Friday May 22, 2015
Startup founders: What would you say is your most valuable asset? I would argue it’s your contacts.
The specific project you’re working on may come and go, or shift direction. Your team members might move on to other projects. Your developer partnerships might become obsolete.
But your contacts, and the relationships you develop with them, can last forever. But that can only happen if you nurture those relationships.
My co-founder Dave Kramer and I both lean pretty heavily on AllProWebTools’ CRM. We use it in different ways, however. He’s the outward-focused, customer-facing, sales side of the equation. I’m the product-focused marketing, development, and project management side. Both are important, and both need CRM.
I think every startup can benefit from CRM. It’s not just for your sales and customer support teams. Customer relationships impact everyone on the team. That’s why AllProWebTools has chosen to integrate CRM with all the other tools we offer.
Here are some of the ways that we use CRM every single day to improve our efficiency and our clients’ experience.
1. Streamline Your Sales Process
Don’t underestimate the importance of a smooth sales process. Having scalable systems to contact leads, follow up, and onboard new clients can make or break your startup. A streamlined sales process makes you appear more professional, and reduces the chances of leads falling through the cracks.
This is primarily what Dave uses the AllProWebTools CRM for. He spends most of his time meeting new prospects and connections. CRM allows him to keep up with the huge numbers of people he speaks with each day. He tracks his progress with leads and sets reminders to follow up.
When we onboard new clients, AllProWebTools helps us make the process smooth.
Some of our services are billed by the hour. Because we integrate our CRM and timecards, when we track billable time, it goes straight to their invoice.
Our sales process makes our customers feel like they’re our top priority, from the first touch forward. Many of our clients have worked with us for years. There’s a reason we’re able to keep those relationships strong.
2. Enable Superstar Customer Service
Our customer service representatives use CRM almost constantly. They rely on having a clear record of everyone’s past interactions with a client. This lets them quickly offer help without asking a lot of questions. They have at-a-glance access to:
- Information about the contact and their account
- Complete history of client purchases
- All past notes taken by anyone else who’s interacted with that contact
- Status of projects we’re working on for them
Having great customer support can set you apart. It’s easy when you’re small and only have a few clients. But when you start growing, you’ll thank yourself if you already have scalable customer service systems and processes in place!
3. Inform and Automate Your Marketing Efforts
Most people associate CRM with sales, but not with marketing. But without considering how your leads came to you in the first place, you only get half the picture. A truly integrated CRM incorporates both.
Attributing where your leads are coming from lets you focus your efforts on channels that are working for you. It also lets you improve your strategy for channels that aren’t.
For email marketing campaigns, CRM allows you to segment your contacts into different categories. You can automatically send different materials to leads who came from different sources or who are at different places in the sales process.
Sales and marketing should be closely linked in a startup. CRM is a great way to bridge the gap and get both sides communicating freely.
4. Make Customer Relationships a Company-Wide Activity
In a startup, everyone on the team should be involved with sales and marketing. The whole team should always be networking, from wherever they are. Having a mobile-enabled CRM is really important for this.
Say someone on your team meets a prospective customer at a networking event. Instead of taking their card, bringing it back to the office, and giving it to a sales representative, they can enter that prospect into the CRM from their phone.
They can even assign a sales representative to that account and set a callback time, all from their phone. When the sales representative logs into their console, they see that they have a new lead in their pipeline. They can get to work converting them right away.
This philosophy of total transparency and collaboration works for us and our clients. It gets everyone excited and involved about new business.
Since everyone’s interactions with a client are visible to all employees, different people don’t give conflicting information to customers and prospects. Instead, if several different people talk to a client, they can complement what others have already said.
5. Future-Proof Your Customer Data
What happens if a team member decides to pursue a different opportunity? Would you lose all their contacts and leads? A CRM encourages everyone to think of leads as company property, not the property of individuals.
If someone moves on, the leads and all the information about them stays with the company. Someone else can pick up where they left off. Unfortunately, turnover can be high in startups. It’s important to be prepared.
On a more positive note, when you start growing, information about customers is available to new hires right away. This is the core of scalable customer service. No matter how many people there are interacting with clients, everyone needs to have a consistent message. Everyone needs to be well-informed. Everyone needs to be up-to-date.
CRM makes this possible. I don’t see how a startup can survive without it.