If you run a micro business, that’s a business with 1 to 10 staff, then you’re insanely busy. That’s because you have a finger in most, if not all of the business pies, right from sales and marketing to customer service and delivering the product. You may even have to make the tea, too! So the chances are you don’t have much time to think about a CRM for your micro business. But with a little time and attention, a customer relationship management system could save you a lot of time, stop money from leaking out of your business and build a solid foundation that enables your business to grow.
So what is CRM?
CRM stands for customer relationship management. That’s not the most descriptive title in the world, especially if we apply it to micro businesses, so let me give you an example!
Let’s say you’re a photographer who has customers calling you to book a shoot. You book them in, take the photos, edit and deliver them. Job done. Except it’s far easier to sell to these customer in future than it is to sell to a complete stranger. After all, this customer knows you’ll do a great job – you’ve already proven that. That means it makes sense to follow up with that customer regularly so they don’t forget about you, and so you can anticipate their needs ahead of time. Here’s how you could achieve that:
- You could email them ahead of seasonal events – would they like photos taken of their kids in November that will be Christmas presents for the grandparents?
- You could send them a special discount voucher ahead of their birthday
- They happen to mention that they have an event coming up next summer – you could make a note of this and then contact them a couple of months ahead to see if they need a photographer.
Many micro business owners aren’t able to follow up effectively because their system for handling customer information is their email inbox, memory (and I mean in their heads, not their computers!) or at best an Excel spreadsheet.
This is where CRM software comes in. With a CRM you can store customer names, addresses, phone numbers and emails, keep a log of when you contacted them and what was said, keep a copy of what you sent by email (and log the replies, too) and set reminders for when you need to contact them next. You can also do the same for prospects, which are people who haven’t bought from you yet . These are just the basics, CRM tools can do much more. But getting a simple system like this in place would make a huge difference to most micro businesses.
(You might also like: 7 Reasons why a CRM is better than an Excel spreadsheet)
Isn’t that complicated to set up (not to mention expensive)?
First of all, there are CRM systems designed for small businesses that are great value for money. Some even have free accounts so you can try before you buy. But you can certainly get a decent system for under £15 per user per month. If you compare that to how many sales you’re losing at the moment that’s a bit of a no-brainer!
As for how complex they are to set up, well it depends on your needs and starting point. The software itself is pretty intuitive but as with most software, you can shorten your learning curve a great deal if someone shows you how to use it and is on hand to answer questions.
The main challenges micro businesses owners have when it comes to CRMs are:
- They don’t know they exist.
- There is a bewildering range of CRMs out there (try a quick Google and you’ll see what I mean). Some are way too complex for micro businesses but how do you tell which?
- They are too close to their business to be able to see what needs to happen to each piece of information in the system.
- The customer data they already have is scattered between Excel files, emails, bits of paper…it seems like a huge task to get it all under control and import it into the CRM system.
- Sorting out all of the above takes time they don’t have because they are delivering the product or service.
This is where I can help – if you’d like a chat to talk through your options please do drop me a message.
Can you recommend some CRMs that are good for micro businesses?
Yes I can, but first a word of warning. It’s tempting to sign up for a CRM tool first and then shoe-horn your business processes into the software second. This isn’t the best approach. It’s much better to get a clear idea of your business’s needs, the way data needs to flow around the system and how you might want to grow it in future THEN find a tool to fit those needs.
Also, beware of going to a small business Facebook group and asking which CRM tool other people use, as their needs could be completely different to yours. Do they do their own sales calls or have someone else doing it for them? Are they mainly using their CRM tool for contact management and reminders of when they need to follow up, or are they tracking their sales pipeline? (More on that in a later post!) Do they need it to integrate with other business tools such as their accounts, help desk or email marketing systems? How do they plan to grow in future? How much are they prepared to spend on software as their business grows? All of these make a huge difference to your choice of CRM tool and how you set it up.
So by all means browse my suggestions below, but beware of skipping a step. The last thing you want to do is set up a clunky system that is harder work than your current one and is abandoned just weeks later. Here are some CRMs for small business that you might like to look at:
There are many more – just Google for some ideas – but I want to keep things as simple as possible. And if you’d like some tips on choosing a CRM, take a look at this post.
So there you go, what you need to know to get started with CRM for micro business. Please do contact me if you need more help!