Starting up a company is probably one of the scariest things you can do in business. It takes guts, confidence, and a lot of late nights—even after more than 10 years on, I still remember how scary those first few years were.
So often when a company is starting out you will hear that cash flow is king, meaning that any costs which are not required as essential should not be implemented. This is often the category that a CRM system falls under, especially when it comes to SMEs and start ups, believing it’s not a necessary part of your initial start up costs.
Unsurprisingly, I think this mentality is just wrong: A CRM system could make a positive impact from your very first day in business. Don’t believe me? Let me elaborate…
A CRM is a convenience tool for businesses of any size, but at the beginning stages of a company when everything feels a bit overwhelming, your chosen CRM can act as the perfect support system. When you’re not sure whether you are coming or going, a CRM can help businesses manage and analyse customer communication and data throughout the client lifecycle. From potential clients to long standing clients to those you think will only be with you a short time—it’s all there, right in front of you. Plain and simple.
It’s funny, when I speak to most business owners or potential clients, if you ask them what is most important to their company their focus will always be the customers. Managing, retaining and increasing their customer base are always the number one priority. And one of the easiest ways of ensuring your customer interactions are monitored successfully is by using a competent CRM system.
But that’s true for a business of any size and at any stage.
Why is a CRM especially important for a start up?
First of all it’s about empowerment. A CRM system can empower, excite, and guide a start up, helping them to achieve their goals and become the success they want to be. It makes the complex simple. Most people think a CRM system is just a sales or a marketing tool, but actually it’s your very own digital office.
Through your own system you can manage your HR, staff updates, project management, contractual agreements, customer service records, and then report on all of it. The ideal start-up CRM tool should be simple enough for you and any future employees to use, yet has enough facilities so that all your data can be saved securely and accessed when required.
In the world of CRM, we talk about customer interactions a lot, but often people don’t really understand how a CRM system actually helps with this. And yes, we know it’s in the name but that doesn’t make it that clear for some people. So in a nutshell, it can help you keep on top of all your leads and contacts, ensuring you keep them warm and cosy and no one gets left out in the cold.
Categorising your contacts as prospective customers, existing customers, and even lost customers will make a significant difference. It will guarantee you are talking in the right tone and the right message to the correct contact.
Plus you can track all your interactions with them, so next time they pick up the phone to speak to you, you’ll remember everything discussed previously, demonstrating your commitment to them and their business. You can make a person to feel extra important and special to you, just by simply taking note of something simple, it might feel insignificant at the time but it could be the difference between you winning or losing the business. It’s this level of dedication that will build a long time relationship.
How to find the right CRM system
Not all CRM systems are the same or offer the same sort of service. Don’t settle for something that doesn’t work exactly how you want it to support you and your business. It needs to have a completely transparent viewpoint of your services and communications.
Try not to get too excited straight away, you’re a new business after all so keep to your budget. A start-up will need a product that can do everything, and then some. But if everything isn’t a possibility don’t worry about it, just prioritise the main areas of focus, you can always add more categories as you grow – let your CRM system grow with you.
Remember a CRM system can’t save your business, but they can help improve it. It’s not a magic potion from Hogwarts and having one doesn’t mean you will be the success you want to be. That’s down to you and your commitment to your clients and your company, but your CRM system will help you along the way and definitely become your right hand machine.
By Graham Anderson is CEO of OpenCRM