Who thinks more is better than less? If you’re a seven-year-old in an AT&T ad campaign, more is definitely better than less—especially if it’s stuff you really like.
But as a mature adult/business owner (ha!—don’t look at me), you know that “it depends.” Getting more of something isn’t always an unqualified “whoopee!”
Many small business owners break their necks trying to get more and more clients in the door. I did this in the early days of my law practice (pre-LegalZoom), enticing clients with inexpensive incorporation services. We had lots of them (more! More!). But after the incorporation, they would drop off the map. With all our frontloaded effort, we ended up in the business of loss-leaders. Which, unless you have follow-up, means one thing: loss.
Research from Bain & Company indicates that it’s 6-7 times more costly to acquire new customers than to maintain existing ones. Phrased another way, it’s 6-7 times cheaper to maintain your existing customers than find new ones. What ultimately made the difference in my firm? Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.
What Does It Do?
Small business CRM simplifies how you manage your customer information. This can include sales records, marketing campaigns, and employee performance. And because you can now measure your efforts, you can track progress and make course corrections where necessary.
In a multi-tiered business, employees use CRM to record customer information and track sales or service details. Managers can delegate tasks, track quotas and sales data to assess performance, and produce reports to confirm results. If you fulfill a lot of these roles (including, as CEO, that of Chief Everything Officer), you can automate many tasks, such as mass mailings and follow-up emails, to free up your time. If, as they say, the “fortune is in the follow-up,” it’s in the follow-up contact that you get to share your value with your clients over and over again. That feature alone saved us thousands of dollars in time, money, and effort each year scrounging around for new clients to fill the funnel.
Can a Small Business Afford CRM?
If you want to grow as big as your value proposition deserves, you can’t afford not to use CRM. Essentially they automate and track the systems you should have in your business anyway. Look into some of the free CRM tools available in the market—at least to get started.
Tip: How can you select from among the many offerings on the market?
- Determine what you need it for, what kinds of tracking you want to do, etc.
- Create an overall list of CRM solutions. (Ask your colleagues, read expert blogs and reviews, listen to conference sponsors).
- Filter the list for those that integrate with other programs you use (Outlook, QuickBooks, etc.)
- Pick one! Get started somewhere.