Small Business CRM – What’s the Problem?


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Even though contact management may have been the
pre-cursor to the CRM wave, small business CRM seems to have gotten the short
end of the stick in a number of ways. First, the whole idea of encapsulating a
solution in a box, I contend, set small businesses back decades.
Contact management? Come on! Second, once this was accepted, it was easy for
small businesses to follow the critical mass as CRM also became a
solution in a box; or at least a set of best practices for sales organizations
(or so they were told).

I’ve worked with large enterprises, and I’ve worked with small businesses. They
both have issues when it comes to CRM. However, small businesses are at real
disadvantage because they tend to have entrepreneurial leaders that are very
hands on. That hands on attitude carries through to software and technology;
generally something they know nothing about unless they’re business sells
software and technology. So why do they get involved?

Easy. It’s supposed to be simple. Just install it.

So what typically happens next? The entrepreneur tends to put on their software
architect hat. This happens whether there are trained developers involved or
not. After all, it’s their business so they know more about which buttons should
be placed where on the form. Did I mention that all their business problems look
like buttons? I’m not trying to be funny here, this happens over and over again
when regular people try to solve small business CRM issues.

All right, some times their problem looks like a check box.

Whether it’s a personality thing, or whether it’s an expectation set by software
vendors, the really sad truth is that many small businesses struggle to stay
focused on the fundamentals. For instance, they forget about the customer and
focus on their own needs; as though their own needs are completely in sync with
those of their customers. That’s most likely not the case. But even when they
are customer-focused, they can become so overwhelmed with everything that needs
to be done that they don’t have time to look for ways to systemize their

I’m not saying large businesses have it right, but they can throw more resources
at problems like this and make it appear that they have it all straightened out.
So, what can a small business do? Well, unless they had this all figured out
before the business really got going, not much. After all, you can’t just stop
doing what you’re doing to figure out which questions to ask, let alone find the
answers. And fancy consultants are probably outside of their reach.

Small business CRM has failed these businesses over the years because they
usually only did one thing well — contact management, and maybe sales process
automation. But what about marketing and follow-up? What were these businesses
missing by not following up because of their busy schedules? They were missing a

Of course, tracking is results is unimportant if you’re not following
up, so I guess you have some free time there.

There is more to a business than just selling. Staying in front of a prospect
(or a customer) means that you are there when they decide to buy. We all know
that a person can only do so much in a day. But what if a person didn’t need to
do anything more than plan this system? I know, you’re not a marketing expert or
a systems expert. Sure, you’ll have lock yourself away and figure out how to
create a cohesive series of messages. But, if you can put the delivery system on
complete auto-pilot wouldn’t that free you up to do more important things?

Ok, I know you’re thinking that this might actually lead to more sales, so how
are you going to handle them? What if much of that process was automated as
well? Sure, it depends on what you’re selling, but still, let’s think about how
we can make it easier for people to purchase your products with small business
CRM? Does your current system help you? How? Does it remind you what you
need to do today? Why isn’t it doing this for you?

What if you could actually segment your customer and prospect data easily and
attach them to campaign sequences that were delivered automatically, and any way
your customer prefers (email, phone message, fax, direct mail)? What if you
could launch sequences for a contact based on a link they clicked in one of your
emails, or by filling out a form on your website? And a sequence that you don’t
have to worry about, that happens in your sleep?

What if you had an easy way to turn 2 time buyers into 3 time buyers, or
customers who buy once every 3 months into customers that buy every 90 days? Why
hasn’t small business CRM done this for small businesses? Are the
software companies more concerned with what they want, than what you need?

Imagine that, a customer relationship management software company that
puts themselves in front of the customer. Pretty common actually.

I’ve been watching a company for the past year that, I believe answers many of
the questions that small businesses need to be asking. It’s called Infusionsoft.
Infusionsoft helps you grow your business and save time by running everything through one powerful, automated system.
Or so they claim. You’ll have to judge for yourself, but I’m sold on it as a
great small business CRM product.

I have to be very honest and say that building what they’ve done for companies
with 1-25 users (and be able to offer at less than $200 a month)
would require me to take my CRM platform of choice, Saleslogix, a business
alerting and process management system like TaskCentre (mo’ money), a shopping
cart I could integrate through a web service portal to talk to my system behind
the firewall (mo’ money) and an affiliate package (mo’ money) that would have to
be set up the same way…..and spend about 2 years planning and developing to
get it right. Maybe more (Even mo’ money!)

When I finished it, the technology would be 2 years down the road and I may have
wasted my time, my customers money and lost my credibility. So,
I’ve been very jealous of this company and their customers for some time now. I
use SalesLogix. There is a lot I love about SalesLogix. But, they (Sage), along
with a number of other CRM companies could learn a thing or two about the
marketing side of small business CRM from a little company in Gilbert, AZ called

Small business CRM still requires businesses to develop customer-centric
business strategies and essentially plan before buying. The flexibility of this
solution will certainly be a huge benefit to small businesses trying to look big
while remaining small.


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