Stuck, Busy and Nervous OR Free, Confident and Lively – Which kind of business entrepreneur you want to be?
As a little girl I was impressed by the punctuality of our milkman who would drop in to our home sharp at 5am. But what made me inquisitive was the little paper note he carried in his pocket. None of the milk delivery ever happened without him looking at the paper note. What did the paper carry? I kept wondering.
Finally one day, I inquired about the paper and got the chance to look at it. It held the details of all his customers along with the amount of milk each ordered. There was a separate section in the paper which described the change in purchase pattern. For instance if someone ordered more or less than their usual quantity on any particular day, then the milkman noted it in that column beside the customer name.
That day, I realized how important was his customers to him and how minutely did he noted customers’ buying habits and preferences.
But while this practice produced good results years back, the question is can it do the same today?
Is it possible for us to maintain our customer details in spreadsheets and note down the meeting and event details in random sticky notes?
Many of you might say a yes. But is that a confident yes from your side?
Think: Undoubtedly, spreadsheets can be used as a data collection tool. In fact, we all know that it has been the standard tool for businesses (small or big). But in the present business scenario where things are fast-paced and competition doubling every moment, can you grow with a simple data collection tool or do you need the power of business intelligence and reporting too?
Where does the spreadsheet fall short?
The loopholes of spreadsheets never came to our eyes because we did not had any better option to compare them with. But now there is the spurt of new age on-demand CRM systems that clearly show how spreadsheets are limiting our business and making us nervous freaks. On the other hand, entrepreneurs that use CRM have the upper hand in the competition and are confidently running their business with ample leisure time. Let’s see how and why:
The loopholes of spreadsheets
1. Not fit for collaboration: Spreadsheets are essentially designed for personal use. Whenever our team works on the same spreadsheet and keep sharing it with each other, multiple copies are created which is either duplicate or dissimilar.
2. Data discrepancy: This is an offshoot of the first point. Teamwork on the same spreadsheet leads to multiple conflicting copies that make it impossible for us to see the 'single version of truth'. Just in case we think of merging data across spreadsheets, that is no easy feat either.
3. Time-consuming: Spreadsheets are always time-consuming since they involve manual data entry. Things become more tedious and complex when data is required to be collected from multiple sources and fed in the spreadsheet.
4. Limited accessibility: There is no convenience of anytime/anywhere access because spreadsheets are desktop-based. This also hampers data security because there are no role based permissions.
5. Reports: Spreadsheets do assist us in reporting but at a primary level. When it comes to forming correlations between two figures, there is no such provision to do it. Isn’t it?
So what do we become using spreadsheets? Super busy who are tied to the office chambers, busy hopping across multiple spreadsheet copies.
CRM: the real hero
Those who have closely followed CRM will agree that this software entered into the picture as 'enterprise-style contact management software'. SMBs never dreamt of implementing it and experiencing its benefits. But the last 10 years witnessed two miracles happening:
First, from basic contact management software, CRM matured into a comprehensive Business Management Platform.
Second, there was a sudden spurt of new-age CRM software systems that were designed and developed specifically for the fast-growing small businesses.
Eventually, today in the market of 240+ CRMs, there are ample options for small businesses to browse and choose.
Most of the leading small business owners have already taken the CRM plunge. So are they ahead of the spreadsheet users? You bet.
Top benefits of CRM
1. 24x7 accessibility: New-age CRM software solutions are cloud-based. So SMB owners can access them where and when required.
2. Low cost: CRM applications offer monthly, pay-as-you-go subscriptions. Users do not have to install software in any machine. They can unsubscribe the CRM anytime as per the requirement.
3. Easy collaboration: Business owners prepare documents and share them through the CRM within the organization or outside, without the fear of any duplicate/conflicting copies. The same and latest version of data is visible to all which ensures that everyone is on the same page.
4. Data security: Business owners set role-based permissions (e.g. Read-only, Read-and-Edit) to control the access of data across the organization and outside.
5. Powerful reporting: New-age CRMs come with easy and intuitive report creation and analysis. So unlike spreadsheet users who have to spend hours in creating reports, CRM users analyze data instantly through pre-defined or customized reports. CRMs scan data and generate reports automatically based on predefined rules. This cuts down time on report creation and make SMBs more productive.
6. Quick data import & export: In addition to manually updating the data, users directly import data into CRM from CSV files. They also schedule periodic imports from other applications. Similarly, CRM data is easily exported in PDF or CSV formats.
7. Data correlation: While it is impossible to connect data sets in a spreadsheet, CRM allows users to correlate similar data for precise reporting and analysis.
Above-stated pointers are just the tip of the iceberg. The real magnitude of CRM benefits can only be experienced once it is implemented and used. So business entrepreneurs that are on the fence about CRM, do you still wish to be there?
Remember spreadsheets will keep you Stuck, Busy and Nervous. Opting for the CRM will make you successfully manage customer relationships from anytime anywhere and become Free, Confident and Lively.
Now it's your decision: Which kind of business entrepreneur you want to be?
Patricia is a full-time CRM consultant at ConvergeHub and part-time blogger. She has earned herself quite a fame as a specialist and a market expert in small business CRM software platforms. In the last five years, she has worked with various entrepreneurs to help them move their businesses to cloud. Her expertise lies in offering cloud based...