How Can You Run a Small Business Without a CRM?

Posted by David Chism | Tue, Jul 21, 2015

 How Can You Run a Small Business Without a CRM?
Can you run a small ser­vice busi­ness with­out a Cus­tomer Rela­tion­ship Man­age­ment (CRM) pro­gram? Of course you can. This might be you read­ing this post. You might even be mak­ing mon­ey with­out a CRM. Life might be sim­ple and easy for you not hav­ing all this soft­ware and track­ing fea­tures. Yet, I encour­age you to read on. Even though you can run a busi­ness with­out a CRM pro­gram, and this is just my opin­ion, I think you will have bet­ter results and growth when you imple­ment and com­mit to using a CRM. Let me explain a few ben­e­fits to why I think it is cru­cial that you con­sid­er a CRM for your ser­vice com­pa­ny and why it should not be shelved to a future date.

Brief Review of What a CRM Does?

A cus­tomer rela­tion­ship (CRM) pro­gram does a pletho­ra of things. For the sake of time, CRM basi­cal­ly helps you record your inter­ac­tions with prospects, leads and cus­tomers through all stages of the sales process and beyond. An exam­ple would be: a lead fills out a form on your web­site. This lead is then record­ed in your CRM sys­tem. A sales­per­son will then cre­ate a deal and fol­low up process with the lead. Depend­ing on the func­tion­al­i­ties of that par­tic­u­lar CRM, one could have a list of fol­low up steps for every stage of the sales process: emails to send, fol­low up reminder and so forth. From a report­ing stand­point, a good CRM will allow your staff to run lots of very help­ful reports such as: How many leads did you get this month vs last month? or How many leads did I get from the web­site vs yard signs? It can also track not only the source but the dol­lar amount won, lost and pend­ing. Some CRMs go even fur­ther with advanced report­ing.

Ben­e­fits of Hav­ing a CRM

1. Track­ing results

If there was one rea­son to have a CRM it is because you can track results for your mar­ket­ing and sales. I have spo­ken to many (yes many) con­trac­tors over the years who do not use a CRM and can­not tell me a num­ber of sim­ple answer to ques­tions like:
How many leads did you get last year?” How many sales did you make off of the web last month? What was your aver­age sale from web leads vs repeat cus­tomers?” Where are most of your leads and sales com­ing from?” How much are you spend­ing on ________?” Pipeline deals-reports
Would it not be nice to know the answers to ques­tions like these? Once you have answers and have bet­ter track­ing in place, you’ll be more pre­pared to make bet­ter mar­ket­ing and sales deci­sions when new ideas sur­face.

2. Man­ag­ing of Sales Staff 

A good sales­man is not typ­i­cal­ly great at using a CRM. No, he or she is good at sell­ing but not nec­es­sar­i­ly in all the details. I have noticed a lot of esti­ma­tors in the paint­ing busi­ness real­ly do not like CRMs. Yet if these esti­ma­tors do not com­mit to using a CRM, the track­ing I men­tioned above can­not hap­pen. They real­ly are hurt­ing them­selves as well as the com­pa­ny. So hav­ing a CRM and mak­ing it a com­pa­ny pol­i­cy that your sales­peo­ple have to use it is vital. Not only should you make it manda­to­ry that they plug in their fig­ures, your or your sales man­ag­er can then login and track the results of his/​her sales team. I love this fea­ture in a CRM. One can look at all the open bids when times are slow and ask the ques­tion, I see you have 30 open bids this past month. How do you plan on fol­low­ing up on those bids and when will this happen?” BaseCRM-report

3. Keeps Your Busi­ness More Organized

Noth­ing like being more orga­nized and mak­ing it easy to find things. Although I test a num­ber of CRM, and there are lots of great ones on the mar­ket, I use Base CRM for my main pro­gram. I love their email fea­ture that plays very nice­ly with Google Apps. I can send and receive emails direct­ly in Base. So when I am work­ing on sales myself, I try to send emails only with Base CRM. I can tell when a prospect opens my email, for exam­ple! I can quick­ly cre­ate task and fol­low ups with­in Base for next steps as well. In short, when I use my CRM like I am sup­posed to, sales do not fall through the cracks. I can quick­ly look at where I am at and what I have to do next!

4. Mail­ing & Email List 

If you want to send out a cus­tom email or mail­ing list to select clients, a CRM can help you orga­nize and make a cus­tomer mail/​email list. Believe me, I have had cus­tomers that did not use a CRM have a heck of a time com­ing up with list for my team to use when we were putting togeth­er a mail­ing or email cam­paign. Some­times this process took weeks to get a good and clean list. Hav­ing your con­tacts sort­ed and ready when­ev­er you need it is vital to your mar­ket­ing and growth. Notifcations-Base

5. Grow­ing Your Business

Your busi­ness will grow with a CRM that is active­ly part of your busi­ness. Notice I did not say it might grow. I strong­ly believe that if you com­mit to using a cus­tomer rela­tion­ship man­age­ment pro­gram and nev­er let it get dusty, your busi­ness will grow more than if you did not use one! Is this not per­haps the #1 rea­son you should con­sid­er one for your company? 

Get­ting Start­ed with a CRM

Most of my clients are paint­ing con­trac­tors. I am get­ting clos­er to mak­ing sure every client uses a CRM, but as of today, there are still a few that are not quite there. I hope they are read­ing this post! So even I have work to do to con­vince them to use such a great tool. If you are not using a CRM, com­mit today. Do not put this item on the shelf and say you will do it some­day. If you are won­der­ing what CRM to use, I would sug­gest start­ing with a pro­gram that is fair­ly sim­ple unless you have a team that can real­ly help imple­ment it. For exam­ple,Base CRM and Pipeline Deals are two, what I would call, easy and sim­ple CRMs. Base is a bit more expen­sive and has more fea­tures. I have explained some of the ben­e­fits of Base in this blog post. Pipeline Deals is very sim­ple to get start­ed with and has the basic fea­tures you’d need to be suc­cess­ful with imple­ment­ing a CRM. Many of my painters are still using Pipeline. The ones that move to a dif­fer­ent CRM like Sales­force or Base nor­mal­ly want more fea­tures that they can­not live with­out. I have writ­ten a bit more about Pipeline in this old­er blog post. Since then, the prod­uct has got­ten even bet­ter! Let me know how you are using a CRM now or plan to use it!

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.


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