Why Small Businesses Don’t Buy CRM Systems, and How to Get Them To


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If you listen to our politicians, the way that we are going to get out of our current tough financial environment will be by small, local businesses becoming more and more successful.

We hear a lot about the banks, high-tech and manufacturing enterprises but the truth is that the mom & pop businesses, the small enterprises that are truly the engines of growth. Once these businesses start to grow, they stimulate demand and from the grass roots our economies start to pull themselves out of the doldrums.

If they are so important to the economy, why do so few of them invest in CRM and what would having a CRM system deliver to them? Here are a few thoughts.

  1. Small businesses do not understand CRM: There has been such a focus on enterprise solutions in CRM that small businesses do not think that CRM is suitable or relevant to them. They simply do not understand the purpose of a CRM solution, the benefits that it can bring them or the value that it will deliver in their business. This is an issue for the CRM industry which should be addressed by more emphasis in marketing campaigns on explaining what CRM means for the small business. As an industry, we need to question if CRM suppliers done enough convince small business owners that CRM is a worthwhile investment for them? Has the CRM industry satisfactorily communicated the benefits that a CRM solution can deliver to small business?
  2. Don’t believe it’s worth it/value it: Money is tight for small businesses. While a big business can wait a few years to get a return on their investments, small businesses generally do not have that luxury. As a result, CRM is not adequately valued by these potential customers. They have their client lists, they generate new business themselves, they keep their key customers happy – so why would they need the investment in a CRM solution. The industry needs to make sure that small businesses do believe that CRM provides a significant return on investment for their businesses. We need to be prepared to provide these potential customers with a reason to believe that the investment in CRM is worth it for them.
  3. Done believe you about the results: Allied to not believing that CRM is worth the investment comes the next problem that they do not believe the results that are promised to them. Have we got enough testimonials to be able to show them that companies just like theirs have benefitted sufficiently from their investment to justify CRM in their business?
  4. Don’t believe it will work for them: OK, so you have shown a potential customer with a small business that CRM has value to them and that other similar businesses created a return on investment on buying a CRM solution – the next problem is helping them understand that a system will also work for them. This is no longer a question of whether they believe that CRM offers benefits, more an issue that the business owner cannot see it being effective in her particular business: Why? The implementation will take too much time and effort, there will not be full compliance – we have all heard these objections before, but has the industry done enough to make CRM implementation manageable for the small business? What more could be done for them?
  5. Don’t believe they can afford it: Of course, any good CRM professional would say that a potential client cannot afford to be without it. Nonetheless, many small businesses will claim that purchasing a CRM solution, or committing to a service is beyond their means. As I said above, money is tight. Are the pricing models we have in the industry sufficiently flexible to attract small business owners? Does it look like any CRM supplier takes an element of risk in their models to compel business owners to part with their cash. In most cases, the business can afford the solution, they just do not have it at the top of their priorities. It’s our job to get it there.
  6. Don’t want it now: You’ve spent hours with the prospect, they like the solution, they love what it can deliver and believe that it will be good for their business and it fits within a budget… just not now because we are dealing with another initiative. Creating urgency is an essential part of any sale, but how do we achieve this with CRM? Last minute offers are not likely to inspire confidence, they already believe that the solution could help them. The response might be “if not now, when?” Creating urgency of the need is an essential part of the sale which is even more important to utilize in the small business scenario. Why? Because these businesses always have something more urgent to do, spend their money on or fire to fight. The industry needs to tap better into the needs of these groups to find out why CRM might become an urgent need.

I have no doubt that there are some great success stories from the industry in working with small to medium sized businesses. It would be great if you can share these within this community.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Kohn
Results driven, inspirational innovator with extensive global experience. Blue-chip experience in FMCG, B2B & professional services. Respected for delivering actionable & game changing business solutions across all aspects of a commercial operation.


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