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How to Choose and Use a CRM for Small Businesses

CRM Customer Relationship Management for small businesses
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These challenging times bring new demands for ways to communicate and sell to your customers. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software was originally created to build customer relationships and help communicate with new and existing customers. Now, CRM software has evolved; it could help integrate all your customer data, from all sources, in one place. From customer phone calls to service history to email engagement and accounting data, you could get a 360° view of each customer, in a single system.

Plus, CRMs also make it easy to reach out to customers with your latest financing offers to help encourage them to purchase. This can help you identify your best customers and help drive increased sales across your entire customer base. Every business is different, with different CRM needs. Here are some tips from Synchrony to help you pick your best CRM tool.

Start With Your Challenges

What business problems are you trying to solve? Typically, the biggest challenge is how to pull your data together in one place. This is called integration. You could automatically bring together information from your accounting software (i.e., QuickBooks), email (i.e., MailChimp) and spreadsheets (i.e., Excel). There are many possibilities. Solving this problem could help you improve customer communication, lead generation, store and website traffic, and conversion.

Determine Which Features You Need

Before you start researching tools, it’s helpful to make a list of the features and functionality you want and to avoid paying for features you don’t need. Think about how you will use your CRM tool. These are some common features:

  • Sales, marketing and lead generation: There are many ways you could find new customers. You could generate leads from search engines, social media, website visitors, newsletter sign-ups and more. Your tool could follow your prospects through the entire sales process and send pre-created emails or text (SMS) messages. Many CRM tools also allow you to create and store sales quotes and track invoices.
  • Selling online (e-commerce): Some CRM software has built-in e-commerce functionality, while others allow for easy integration with your current website.
  • Reporting: Most CRM software includes reporting functionality. Make sure the CRM tool is compatible with other tools you use and can import/export files to Excel or QuickBooks, for example.

Choose the Right CRM Tool

Once you determine which features are important to you, research and consider CRM tools. Most CRM tools are sold online, so you can easily gather information to help you find the right tool for your business. Here are six questions to keep in mind when selecting your CRM tool:

1. Is the tool for small business?

2. How difficult is the implementation process and how much support is included?

3. How easy is it to use? Can I train my employees to use it?

4. Can it easily integrate with the business software/solutions I already use?

5. What is the up-front cost of the software? What is the monthly cost?

6. What security features are available?

Once you narrow down your choices, many CRM vendors offer a free trial so you can “try before you buy.” And CRM tools for small business can be very affordable. In fact, many offer monthly plans for $25 or less per month.

Connecting with customers is not a campaign, it is a commitment, and a CRM may provide key benefits to you and your organization. Consumers are always looking for businesses they can trust. Earn their trust in that initial visit and throughout their purchasing journey, then grow it through strategic and consistent communication.  Stay connected and you will make customers for life.