At what point will I need to switch over to a CRM system?
I am still using excel right now, and I'm curious at what point in my business should I switch over to a CRM system. My business is still small, so I'm unsure if switching over now is worth the costs or the time of learning a new system until I've grown my customer base a little more.
Anything can be done on Excel so long as the data is manageable and volume of data is small enough to avoid errors. When transcation volumes become significant, may or may not be in Dollar terms, but understanding customer behaviour becomes critical and customer base is sufficently large, it is worth looking at a CRM system. This is partcularly required in B2C environment where your source of understanding customer is only by observing the transction behaviours, analysing them and drawing insights.
So to answer your question, till customer base is significantly large, you may as well do with Excel.
When does a business know it’s time to upgrade/switch over to a CRM system.
-There are too many orders/processes and your team simply cannot process them quickly enough to service your clients or customers in a timely manner.
-You’re working on the weekend.
-You’re sitting on “legacy technology” in an effort to save money and be lean.
-You can’t communicate across teams.
-You’re losing track of deals.
-You forget the follow-up.
-Your customers aren’t feeling the love.
-You don’t know what the future holds.
And the most important
-You’re spending too much.
I also agree with the gang here. Assuming you are profitable, I would start using it right away. My favorite is www.pipelinedeals.com. It is about $40/month and it integrates with Google Apps and MailChimp very easily.
It is best to get into the habit and get your systems set up right away. Even if you move to something later, you will already be the practice of using the CRM. Whenever I launch a business, I invest in Quickbooks, Pipeline Deals, Google Apps for Business, and a website right away. You need to look, act, and feel like a professional, and you definitely need to keep you financial house in order and your pipeline in order.
Now would be the time to learn a CRM before your business grows to a point that a CRM is a must and you become time poor.
One of the key things that you need to be doing is to segment your contacti list so that people receive tailored communications. Do this on the basis of interest in your service or industry segment or on some other means that makes sense to you. One of the products that makes this particularly easy is Contactually. In terms of timing, most CRM systems are much better at tracking communications with your prospects and helping you to see which messages achieve most for you so the sooner the better. Another good way to start is to create segmented lists in Mailchimp. You can track opens and also create the means to automatically add people to your database. Mailchimp is free too.
There is no time like the present. By using one of the systems mentioned by me or others you will start to get a much better view of what is possible and your business will evolve too plus migrating from one to another is not so hard - the biggest investment is in learning how a new system works. That investment buys you more knowledge of best practice and what is possible.
I recommend starting with a CRM system at the outset. There are several good ones that allow you to start for free. As your business grows and your customer base expands you may need to expand beyond the capabilities of the free offerings but you will likely be able to afford the paid versions by then.
I have used Salesforce in two different business applications. I think sooner is better. You have to have confidence that your business will grow and if it does and you don't have the CRM in place you will be overwhelmed with data, contacts and information, and to take the time then to learn and transfer all of that will be very time consuming. Do it sooner than later. Most CRM's have small business models that you can grow with.
At certain point I think the one who is using the excel can only decide when to switch over to another system , the value of work shows the need for another system , size of data reflects the need , in different ways specially in regard of clients & their data , As the owner it depends on your plans for future .
Carrie, I'm going to take a contrarian view:
Data Entry = Effort. And you need to justify that effort -- for each contact! CRM systems generally make that harder to do, as the level of effort is much higher. An Excel spreadsheet is unbeatable for simple, linear - and quick - data entry of names, contact information and titles, (e.g. your typical haul of business cards from a networking event or conference). If they're not likely customers, or you don't have a product or literature to send them, stick with Excel until you do.
Excel helps you understand your business model, and design an appropriate pipeline. A CRM tool will usually come with a pre-designed sales process that can be overwhelming, hard to adapt, and wrong for your particular industry.
Also, you may want to do campaign management, personalized outreach, lead nurturing and customer acquisition. But consider each of these tactics individually - again, to minimize the data you will be entering. CRMs can help you do all of these things, but you can plague yourself with to-do items, next actions, and tickle reminders. I found that I didn't need a CRM for customer acquisition, but it was useful for the first three.
A great question. A lot depends on your NEED to KNOW rather than nice to have.
Most CRM systems work to some degree but rely on accurate and timely input. All CRM systems demand that everyone who has access to it also maintains the integrity of the information. To understand what you NEED from a CRM - you should make sure that any "PAPER BASED SYSTEM" you have (and that includes Excel) gives you what you need for your business. To test this you should involve all those in your business who need access to information now and later. Any system you purchase needs to be able to "keep up" with your business changes without the need for specialist input from a software house.
The real answer is research research research and talk to users in a similar business BEFORE you buy, The more you learn - especially if you are not technical - the better.