Is This True: Having a CRM is Essential for a Small Business?

Posted by David Chism | Tue, Apr 5, 2016

 Is This True: Having a CRM is Essential for a Small Business?
I recent­ly heard a mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant, dur­ing one of his lec­tures, tell his audi­ence that it was not essen­tial to have a CRM for one’s paint­ing (insert your indus­try) busi­ness. This state­ment was made because some­one in the audi­ence asked him what CRM he rec­om­mend­ed. The mar­keter did not rec­om­mend a CRM and just said, I do not care what you use for a CRM…Excel would work fine or even a pen­cil and a pad.” I get what the con­sul­tant was say­ing. This was in the con­text of hunt­ing for new leads and reach­ing back out to past clients. The mar­keter had the idea that some­times a CRM can be overkill and a time waster for sales­peo­ple.

Is a CRM Real­ly Necessary?

I have seen com­pa­nies use a rolodex sys­tem, files/​folders, CRM, Excel, Email, and Post-It notes to keep track of reminders, next steps, sales process, and their cus­tomers. Should your com­pa­ny invest the time and resources by using a Cus­tomer Rela­tion­ship Man­age­ment (CRM) pro­gram? I know some of you will not be shocked when I say that a con­tract­ing busi­ness should use a CRM. Why? I think it helps keep your busi­ness on track, focused and more sell­able down the road. It also pro­vides bet­ter account­abil­i­ty with your team. base-exampleI recent­ly talked to some­one who hired their first sales­per­son and asked if he had a CRM to keep track of his prospect­ing, lead gen­er­a­tion, and sales pipeline? I, then, encour­aged the own­er to try a CRM for a few weeks and get the sales guy to com­mit to using it. Fast for­ward a few weeks, the own­er end­ed up fir­ing the sales­per­son. The deci­sion to let him go was large­ly due to the fact that the CRM did not lie. The sales­man was lazy, and he could not con­tin­ue to get by the own­er now that the CRM was giv­ing him reports. A CRM has been a wise choice for me because it real­ly does help keep me on task. I do the bulk of the sell­ing at my job. How­ev­er, I do not prospect and sell every­day. It is just my indus­try. It is every now and then. An esti­ma­tor for a paint­ing com­pa­ny should be prospect­ing and/​or sell­ing each day. That is why a CRM is vital for a sales staff. Because my sales is not full time, I still use a CRM to help with the next steps and my long sales cycle. I some­times have pro­pos­als that can take weeks if not months to sell. Some­times prospects will come back 6 – 12 months lat­er and sign up. I can go into my CRM and with­in sec­onds have their infor­ma­tion at my fin­ger­tips.

Does It Mat­ter What Type of CRM To Use?

The mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant I men­tioned at the begin­ning of this post said it did not mat­ter what type of CRM one used. On that point, I actu­al­ly agree with him, but I would strong­ly sug­gest stay­ing away from Excel, Post-It Notes, and a Rolodex! There are hun­dreds of choic­es on the mar­ket to have a con­tact man­ag­er. A CRM should at least have the basic func­tions of a con­tact man­ag­er, a sales cycle that you can cus­tomize and good report­ing. I have tried dozens upon dozens of CRMs over the years. I con­tin­ue to get emailed from CRM com­pa­nies ask­ing me to review their pro­gram. They all have their strengths and weak­ness­es. There are some that are more geared toward the con­struc­tion indus­try. Yet I don’t care for some of those pro­grams because they are not real user friend­ly or pro­vide more fea­tures than my cus­tomers will ever use. Most of the painters I work with nation­wide have set­tled on using a CRM called Pipeline Deals (affil­i­ate link). I have worked with Pipeline close to when I start­ed my com­pa­ny in 2009. They have been great to work with, and they pro­duce a very sim­ple and easy to use CRM that works. I am an affil­i­ate because I have a bit of influ­ence with them. In oth­er words, I can pro­vide feed­back that my cus­tomers want…and they lis­ten to me! We are a great team. The oth­er pro­gram I use, and I know many folks have signed up to use, is Base CRM. This is a sim­ple CRM but also has very com­plex and advanced fea­tures as well. It is scal­able for small, medi­um, and even large orga­ni­za­tions. Try Base. I am affil­i­ate of Base as well as I have helped with test­ing out new fea­tures and am kept aware of devel­op­ment. I am also able to pro­vide valu­able feed­back to their devel­op­ment team. The biggest play­er in the indus­try con­tin­ues to be Sales­Force. They have a num­ber of pric­ing lev­els to fit the bill…and you can’t go wrong with it. I only have a few clients using Sales­force. They all seem to think it is just fine.” I would say it requires a lot more train­ing and time invest­ment to uti­lize all their fea­tures. It is a pret­ty pow­er­ful CRM sys­tem. The com­pa­nies that use it do over $10M a year in rev­enue and have a larg­er sales staff.

Your Turn

I know what I men­tioned is not rock sci­ence in this post. It was writ­ten in response to this mar­keter who thought that a CRM can be a waste of time for many busi­ness­es: gets in the way. My point is that hav­ing a CRM and mak­ing it a part of your sys­tem will real­ly stream­line your busi­ness sys­tems. You just need to com­mit to get­ting and using a CRM. Do you agree? What are you using to keep track of clients and stay in touch?

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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