow.
Implementation – No commercial software maps to the exact processes of your small business. This means that to implement a CRM package in a way that attains the greatest benefit, you will need to change your process to fit the software. In some cases this can be a nightmare for companies.
More sales admin time – CRM definitely requires more time for inputting data from your sales team. Don’t let any solution provider tell you differently! And the data that you have is sometimes entirely reliant on manual input from your team, how may or may not resent the extra “paperwork.”
Limitations – As you become more proficient with a CRM, or as your company grows, you may want more functionality which in some cases adds serious new costs to the subscription. The less expensive CRM solutions don’t do nearly as much, but it’s hard to know exactly what you need until you start using one.
Will CRM be good for your or not? Some experts would say it’s all in what you choose, and how you use it. A good fit will allow your staff to do much more to serve customers. A bad fit will mire the business down in confusion and sink productivity. Generally speaking, the business has to be prepared to handle the learning curve that’s inherent with this kind of software with dedicated training sessions, vendor support, and a clear game plan for how CRM features will help automate tasks. Good use of CRM requires deliberate implementation and a “ground game” that works.