How Can You Run a Small Business Without a CRM?

Posted by | July 21, 2015 | Marketing Advice | One Comment

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, a 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?”


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.


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.

One Comment

  • Great blog. I think crm is important for businesses because It allows you to register your leads and contacts. You never know when a lead is ready to buy from you. Probably not today anyway. You can track all customer interaction – from everyone in your company. Next time you talk to a customer or prospect, you get the upper hand when you know what that company is talking about.

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