Ok. This is a big topic, so strap in.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. As you might guess, that’s everything that goes into managing your business’s relationship with its customers.
When people talk about CRM they usually mean:
1. The process or processes of CRM
2. Some software that supports CRM
3. A job role responsible for CRM
People are usually talking about that last one. They will say a CRM or their CRM, they’re referring to the tools (software like ActiveCampaign, Infusionsoft, Capsule CRM, Mailchimp, even a spreadsheet) that support a CRM strategy.
Sounds simple, right?
You might even be thinking something like “I already do this. My customers love me”. I’m positive they do, but that’s just the tip of the CRMberg.
If you imagine your business as a car: you’d be the driver, marketing is the bodywork, customers are the fuel so then a CRM strategy would be the engine.
Your business will look good and move without CRM, but you’ll be pushing it the whole way; it’ll be backbreaking work and you’ll go sooo slowly.
Get the CRM engine in your business, and you’ll be 70 mph cruise control, blasting Bat Out of Hell, wind in your hair, so to speak.
What CRM is not
Before we get a bit deeper, I want to cover what CRM isn’t.
• It’s not magic; it can drastically improve your business and reduce your workload, but you still have to do it.
• CRM isn’t “12 Email Templates to Make You A Millionaire”; although “12 Email Templates to Make You A Millionaire” is very basic CRM (if you’re generous).
• It’s not about always being available on the phone and bending over backwards to please your customers.
• CRM isn’t discounts, special offers, or marketing gimmicks, but those things all have their place
CRM has three parts
Like we said at the beginning, when people talk about CRM they usually mean:
1. The process or processes
3. A job role
These are the three parts of a CRM strategy.
This isn’t the hardest part for most businesses, but it’s a first step lots of small businesses never take.
Until you do this, you’ll never grow very big. Your business will be extremely fragile, and you’ll have next to no free time.
It’s going to look different for different businesses at different stages, but it’s always about understanding your business inside and out. All the pathways and every individual step in your business. You can’t just know what it is in your head. You have to get it down on paper.
This should include everything about your business. It isn’t just about the times you directly interact with the customer. It requires attention to everything from website design to inventory control. It all affects your relationship with the customer.
Back to the earlier point, this is what people usually talk about. It’s also a trap. This seems like the hardest step for most people for lots of reasons.
There are lots of reasons, but it boils down to spending money and learning software feels like a bigger commitment. It’s actually the easiest part but requires a specific skillset.
Many business owners spend an inordinate amount of time and effort on choosing software. The secret is to realise that while some are better fits for you all CRMs are the same at the most basic level. They all have their bells and whistles, quirks and foibles, but the foundation will be the same.
Getting the right CRM and related tools is of course important, but don’t put too much pressure on it. Take some simple precautions and keep your data clean, and you’ll be able to switch CRMs whenever you want.
Right! This is the hardest step! Everyone, every role in your business, is responsible for CRM!
Smart tech and clear process will go a long way, but it’s ultimately people that make your business go. Everyone must buy into the CRM strategy. They have to follow the processes, use the tools, and actively manage those relationships.
Even if your business is just you, this is harder than it sounds. If it’s just you, you’re likely relying to some extent on instinct and skill. Switching to following processes and using the software can be difficult, even if your day-to-day is basically the same.
And you’re likely very busy. If you don’t value the CRM, then it’ll be the first corner you cut (which will just make you busier btw).
To sum up, you need to be the first person to buy into your CRM strategy!
This will be difficult because it’s one of those things that doesn’t show its worth until it becomes habit.
As for the people working for you, lead by example, right?
As we said, a product of your CRM strategy should be to produce manuals for your business. Ideally, anybody should be able to pick up that manual and run your business. You’ll still train them of course, but the point is that the aim isn’t to need to micromanage and double check everything. That’s more work! To get their you need people (yourself included) to be properly motivated to get it right.
Finally, involve them in the CRM strategy creation. You’ll only benefit from their insight and additional buy in.
CRM (managing your business’s relationships with your customers) isn’t just a part of your business strategy; it IS the core of your business strategy.
Sure, you need a clever service or beautiful product, but nurturing customers and having consistently outstanding delivery is what makes a business sing.
Once you know what works, you can repeat it and improve on it. That’s a foundation to build your business on. Clear processes and automation save you money, time and effort, all of which you can use to grow your business.
Most agencies will push leads because frankly leads are easy. Customer acquisition, conversions AND retention is the real deal. Nothing markets your business as well as happy customers.
If you don’t CRM, you might make a decent amount of money. You might even enjoy yourself. But, it’ll probably be harder than it needs to be.