CRMs Explained

Just what is a CRM

A CRM stands for Client (or customer) Relationship Management. Put simply it is a system you use to mange your client database to make sure you retain clients and get maximum return from them for your business.

Many years ago I saw one of the best CRMs I ever saw which was an index card system. This was used by a sales representative for a printing company who worked in a defined geographic area. In the system was a card for every SME in the area which detailed the ownership details, sales record and interactions with the client. Every day the sales rep updated his cards and contacted a set number of businesses. He was persistent and disciplined and very, very successful. Most of us are not that disciplined nor do we have a photographic memory as I believe this sales rep had so we need something more.

Even though the card system will not suit most business owners or every business the principle is the same; having a system to give structure to your client communications. It is not difficult, but it is something that too many business owners don’t do well.

Of course the system is only half the equation. The information put into the system must be meaningful and well structured to get results but if you don’t communicate with your clients you are not even in the game. Therefore, having a system at least gives structure to your communications process and is a very good place to start.

What CRM works best for you

Although a card system may work for you there are better, more efficient CRMs on offer and most of these are online.

A CRM should help you organise your marketing, keep record of your clients and what they have bought from you, when they bought allowing you to make more effective and targeted marketing decisions. You will build a record of your marketing and its success or otherwise. The system should allow you to run reports to keep track of your clients’ buying behaviour.

There are any number of CRMs you can subscribe to but you need to do your homework to see if the system is suitable for your client demographic, is easy to use, does not have a lot of features and functions you will never use and of course is cost effective.

Off the shelf CRMs will always be a compromise as they are designed to suit a cross section of businesses and not specifically for you and your business. Some systems can be customised but this may still result in a less than desirable result. Ongoing subscription costs can also be prohibitive.

More and more businesses are having their own purpose-built CRMs developed for them. If you think your business falls into this category give Spinoff Digital a call as we specialise in building customised CRMs and it may be less expensive than you think.

But in the end, any system is a step in the right direction if your business currently struggles communicating with your clients. It is always more cost effective to keep an existing client than attract a new one.


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