So what is the easiest question a business owner will ever have to answer?
There’s nothing up my sleeve here folks; it’s as simple as it gets: Do you have customers?
And with that out of the way, the supplementary questions are also a doddle: Do you want to have more customers? (and/or) Would you like your existing customers to spend more with you? Smart-arse answers aside, it’s a straightforward bet that when it comes to the revenue side of the ledger, these are the two issues that business owners are faced with: getting more customers and/or getting existing customers to spend more with you.
The best ways to go about that is not within the purview of this post, but what I would submit that business owners need a simple tool to enable them to more easily execute whatever customer acquisition or revenue raising strategies that they come up with. And this is where a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system comes in.
The need to have a CRM may see like a “well, obviously” proposition for any business that has a feet-on-the-street sales force or is actively involved in putting together marketing campaigns, but is that the start and end the end when it comes to CRM? No sir; read on.
One of the more common misconceptions that many small businesses labour under is that they don’t actually do any marketing. And yet, when they tot up their expenses at the end of the financial year, you can almost guarantee that they will have spent some money on a Yellow pages listing; some money on building or maintaining a website; some money on sponsoring a local sporting team; some money on producing promotional websites etc. It is folly lump these sorts of expenses together as overhead when they are in fact, no-holds-barred marketing expenses.
The question that then arises of course is what sort of return on investment are you getting on this sort of outlay? It is not uncommon for businesses to spend upwards of $30,000 per annum on these types of costs and yet have no idea as to whether or not this expenditure is leading to any uptick in revenue. A CRM system coupled with a simple “how did you find out about us?” question whenever dealing with a new customer enquiry will quickly allow you to identify where your marketing dollars are being most effectively spent.
And whilst we’re on the subject of customer enquiries, how well are you currently handling inbound enquiries, either from existing customers or prospective customers? Are your staff able to quickly access or capture customer information, buying histories, current stock levels of any given stock item? If the answer is no then I would humbly submit, a CRM is what your business needs.
In fact, if I haven’t made the point clearly enough already; any business that is actively involved in the acquisition of new customers and/or raising revenue from existing customers (which means all businesses) really does need to look at putting a CRM in place.