While large companies have long been the target demographic for CRM systems, the benefits are often more pronounced for smaller operations.
Small businesses depend on relationships to drive sales and boost growth. But, teams are spread thin. Your salespeople might work in customer service—and also package boxes during a rush. You run prospect and customer marketing campaigns when you have the time.
So, you need a system that allows you to wear all of those hats and make it look easy.
At its core, CRM’s main function is to manage and track data about your customers and leads. This allows you to stay organized and work more efficiently. But modern customer relationship management is more than a digital address book.
The right CRM can automate communications, consolidate applications, and provide the data that builds a sales strategy that scales.
Despite the obvious benefits, only 45% of small businesses use a CRM system. Owners feel like they need to wait until they hit a certain number of sales or collect x amount of clients. But CRM is actually a tool that gives you the power to hit those numbers—and beyond.
Here's why small teams (think five to 10-ish people) can reap huge benefits from using a CRM.
1. Customer experience made easy
Customer loyalty and sales are the driving forces that make or break a company’s success.
The Customer Experience Strategy, a concept we borrowed from B2B International for this example, shows the customer journey as a loop: businesses must continually assess needs, identify where to apply changes, measure, and repeat. Sure, there are a few more steps, but the idea is to listen to feedback and implement changes as an ongoing process. And a CRM makes this far less daunting.
According to the Harvard Business Review, boosting your retention rates by just five percent can increase profits by up to 90 percent. A CRM presents an easy way to track customer engagement and spot red flag accounts—for example, a client who frequently calls to complain about technical issues. Companies might not notice the pattern if different reps handle the call. (Or, maybe the client used different ways to get in touch.)
By tracking interactions through your CRM, you can quickly identify problems and even set up alerts for sales reps to come in and save the day. It’s these little things that make the difference between a customer who leaves and one who stays and even promotes your brand for the long haul.
Where small sales teams shine is in their ability to get to know people on a deeper level than their more corporate counterparts. But, as you grow, it becomes harder to know everyone you do business with.
A CRM provides users with the tools to make customers feel like they’re receiving personalized care. A contact record that includes sales notes, recordings, and every email you’ve sent can give your sales team the tiny details they need to personalize a conversation—and save them time on digging around for email records with clues from the past interaction.
Bonus: CRMs allow teams to review the full purchase history of a customer, which is fertile ground for generating upsell recommendations. By analyzing interactions and past sales, sales teams can get smarter about how they sell to existing customers.
2. Centralized record-keeping
The most effective way to track customer activity and sales records is by collecting information and storing it in one location. But whereas older CRMs served exclusively as a way to track and manage customer data, cloud-hosting has changed the game.
These days, small businesses are benefiting big time from the ability to keep track of everything from contracts to sales collateral, deals, and incoming leads. When you can quickly see the circumstances linked to each sale, it makes it easier to understand what actions lead to conversions.
This allows everyone on your team to access the information they need in one platform. For example, you can check your email, review a client’s file, or ask a team member a question. CRMs like Copper can even organize your client data automatically, and track multiple sales funnels and goals.
It’s vital that small business owners identify new opportunities and learn lessons from the past. Within your customer records is information that can help you determine the scope of incoming revenue and focus on areas that need more attention (like client status, pending follow-ups, and lost deals).
Sure, you might be able to calculate metrics using Excel sheets, but the manual process puts you at a greater risk of error and makes for a flawed system.
3. Automations and integrations to make life easier
Manual processes need to go. So do apps that can only do one thing.
Not only do they eat into precious time, but they’re also prone to user error. That’s why small businesses should seek out a CRM that coordinates sales, marketing, and customer service activities—and removes as much manual work as possible.
Automation eliminates unnecessary data entry by importing contact information and connecting your most used applications. (In the context of a CRM, automation means reducing the amount of human labor involved with helping clients and performing admin tasks. It's one of the biggest benefits of using a CRM, for any team.)
Ideally, CRMs should be able to capture customer data like contact info and sales history, create records, and schedule meetings—without the user having to do anything.
Another example of CRM automation: you should be able to save email templates that make it easy for reps to answer FAQs or automatically send out a welcome email each time a new customer signs on. Of course, this only works if your CRM has a good Gmail (or general email) integration.
The bottom line: automation saves you time.
Copper, for example, syncs up with your Google Drive and Gmail accounts. This way, the whole team can access shared docs, messages, company records, and more from one location directly in your Gmail inbox.
On the marketing side, automation eases the burden on small teams. They can pre-schedule emails and SMS campaigns, and use existing templates to increase response time. Team email templates allow you to send personalized messages to multiple people. And yes, all of this can be done with your CRM.
While it seems counterintuitive, automation can actually help you take better care of your customers by reminding you to follow up with leads at the right time (so you don’t drop the ball on a potential deal).
With these notifications, templates, and tracking, even a small team can achieve the results of a team many times bigger. See how Jeni’s Ice Cream does it.
4. Collaboration between departments
Businesses run better when Sales and Marketing join forces. It should be a no-brainer, but many teams still operate with a few degrees of separation between the two departments.
With a CRM, different teams and departments can share customer information and pool their data. This means that Sales can pursue legitimately warm leads and Marketing teams can deliver targeted content to prospects with less friction and more consistency.
Marketing serves to fill the sales pipeline with new prospects from a variety of places including social media, email marketing, and paid ads. That data is pulled and stored in the CRM for later use. Additionally, marketing teams can review sales data to inform their next move.
When marketers can understand the sales process, they can create better content and copy that attracts more new customers. It’s also worth pointing out that this alignment gives both departments the same context for each contact and where they’re at in the buyer’s journey.
Speaking of which, Nucleus Research found that data accessibility for sales teams shortens the sales cycle by eight to 14 percent on average. And how can teams make data more accessible to teams that span time zones and countries? You guessed it: with a CRM that has a mobile app, integrations with other tools, reporting dashboards, and historical records of every conversation with every contact.
5. Track and manage sales from anywhere
Today, everyone is on the move. Employees are increasingly working remotely and switching between devices. And research has found that companies gain an extra 240 hours of work from their employees simply by adding mobile working to the mix.
A mobile CRM is essential for two reasons. For starters, it allows employees to access vital information in real time. Second, CRMs are crucial to selling—and salespeople don’t typically stay in one place for long.
Sales teams might work at a trade show one week, in the office the next, then spend the next few days making field visits. With all that running around, reps need a CRM that offers a user-friendly experience from anywhere.
Having a CRM that includes the built-in flexibility of a mobile app makes life easier for everyone. Reps can ask in-office colleagues for help through the CRM rather than bugging them with frequent calls. Managers can view deals in progress without requesting updates. And Customer Success teams can start processing orders right after the rep seals the deal. (Here's how our CS team uses a CRM.)
It’s hard to juggle all those relationships alone.
Without a CRM, teams miss opportunities to personalize the customer experience, solve issues, and in general spend time on tasks that are actually valuable (i.e. not data entry).
Especially for smaller teams and companies, it’s important to have high visibility between Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success because you’ll be able to do more without hiring new employees to pick up the slack. The number and complexity of business relationships are growing every day, and being productive enough to nurture them all with the same amount of care will be key.
Curious about how to help your team punch above its weight? Take Copper for a spin.