If you’re in the B2B space, particularly if you’re running a smaller operation, you’re in luck. Today you have tools available to you that were previously reserved for large B2C enterprises. Specifically, you have access to amazing amounts of buyer data (if you decide to use it). Unfortunately many small businesses don’t capitalize on that data in their sales and marketing strategies. If you’ve considered customer relationship management (CRM) as something with little to add (or out of reach for your micro-to-small business), think again.

Not only are massive quantities of customer data being created at all times, but predictive analytics are maturing rapidly. This means that your marketing and sales efforts can become significantly more productive and efficient with the right tools. The use of a CRM will empower you to do things like provide the most relevant content to a particular lead, better gauge which prospects are likely to become high-value customers and know what the next step should be in bringing leads deeper into the sales funnel.

Most of the people on your website are not in buying mode, so it’s essential that you serve them the right messages at the right moments, encouraging them on that next step of their buyer’s journey. Those “right messages” might include expert lead magnets, product information or demo offers, depending on their buying stage.

Why Understanding CRM Is Crucial for Smaller Businesses

Smaller businesses can benefit disproportionately from CRM marketing. By eliminating much of the guesswork of managing leads and customers, small business CRM software can ensure warm leads are qualified and nurtured to where they’re most likely to become loyal customers. It will also allow you to track the customer journey, identify risks and patterns along the way, and learn which steps are most likely to encourage them down the funnel.

Better still, many of today’s CRM tie in a sales and marketing automation piece. This allows your team members to trigger and automate processes they used to have to handle in a hands-on manner. For instance, if a potential customer downloads a premium piece of content, the appropriate sales development team member can be automatically notified to send a follow-up email or start the lead on a series of follow-up calls.

Don’t Just Generate Leads, Manage Them

No one is disputing that lead generation is important, but focusing too intently on lead generation at the expense of lead management is a mistake. Continually dumping leads into the top of the funnel can have an effect similar to when you overload an actual funnel: it can clog things up further down.

CRM marketing helps you focus on lead management activities as well as lead generation activities. These management activities often include qualifying leads, scoring them, cultivating them, and following up on them. The right software helps ensure none of them slips through the cracks, and that you’re keeping your sales pipeline full.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

You have probably heard to carpenter’s mantra of “Measure twice, cut once,” and it applies well beyond the boundaries of construction. By measuring and monitoring what goes on at each stage of your sales funnel, and not just at the final closing stage, you learn to recognize patterns, bottlenecks, and opportunities. Learning, for example, how many out of 100 sales leads progress to an in-person appointment helps you gauge whether you’re attracting the right buyer at the top of the funnel. Measuring results helps you recognize where your challenges lie, and likewise, where great opportunities may exist.

Ultimately, It’s About the Sales Process

CRM software isn’t about itself, but about the sales process. There’s little point in investing in a pricey CRM without first defining your goals and knowing what you want to use it for. Likewise, you need to know how to use your CRM tools competently, which means it’s essential that you thoroughly research to find the right vendor for you and ensure their reputation for service after the sale. You want your CRM to serve your business, not the other way around. Your provider should know this and should know what features your smaller business needs, rather than just try to sell you the most elaborate (and expensive) solution they can. Ultimately, CRM is about making your sales process better, and not about the CRM tools themselves.

Next Steps

Smaller B2B companies have access to the kind of data and analytics that used to only belong to giant B2C entities. Choose your CRM software with care, and you can take action on data that’s already at your fingertips, saving considerable time and money while making it easier to accompany leads through the sales funnel.