Monday, October 18, 2010

13 Questions to Help You Decide if CRM is Right for Your Small Business

13 Questions to Help You Decide if CRM is Right for Your Business
Since you’re reading this blog, adding CRM technology to your business is obviously something you’re considering. You might have read an article on CRM and it piqued your interest, or perhaps you saw an advertisement in a business magazine or online while surfing the ’net. Either way, you’re looking at CRM systems and are wondering if the time is right for your business to implement a CRM solution.

To help you make the initial decision, I’ve developed a short list of questions the answers to which are a simple yes or no. Review each of the questions and mark down the response that best fits your particular situation. Once you've completed answering the questions, I'll use your answers to provide you with some feedback that I believe will be help you make your decision:
  1. Do you employ at least one sales person? 
  2. Do you or another person in your business spend a lot of their time compiling customer reports or other types of management reporting?
  3. Has a salesperson or other key employee ever left your employment?
  4. Have you ever missed a customer appointment, missed a proposal deadline or forgotten to respond to a customer email?
  5. When asked a question about a customer, do you have to sort through stacks of paper on your desk to find an answer?
  6. Do you wish you had a better handle on the types and causes of customer service issues?
  7. Are you currently using more than one software program to keep your calendar and track your company’s sales and marketing activities?
  8. Do you know who your most profitable customers are?
  9. Do you know all the projects that your employees are working on?
  10. Do you know the value of all the proposals in your sales pipeline? Do you know what a sales pipeline is?
  11. Do you know if there are customer service issues that are common to more than one of your products or services?
  12. Do you have a process for tracking customer issues?
  13. Are you able to easily track the return on your sales and marketing programs?
Now that you’ve completed the quiz, we can use your answers to help you with your decision. This part of the process is very simple:
  • If  you checked the “Yes” box for at least one of the questions numbered 1-7, then your business could benefit from implementing CRM technology.
  • If you checked the “No” box for at least one of the questions numbered 8-13, then your business could similarly benefit from implementing CRM technology.
This may seem overly simplistic, but CRM technology can help you manage your business more effectively in the following ways:
  • Maintain all your customer and prospect data for use by your sales teams (Q. 1)
  • Quickly generate a range of management reports thus reducing the need to add support staff (Q. 2)
  •  Store complete customer data and a history of customer activity that otherwise might be difficult to find in the event an employee leaves your business (Q. 3)
  • Includes calendar functionality that lets you schedule meetings, track sales and marketing campaigns and alerts you to approaching task and proposal deadlines. (Q. 4)
  • Gives you electronic access to customer data 24 x 7 from anywhere you have a computer and internet connection (Q. 5)
  • Lets you prioritize and track issues and problems that impact your customers (Q. 6)
  • Provides you with a single location to store contact data and generate reports. Also allows you to import contact and transaction data from other applications. (Q. 7)
  • Offers reporting capabilities that help you to analyze sales and marketing data (Q. 8)
  • Allows you to assign customer and prospect-related tasks to your employees and gives you the ability to generate task reports by customer or by employee (Q. 9)
  • Lets you assign revenue value and probability of close to each pending deal. This data can then be used to develop reporting that shows the value of deals in your sales pipeline (Q. 10)
  • Gives you tools to filter your customer service issues by product or service type (Q. 11)
  • Provides customer issue tracking tools that are accessible 24 x 7 through a web-based interface (Q. 12)
  • Includes sales and marketing campaign tracking that provides revenue and expense information that can be used to generate ROI for each campaign (Q. 13)
 What's The Bottom Line?
 The simple truth is that it's difficult to find examples of businesses that couldn't benefit from implementing some form of CRM technology. The efficiencies and benefits that the technology can bring should be more than enough to offset any concerns about cost. However, this doesn't mean that any CRM solution will do the job. small businesses should carefully review the range technology options available to them - a subject I'll review in my next article.

If you'd like to learn more about how implementing a CRM solution can help your small business, visit and sign up for a free 30 day trial. 

 Shaun O'Reilly is Director of Marketing for StarterSuccess - a suite of web-based applications designed to help smaller companies more effectively manage and grow their business. Within this suite, StarterCRM provides small businesses with a cost-effective and easy to use customer relationship management system.

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