Published September 06th, 2016 by

Small Business CRM Adoption

The struggle it takes to adopt CRM and ways to be successful in starting off simple.

Customer Relationship Management, also known as CRM, is becoming an indispensable tool and a real buzzword in today’s business world. And for a good reason.

It has become obvious that businesses that use CRM to its fullest have considerable advantage over those who don’t. CRM is basically becoming your most trusted and most valuable employee. In the not so distant future, every business will depend on this virtual assistant. It’s high time you jumped on the bandwagon as well.

But before we move on let’s remind ourselves what makes CRM system so indispensable.

Simply put, a CRM software brings all the customer information and documents into a single CRM database so that you and your employees can easily access. The main purpose of CRM systems is to gather data on customers across different channels – more specifically points of interaction between your business and your customers.

These points of interaction may refer to your website, direct email communication, telephone calls, live chat, social media, etc. CRM software can track data that drives insight into the actual behavior of your customers and key details about their experience with your brand to date. This includes data on customers’ past purchases, their personal information, preferences and their wants. Having these bits of information at your disposal at the right time and using them the right way can make or break a sale.

Here’s a brief reminder of what a successful CRM adoption can do for your business:


A well-used CRM system can replace manual process and therefore downsize the risk of any organizational inconsistencies and mistakes. For example, you can use CRM to automate repetitive marketing tasks like sending marketing materials to new prospects. In addition to being reliable, a CRM system is also a huge time-saver.

Collecting and understanding the data

Proper use of CRM systems also means making sense of the data from your customers. Information isn’t of any use to you if you don’t learn how to interpret it. That’s why simple CRM software solutions always offer an accompanying app that can translate the data for you into something you can actually use to make your business better.

Superior customer service

Better customer service is one of the main reasons why customers leave and go to your competitors. To put things into perspective, according to a study by Zendesk ‘82% of customers have stopped doing business with a company due to bad customer service’. On the other hand, ‘40% of people started purchasing from a competitive brand because of its reputation for great customer service’. These numbers speak for themself, and needless to say, proper CRM adoption helps brands step up their game and take their customer experience to a whole new level.

Increased visibility and accountability

Companies often lack the tools to oversee their own staff and allocate team member roles and responsibilities. A well-implemented CRM software allows employees to communicate with each other even if they are not within the same department. Any pressing issues or responsibilities that aren’t met can clearly be seen and addressed.

See the big picture – anywhere anytime

Just imagine – all your efforts and data united in one place. The best thing is that this unity of data is available to each and every employee at any given time. In small organizations, it’s often too difficult for one person to successfully manage customers’ lifecycles. This is where CRM comes in.

Cloud-based CRM allow employees to access neatly organized pieces of information on every phase of your customer’s lifecycle, from the first purchase to the last one. This way your sales people are always in the loop so they can do their job more effectively.

Why cloud based CRM is the best solution for small businesses

We can differentiate between two main types of CRM: on-premise and cloud-based.

Big businesses typically choose to implement on-premise CRM solutions. On-premise CRMs require big investments, but unlike their smaller counterparts, big companies have more resources at their disposal. On premise CRM is expensive because it needs to be installed into the client’s system on a fixed destination and it has to be maintained by an in-house IT team at all times. Its functionality entirely depends on how successful your IT team is. On-premise CRM doesn’t depend on the Internet connection, and it’s usually a choice for companies with more complex business needs.

Small businesses, on the other hand, commonly opt for cloud-based aka SaaS CRM. Compared to on-premise CRM solutions, SaaS is low-cost and it’s hosted in a cloud using the cloud service provider. Since it doesn’t require the assistance of an in-house IT team it’s much more budget-friendly and easy to maintain. Being on a cloud, it can be accessed from anywhere provided that you have Internet connection. It can often be customized to suit the needs and preferences of each business. It’s a perfect solution for small to medium sized businesses due to their simple installation, affordability and ease of use.


Stats regarding the CRM adoption

As far as the general statistics are concerned, the CRM trend is clearly on the rise, as more and more businesses embrace CRM and adopt cloud-based CRM solutions. What’s more, according to Gartner, CRM growth is going up and by 2017 it will be a $26 billion market, which is a 15.1% CAGR from 2012 to 2017.

In 2015 we’ve also witnessed an increase in use of mobile CRM. There has been an increase in the use of mobile devices generally, both by the consumers and by the personnel, so it makes sense that mobile CRM is on the rise as well. What’s more, studies have shown that nearly all salespeople (82%) using CRM are accessing it on mobile devices or tablets.

According to the research by VBInsight, 80% of companies who use marketing automation systems increase their leads, while 77% of them increase their conversions. On top of that, 47% of CRM users reported that customer satisfaction as well as customer retention was significantly impacted by implementing CRM in 2015. This sounds like everyone who decides to introduce CRM will instantly boost their sales, customer satisfaction, etc. right? Not necessarily.

CRM Adoption is not always straightforward

Many businesses are still on the fence about installing a CRM software. Even though many owners decide to adopt CRM solutions, since 2012 there have also been plenty of them who are not using their chosen CRM to the fullest.

Companies are still missing out on so much opportunity. But why?

CRM adoption isn’t without its drawbacks and risks. According to a research report by BuyerZone, 91% of businesses with more than 11 employees use CRM, whereas only 50% of companies with fewer than 10 employees adopt CRM. This drives us to the conclusion that small business need something else.

The key point of the whole story is – not all CRM systems are created equal. It all depends on what your business needs. Some systems are a better fit for big businesses as opposed to smaller ones. Every CRM has a lot to offer, there’s no doubt about that. But do you and your employees really have the patience and the time to explore everything, even something you may not even need?

Problem with mainstream CRM

The problem with ‘mainstream’ CRM systems is that you are stuck with a never-ending learning curve. And the luxury of time is something most business owners often can’t afford. The thought of having to spend hours and hours of training just to learn how to keep up is daunting to say the least. And it’s not just the time you need to set aside, but money as well.

Although you eventually might get used to it, at what price? Is it all worth it in the end?

Small business owners often find it difficult to rely on standard cookie-cutter CRM solutions because they require thorough employee training. They are often complicated, and the worst part is they may not fulfil your specific needs. For obvious reasons, many business owners still shy away from implementing it. Unintuitive layout and complex systems are often too confusing and difficult to grasp, which is why they can slow you down and prevent you from getting what you really need.

That’s why many small business owners are starting to opt for a much simpler and more customized version of CRM systems that are made to work for them, not the other way around.

Standard CRMs are usually not the right fit for small businesses

Every small business has its own culture, requirements and unique system of functioning. Small businesses don’t operate under the same set of rules big businesses do. They don’t necessarily operate like other businesses of their own size. Big business CRM software is often clunky and unintuitive for small business owners and their employees. This is usually an obstacle because you are not able to use it to its fullest, since it is rather complex and it takes a lot of time to learn how to manage it. Plus – there are a lot of features that you probably won’t even need and yet are there.


Overly complex design

Although CRM systems are here to help businesses cut down on boring administrative tasks and much more, many small business owners are still on the fence about implementing a CRM. And for a good reason.

Overly complicated design of the CRM is something that most businesses have experienced at least once. By trying to create one-size-fits-all system many CRM vendors are actually making them complex and hard-to-use. In order to make it simple and usable, CRM system has to manage the expectation of its users.


Simplicity is the key

Small businesses need CRM solutions that they will actually use. Oftentimes employees are reluctant to use the software simply because they don’t know how. It can take too much of their time to complete the task and they can’t figure out how to approach it to make it faster. The fact of the matter is that your CRM won’t bring you any results unless your employees aren’t ready to use it.

Sometimes it’s not about your employees though. It’s about the system itself. For this reason, it is  imperative to take the time and find the CRM that is easy to grasp, creates clear reports that you can understand, has intuitive interface and most importantly – that suits your specific business needs.

The majority of CRM systems are overly complex offering you the features you may not even need. For that reason, once they’ve invested in purchasing the CRM, many business owners further have to invest in comprehensive employee training. Without employee training, your investment goes down the drain.

With a CRM system that is simple and tailored to fit your own needs, your employees will need minimal training and supervision. That being said, you will be able to benefit from your investment in no time, and so will your staff.

Troy Hanna

Troy Hanna is an experienced small business CRM sales professional who focuses on CRM implementation and customer satisfaction for medium to small sized businesses for AddressTwo CRM.

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