How to use CRM to get the most out of your business

It is no secret that good customer relationship management is essential to growth for businesses of all sizes. But few SMEs get the best out of CRM. In light of this, we provide some tips on how to do it well.

Manage your data more efficiently

CRM may not feel like the highest priority on the opening day of your new gym, furniture shop or design company, but as your customers roll in so will your data. You’ll very quickly feel overloaded with information from enquiries, trade shows, email campaigns, direct marketing, and cold calling.

Poorly-managed data could lead to missed opportunities. Forgetting to follow up on a lead or sending multiple emails to the same person will not impress.

Keeping track of this data is the very least you must do. Finding an intelligent way to log every prospect and note previous interactions and interest is essential to properly managing your sales pipeline.

Make each customer feel special

Never underestimate the value of treating every customer as an individual and providing personalised customer service.

This sounds hard with hundreds of prospects running through your system, but it needn’t be. It is as simple as taking down a few notes after every phone conversation or email correspondence.

Noting the name and level of interest is a given, but also make personal notes – if they mention they are about to go on holiday or get married, note it down and ask how it went when you next speak. Don’t be over familiar, but showing you’ve remembered something they chose to mention can make a world of difference to your rapport with a potential customer.

Monitor levels of interest

As well as noting personal details, after each call give your prospect a rating of how likely you think it is that they will buy. Noting down their level of interest helps you recognise strong leads and focus your limited time where you have the best chance of converting interest into sales.

Keep all your information in one place

The worst thing you can do is not to have a system at all. Plenty of businesses just write down a list of prospects then go through emails or rely on their memory to remind themselves who they are talking to. And the very worst sales people just call from a list – there are few things less likely to convince than a call from someone who can’t even remember what you spoke about last time – yet it happens far too often.

Recording all your data after each call or email seems like a hassle to the busy entrepreneur, but it will be worth it in the long run. You can design your own system or use one of the tailor made software options. CRM software will provide a template for keeping track of your sales leads and email you timely reminders alongside a report on the history of the prospect.

Make use of the connected world

Many leads and sales updates come at trade shows or meetings, or simply from a call whilst on the move. You may not always be in front of your computer when you get new data to input.

Noting down data to be later put into a central CRM system takes extra time and increases the likelihood it will be forgotten. With today’s mobile devices and connectivity, there is no excuse for not having a cloud-based system which anyone on your team can update from their phone or a remote computer anytime.

Stay secure

Remote access brings huge benefits, but remember you are responsible for customer data. Use secure software to transmit data, avoid unsecured networks and keep software updated. Make sure all your employees are doing the same to keep that data safe!

Stay organised as you grow

As you grow, coordinating multiple sales staff makes things more complicated. A bigger business will need more management time, but that’s not an excuse to let your sales process get sloppy. Treating customers well is important whatever size you are. Take time to allocate leads to sales staff, ensure there is no doubling up, and set reminders. Monitor sales staff to ensure they are following up at the right time, and keeping track of customers, as you did when you had to manage new business.

Invest time in CRM

With CRM so important to the growth of SMEs, poor management will only cost your company time and opportunities. Invest time in setting up a comprehensive system that facilitates your CRM rather than just creating a mountain of data. The time you will save and increased business you will secure from upfront investment will be worth its weight in increased revenue.

Raju is chief evangelist for Zoho, a producer of cloud-based business software.

Further reading on CRM


Raju Vegesna

Raju is chief evangelist for Zoho, a producer of cloud-based business software.

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CRM systems

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