Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is no longer just a sales and marketing software but has gained recognition as one of the standard business processes imperative for a successful enterprise. While most MNCs and larger companies have embraced CRM, startups, and SMEs still believe it to be an investment that can be debated and even dropped.
Affordability and accessibility still seem to be factors obstructing the SMEs and startups to embrace CRM. These are now set to change with the arrival of Cloud Computing and the invention of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) concepts that are set to make CRM technology more affordable and accessible to masses. Further, the conception of CRM as just a tool to boost marketing and sales is also being transformed, with newer frontiers and sectors exploring the potential of this technology.
Listed here are significant, yet so far ignored, contributions that the CRM tools can make to the SMEs:
Networking is a key for businesses, especially for SMEs and startups. Most of these rely on multiple sources for networking, including employees. Converting these networking opportunities into tangible business leads is the next vital step to success. However, with multiple people involved, keeping track of the contacts and conducting effective follow-ups can be tricky. With CRM, not only is there a recorded contact but the development of that into a lead can be well documented and shared with all to ensure there is no duplication of efforts. Further, it would also help timely and professional follow-ups for these leads, resulting in an effective business generation.
2. Investor funding opportunities
As a startup or an SME, funding plays a major role in the scale of success for your company. Such funding opportunities, like networking, sometimes come in unexpected timings. Using CRM, these can be efficiently recorded and tracked using appropriate filters so as to follow up on them when required. A potential funding opportunity can make or break the success rate of the company and thus, accurate handling of these contacts is imperative.
3. Internal transparency and collaboration
With automated data, startups and SMEs can use CRM to create transparent work procedures that encourage collaboration, trust, loyalty, and motivate employees to work together as a team, creating a strong taskforce to forge ahead in business. It also ensures better productivity, efficient performance and faster rate of growth for the company and its employees.
4. Smooth employee transition
Accurate and timely entry of records using CRM technology ensures the process is well regulated and transparent. This helps during a time of employee transition, a process quite frequently heard of in startups where employees join and leave frequently or when there is a frequent change in roles. During such events, CRM helps to ensure the line of work does not suffer and there is no room for errors or misgivings when the new employee is handed over the task.
Growth is paramount in the minds of entrepreneurs and an effective CRM system is the best tool one can equip oneself with for the purpose. With effectively managing marketing and sales, networking and funding opportunities and a robust performance management systems, CRM can help automate a pattern of growth. Ensuring all areas are well connected and operate smoothly in tandem with complete transparency, scalability cannot just be achieved but can be effectively planned and measured.
6. Building brand and reputation
Even as a startup or an SME, building a positive brand reputation is vital. Using CRM efficiently can lead to setting up of an efficient standard business process and system at the early stages of your business, such that it helps build trust, reliability, and customer loyalty, from inception. Some key factors instrumental in brand reputation building are strongly entrenched in the basic principles of CRM. These include ensuring commitments and deliverables are clearly communicated and followed up, facilitating personalised customer interactions, tracking consumer loyalty and providing prompt response to feedback, streamlining an almost automated sales and delivery pattern and lastly boost brand awareness and reputation on the online platform, using social CRM, to connect with customers.
By implementing CRM from inception, startups and SMEs have an opportunity to set up an efficient and productive business process that will be instrumental in their success. Further, with IaaS and SaaS, CRM is more affordable and accessible to implement and manage. Effective and timely use of CRM can help the enterprises to not just increase their rate of success but can also prove to be a major boost, reducing the turnaround time for the company to break even and transform into a larger business.