Do I need a CRM System and if so, where do I start? – by Tracy Hampton

A Customer Relationship Management System, or CRM, is a system that helps businesses store customer contact details and track customer communication including emails and documents sent, phone calls made, or meetings held. Housing this information in one place means that you can make future communications with your customers highly personalised, relevant and up to date.

Within a CRM system you can also add notes, schedule follow-ups (be it a phone call, email or task) and keep on top of the next steps to be taken. This also ensures that opportunities to close deals or grow customer accounts won’t be missed.

So in answer to the question, YES you should have a CRM system of some sort.

Initial hesitations to putting a CRM system in place revolve around price and complexity. Let me reassure you. A CRM system doesn’t need to be costly and initially it may well just be an Excel spreadsheet which captures your Customers contact details, which stage of the pipeline they are at, Tasks / To Dos, etc. But using Excel would also rely on a good filing system for emails and documents so you are able to refer to this as needed.

Whilst it’s fine and good when you first start out, once your business starts growing, trying to keep track of everything manually will become an administration nightmare. My recommendation is to look at getting something set up before you get too large. Have it grow with you. Not only will it be easier to do with fewer clients, it will also allow you to tweak your processes, learn how to use the system and find ways of working that enable you to not only service your existing Customers, but grow your business too.

Now….where do I start?

A CRM system doesn’t need to cost you much, if anything initially. But can you guess what the single biggest mistake companies make when deciding on a CRM system? They are too busy evaluating different systems and all the different functionalities, instead of concentrating on their own business needs and requirements. Whilst it might be great to have an all bells and whistles system….do you actually need that?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are the most inefficient processes in my business and what do I want to improve by having a CRM system?
  2. What operational process do I lack and need to add?
  3. How many users do I need to access the system? Ie, how many user licenses do I need?
  4. Are there other software packages that I want to integrate with a CRM system?
  5. What is my budget?

As your business grows, you will find your CRM needs do too. So, when you do start evaluating, ensure you find a CRM system that is scalable and can easily be upgraded, whilst still within your price range. One example here is HubSpot – whilst they provide a free system, if you did decide you wanted some of the other features, the monthly cost for those are very high. However, if you don’t have any desire to use those additional features, then you have a free system you could utilise for life.

When it comes to integrations with other software packages, it’s not just Office 365 or Google G-Suite I’m talking about (they generally all do that), but what about your Accounting software, an HR system, or perhaps your own website to pull through new leads via contact forms, etc. Are they requirements for your business?

Once you know what you need a CRM system to do, then it becomes easier to review and compare systems. All Vendors will have a list of functionality that each of their versions can/can’t do. If you find some systems look really similar, then I’d recommend you contact the Vendor and review your list of requirements with a Sales Rep. Also make sure you read product reviews and ask your peers which system they use.

If you have any questions regarding the above or have chosen a system but need some help importing contacts and setting it up, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Tracy Hampton

Hampton Business Services

About Tracy Hampton

Tracy comes from 20+ years working in IT Departments across many industries where she found the pain points were similar – not enough staff and not enough time! Tracy set up HBS to provide IT/Systems Administration & Website maintenance to small businesses needing help with O365 systems, asset databases, compliance, projects or website design & maintenance. Tracy focuses on business up to 49 users as she feels they most need the expertise without the full time cost of a staff member.