What is a CRM System and What Can It Do for Small Businesses?

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For those that are unfamiliar and want to know what a CRM system is, the acronym stands for customer relationship management. A CRM system is software that automates and accelerates many mundane processes.

If you would like to know more about it overall and the benefits it can bring before diving into today’s content, be sure to check out our article, 15 Reasons Your Small Business Needs CRM.

Recently, Small Business in: 15 on location traveled to Austin, Texas for Zoho Day 2022 to learn more about CRM software and how it can be used successfully by small businesses to elevate them to the next level.

What Does a CRM Do?

In this two-part interview, Shawn Hessinger, the Executive Editor of Small Biz Trends, first talks to Dilip Nagarajan, product manager of Zoho CRM, about what CRM does and why your business needs it.

Shawn: What does a CRM do? Why do you need it?

Dilip: A CRM increases productivity, and it increases the value you are giving to the customer. So, it’s something that saves you time and money. A CRM system offers so many ways to do this.

Take any mundane activities you have, for instance. A CRM can reduce human intervention through automation. Then, the activities can be accelerated, and the relationship is so much better.

Shawn: CRM programs aren’t that hard for the average person to manage, are they?

Dilip: You can tell small business owners that we are getting rid of most of mundane tasks, variables, lists etc. they are tracking in Excel spreadsheets. For example, the list of customers they are tracking and interacting with during their daily activities, eg, their list of customers and so on—that kind of thing can be managed by the software instead.

We tell them that the transformation from spreadsheet to CRM can happen in no time, too, and that they don’t have much of a learning curve at all; they can just go inside and get in touch with who they have to stay in contact with. All of these things are now much simpler and faster to do with CRM.

How a CRM System Helps Your Business Grow

Next, we spoke with Vibhav Vankayala, head of product marketing for Zoho CRM, about how CRM helps your business manage customers while you scale.

Shawn: How does CRM help you manage your relationship with your customers? I mean, it’s one thing to say it, but how does it do it?

Vibhav: The first thing is when you are a very small business you don’t have too many customers. In those cases, you know their names. However, as you grow, that gets harder to do.

To improve overall efficiency, you need to get a system in place to remember all those customers, along with knowing who wants what, what they are thinking, etc. So, underneath there’s obviously a whole lot going on with the customer like:

    • What are their preferences?
    • What would they like?
    • When do they want you to reach them?
    • What are the products that they want?

That is where automation comes in via CRM. In fact, having the ability to send an email at a time that is best for the customer and individually for each of them is part of the beauty of having this kind of system.

So, those are some of the points that aren’t obvious, but once you start taking a few steps, once you start exploring, soon it’ll be like “how did I ever function without a CRM?”

Shawn: I want to drill down on that, especially for small businesses, maybe as small as a solopreneur or something. The alternative is keeping track of all your customers, remembering all this, keeping it all down, and then maybe they’re in different time zones and they’re different, whatever. When you are sending an email, did you remember to send an email to that guy? Did you remember to get back in touch with him in a month when he told you to get back in touch? How does CRM smooth this out specifically? Imagine I have 200 customers in three different time zones. With a CRM, I can program the system to keep track of these guys. But how?

Vibhav: The first thing is, if the action is initiated by you as a business on, say, a couple of days on a Black Friday sales coming up, and this is what we’ve got. So, number one, you have three different time zones in three different countries. Therefore, the product catalog in the UK may possibly look slightly different from that of the US

Also, it’s not just the states. We’re looking at different kinds of content, which are automated to go out at those respective times. There’s another angle to it: can this action be initiated by a previous customer in action? If they’ve gone onto your website, now is possibly the right time to trigger that email.

And if they have spent more than a few minutes on your website. Maybe politely ask what are they waiting for without being annoying? Say through the chat agent that should be with them, “You’ve been on our website for around for a few minutes… maybe you’re not finding what you are looking for…can I help?” Otherwise, the entire journey would be completely opaque to the business owner. So that’s an example, especially with digital businesses.

Shawn: You said something interesting there that I just thought about, which is if the relationship is initiated by the business owner, that really it could also be initiated by the customer. It also could be based on what they look at, or whether they asked for something. Can you talk a little bit about that, about how CRM helps you with the relationship that the customer wants to initiate?

Vibhav: That boils down to the foundation of CRM, which is giving the customer what they want. Now, to understand what they want when they tell you is one thing but understanding what they want before they tell you is better. And when you understand that and their intent, you can process it and deliver.

So, it could be simple signals like spending a few minutes on your website or dialing your toll-free number. Additionally, they would have gone to your pricing page specifically or maybe added something specific into the cart.

Now, all these actions, each of them says something. What is important is getting to understand what each of those actions says, and second, you make a preemptive move. And you do it before they ask for it. And when you do that, they’re not going to look at the competition because nobody knows them better than you.

Join Us for the Rest of the Episode: What Does a CRM Do?

Be sure to catch the rest of the episode where we discuss all that a CRM system can do for your company. **Spoilers** It can help you a lot.

Meanwhile, the main thing you can take away here is that CRM software can help automate your customer relations saving you time and money as your list of customers grows.

If you enjoyed learning about CRM Systems and want to learn more about tools to scale your business, be sure to watch Small Biz Trend’s informative video Using Heat Maps to Build Your Business.

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