When embarking on a customer relationship management (CRM) project, many small businesses can be easily intimidated by the complexity – and the price – of an enterprise-scale system.
These broad-reaching CRM applications may require more financial and IT resources than a company can spare, and may also include massive feature sets that go above and beyond what the business really needs to thrive.
While every company knows that customer relationship management is a worthwhile and valuable endeavor, many are left to wonder if they truly need “the works”, or if a robust and feature-rich contact management software application will be enough to meet their requirements.
Contact management solutions, also referred to as small business CRM or “CRM lite”, offer an important core sub-set of CRM functionality, so smaller companies can reap all the benefits customer relationship management has to offer – without the hefty price tags, or long, expensive implementations.
Contact management delivers significant increases in productivity and cost-efficiency, leveling the playing field for smaller businesses and providing them with the edge they need to more effectively compete with their larger counterparts.
With a contact management solution, the vital prospect and customer data that many businesses currently maintain in disparate spreadsheets, home-grown databases, or Outlook will be streamlined and centralized.
So, information will be consistent, error-free, and easy to access. As a result, sales, marketing, and service staff can more effectively manage prospects, customers, opportunities, and related activities.
Additionally, many smaller companies lack the structured processes that are needed to deliver world-class service to customers. Contact management solutions can enable the creation and implementation of more formal sales, marketing, and support procedures, resulting in dramatically enhanced operations. And in smaller companies, where staff members are often required to wear many hats, performing tasks and activities beyond their traditional roles, contact management solutions can increase organization, coordination, and efficiency.
Many contact management solutions on the market today also include standard reporting features, so activities can be monitored by managers and supervisors across multiple teams, functions, or departments. Most contact management packages are also flexible, scalable, and modular, to address the needs of growing businesses. For example, basic contact management features can be purchased for a small group of users, then more advanced CRM functionality, or additional users licenses, can be easily added to satisfy changing needs as they emerge.
Contact management solutions are often the choice for companies that have less than 500 customers, or less than 50 staff members in customer-facing roles. It is also well-designed for businesses that have simple, easy to execute processes, where the efficiency of each staff member is more important that synchronizing multi-department functions.
Yet, for some companies, contact management alone is not enough. Some businesses require much broader customer relationship management capabilities, such as help desk automation, marketing campaign execution and management, sales forecasting, order processing and tracking, and advanced analytics. For these businesses, contact management in just one requirement among many in a wider-reaching CRM strategy.