Here at Software Advice, we hear from thousands of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) about a variety of woes they face with their software systems:
“How can I make my accounting easier?”
“What’s the best HR system on the market?”
“What do I do if a cat has crawled inside my computer monitor?”
(One of these might be made up.)
The most common problems that we hear about, though, have to do with customer relationship management (CRM).
Small businesses frequently want to know how software can help them to better interact with their customers, and just as frequently want to know how to solve problems with their existing software.
For this article, we’ve created a solutions flowchart addressing three of the most common CRM challenges faced by our SMB buyers, in which we analyze whether or not their solution requires a system replacement or upgrade.
To create this flowchart, we took a look at the conversations our CRM software advisors have with SMBs each day:
- Each section breaks down a key pain point driving CRM professionals to replace their current system.
- We’ve outlined whether or not you can address the issue by refining business practices.
Don’t forget to download the flowchart for a quick reference should you encounter a similar issue at your organization.
Challenge 1: We need better ways to track our leads & clients
The vast majority of SMBs who call us at Software Advice to ask about CRM software do so because they are having troubles with organization. After all, CRM is all about finding a more organized way to interact with customers. All three of the top challenges reflect this problem in one way or another.
The top concern for our buyers is that they need a better way to track their leads and their clients than their current system provides.
That system might be CRM software, spreadsheets or even manual methods, but the common link is that the method simply isn’t allowing them to keep track of their contacts in a way that gets the most out of those relationships (enabling better sales and retention down the line). They might lose important contact information, forget vital information about a particular customer’s preferences or even lose touch with the customer entirely.
For businesses that rely upon relationships with customers (that is, most businesses), this can be potentially catastrophic. Therefore, it’s crucial to work out all the kinks in your system to prevent it from happening.
Should I Replace My CRM System? NO
While replacing your current method of tracking your customers with a CRM system might help mitigate this problem, it shouldn’t be your primary focus. In fact, adding or upgrading CRM software won’t solve problems that are endemic to your company’s process, and might even exacerbate them.
For example, if there is a spirit of unhealthy competition amongst your employees, and that’s creating a toxic atmosphere that makes working as a team difficult and losing leads easy—then a new CRM system isn’t going to help at all. In fact, by creating an easier way for team members to try and one up each other, a new system may just make things worse.
However, if the problem isn’t one that strikes to the core of your business’ practices or atmospheres, then replacing your CRM system will work.
For example, if you’re losing track of contacts because they mysteriously drop out of the system, or because the current method of taking notes on interactions is too complicated to follow, you’ll want to replace that software with a better system.
Challenge 2: We need better automation of follow-ups & reminders
Once your business is organized enough to keep track of all your different contacts—from prospects through to returning customers—you need to be able to regularly and properly follow up with all of those contacts according to your own best practices. However, in the busy corporate environment, out of sight very quickly becomes out of mind.
The second largest CRM challenge faced by our buyers is setting up a workflow schema that keeps on top of necessary follow-ups, so that revenue isn’t lost by simply neglecting to get back in touch with a prospect or client as promised.
Fortunately, automation is what CRM software is all about.
Should I Replace My CRM System? YES
You may simply not have the tools necessary to automate your follow-ups and reminders. A simple spreadsheet or proprietary CRM system is great for keeping data organized, but it can’t sync with your calendar and email system to create custom reminders of important times, dates and information.
However, as is the case with problems tracking leads and clients, problems with follow-ups can be a matter of corporate hygiene. Your team might already have the tools necessary to set up automated follow-ups, such as calendar reminders and automatic email reminders, but are neglecting to utilize those tools properly in the rush to work on something that seems less tedious and more immediately important.
If this is your situation, you don’t need to update your system—you need to retrain your team on using the follow-up functions you already have in your CRM.
Challenge 3: Our company is growing and needs a system that keeps pace
Though less directly related to problems with organization than the first two challenges, many of our small-business software buyers contact us because their business is getting slightly less small, and they need software that keeps pace with their growth.
Outmoded software, or software that is intended for a small, lean organization, can prove to be a giant stumbling block as an organization expands, so it makes sense that our buyers are concerned about having a CRM system that doesn’t get in the way of that expansion.
A small CRM software suite may work for a small business, but a growing business needs a larger system.
Should I Replace My CRM System? YES
One of the most confusing aspects of CRM (and something that we’re happy to help you with) is figuring out just how robust of a system you need—especially when significant growth is on the horizon.
Smaller businesses may be just fine with simple contact management, interaction tracking and automated follow-ups, but this won’t be enough as they grow.
Here are just a few examples of features that become essential down the road:
- Reporting and analytics. Generate reports that track and analyze the performance and productivity of your company and employees based on the data in the CRM system.
- Workflow automation. Create task lists, reminders, calendars, alerts and templates that will help streamline your dealings with customers.
- Sales force automation. Automate sales processes and keep thorough, accurate records of your sales teams’ interactions with all sales prospects in order to close more deals.
Now that you’ve learned whether or not it’s time to replace your CRM, you may want to start shopping around for some good software options. Here’s a few suggestions on how to do that.
- Read user reviews of top CRM systems to see how other businesses have faced down their challenges using CRM software.
- Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. I’m happy to help you figure out what your own CRM needs might be or connect you to one of our expert software advisors for a free, no-obligation consultation!