Of all the growing pains that businesses experience, one of the most common pains – one that can make you or break you – is how to keep up with a growing customer list and stay on top of leads. More clients mean growth and expansion – if you manage them right. Which is why customer relationship management software, or CRM software, is critical – especially once you start seeing the 5 signs your business is ready for CRM software.

Cobbled together systems for customer management only work for so long. When you and your team are working from spreadsheets, sticky notes, contact lists on your phone, and free versions of marketing software, things are more likely to fall through the cracks. And when things fall through the cracks, you lose business – which threatens the growth you’re trying to foster.

What is CRM and what can it do?

CRM software is more than just a database where you can keep client contact information. It’s designed to help you actually track where your leads are in the sales cycle, set important follow-up reminders, track orders, connect to your invoicing system, and track sales and marketing information on the back end.

With that kind of information in one cohesive system, you’ll be better able to nurture your leads and build and maintain relationships with your clients. (And we all know relationships are really the key to better sales). By tracking customer order data, you can make more informed decisions about marketing to your clients and about what products and deals you offer them. Data like that can help you use your marketing resources more efficiently and effectively.

CRM systems can also help you find contacts, track all the conversations each customer has had with people on your team, and automate important messaging, such as when technical support needs to be renewed or when sales are coming up. In essence, CRM software gives you a better big picture of who your clients are and what they need while also allowing you to drill down into the specifics of each relationship. It collects and reports data, such as the last time a customer purchased something from you, the last interaction they had with your company or its website, the last time they submitted a support ticket, etc. And that kind of data is marketing gold.

CRM is an investment that should not be taken lightly – but clearly it can also have a high ROI in the right situation. So, what are the five signs that tell you when it’s the right time to make the investment? How do you know which CRM solution is the best answer to the problems you’re facing? These five signs are a dead giveaway. If any of these five signs apply to you, it’s time to start your CRM search.

Sign #1: You’re spending too much time looking for information

How long is that customer spreadsheet you’ve been keeping? At this point, how many spreadsheets do you have? How much time do you spend flipping back and forth between spreadsheets, business cards, mobile devices and social media accounts? If finding information about your customers, and keeping up with multiple platforms to engage with them, is feeling like a chore, you need to seriously consider a CRM solution.

CRM pulls all your messaging, marketing, and contact information into one platform and database. The information is easy to input, organized, and easy to access – from mobile or desktop. It also streamlines communications by pulling all your communications channels into one place.

Sign #2: You’re dropping the ball when it comes to following up

When was the last time you emailed that customer who was so close to buying? How long has it been since your other favorite customer re-ordered? Follow-up is hard to keep track of when you’re doing it without intelligent software. But with a CRM solution, reminders can be created, messaging can be automated, and information can be accessed easily. Keeping clients and customers engaged is important. Don’t let human error cause you to drop the ball. If you find yourself missing important follow-ups, CRM software could be the answer.

Sign #3: You need a better customer support solution

Are you struggling to keep up with support emails? Do you feel inundated with Facebook messages, tweets, and LinkedIn messages? It doesn’t have to be this way! If your clients tend to need a lot of support for things like returns, user issues, etc., CRM is a lifesaver. A CRM with customer support features can streamline how you respond by bringing all messaging into one stream. It can also help you build a robust self-help section to reduce support tickets and help you keep track of all customer issues. Bringing it all into one portal will help your team keep track of all messages together so anyone can hop in and help with an ongoing problem.

BONUS: You’ll be able to collect and report on data about customer issues, so you can look at making better, longer-term, permanent fixes to certain problems.

Sign #4: You lack systematic sales processes and workflows

Do you know how leads enter your sales funnel and then interact with your brand once they’re in there? Do you have a process in place for bringing clients into and through the funnel? Do you know how many touchpoints it takes with a customer before you get the sale? Your sales team cannot be effective if you don’t have systematic processes and workflows in place. CRM to the rescue! A CRM system with robust marketing features can help you build and define workflows, making it easier for your sales team to pull in leads and take them through the funnel. It can also help boost your marketing efforts by allowing you to build automated messaging that can ultimately increase sales.

Sign #5: Reporting is a chore

What is resonating with your audience and what is falling short? How has your client list grown? What are your sales over last year or last month? Which campaign outperformed the rest? If answering these questions means pulling up a spreadsheet and calculating figures (read: hours of work), you need a real CRM solution. Reporting doesn’t have to be hard. With CRM, all your marketing efforts and client information are linked. Any report you need can be generated at the push of a button.

Data-driven decisions are always the best decisions. With a solid CRM, you can unlock all kinds of data about your business and your customers that will help you make better decisions. CRM makes customer relationship building, marketing, and reporting a breeze.

At RTS Labs, we love using Salesforce for its powerful CRM features (among other great features). Learn more about Salesforce and how it can be used to increase sales.

Want to see a really sophisticated use of custom CRM software? Check out this case study of the CRM work we did for a large non-profit organization. If CRM and high-level dashboards can do this for their organization – what could it do for yours?

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