A startup without a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution is literally like playing hockey without skates and a hockey stick. CRM tools are a must have for most companies looking to organize and manage all the data streaming into their organization. For startups there are lots of balls to juggle, finances, product/service development, growing your team, etc. However, not to be overlooked are the tools and processes you need to put in place to make everything efficient and streamlined.
Efficiency is really the most important measurement when it comes to startups. In most cases, you will put in long hours, more than 40 hours a week, and lots of hard work. So, it’s not only important to work hard but to also work smart. We’ve all heard it before, you will reap the rewards of the time and effort invested now. A CRM tool is no exception to this!
Many companies will argue that the cost to implement a CRM is not worth it as their company is still small. Just keep in mind that using a CRM, such as Salesforce, can cost as little as $25 per month, per user. Of course, there are set up costs associated with it, but these costs will be much less early on in the process. If you wait months or years, data usually stockpiles and becomes housed in different locations, making the aggregation and clean up of the data more time consuming.
Often the implementation of a CRM solution requires all key players in the company to regroup to answer important questions. It gets everyone back on the same page, aligned and ready to pursue the same goals. Topics of discussion can be varied, but may include ones such as:
- What information do we want to capture about our leads and customers?
- How are we capturing said information? manually entering it, lead capture forms, etc.
- Do we need a way to determine who are “hot leads”? if so, what criteria are we using
- After a lead is captured and in the system, what are our procedures for alerts, next steps and ownership?
- Do we want to use our database to conduct nurture marketing, post sales engagement and/or manage customer support?
I am not naive to the fact that your business will be adapting and changing, any successful business will. New products are developed, go to market plans adjusted and growth in the number of employees and locations are probably on your horizon. When selecting a CRM tool, think about where you envision your company to be and what aspects of a CRM you think you’ll use now and those you think you’ll need in a year from now. If you foresee using other software such as marketing automation, inventory management or shipping solutions you may want to look into CRM tools that have robust integration options or plugins, or maybe starting with an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution is best for you. Either way, there are lots of options out there.
In the early stages of business development (and for some this never really stops), you’re on the road, you travel, you attend a lot of meetings, and you want to make sure your entire business is easily accessible to you on your preferred device, phone, tablet, laptop or even watch. In the startup world you are always ONE DEAL away. It’s important that you spend most of your time focusing on developing new business relationships or making product advancements.
So, if you’ve made the choice to start the investigation process into a CRM, where do you start? Talking to other owners of start up and knowledgeable, experienced solution providers is a great place to start. Getting a feel for the solutions that are out there and asking the right questions will get you on the road to managing your new business with the right tools!