Fear of updating your sales and marketing software? Be your own champion

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After more than 20 years in the software business, I still marvel at the wondrous things sales and marketing automation can enable. I’ve seen it level the playing field for countless small businesses, allowing them to bring disruptive services or products to the market. I’ve seen entrepreneurs automate manual, repetitive processes, freeing them to focus on where they want to take their business next.

But when your sales and marketing software doesn’t meet your needs, it’s far from wonderful. Ask most entrepreneurs about changing their software system and they would rather have a root canal – without anesthesia. It’s understandable to opt for the devil you know given the challenges of implementing a new software and training employees to use it. The intricacies of integrating new software and hardware with existing processes can seem daunting but championing a change can lead to long-term savings of time and money. Here are four key indicators it is time to update your software.

1) Scalability – Chances are that your current solution probably did match your workflows in the beginning. But your business has evolved, and your software may no longer service your needs as effectively as it once did. Can your software manage the entire customer journey in one place while seamlessly integrating with other software where needed? Can it meet your current processes and workflows, but still have the capacity to scale as your business grows – safeguarding your IT investment? Most importantly, does your software support the vision for where you want your company to go? Simply put your sales and marketing software should work for you, not you for it.

2) Capabilities Lacking – Current tools may be old or lack core functionality you need to run your business efficiently. As your business grows, the capabilities you need in your software change. Most sales and marketing solutions are proficient at lead capture and email marketing, which may have been sufficient when you were just starting out, but does your current software offer task management to communicate with employees when action is required based on prospect or customer activity? Are you able to integrate a business line with your sales and marketing solution, providing real-time access to client information, scheduling, and task set up so you can respond automatically to customers from anywhere, anytime? Can you send sales quotes in addition to invoices, and payment due reminders? With increasing competition and changing customer demands, these robust features can help you save time, get organized and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

3) Staying Connected Is Problematic – One of the most valuable benefits of sales and marketing software are the customizable templates that automate communications with leads and customers. But keeping your target audience engaged is as much about the way you communicate with them as what you have to say. Does your system allow you to manage both one-to-one and one-to-many communications? Can your software support SMS, phone calls and email messages in a single platform? [s1] Customizable messaging platforms allow entrepreneurs to connecting with customers and prospects in the way they desire.

4) Technical Support and Training – Most companies will assign a support team to assist small business owners through the initial software implementation. Once the system is operational however, entrepreneurs may be surprised to find they are largely on their own when it comes to troubleshooting and training. Does your software vendor provide onboarding for new employees or additional training when introducing product enhancements? Is there a help center you can access 24/7 for technical issues? Does your support team have experienced product experts to offer solutions to optimize your processes and ensure you’re getting the full benefit of the solution? Having comprehensive training and troubleshooting support allows you to focus on servicing your customers, moving prospects quickly through the funnel and seizing new opportunities instead of wrestling with your software when problems arise or staff are added.

Conclusion

The best advice I’d give an entrepreneur is don’t stay with a software product that doesn’t give you exactly what you want, and more importantly, what you need to grow your business. Ideally, you want a software solution that is customizable for your business, because it will offer the tailored benefits you want. Look for a product that was built for your type of business with robust capabilities designed for the way you do business.

Make sure the solution is right for where your business is today, but also flexible enough to scale to serve your needs as the business grows. And the importance of service and support cannot be overstated. Seek a vendor with a knowledgeable, responsive team that can provide training and technical assistance round-the-clock. Switching software systems can seem scary, but if you’re current system is impacting your ability to meet your prospects’ and customers’ needs, you’re not going to be able to grow.

Clate Mask
Clate Mask is the founder and CEO of Keap, a maker of sales and marketing automation software for small businesses. He also is co-author of "Conquer the Chaos: How to Grow a Successful Small Business Without Going Crazy."

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