Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Am I Ready for CRM? How Much Can I Afford?

In my travels and life as a CRM guy, I hear it a lot.  “We’re just not ready to invest in a CRM (software that tracks everything that’s been done with prospects, leads, customers, etc.).  We don’t have the time, the money, the staff, [fill in the blank here].”   I’m going to use this opportunity to start a series of articles where I address each of these items and others.  The bottom line here is that you’re never ready.  I equate the jump to CRM to becoming a homeowner – you’re never really going to be ready, but one day it will sneak up on you and you’ll have to find the means as you’ve outgrown the apartment (or your parents place).  As with CRM, these needs jump out at different times, some much sooner than others (was never huge on living at home personally).

This article I will touch on cost, only as I’m always sensitive to budget constraints and there’s no better comparison between homes and CRM – how much can I afford?  Good news here is that you’ll actually see the return on your investment much sooner than buying a house.  Like houses though, CRM’s come in all shapes and sizes, different prices, and needs – can you move right in or do will we need some construction?  This of course allows you to find the home/CRM that works best for you and best fulfills your needs.  There are starter CRM packages out there for the new owners as well as the expert packages that have been saving a long time (yup, I’m going to beat this house theme into the ground).  In either case, after careful analysis (and some help) you should be able to find the package that is right for you and meets your needs.  Consider the experts Realtors for your CRM.

To battle the cost idea, an example comes to mind which happened to one of my favorite clients.  He had some hesitation to the cost of implementing a CRM package, but knew he needed to do something.  The costs were daunting – new server (this happened to be an on premise package), software licensing, training time, consulting costs for configuration, import of data, etc.  However, we created workflows in his CRM to automate some of the tasks that he was really bad at.  Essentially, he was bad at following up with clients and he knew this – he needed something/someone to do it for him.  We created a simple process to automate an email for those that had an overdue balance, sending out an automatic email in the morning, nothing huge, just a friendly reminder.  He told me two weeks later that the single process of sending an email to those clients had single handedly paid for all of his CRM costs including my time with him, his server, and licensing.  People appreciated the friendly follow up, didn’t realize that they owed a balance, but more importantly, they wanted him to come back out and do some more work for him.  Why I love the follow up with any system is that you’re reminding clients that you’re still there which in further reminds them of other needs they may have.

Will this example above be what happens to everyone?  I wish, but unfortunately no.  However, the returns will come.  Better tracking of sales and what’s coming in the pipeline, never losing track of the communications between you and your customers, being able to market directly to the right clients based on interests, industry, or existing products – all these items may not have a solid dollar amount to track against your investment, but it is there.  As with your old apartment, you’re going to outgrow that yellow pad of paper with all your “to-do’s” and you’re going to simply need something more to move you to the next step.