CRM For Your Growing Business – Let’s Get Personal

Shilpa Mudiganti, Manager Professional Services, SugarCRM
Shilpa Mudiganti, Manager Professional Services, SugarCRM

Running a successful business is not for everyone. It is estimated that four hundred thousand new businesses are being born annually nationwide, while 470,000 per year are dying. Businesses need passion and perseverance to run and it takes a visionary business owner to keep it on the right track. Yet, all that comes to a naught without the customer. No matter what business you are in, it cannot survive without a customer – for-profit or not-for-profit. Your business exists because you are serving a need of the customer. There is no “business” that doesn’t need a customer.

Borrowing poet John Dunne’s popular poem, no business is an island, entire of itself.

With the advent of social media technology and the connectivity that it brought forth, serving the customer has never been more challenging. The constant need to be “connected” and in tune with the needs of your biggest and smallest revenue generators is the norm now. Even your smallest customer could now potentially be the end of your business. Given such a state, customer centricity is part of every business’s mission statement.

Feeling overwhelmed already?

It doesn’t have to be. For a business that is at the doorsteps of rapid growth, it is now time to focus on the tools that help you steer through the good problems that success brings. Technology has made great strides in helping businesses achieve revenue goals in a more intelligent and measurable way.

When your company is experiencing growth, there are typically a few areas that demand immediate attention from you, the CEO:

  1. Customer: You have never been busier. If the beginning of the journey got 15 hrs from you, growth prescribes dedicating all your waking hours to your business. Your customers are pouring in with excited queries, bulk orders and shocking demands that you weren’t exactly prepared for. Managing customer expectations is number one in your book.
  2. People: A business owner is usually at crossroads with staff expansion considering how expensive and heart breaking it could be if the business fails. Yet, the upturn in your business growth needs more employees to deliver your promised goods and services. You would be extremely busy scouring for the right talent and culture fit in your company.
  3. Book keeping: You would probably have got this under control already while building your company, yet more customers and bulk orders typically means more stringent eye on cash flow, and audits that weren’t exactly in the plans for some time.

These are great problems to have. I would rather deal with these than the problems that come when the company is taking a nosedive.

Fortunately, there is one friend that will help you wade through these tough questions on your way to increasing business size and that is budget. The success that your company has seen so far has armed you with a much bigger budget than what you started off with. You may have also caught the interest of investors who are ready to pump in money into your business and that in itself is a great affirmation of the growth story that your company is turning into. This means you can in fact hire more people to deal with the deliveries and customer service while you can focus on other important tasks like keeping the momentum.

However, hiring more people is not the entire solution to managing your rapid growth. True, more hands on the deck means getting things faster, but does it mean more quality in your products? Does it definitively mean a happier customer? Does it ensure a clean audit? Definitely not. In fact, more people working on the same processes that you had adapted at the start would bring in more complexity in your daily tasks, thereby defeating the whole purpose of having more employees to do the job right.

What you need is technology that can modernize your company just right enough to empower your employees in delivering an experience that your customer would return for. And along with it, the right technology will also help you keep the books clean. Such a technology has been in existence since over 20 years but still, more than half of these newer businesses out there depend on the good old spreadsheets to keep the business running. Modernizing your company’s technology landscape has multifold benefits and here are a few among others.

  1. Automate manual tasks: Does your sales rep still enter data in 10 cells in the sales tracker spreadsheet to feed forecast data? Now imagine having 50 sales reps manually changing all those data, real time. No, you don’t want that.
  2. Replacing clunky, error-ridden process: Technology brings in clarity in processes and cuts down on redundancies if implemented right. Someone might accidentally delete a formula in an excel. That is impossible in a tightly controlled system.
  3. Bringing in information security: Growth typically also means housing more and more sensitive customer and business data. A modern technology, compliant with data governance laws, brings in industry standard security features to protect sensitive data. Something old systems cannot.
  4. Audit-ready: Ever had to go through the hundred of paper invoices and multiple spreadsheets to get your company through audit? If that gives you nightmares (as it rightly should), then a technology change is imminent.

One piece of software that tackles a lot of growing pains in quite a graceful manner is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. The term CRM can evoke mixed emotions from the CEOs of the budding companies. Some admire it for its sheer massiveness while others shun the details in anticipation of the massive cost it potentially can bring in during implementation. Either way, the term CRM has borne the brunt of quite a few bad press owing to many a failed implementations.

Yet, when used the right way, CRM can transform your company from within and accelerate controlled growth. And it really doesn’t matter which CRM system you are using. All that matters is if you understood the reason why your company needs a CRM system and how each user in your company will leverage the technology. In the coming blog posts, I will take you through the basics of a CRM software and how each unique role in your organization can benefit from this intelligent technology on your road to growth.