CRM for Small Business: A Primer


It’s been said that 80% of a business’ income typically comes from 20% of its customers. One way to keep that 20% loyal and to attract more customers like them is by using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that combines sales, marketing and customer service data into one integrated system. This way, you can get a real-time snapshot of your customers and where your profits are coming from.

CRM has three basic functions:

  1. Contact management: This helps you organize customers and contact details in one place, create reminder alerts for business activities and communicate with customers (via email). You can typically export the data from a basic contact management system (like Microsoft Outlook) to spreadsheets and other applications.
  2. Opportunity management: Once you’ve created a single, real-time view of where you stand with each customer, what you’ve sold them, what you’ve said to them, how profitable they are to you and how often you’ve contacted them; you can make better decisions about what to do next.
  3. Marketing automation: In addition to contact and opportunity management, CRM solutions may also include anything from automatic customer personalization to sending out marketing materials (e.g., emails, direct mail and voice messages) and complete campaign tracking. A CRM solution can help you target customers with tailored messages based on their interests, preferences and purchase history.

A CRM system can help your business in a variety of ways:

Enhance your responsiveness to customers: When you have instant access to customer contact and account information, you can respond faster and more accurately to their requests. Also, with opportunity management tools on your side, you can anticipate customer needs based on past interactions.

Improve customer service and support: When sales, customer service and other team members all have access to account, inventory and client information, they can resolve problems more efficiently – and your clients receive uninterrupted service.

Simplify and target your marketing: With tools that draw on a database of customer interests, preferences and purchase history; you can make sure the right messages reach the right people at the right time.

Boost sales: Retaining clients is good; cross-selling or up-selling more of your products and services is even better. Opportunity management tools can help you pinpoint which clients may be most interested in upgrades and related offers.

Manage leads and subscriptions: With centralized information about your prospects and subscribers, it’s easier to follow up on leads in a timely, effective way and deliver targeted offers to subscribers at the right times.

Improve productivity and efficiency without hiring more people: CRM solutions enable you and your current staff to manage tasks as well as communicate faster and more effectively, which typically allows you to achieve more without increasing your head count.