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Do Small Businesses Need Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

Aug 17, 2007
Let's first define what exactly Customer Relationship Management is. The easiest way is to give an example: Every time you get in touch with a customer or prospect (still to be customer), you want to register the information regarding that contact. The more you know about your client, the better you can market your product or services in a personal way. You know exactly what your target customers need and want.
CRM is a combination of strategies, methods and best-practices to gather this information and organize it in an accessible way.

In former days, it was hard to do, because you had to write it all down and use a rolodex for the contact information, cardboard files to store orders and bills and there were many different places you could archive data. You can imagine how hard it was to retrieve specific information about a client or even worse, make a list of all prospects of the last 3 years that you sent a brochure. It would be almost impossible to select all customers that lived in a certain area, were 35 years of age and had small children.

Nowadays this is much easier to do, thanks to the software we can use. All information is linked to the customer and with a few mouse clicks you can compose any list you want. The software you use to accomplish this is called CRM software.

Coming back to the question "Do Small Businesses Need Customer Relationship Management (CRM) ?", the answer is definitively "Yes". Because, now more than ever, we must compete with the Big Companies. One of the strengths Small Businesses have compared to the bigger companies is the personal relationship we can (and have to) build with our customers. More and more customers expect to be treated in a personal way, in "real life" and online. Even if we send a big mailing (by normal mail or by e-mail), we have to make sure we address the recipient by their own name in the beginning of the letter instead of an impersonal "dear customer".
A good CRM system is essential to be able to do that in an efficient way. This does not mean that you have to buy one of those expensive CRM software packages.

Most Small Businesses already have the software they need, without being aware of it. I'm talking about Microsoft Outlook. This tool has many hidden features. But most of us only use it for email or the calendar. If you discover it's many flexible possibilities, you will realize how easy it is to stay completely up-to-date on your prospects and clients. You can register all you talked about with your contact, which documents you sent and when, appointment dates and things you have to finish by a certain date and time. Some things are even recorded automatically by Microsoft Outlook.

Using these features is done in an easy way if you have a System you can follow on a daily basis. If you know how to use Microsoft Outlook as a CRM-tool, you can gain hours of time and be totally in control of your sales process.
About the Author
Leonie Bruning is a passionate international
trainer, author, marketer and entrepreneur. She writes books, articles and tutorials to help entrepreneurs improve
their business. Click here
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