You’re one person with an endless list of “stuff” to do. Emails, social media posts, business development, countless customer inquiries…there’s just too much to do and not enough hours in the day.

Yet, you know that staying connected to your prospects and delivering a great customer experience is at the core of your company’s success. The good news is, building better relationships with your connections doesn’t have to be a manual and time-consuming process. By investing in a customer relationship management system (or CRM for short), you can automate, streamline, and even reduce the amount of daily work you have on your plate.

What is a Customer Relationship Management System?

Let’s start by breaking down what a small business CRM is. A Customer Relationship Management System is a software or set of tools that helps you track and communicate with your prospective and current customers more effectively so you can build better relationships and ultimately drive better sales and or service.

It has quickly become one of the most valuable tools for today’s business owners. Think of a CRM system as the heartbeat for all of your customer relationships and interactions as well as your platform to profitability. So why can a small business CRM help you gain insights, build relationships and grow sales?

Here are 7 reasons:

1.Gain Real-Time Access to Data

The real-time intelligence of CRMs allows for your business and its users to gain the 4-1-1 on your contacts right away. You get actionable intel on who is visiting your website and what pages they are checking out. You can see what emails they are opening or clicking on and what forms they have submitted.

You also get insights into what their needs are, what products your customers are purchasing and how to upsell them. A CRM stores the behavioral and social data you need to better foster relationships and communicate in a more personal way.

2.Improved Email Communications

If you’re using a CRM to just store your contacts, you’re missing out. A key benefit to incorporating a CRM system is the improvement in email communications to your leads and customers.

Take JE Bearing and Machine for example. They were using a standalone CRM that was not tied to their email marketing tools. Once they started leveraging a CRM with email marketing baked in, they were able to better communicate with their audience, get more quotes in the door and close more sales.

For JE Bearing, having a CRM system that captures a contact’s email address and then auto-responds to them with the appropriate message enables them to have a more meaningful conversation with the right person and the right time. This personalized approach to email marketing, backed by insights from the CRM, has driven more customers and more sales for JE Bearing than email marketing alone.

Email marketing within the CRM can help you bolster communications with your customers, too.  Even a simple thank you email or an email campaign to keep in touch with your contacts can be the key to staying relevant with your contacts, keeping your business top-of-mind and closing more deals with the contacts in your CRM.

3. Stay Organized and Manage Leads

From start to finish, CRMs keep you organized.  A CRM gives you integrated tools to take leads from online sources (like your website or social media), and turn them into new customers. Here’s how:

  • Leads from all sources are tracked and organized in a single platform.
  • Contacts are tagged (identified) and organized into logical buckets.
  • Relevant and meaningful information is sent to contacts based on their segments and activity.

That’s powerful enough to keep your business moving leads through the sales channel in a streamlined, efficient manner.

4. Nurture Your Leads with Email

96% of people aren’t ready to buy from you the first time they visit your website.

The same holds true at a trade show, networking event, or business meeting. So instead pushing your sales pitch right off the bat, it’s important to get to know your prospects and communicate with them on a more personal level.  This is easily achieved by using email nurturing through your CRM.

Email addresses can be captured from a form submission on your website.  When this happens, a campaign can be triggered automatically with integrated marketing automation. You can send a short series of relevant messages to your prospects to get the conversation going, letting them learn about you while also getting to know what they’re most interested in.  This timely, targeted follow-up keeps your business in front of your leads and moves more of them into the valued customer category.

5. Work with People When They Are Ready

When it comes to earning a customer’s business, it’s all about them and their needs – not about you and your agenda.  You won’t get very far by bugging cold leads who don’t know you and aren’t interested in making a deal. With the use of a CRM, you can spend your time focusing on opportunities in your pipeline that are “Hot” and leave the cold calling to the birds.

As you gather and manage data on your contacts, a CRM can send notifications when someone is interested in your product or service.

As you learn more about your contacts and they learn more about you, you can move them through your sales statuses and prioritize your sales opportunities.

6. Manage Tasks

As you land more customers, it’s important to deliver stellar customer service. In fact according to Harris Interactive, 86% of customers quit doing business because of a poor customer experience. Within a CRM, the task module enables you to manage your day, prioritize important to-do’s and ensure you are responding to your customers’ needs quickly.

As a best practice, automate your new customer onboarding workflows to include automate tasks to your support team and your new customers. You can also measure the health of your relationship with your customers and auto-schedule future check-ins, such as 30, 60, and 90 days out, making sure your customers are feeling the love and getting the most out of your product or service.

7. Track KPI’S (Key Performance Indicators)

CRMs can also be the answer to your most burning questions. While they can’t help decide where to take the family to dinner, (you’re on your own on that one) it can answer important business questions such as:

  • Which marketing campaigns are performing the best?  AdWords, SEO or referrals?
  • What customer service methods are working? Live chat or phone calls?
  • Which type of customer is the most profitable one? Healthcare or Manufacturing?

A CRM gives you real time filtering and reporting that enables you to track valuable performance metrics including:

  • Marketing lead sources
  • Sales pipeline and activity
  • Email effectiveness
  • Opportunities closed won/lost.

This allows you to have your finger on the pulse of your business and know what is working and what isn’t to help you find and keep more customers.

The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” -Peter Drucker

For small businesses wanting to get closer to customers, drive more leads and grow sales, a CRM is the missing link. Customer relationship management systems put you in control of your business by giving you the data and the insights you need to automate your process and deliver a great customer experience.