If Gary Swart, CEO at oDesk is right in his prediction that more businesses will be started in 2014 than ever before, that’s good news for those of us in the on-demand technology business. As small businesses grow, one of the most important choices they will make is the tools they give their team that allow them to be successful. The technology and software that is put at their disposal will determine how well they can succeed at their tasks – and that technology is more accessible than ever before. I’m talking about tools like MailChimp, QuoteRoller, Dropbox and Base.
These tools are important as businesses grow, but when is it time to invest in them?
In the case of CRM software, there are always considerations about cost and effectiveness, but the real key is to think about how a CRM will make life better for your team. Here are five signs that it might be time to buy CRM software.
1. When you have enough customers
Customers are at the heart of your CRM; after all, they’re right there in the name! There’s a common belief among sales pros that using a fancy tool to keep track of your customer information isn’t necessary until you have a huge number of clients. But that mindset devalues the importance of those first people who get your company on the map.
CRM is meant to help your sales team do a better job of serving clients. No matter how many people you have in your rolodex, they deserve the best that you can give them. If a new tool will help to make the customer experience with your company better, then it is time to make the investment.
2. When you lose customers
No matter how big your customer base is, there’s a serious problem when it starts to shrink. If your company starts to lose customers, you need to quickly engage in damage control. Why did those clients leave? Where were they in the pipeline when they left? If you don’t know, then you’re in trouble.
A CRM tracks customers through every stage of the pipeline, so that when the deal goes south, you can analyze when and why it happened. That knowledge will help you identify trends and work to correct any internal problems. The small investment in a CRM system will pay for itself in no time in saved deals.
3. When you can’t communicate
Everybody on your sales team should be able to stay in touch with what’s happening across your business. That shouldn’t entail spending hours combing through a filing cabinet looking for documents, or following a paper trail of memos across the office. Chasing the information they need isn’t the best use of your reps’ time. With a CRM, they can get snapshot views of any deal in the pipeline in just seconds. The software should be a centralized hub for any of your sales-focused communications, saving emails, phone calls and notes about deals in the same place.
4. When you don’t know what’s coming
Think about how great it would be to have a crystal ball in your office, a place to get a glimpse of what the future holds for your sales team. Seems impossible, right? But forecasting isn’t just the territory of meteorologists and psychic mediums. Your managers can have the same skills when they have the right CRM.
This clairvoyance comes from the number-crunching of CRM reports. By analyzing your past performance, these reports can help your sales leaders extrapolate what deals are most likely to close and when. Reports can also show if there are regular slow seasons in your industry, which means you can be better prepared to weather the normal ups and downs of the market. If you feel like you’re always playing a guessing game, then it’s time to bring in a CRM.
5. When you’re growing
In the early stages of a new company, with maybe a handful of employees, a CRM seems like an unnecessary purchase. You can collaborate easily, all the information is probably on a single computer, and that works just fine. But as you grow, a bigger scale makes that do-it-yourself mentality hard to sustain. You need to start introducing better systems into your operations.
The earlier you start with a good CRM, the less jarring that transition will be. Especially when you partner with a CRM that scales well, like Base, you’ll have a plan available for whatever size your company is. It will also add features specifically designed to assist with the challenges of coordinating across a bigger and bigger team.
Are you ready to shop for a CRM system for your business? Browse our collection of resources to learn how to choose the best CRM software.