Importance of cloud based CRM for small businesses
99.9% of private sector businesses in the UK are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and 34% of private sector turnover is generated by small businesses , . A convenient customer relationship management (CRM) system is critical to help this backbone of our economy to sharpen its competitive edge. It is essential that high quality software designers build useful systems and that small business owners embrace them to keep their companies alive.
Small businesses suffer a common problem: how to manage the dozens or even hundreds of new leads generated in a year and nurture them to fruitful business. CRM systems are essential but there are problems that the small business faces, which innovative software designers should address.
Convenience and prospect management
The first, and perhaps most important of these considerations, is convenience. A system that is easy to use in multiple locations is vital, particularly as the pace of business is fast and demanding – how can one spend time transferring notes and contact details in the office when constantly on the move? A system that facilitates updates or reminders of latest actions for each contact on remote or mobile devices will keep prospects moving through the cycle.
Small businesses owners are generally talented in developing their products and services but don’t have MBAs or training in business processes. A system that guides the user through next steps in customer relationship or sales cycles would be an absolute advantage. It is relatively easy to generate new leads and contacts but they become stagnant if there is no process for reviewing or developing the relationship.
One example is the sales cycle. Meeting a prospect who is interested in your products or services is invigorating but without a clear and easy to use CRM, it will be harder to nurture this to conversion. Small businesses need a system that enables them to have an overview of their prospects and customers and to drill down on the detail for each. Without this, prospects will typically become stuck mid-cycle (most likely in the follow-up or appointment stage) and become cold rather than realising or managing closure.
Another example is those contacts who need to be kept warm but aren’t immediate prospects. Similarly, small businesses often forget to ask for referrals or to work towards gaining even more business from current customers. All this requires an accessible CRM for business development on the move.
Small businesses can be smart and agile by outsourcing services such as CRM, particularly as many do not need in-house IT functions. Even so, cloud based solutions are available to small and large companies alike and smaller companies in particular should take advantage of this. Outsourcing frees the business to concentrate on what they do best.
As a business becomes more successful, the complexity of this problem will magnify beyond manageability. Cloud based technologies provide flexible options that enable a business to build their CRM systems quickly and efficiently in line with their growth.
The second consideration is cost. CAPEX spending on hardware and bespoke software solutions is not an option for many small business owners, particularly as the need for CRM systems isn’t always so apparent to them. Cloud based CRM designers can demonstrate the need for such tools to sharpen their competitiveness, whilst presenting an affordable entry-level solution.
Again, sophisticated software builders will design modular options that enable a business to create a system in line with their growth and developing requirements.
Another consideration is data security. Designers should give excellent guidance to their customers and demonstrate their understanding of the latest data protection issues with impeccable quality assurance policies and perhaps useful blogs and updates.
Small businesses that do not have manageable CRM systems can rarely understand their customers. They will miss so many opportunities and constantly look only outwards for new opportunities rather than nurture the potential that they have already partially developed. Alternatively they will not be able to recognise the futility of pursuing a hopeless prospect whilst allowing a more promising customer to walk away.
Good customer relationship management will prevent this and a cloud based version opens this opportunity for small businesses.
Business Development Manager
 SME definition taken from the Official Journal of the European Union, Commission Recommendation, L124/36, 6 May 2003
 Small Business and the UK Economy, House of Commons Library, December 2012; Department of Business Innovation and Skills, Business population estimates, 2012, pp 4
 Federation of Small Business statistics, http://www.fsb.org.uk/stats