Customer Relationship Management (CRM) plays a critical role in any industry. There are a number of software options to help manage CRM functions, but traditional versions are not always suitable for small businesses. Furthermore, many of the current CRM systems are too expensive and rigid for the small business marketplace.
In order for CRM to be effective for small business owners, the following is a checklist to use when considering a CRM tool or system:
1. CRM needs to manage the dynamics of customer transactions and the associated business processes, not just the customer relationship.
2. It is critical that CRM help small businesses know in real time whether they are being productive and effective with their business processes.
3. Don’t get caught up in all of the features. Small business owners should evaluate the company and employee needs of CRM. Be sure to:
• Identify the key components or functions that the people who run your business need from CRM.
• Decide if an entire Sales Force Automation (SFA) system is critical or if a lead generation and management tool is more important and will do what you need it to do. It could be you only need a marketing campaign generator.
• Decide what features you need and what you can do without.
4. Evaluate through a demo. Take a test drive of CRM features you need. Conduct hands-on product comparisons to determine which has the functionality and ease-of-use you and your team will use and enjoy the most.
5. Call references to find out:
• If it was easy to install.
• How long it took them to get up and going with the product.
• How easy it was to modify, configure, or customize to business processes.
R. Dean Taylor Vice-President for Marketing & Channel Development COMPLETExRM Salt Lake City