As sources of ingenuity and innovation, small businesses make up an integral part of the economy. The years following the most recent recession have been challenging for small businesses; however, a recent study from Wells Fargo and Gallup indicates that small business owners are the most optimistic they have been in more than six years. Business owners are feeling better about their company’s financial situation for the year ahead with 71 percent expecting their overall financial situation to be very or somewhat good over the next 12 months.
SmallBizTechnology asked Amanda Wilson, Marketing Director, Qvidian to share her insights with us…
Despite feeling optimistic and more financially stable, the fact still remains that small businesses operate on small budgets. This often means relying on third-party vendors to manage day-to-day operations and resources, as well as trusting software to keep long-term projects and strategy on task.
In order to drive business advantage and profitable revenue growth, more businesses are allocating budget toward marketing and sales efforts to improve the customer experience. A recent study from Gartner titled CMO Spend 2015 indicates that marketing budgets for small businesses remained healthy in 2014, with 50 percent of companies planning an increase in 2015. While it is encouraging to see companies planning to increase their spend, less than 20 percent of their budget is dedicated to improving the customer experience. With limited resources and funds available, investing in a new solution carries more risk for small businesses than it does for large enterprises.
Due to limited budgets and smaller staff sizes, we find that small businesses tend to forgo a formal sales process. Unfortunately this can severely limit their ability to retain and attract new customers. Business owners must understand the positive impact a mature sales model can have on their business and why no organization is too small to implement a solid plan. As part of this decision, CRM is a wise choice for small businesses since it can help consolidate masses of dispersed data.
Implementing a CRM solution can help small businesses sell better, but in doing so, they must also keep in mind a guiding principle: bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Salesforce is one of the more popular CRM solutions to implement, however small businesses should be aware that CRM solutions are a big investment, both financially and with respect to sales rep time. As such, it is imperative that small businesses understand key pitfalls to avoid when it comes time to implement.
What’s In It for Me?
This might seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised to learn how frequently things like implementation, technical capabilities and workflows overshadow the needs of sales teams during a CRM implementation.
CRM solutions can be instrumental in helping improves sales efforts, but if your sales reps find it challenging to use, you run the risk of it not being utilized effectively. Smaller staff sizes and potentially even smaller selling teams place greater importance on learning how to properly use these solutions, which can be a big time commitment. In small businesses more so than larger enterprises, a sales rep’s time is that much more valuable, especially for establishing personal connections with customers. The last thing you want is an improperly trained sales rep. First and foremost, consider your end-users during implementation and remember the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) from the rep perspective. Ask yourself, “What’s the value add to them for using this system?” If it’s for compliance purposes only, you’ll end up with stale data and poor ROI.
It’s a Piece of a Much Larger Puzzle
When CRM first entered the scene, there were promises of it improving how sales reps sell, allowing them to close more deals, know more about their customers, and so on. However, small businesses should not be surprised if CRM falls short here.
CRM is a critical back-end system but lacks the ability to transfer information into actionable intelligence. Salesforce.com, for example, has been wise in knowing this fact from the beginning and supporting its network of AppExchange partners who fill those gaps.
Taking advantage of complimentary products can make data from CRM solutions more meaningful and beneficial to the overall sales strategy.
While valuable, implementing CRM solutions doesn’t come cheap. In addition to the annual subscription, you also have services to help with implementation and rollout. In addition, you’ve probably invested in training, enablement tools and collateral to help your sales team learn the new system. For small businesses in particular, these costs can add up and put pressure on an already restricted budget.
To ensure you get the most return on all investments – including your CRM –don’t use it in a vacuum. Aggregate solutions into a single location for reps to access easily. This will promote greater adoption across the organization from a process standpoint.
If small businesses do their due diligence, avoid these pitfalls and gather all the right resources needed for a successful rollout, they’ll be way ahead of the game. In addition to realizing value sooner, their CRM solution will end up providing a true competitive advantage.