As a startup or small business, you often find it difficult to deal with the topic of CRM (Customer Relationship Management). There is a lack of the indispensable objective of putting the customer in the center of attention and often the costs are a deterrent. But those who do not “live” CRM lose.
In the beginning, it is often mainly about managing company and contact information in one central location. Then comes the suggestion of an Excel file or Google sheet, or a management of this data within the project tool in use, such as Asana, Notion, ClickUp (my choice) etc., where with a little imagination you can also add some processes and data fields for CRM.
Others, on the other hand, are looking for solutions that are as inexpensive as possible or even free of charge. There are some candidates, the best known is probably HubSpot.
What is CRM?
But what is CRM anyway? Well, it is definitely not just an address database! Not even if these addresses are available online and mobile for everyone, even if this is still a challenge for many companies today.
No, CRM is a business management tool that covers all customer processes and touchpoints. CRM is part of the business strategy and should be embedded in the corporate culture so that the customer is always at the center of all activities and decisions.
What does this mean for startups and small businesses?
This means that you have to deal intensively with your own situation and have a clear view ahead in order to choose the right, scalable CRM solution from the very beginning. That you deal intensively with the topic of CRM, that you train your colleagues and make CRM a part of your corporate strategy and culture. This is a long road, sometimes rocky, but it has to be taken and it definitely pays off.
The right solution
There are countless applications that call themselves CRM solutions. The first step is to identify the solutions that represent real CRMs. After that, the current and, if possible, the future requirements have to be adjusted to the different applications. At the same time, one can also think innovatively and into the future. Because if you really want to reduce the effort, you have to make sure not to change your CRM again in the near future.
In this process the costs must also be considered. What is CRM worth to a company? This brings us back to the point where we are talking about CRM at all. Manage addresses? Or corporate management? The monthly license costs are suddenly in a different context to the expected benefit.
Then there are the costs for the implementation. Even if you can implement a lot on your own, in my opinion professional support is essential to avoid mistakes and implement best practices.
Salesforce Product Portfolio
Salesforce offers a unique mix of different products and licensing options to meet a company’s CRM needs. At the same time, Salesforce is a fascinating platform for linking further processes to the CRM functions, either by creating them yourself (e.g. management of all employee assets) or by obtaining them via the marketplace (Appexchange).
This is exactly what is missing from practically all other products on the market. Salesforce is therefore a CRM solution that can be used to grow when a start-up becomes a larger company, new markets are opened up and new processes are relevant, such as integration into the financial system, etc.
CRM or not? There is not!
My opinion is clear: If a company does not introduce CRM and consistently uses it, it will be very, very difficult to remain successful. Choosing the right product and introducing it professionally are critical success factors for every company. Professional support is important, the benefits will far exceed the costs.
André Ryf is Salesforce consultant, trainer and coach and owner of squiis, your personal Salesforce Partner.
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