CRM — Duty for SMBs?

In this age of technological development, more and more businesses are turning to CRM solutions to get a 360° degree view of their customers and to fine tune their business processes.

So we can ask the following questions: Do all businesses need a CRM solution? How can they select a CRM solution from among those that are known in the marketplace, such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Pivotal or SugarCRM? What are the criteria driving the right choice? Simply put, what’s the best CRM solution?

Today, let’s think about SMEs that play a key role in the Canadian economy with a contribution of close to 50% of the GDP and 55% of all jobs according to ledevoir.com. “In real life, 95% of our SMEs have less than 50 employees; of that number, 73% have less than 10 employees and 50% have less than 5. It’s fair to say that the entrepreneurial pool is made up of small enterprises,” noted Martine Hébert, Vice-President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

The increasingly tougher competition in the market is opening a door to SMEs in terms of the need to have a CRM solution so they can be sure that their activities remain viable over the long term and that they can adapt to technology as it evolves.

More and more CRM solutions are specifically tailored to that type of business, and at a lower cost.

The 3 topics below can help guide decision making:

1. Questions to ask:

More and more CRM solutions are specifically tailored to that type of business, and at a lower cost.

What do you expect the solution to do for you?

  • Centralize information
  • Optimize effectiveness
  • Simplify procedures
  • Integrate with existing systems

What trends would you like to follow?

Whether it concerns real time sales information to capture your leads and won opportunities or the ROI on your marketing campaigns, there’s no question that performance indicators are a key element in acquiring a CRM solution.

So think about identifying them quickly in your list of needs.

Your budget?

Define a consistent, realistic budget around your strategy.

What’s your IT investment strategy?

A CRM solution can’t be implemented in one fell swoop. It involves a process that can take many years in some cases. For a SME, look for simple things that will get your users to trust you. And plan on having an investment strategy to respond to changes in the system.

Do you have the internal resources, or do you want to partner with a third company?

You have to be sure the ‘know-how’’ stays in the company. But don’t hesitate to seek advice from experts who’ve implemented CRM solutions that work.

2. Some tips:

Customer relationship management will be useful for a SME only if the corresponding technology is part of a truly customer centric strategy and fits with its requirements.

There’s no “best” CRM solution. They all have their strengths and ways they can be improved. Most importantly, a SME has to understand that the CRM solution is a tool to support its business strategy. In no case will it replace the organization’s business processes. As mentioned earlier, calling on implementation experts can help guide you as you define your business processes and introduce the change.

Implement a simple, easy to use CRM solution for your collaborators.

3. And what about the Cloud….

The Cloud obviously has major advantages for businesses, especially SMEs.

It significantly lowers operating costs and those related to infrastructure and security.

The International Data Corporation estimates that almost all SMEs using the Cloud have cut their costs by 10% to 20%. The software is also regularly updated automatically on the host server, making it easy to track with the technology without having to worry about the financial implications of an update.

Also worth noting is the fact that this type of solution makes it easy for a growing SME to add new users cheaply.

A 2013 study showed that the Cloud is one of the greatest benefits for SMEs in terms of CRM solutions.

However, don’t be taken in by the media hype about the Cloud: be sure the solution you choose is the right one for your business.

In conclusion, given the points covered here, it’s hard to deny that a CRM solution is unavoidable for SMEs.

Businesses today want to be more innovative and competitive regardless of their sector of activity. Knowledge of the customer, which is itself becoming more volatile, is forcing businesses, especially small ones, to review their business strategies.

The bottom line is that customer relationship management is no longer unavoidable, it’s become a “duty” for a business to acquire a CRM solution regardless of its size.

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