Customer management software, so-called CRM systems, are usually extremely complex and bulky – and therefore completely out of place in small businesses. But something is happening in the market.
The last phone call with the customer was six months ago. In addition, the responsible colleague is no longer in the company, so it is difficult to ask him what has been agreed. But who else? You should definitely follow up with the customer, otherwise he has been a customer for the longest time.
Situations like this arise not only in large companies, but also in five-man businesses. However, with the difference that in the corporations employees of entire sales departments are not occupied with anything other than maintaining the customer management software.
Small companies therefore have to concentrate precisely on the most important processes and requirements in sales and marketing in order to be able to keep up on a professional level without getting bogged down in sidelines.
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Shoot sparrows with cannons
The focus on the core processes also requires adequate software solutions. For sales, this primarily means a lean CRM system (Customer Relationship Management). So far, the CRM market has mainly been shared by the “Big Five”, Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM.
For small businesses, this not only meant shooting at sparrows with cannons, but also a level of complexity that was far too high and horrendous costs. In order to find the right CRM software for your own (small) company, it helps to answer the following five questions:
1. To what extent should the system be used?
How many employees should use the system? In an agency with 5-10 employees, a system that was designed for 500 users is completely out of place. It is not enough to hide certain areas in the surface if the thinking behind remains the same. The level of complexity, the processes and the connection to the customer are simply completely different in small businesses than in medium-sized companies.
2. What is my product or business model?
Can I cope with a standard process or do I inevitably need adjustments? For small companies, it is usually advisable to use small but functional standard solutions that do not need to be modified. In case of doubt, it is better to adapt your own process than the software.
In addition, island solutions are more flexible than complete systems. Web-based CRM systems in particular usually also offer an API interface in order to be able to make the necessary connections. For example, to forms on your own website, to newsletter software or the like.
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3. How IT-savvy are the employees?
How much does CRM intervene in familiar processes? In corporations, it is customary to train employees in software for days, sometimes even weeks. Small businesses don’t have the time (and money). Especially since older employees who have previously only worked with Word and Excel often find it difficult to use new software (exceptions confirm the rule, as always).
To keep the implementation effort low, but also to encourage people to enjoy working, keep it simple!
The more complicated and less intuitive the software, the greater the frustration.
The result is a poorly maintained data grave.
4. What technical requirements does the company have?
Do all colleagues work stationary in the office or do they also need mobile access? Do they all use the same operating system and the same email client? Cloud-based solutions are independent of location, device or operating system, as they are simply accessed on the Internet via the web browser. In addition, the company saves the entire server and IT infrastructure and leaves the technical part to the provider. Important here: pay attention
- data storage in Germany and
- an encrypted transmission.
5. Does the software fit the corporate culture?
No matter how good a CRM system is, if the employees don’t want to work with it, the project is doomed to failure.
So that colleagues like it, the design has to be beautiful and the operating concept has to be well thought out. In addition, the user must feel that the software is intended to help them, not to monitor them.
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In companies with a pronounced hierarchical mindset and elbow mentality, it will be difficult to give others an insight into your own work, even if it would be better for all sides. Because practice shows: severe restrictions, for example a user may only see “his” contacts, create considerably more problems than benefits in everyday work.
Acceptance from all sides
In the end, the only thing that helps is testing, trying and comparing. And not the IT managers, but the users have to give their OK. But don’t worry, the time is well invested. Bad or unsuitable software is really expensive. A good and suitable CRM system, on the other hand, can take your sales to a whole new level in just a few weeks.