Many small businesses are still using Excel and Outlook to host their contact databases. It is not uncommon for some businesses to have a number of disparate databases saved in various locations across the business.
I would strongly recommend that all small businesses use a CRM system to track sales and customer contacts. Unlike Excel and Outlook, a CRM system can track every interaction between customer and company. The nature of today's business communications are ‘instant' and customers have incredibly high expectations of the knowledge a supplier should hold – a CRM system does this for you.
It is perceived by many small businesses that CRM systems are expensive and difficult to use. This is not the case; there are a number of solutions that are inexpensive, reliable and easy-to-use. The business benefit of a CRM far outweighs the initial business investment and effort that goes into setting it all up.
One of the main problems with using Outlook and Excel to hold your databases is that the data is static, neither are integrated with any other systems and therefore need manually updating thus often result in inaccurate data, a lack of traceability and human error. These programs have limitations which will ultimately impact on the success of your business.
A CRM system will provide a complete record of customer history from the very first to the most recent interaction including access to emails, historical notes, marketing campaigns implemented, previous sales order history and planned activities, including scheduled call backs. By utilising all the information held in your CRM system you will be able to generate and develop more effective relationships with your hot leads and your existing customers. You can target specific groups of data with customised marketing campaigns. All smaller software businesses should focus on enhancing their business relationships and it goes without saying that by maximising the effectiveness of a CRM system you will win more business and your company will succeed.
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