Do you need a CRM system and how do you choose one for your business?
If you have any sort of business you already have some sort of CRM system. It may be a shoe box full of invoices with customer names and addresses. It could be your diary with names, phone numbers and addresses of clients who have called you for quotes. OK, “system” maybe a bit of an overstatement. As your business grows and you try to keep all the balls in the air you start looking for systems to help get you organised.
Today we want to have up to date information about our business instantly. We want to know who our customers are, where they live, what Social Networks they are on, how much they can afford to spend on our products and services, how they like to be communicated with etc etc. A CRM System sounds like the perfect solution, doesn’t it? Is this realistic and is there a system for small businesses that can do all of this for you?
Let’s look at the dilemma one of my clients is facing.
This is a small services company in business for more than 10 years. The Owner had a Microsoft ACCESS Database custom designed for him which resides on his desktop machine. It has worked well for him and he can produce customised Reports as he needs to and this is very important for him. The business has grown a bit and now operates from 3 different locations all needing access to this information that is sitting on his machine. Having been customised several years it has features which are not required and lacks new features which are essential.
What are his options?
- Remotely share the database which they have tried but it has been unsuccessful
- Keep the status quo and muddle along using EXCEL spreadsheets for the new information which is updated to the ACCESS Database when someone has the time.
- Move the ACCESS Database to a Microsoft Cloud Based Server but is it worth it if the current Database is not suitable for the business in the long term?
- Transfer the Database into a SQL format so it can be integrated with their website which uses SQL databases. This will give them the opportunity to tweak the features they want.
- Invest in a ready built CRM system from one of the 300+ available.
All of these options have a cost either in time, money or wasted resources. The questions I think they need to ask and explore are the following:
- What information do they want from a CRM system, not only now but in a few years time?
- What are the weaknesses of their current ACCESS database and what are the strengths?
- Which features are required and which need to be discarded?
- Who is going to be responsible for updating the system? There has to be consistency and this is one of the hardest aspects to maintaining a CRM system efficiently. Names are mis-spelled, postal codes and contact numbers are captured incorrectly. If it is too complex and onerous to maintain people get lazy. Garbage in, garbage out.
- Have someone create a new perfect Custom Database. You can have all the features you want, can’t you?
- But, do you need all these bells and whistles?
- Will the software ever be ready for you to use as changes and additions constantly get made? This is called scope creep. "The software is wonderful but ..."
- Will it be user friendly?
- What happens if the developer dies or you have a falling out? How easy is it for someone to take over the back end management?
- Does it have security features or is it vulnerable to hacking?
There is no perfect system out there. Heck even my bank can’t get it right. They have 4 different profiles for me each with different contact details.
As in all things, take your time, ask the questions and do your research. It is only when you have done your research properly can you make an informed decision and properly evaluate your options.
If you already have a CRM system please tell me in the Comments Section what you use and how it is working for you.
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