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Why a CRM?
In this line of work, I’ve had many opportunities to dig into business processes across a wide range of industries and specialties. As a web application and software programmer, you hear a lot of complaints from business people- coupled with phrases like “…there’s just got to be a better way…”, or “…isn’t this why we have computers?”

I’ve seen desks with a brand new PC sitting beside a dusty rolodex. I’ll hear confessions of personnel issues like high turnover. Business owners express frustration over clients not understanding their services. Perhaps the worst issue of all- losing clients to competition because they were simply never contacted again after an initial purchase of goods or services. There are a wide range of issues, all connected by one common thread.
To keep a business organized, you need a system of organization. It might sound simple, but anyone in business management knows that this is (arguably) the hardest part of business administration.

Starting a Conversation

Explaining a CRM (customer relationship management) System to people can be a very intricate and abstract conversation. The whole point is to organize your company, and template your processes. The idea is central management of those processes and data- in one place. Starting the conversation, most of our clients don’t know what they are even looking for yet- just that they want a better way. There is nothing wrong with that- it’s what we’re here for!

The Benefits

The first benefit of a CRM is that it can show certain information to some members of your team, and show different information to others. For example, perhaps Business Developers or Sales can view leads, potential clients, and clients. Production Managers can see tasks and inventory needs, and Order Fulfillment employees would see inventory, order numbers, and shipping information. We call this user permission management. All of this data touched by the different divisions of your team can be funneled into one system which allows your company to be effective and efficient. A single page on a site might contain all pertinent billing, contact, and even project information for a single client- but according to an employee’s role, they would only see and have access to what they need.

A CRM can organize your contacts into segments. For example: is the contact a Client, Potential Client, Lead, Active Client, or Inactive Client? It can assign tasks to team members with checkpoints or reminders along the way- to automatically communicate to your team when tasks are completed, held up, or they need to be escalated. It can send reminders to Project Managers to follow up after a meeting. It might schedule tasks a month out for Salespeople to call back on a client and check in.

The best feature is that you can keep all of that data in one place. A lot of businesses have moved to technology based solutions- working on applications “in the cloud”. Even for these savvy adopters there is still (often) an issue of using multiple applications to manage the different parts of their organization. Project Management may be handled by one software, while billing is on another, and still yet another for sales or inventory. People have to learn 3 or 4 software systems to complete mundane tasks. What’s worse is that there is usually little or no integration between them- meaning many data points need to be entered multiple times between the different software systems to keep everything in sync.

The Bottom Line

Your greatest asset in any business is your time. This is what a CRM is meant to protect- above all else. They ease communication between your team and clients, keeping everything organized in one central hub. A custom CRM can be tailored to suit your business’s specific workflows, needs, processes, and data management. The CRMs built by Plan Left receive consistent maintenance and updates as well as technical support and training for the staff members that will be using it.

If you are interested in learning more about what a CRM can do you for your company, feel free to contact us.

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