What is a small business CRM?
Is it a CRM for small business or it is a CRM for selling to small businesses?
We tend to think it is the former: a CRM for small business to deploy in selling to other businesses- big or small. Of course, we rule out strategic sales. The type of deals involving passenger jets, for instance.
What constrains a small business? Plenty. Lack of money, number of people trained for sales or marketing. Finding folks good at telephone skills, copy-writing, creating websites. Making sales calls.
Automation is an imperative for small business as they grow; they need to track their existing opportunities, reduce lost opportunities, prioritize and schedule activities. They need to measure their people against set goals and track performance. They need to know which product lines are selling and which ones need more focus.
None of this works without a sales automation tools of some sort. Most importantly, starting off when you are small allows you to have a large pool of existing customers with their previous years history or purchases and activities. This is the database to which you can re-sell, up sell or cross-sell. I hope you see what a small business CRM software is supposed to do.
The sales cycle for small business
The B2B sales cycle works as follows:
1. Identify opportunities: know the organization, related products, possible decision makers.
At this stage, we have very little information and our whole focus is on investigation.
2. Investigate further: try to get a good estimate of the budget, achieve a product vs need fit, get more clarity on the decision makers and their roles.
3. Presentation: Present the solution to the decision makers. At this stage, your knowledge of the sales process is nearly cmplete.
4. Closure: when you are able to forecast with near certainty when the deal is likely to be won or lost and the value.
The role of the CRM software in the business
We see the role as being in 3 parts:
1. Track individual sales opportunities and provide cues to the sales people if their opportunities are on track or not.
Sales folks are notoriously optimistic; they always hope the deal is closing, in their favour and it is closing “this month”. A CRM software should provide some cues from the information captured for the deal- about how well informed the forecast was. After all, if the customer does not yet have a budget sanction, it is clearly unrealistic to expect to get the order in our favour this month!
2. Maintain detailed activity history as part of the profile for all contacts and accounts and over time build up a truly rich database of customer information.
3. Provide reports and dashboards to guide quick decision making- what products to push, which territories to nurture, which salesmen to provide support to.
A small business CRM does all the above and besides..
Many CRM implementations are unpopular because they provide very little incentive to the sales people to use it. A small business CRM must be
“Low on overheads”– take little time to learn and use, flexible and customizable without needing an army of consultants or days of set-up assistance.
Minimize data entry: if there is one thing sales people hate is entering and refining customer profile information. Their own contact lists are spread over Linkedin, Gmail, Outlook- allow them a painless way of uploading the contact lists from all these places and they are happy.
A platform for customer interaction not just logging: We have all been there; we send out email campaigns from our emailing software and then come back to our CRM to painfully “tag” the contacts to whom we have mailed. We schedule and activity in Outlook, and then come back to log it in CRM. A modern CRM must be cross-platform; when you schedule a Task in your CRM, it must sync with your connected Google Account as well, for that matter Outlook. And, as we said earlier, your CRM platform must itself do the mailing, tracking of responses and even seamlessly assign those responses to sales people for follow up.