what is CRM?

One of the most basic problem when trying to sell CRM solutions to small businesses is the blank stare you get when you mention the term CRM. Coming from a technology background, it’s so easy to assume everyone knows what CRM is and why they need it. But the vast majority of small businesses do not know what this acronym mean.

So, what is CRM?

The next temptation is just to spell out the acronym: Customer Relationship Management. So while each word is instantly understood, it’s not immediately clear what “customer relationship management” means – and I mean customers really associating the term with some clear benefits and business process improvements, rather than a vague “Ohhh yeaah”. They all understand that’s it means managing your relationships with your actual or potential customers, but what does it really means for their small business?

So while pointing them to an article on wikipedia about CRM is a good bet, a more down to earth explanation is needed, where you describe the term in relation to the relevant small business’ domain of activity, business processes, etc, using a lot of examples as to how CRM would mean for them in terms of benefits, improvements, and so on.

Something like this:

“Imagine one of your leads calls you asking if the quote he was given is still valid. Now that implies you store all the quotes you give out in a common place, but most small businesses are not very organized, so that could be in a notebook, or the back of a napkin used at a conference or in a million other places. Further more, you won’t have any more information about this lead that might help close the deal there and then.
Now imagine you had one central repository of all this data and when the customer calls, you have all this information up to date.
Imagine you could use this information to help you following up when leads don’t call you back, or when you just want to surprise your existing clients by reminding them it’s time for another appointment, sending them a thank you note, a happy birthday note or other notes that you can only send when you have the right information on your customers and the right system to use this information.”

Now this is of course just a basic approach on starting explaining to someone what CRM is and what it can do for small business. My main point is that you should never assume that everyone knows what CRM is. You should not assume that because they don’t know what CRM is they don’t need it – spend some time educating these small businesses and you will start seeing the benefits.