Choosing a CRMPosted by Jason Hawkins / June 4, 2013
Knowing your data is the key to running an efficient business. Knowing your sales numbers helps you make accurate projections and vital adjustments on a day-to-day basis. The only way to do this is with a good Customer Relationship Management system (CRM).
CRM’s can be as simple as MS Outlook’s address book and calendar, but you may as well have a ‘little black book’ for all the efficiency you gain. Software is getting more powerful, intelligent and cheap every day. Do a quick Google search to see just how much is available in the CRM space.
A CRM can completely revolutionise the way you do business. Imagine if you could receive an enquiry from your website, know exactly how they found you and what they are interested in, and have your system automatically send them some information and a follow-up email all within a few seconds. After speaking with them, you learn that you can help them with a specific service. With one click you can send them further information or even a quote, which will either result in a sale or an automated follow-up. Either way, your efficiency will be definitely noticed.
As a sales person, this could increase your capacity 100-fold.
KND has been researching CRMs for over a decade and the latest crop of ‘next generation CRMs’ is impressive to say the least. One CRM however came out head and shoulders above the rest – Infusionsoft. We were so impressed that we shifted our entire business into it.
It connects to our accounting package, time billing, project management and most importantly our 24/7 salesperson … our website.
When looking for a CRM there are 2 main functions that should be high on your list.
1. Cloud Connectivity
Moving your software choices to the cloud makes sense. It’s secure, it’s backed up far more effectively than you could manage with traditional methods and it’s accessible EVERYWHERE.
Whether you are managing documents, finances, mail, sales or any other process, having the system cloud based is now critical.
A good CRM will also have an API that allows you to connect your other systems to it. API’s are the glue that binds the Internet together. Think of an API as a translator between one application and another. For example, syncing contacts from your CRM to your billing system or your project management system should be seamless and real-time.
Automation is what separates the next generation of CRMs from the pack. We need to think beyond software that can only store names, addresses and dates.
For your CRM to be a worthy investment, it needs to be an extension of your business processes and logic. It should automate processes that you do repeatedly or manually or provide customer service where you may be a little stretched. Or at the very least, bind your team together with one single system.
A powerful CRM is the key to a strong sales force. It not only allows a sales team to calculate budget forecasts, but know which marketing channels and conversion methods are producing results. This knowledge then also becomes invaluable to the marketing team.
Try setting up a free download or giveaway on your website for each of your key services. When a prospect provides their information in return for the download, your CRM can automatically put them into a pre-defined sales funnel depending on their interest.
If your CRM is powerful, the sales funnel will send your prospect timely information, assisting them in the decision making process. Combine this with your magnetic personality and you’ll have a much better chance of making the sale.
Do your research
Cloud Software or SaaS Software (Software as a Service) is revolutionising the way the world does business and it’s aimed squarely at SMEs.
- From a cash flow perspective, it’s perfect. There is usually no setup or hardware costs, just a small monthly subscription.
- Security is better than standard or in-house servers due to advanced encryption techniques.
- No server maintenance. It’s all just part of the SaaS.
- Redundancy is also second to none. Your data is stored and delivered from several servers around the world. So, it’s never down, and it’s backed up in several places.
- And, most of all, Cloud software can be integrated. Your CRM can share your client data with your accounting package (e.g. Xero), time tracking, online store or website.
Most software providers offer a 30-day free trial for testing purposes. CRMs are difficult to test without putting in a lot of data, but you should be able to get a reasonable feel within a few weeks.
The leap to a new CRM is always a bit daunting, but with the assistance of some well-worn veterans (KND), you’ll be on your way to automated, integrated bliss in no time. Let us know if you’d like to see Infusionsoft or discuss any of your other cloud software needs.