Guest Blog by Ron Lee, Eide Bailly Salesforce Consulting Manager
As an entrepreneur, you have quite the job description: owner, manager, risk taker, innovator, product developer and marketer. You also face daily realities of deadlines, budgets, sales, finances, cash flow, hiring, purchasing, networking – oh, and keeping clients happy.
So, just how are you supposed to juggle all of those responsibilities and grow an idea into a solid, profitable business? One answer is by using a customer relationship management (CRM) solution, such as the Salesforce “customer success platform.”
If you are considering adding a CRM solution to your business, here are five top considerations to help you on your journey.
1. Cloud or On-Premises
Cloud solutions are generally faster, more cost-effective, and easier to implement and personalize than traditional on-premises systems. For startups, scalability is often essential when selecting a business tool, and the flexibility offered in the cloud is a tough feature to beat.
2. Across Device
As an entrepreneur, when was the last time you spent the full day at your desk? No doubt you – and your customer – are more mobile today than ever. Consider using a platform that allows you to run your business from basically anywhere, on any device.
Fast Fact: More than 70% of small businesses say that keeping sales and service employees connected on the go is important to their success, according to recent Salesforce research.
3. Beyond Contacts
A CRM system should be more than just a place to manage contacts. Think of it as a total platform for customer success with solutions for sales, service, marketing, communities and analytics.
4. Is There An App For That?
A CRM systems is best utilized when it is built on a scalable, customizable platform, meaning you can adapt it to fit your needs as you grow. For instance, Salesforce was developed on an open ecosystem of partners and independent software vendors, so you have access to a wealth of existing tools. The Salesforce AppExchange offers more than 2,600 pre-integrated, ready-to-go applications – almost half of them for free – for areas such as project management, inventory control, shipping and tracking, email integration, proposal approvals, customer surveys, online ad analytics, and more.
5. Play Together
Ideally, your CRM tool should integrate seamlessly with your other business-critical systems, particularly the email provider or distribution system you’re currently using — whether that’s Gmail, Outlook, MailChimp or Silverpop. Tools that play together, stay together – and drive success for your business.
The moral of the story is that a CRM can work for your business, regardless of size. CRM systems are no longer limited to larger firms with big budgets. Instead, they are being leveraged by entrepreneurs and small business owners alike to streamline work, increase sales and provide a better customer experience.
And in full disclosure, we like Salesforce. We help implement it and oversee it for clients. Why? Small firms — even one-to-two person shops — are finding that Salesforce offers an economical, flexible and centralized “hub” to manage all of their customer data. Rather than buying software to install and then worrying about purchasing and managing servers on-site, Salesforce is cloud-based “software as a service” via a monthly subscription, eliminating additional infrastructure expenses and maintenance needs. Once licensed, Salesforce can be easily configured right out of the box to get you up and running fast, quickly scaling as your business grows and customizable to your evolving needs.
So, unless you want to add “developer,” “programmer,” “analyst,” “network specialist,” and “IT manager” to your entrepreneurial business card, consider a CRM system.