Definition of Customer Relationship Management
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is an important business development concept. CRM allows the selling process to be automated. This ensures that as many initial contacts as possible get converted into loyal repeat customers.
Sales CRM is often achieved using sales CRM software – special programs that guide and control the sales team. Calls can be allocated and scheduled. Information packages and quotes are sent on the dates they should be. Follow-up calls are organized. At each stage of the process there are alarms and reminders landing in the right person’s inbox.
CRM and Small Businesses
Running sales CRM software can be an expensive business. The software can be very expensive to buy or license. There are also the internal costs of maintaining it. You must make sure that data is secure and held in line with current data protection legislation. You may need to recruit staff to run the system!
There are alternatives to spending big money though. Small businesses will find it hard to justify a full sales CRM implementation. Many of the benefits can be achieved far more cheaply, or even for free. Hubspot CRM, for example, offers a basic contact management system for free. You can create your own sales funnel, estimate the value of sales for a prospect and schedule calls and follow-ups. Alternatively, you can create your own system.
The first step is to define the sales funnel for your business and industry sector. There are many examples given on the internet in a variety of file formats. By modifying these, you can personalize your own sales funnel to guide you through the key steps.
To develop a list of initial contacts, you can search through trade representative databases. For example, if you supply pubs with beer line cleaning fluid, you will find a list of the larger pub groups to check out on the BBPA website. The British Beer and Pub Association database also includes beer line cleaning companies for you to research. If your target is individual pubs, then the local CAMRA websites in each region list all the pubs that serve real ale. This is a good starting point.
Now you can start the process of developing this list into prospects. Setting up a spreadsheet with columns for prospect name, contact name, email, telephone and mobile number is a good start. Then you can add in information on preferred call day, time and repeat frequency. Potential sales volumes give you some opportunities to prioritize your sales effort.
As your contact moves through the sales funnel, you can add more information, extra contact details for shift managers. Details of production staff who need to be on-board with decisions made by buyers. Confirmation that the key contacts are on your weekly email newsletter database. One of the joys of doing it yourself is that you have a lot of flexibility in the way that the CRM system is set up.
To schedule calls and follow-ups, you can use your mail system calendar synced to your smartphone. There are even CRM apps for iOS and Android that will structure this for you and within the funnel framework that you create.
The final piece of the jigsaw is MailChimp. This online resource offers free automated emails. You can schedule emails to go out at the optimum time and you can segment the email list using tags to create sub-groups. Your offers become more attractive and your content is more relevant.
Conclusion – Can you set up your own cheap CRM system?
The short answer is yes. With an Excel spreadsheet, your Smartphone and a lot of hard work, you can create a system to rival any sales CRM software package.