Is Your Sales Pipeline Dry? Five Signs You Need a CRM

If you’re a small business owner who still hasn’t adopted a customer relationship management (CRM) system, then Is Your Sales Pipeline Dry? Five Signs You Need a CRM image Sales Pipeline Five Signs You Need a CRMyou’re falling behind. You need a CRM. According to a recent infographic by Intuit and SalesForce.com, the key to turning a small business into a sales powerhouse is, surprise . . . CRM. While it may not seem like a shock that Salesforce or Intuit would come out with evidence supporting CRM and financial apps that doesn’t mean they are wrong.

When you started out in business and had only a few customers, it was easy to keep track of them with a simple spreadsheet, an electronic address book and your inbox. But as you’ve grown larger, and the number of communication channels has grown, you’ve probably reached the point where you need a more efficient system. It’s time to find an appropriate Customer Relationship Management solution.

There are a lot of CRM solutions on the market – some of them more complex than others. CRM systems used to be the exclusive domain of the Fortune 1000 companies who could afford a multi-million dollar investment in one of Oracle’s half dozen CRM platforms.

Salesforce.com democratized the market and made CRM available for as little as a couple hundred dollars every month, but it requires highly skilled staff to administer. Today, companies like Insightly have built products that are designed especially for small business. They offer a free account for 1-3 users and require very little experience to get started.

So how do you know if you’re ready for a CRM system?

  1. You’re not managing customers and contacts efficiently. The result:
    1. Customer data goes into a black hole. Everyone on your team keeps track of his or her own customers and accounts, without sharing the data. When an employee leaves, you lose valuable knowledge.

    2. The sales team is doing one thing, marketing is doing another, and customer service has its own agenda. Nothing is more frustrating than when a client gets mixed communications from you and your team. Embarrassing!

    3. Customers are frustrated. When communication within the company is disorganized, the chaos spills over into your client interactions. This degrades the client experience and leads to disaster, because customers who don’t feel valued simply go elsewhere.

With a CRM solution, you have a single, centralized space to store your data. Everyone on your team has access to the latest information about each customer – when the last appointment took place, what was covered, what that customer is interested in, etc. Plus, when everyone is up to speed, you can reduce the time spent in meetings and increase the time reps spend in the field, pursuing and closing business. And making more money.

Bonus: You can reassign representatives to different accounts and know they’ll be able to assimilate the necessary information about that client.

  1. No one knows who’s doing what. You can’t tell what your sales representatives are doing or what stage their deals are in. You don’t know who last touched a client or how long it’s been since that connection. While you waste valuable time chasing down your reps for answers, your prospects are likely going elsewhere – to a company that already has a CRM system in place.

A CRM could help you assemble reports quickly and see the status of your leads at a glance, know immediately how many touches a prospect has received and the outcomes, assess team members’ monthly progress against their quotas, identify your top performers, figure out where in the sales cycle your leads are converting to sales and determine why you won – or lost – a sale. Using those results, you also should be able to tell whether your business is attracting the right kind of prospects.

  1. You can’t stay in touch from the field. There’s no fast and easy way to store information so that sales reps on the road can share details with your entire team. As a result, follow-up is spotty. Notes taken on the road aren’t transcribed, details get lost, and leads fall through the cracks. Once again, prospective clients calling for information end up speaking with someone who doesn’t know their status. That’s how you lose potential sales.

Many of today’s CRM systems have mobile apps, so sales reps can update contacts, request information, and always have access to the latest customer information even when they’re on the go.

  1. You’re not communicating regularly with customers – a key ingredient for business success. You don’t have a master marketing list because the necessary information is contained on individual computers. So you phone customers when it’s convenient or at the end of the month in hopes they’ll place an order. You’re not fooling anyone. Those customers know they’re not top of mind.

You can set up your CRM system to send automatic reminders to team members to make follow-up calls at critical points in the sales process or as part of your general outreach to clients and prospects.

  1. Every customer gets the same treatment. You send the same offers and messages to customers and prospects in different industries and regions – and in different stages of the buying process. Don’t spam your customers with an offer they can’t help but refuse.

With a CRM, you can group your targets and refine the messages you send. A targeted pitch makes customers feel loved, instead of neglected.

Bottom line: If these five warning signs sound familiar, it may be time to consider a CRM. Used correctly, the software can increase your company’s productivity and your sales revenue. You’ll be able to track sales better, stay abreast of communications between you and your customers, and market directly to the right clients based on interests, industry or existing products.

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