If you are a business owner or a sales manager, you’ve probably heard the term “CRM.” But what does it really mean?
C-R-M stands for Customer Relationship Management. At its simplest, a CRM system allows businesses to manage business relationships and the data and information associated with them.
With CRM, you can store customer and prospect contact information, accounts, leads and sales opportunities in one central location, ideally in the cloud so the information is accessible by many, in real time.
While a CRM system may not elicit as much enthusiasm these days as social networking platforms like Facebook or Twitter, any CRM system is similarly built around people and relationships. And that’s exactly why it can be so valuable for a fast-growing business.
Any business starts out with a foundation of great customer relationships. You, the seller, connect with people who need your product. Yet, as your company grows, these business connections grow more sophisticated. It’s not just a transaction between the buyer and seller. You start to manage a myriad of connections, across time, within each company you do business with. You need to share information across various teams within your own organization who are making contact with the same customers. A CRM system can serve as a vital nerve center to manage the many connections that happen in a growing business.
For small businesses, a CRM system may simply help you put your data in the cloud, making it accessible in real time, across any device. But as you grow, a CRM can quickly expand to include more sophisticated features to help teams collaborate with colleagues and customers, send customized emails, gather insights from social media conversations, and get a holistic picture of your business health in real time.
Today growing businesses manage customer connections and information in a variety of ways. Some use old fashioned note cards and Rolodex. Others store information on their mobile phone while on the go. Others use Excel spreadsheets or Google documents. While that may help in the short term when you have a small team and don’t plan on scaling your business, if you want to scale for fast growth, it may be time to consider a CRM system to help you collect your precious business data in one place, make it accessible via the cloud, and free up your time to focus on delighting customers rather than letting valuable insights and information fall through the cracks.