A customer relationship management tool is a must-have for every start-up. By centralizing business processes and storing contacts, it enables start-ups to focus on other areas of business growth. Before you get started, see what industry experts have to say about this tool.
CRM is an acronym for customer relationship management (CRM) and as the name suggests, it is a system that startups use to manage relationships and interactions with both existing and potential customers. The goal of CRM is purely for business growth and it is anchored on the premise that staying connected with customers improves profitability. Here’s everything you need to know about CRM for startups.
A CRM system is a tool that helps startups to stay connected with their clients right from the point of contact and throughout their journey with your company. Over time, CRM tools have evolved and done more than just help with contact and sales management. You can even measure the return on investment of an SEO campaign with a CRM tool.
— Nancy Boisvert (@NancyBoisvert) November 10, 2020
How does a CRM tool work? Once a prospective client inputs their details on your website, the information is automatically and instantaneously entered into CRM. The marketing team and sales team can then simultaneously move into action. The marketing department can retarget them with advertising while the sales team can complement these efforts with calls or emails whilst logging every interaction into the software.
Benefits of having a CRM
Whether you are the founder of a startup or the head of sales and marketing of that organization, you might have been asked or are likely to be asked if the company truly needs CRM software. The answer to this question is of course a yes but you need to back up your response. This what a software tool will do to your startup.
Streamline customer relationships: Getting multiple calls from different sales reps from the same company asking about the same thing will put the lead you are chasing off. Such scenarios indicate there was a lapse in communication and points to the startup’s poor record keeping. With a good CRM tool such as Agile CRM, all your client’s information is synchronized such that any member of your team can access it.
Help organize customer and sales data: Any CRM tool worth its salt should provide a startup’s sales team with invaluable data and precise analytics to help them make customer-centric decisions. For example, the sales team should be able to recognize leads, that they can turn into clients and ultimately retain them as customers. Whenever you run a sales campaign, the CRM tool should be able to tell you which strategies work and which don’t so that you can adjust your pipeline for better results. The software should also enable startups to organize their clients according to the stage they are at in their journey with you. With this information, startups are best placed to tailor-make solutions for each group.
Boosts startup productivity: The COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to businesses and startups were not spared. Now, more than ever before, startups have to rethink and to reimagine new revenue streams. While this is critical, startups need not lose focus of their existing clients in their quest to win over new clients. With a CRM tool such as Agile CRM, startups can have a clear view of their customers and use the insights to create services and products that their customers need and want.
Reduces workforce: Again, thanks to the pandemic, every startup is looking at reducing costs and maximizing profits. A powerful CRM tool could be your ally in this area as it can complete tasks that would otherwise require around 5 employees.
Generates accurate reports: Many employees grapple with report writing, which often takes so many hours; hours that could be redirected to other tasks such as marketing. A good number of CRM tools can generate timely, accurate reports.
Helps improve products and services: With an accurate report, startups are empowered to review their products and services per what the clients want and need.
Uses of CRM
One of the key takeaways with a good CRM tool is that it helps improve your startup’s customer experience. In today’s complex business environment, we are seeing an increase in customer 2.0, that is, clients who are tech-savvy and digitally connected.
Most of these customers are thus likely to first check out a startup on the Internet before they decide on whether to purchase the product or service, they need from you or not. A study by Pinpoint Market Research and Anderson Jones found that 93 percent of buyers begin their buying process with an internet search.
A CRM tool will help you to tap these new customers and retain them by providing key insights that will come in handy in helping you improve your startup’s customer experience.
Mitch Lieberman, co-founder of ConversationalX, while speaking to SelectHub, agrees,
CRM will provide the ability to finally scale the human touch and reduction of treating customers as objects. Customers will be demanding more.
And it’s no brainer that a great customer experience equals more purchases and more referrals. Good thing is, customers would pay for a great customer experience.
Research by PWC revealed that 86 percent of customers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
Since customers reach out to your startup through various means including emails, calls, and websites, and through different departments, a CRM tool will consolidate all these conversations; and anyone who has access to the tool has access to this information. Use this information to personalize your communication with the client such as addressing them by their name and understanding what they want from you. In fact, by the time you are calling them, you already have a solution to their problem. How cool is that?
A step-by-step guide to choosing the best CRM for startups
While releasing research findings that showed CRM remains both the largest and the fastest-growing enterprise application software category, senior director analyst at Gartner Julian Poulter urged software developers to “double down on cloud deployments and consider adding functionality in the fast-growing marketing segment” if they are to exploit the significant opportunity in the field.
As such, startup founders should be on the look-out for these additional features if they are to get the best out of their CRM tools.
1. Regular updates: Your customer needs are evolving daily and as a startup, your offerings should reflect these changes. Your CRM tool shouldn’t also be static and the software developer should ensure that the tool has regular updates so that you can get the best out of the leads you get. Lieberman shares the same sentiments.
The future of CRM is about which companies will be able to pivot to meet the changing needs and trends — driven by customer expectations. Customers expect organizations to know a lot about them and expect to have conversations.
2. Affordable: As a startup, you probably don’t have the luxury to spend a huge sum of money on a CRM tool that does so much for you even if it is necessary. You will have a hard time convincing the board to approve the budget. But what if we tell you that there are CRM tools that offer you value for your money and at an affordable rate? Sounds like a plan, right?
Agile CRM, for instance, comes with an affordable all-in-one solution for your sales, marketing, and servicing needs.
3. Easy to use: As mentioned earlier, CRM tools help reduce the workforce and so if you have one that requires you to hire an IT expert to use it, then you better change your supplier.
4. Has security features: The software will store all your clients’ information including emails and contact. This is valuable data and it is your onus to protect your customers.
According to Marketing and Growth Hacking, good CRM should have a trail of user activity so that startup owners can tell who accessed what data. It should also notify the founders of any unauthorized transactions or changes to the platform.
5. Customizable reports: A CRM tool does not just benefit the sales and marketing team but rather the entire business. For example, the product design team can make use of feedback from the clients to improve on the services or products. As such, startups should opt for tools that enable them to extract information by criteria. You should also be able to access the data in real-time.
Thanks to technology, customizing your CRM tool takes just a few minutes rather than weeks as Bergen Adair, Market Analyst at SelectHub attests,
Cloud platforms and their support for common user interfaces and usability standards are streamlining the customization of screens in CRM apps, making it possible to add or change fields within minutes.
6. Allows for email integration: According to the McKinsey Global Report, employees spend approximately 28 percent of their workweek reading and responding to emails.
You can significantly cut this down by automating your email with a customer management tool. For example, you can automate FAQs, marketing emails, and newsletters. Besides email integration, ensure that the app you are using is compatible with other apps such as marketing automation tools. Thanks to the application programming interface (API), cloud-based CRM systems can be integrated with other systems to make them more customer-centric.
Louis Columbus a senior contributor with Forbes, in an interview with SelectHub, predicts,
APIs [will] become increasingly customer-centric in the coming three-to-five years. These APIs will have a strong focus on orchestrating a wide variety of databases, data-rich applications, and systems of record. Cloud platforms are enabling APIs to become more customer-centric by providing scalable, reliable integration frameworks, and technologies.
7. Reliable: A customer management tool collects data that will help you to scale your startup hence the saying that your CRM tool is only as good as the data it gathers. The accuracy of this data is thus key in enabling you to make better decisions. Inaccurate data could result in inefficiencies and lost revenue, all of which impact your growth as a startup. According to Experian, using quality information increases business efficiency by 63 percent and customer satisfaction by 53 percent.***
8. Must offer campaign tracking: A customer relationship management tool should provide insights about your marketing campaigns. You should be able to tell the methods, channels, and devices that are effective in bringing in leads and attracting clients to your business. In an interview with CIO, Kimberly Whitler, Marketing Professor at the Darden Business School, said,
Prioritization of customer experience requires using all types of analytics to understand, integrate, and positively impact customer experience.
9. Should allow you to identify and categorize leads: Not all leads are the same and a good CRM tool, should help you categorize your leads. For example, you should be able to identify promising leads and thereby provide appropriate service for that level. Other useful metrics include the type of lead, source of lead, and sales profit among others. Katherine Kostereva, co-founder, CEO, and Managing Partner of bpm online tells Future of Everything,
With data from additional touchpoints like IoT applications, CRMs will yield more accurate and actionable behavior models that will deliver better content and offers based on real-time processing of historical data and in-the-moment behavioral data, providing for a very specific and personalized customer journey.
10. Accessible: Can you access your client management tool from any device and location in the world? The answer to this query should be yes. Cloud-based CRM tools such as Agile CRM are not only accessible on your mobile phone but it is also fast and easy to use. Your staff will thus be able to respond to client requests, manage existing clients or attend to a client’s request whether they are working from the office, are in a meeting, or are on the go. Ambrose McGinn, CEO of Westbrook International Ltd. couldn’t be more correct when he asserted,
CRM will be the expert advisor to every level of the business, always available via wearables or mobile on the go devices, continuously offering suggestions on the where the next opportunities and risks lie.
11. Should be AI-powered: This is the future of CRM tools and the potential it holds is mind-blowing. Investopedia asserts that an AI-powered tool will speed up sales cycles, optimize pricing, lower costs of support calls as well as prevent loss by detecting fraud. Rich Bohn, renowned CRM analyst and President of Sell More Now LLC, is excited about AI. He says,
AI is real and happening now and I am still waiting for someone to show me great use of blockchain in CRM. It will happen.
12. Should assist with marketing efforts: Marketing team gets information on their audiences’ responsiveness to marketing campaigns. For an unresponsive audience, the team can decide to change tactics to convert them into clients. Heidi Melin, Chief Marketing Officer at Eloqua, while speaking with Marketingsherpa, opines that CRM and marketing automation solutions have to be complementary systems.
13. Should have reminders: Your staff is probably faced with tens of tasks that they are to complete daily. A CRM for startups should thus have a personal reminder feature to keep them on their toes. For a startup like yours, reminders such as future engagements, follow-ups, callbacks, and leads that haven’t been contacted for a while will come in handy.
14. Should have a gamification feature: Gamification refers to the use of game design elements and principles in CRM tools. One of the advantages of gamification is that it increases your sales team involvement, who will then complete assigned tasks on time. And there are studies to support this.
According to Toolbox, Service Corporation International saw that the sales reps who used gamified CRM on average closed 88 percent more deals at a double contract value than those who didn’t.
15. Social media integration: Social media is one of the touchpoints that prospects have with your startup. Your CRM tool should thus be optimized to collect data from your social media platforms. Some tools enable you to connect and engage with your audience without necessarily moving away from the platform. A CRM tool enables startups to synchronize from every touchpoint. Mark Bishof, CEO of Clarabridge, agrees,
Today, brands collect large volumes of data about customers, but they need to better synthesize this with customer feedback to understand sentiment and emotion.
Whether you are launching a startup or you have clocked in a few years since its launch, a CRM tool is crucial as it will enable you to efficiently manage your customer base. The trick is to find a tool that will enable you to do so much more with the data collected.