SMB CRM- These are three acronyms that, to those sitting in the big chairs at digital marketing agencies, can seem just beyond the business priority horizon. Sure, a CRM system belongs somewhere on the business growth roadmap, but many people running SMBs assume these terms don’t need to be addressed until that magical critical mass is finally achieved.
There’s an argument here for the first two. In many cases, CIOs can be pre-emptive hires for SMBs (although this is changing in the age of data), and IPOs can usually wait (unless you’re blessed to be running a unicorn). CRM (customer resource management), however, isn’t something that should be looked at as just beyond the horizon—it’s something executives at digital marketing agencies should establish early to influence the data-driven, modern buyer more effectively and even increase cash flow.
Understanding it is important, however, it doesn’t get agency executives out of the woods. Smart managers may intuitively perceive the importance of treating every prospect like a VIP, and realize it requires the same diligence that supply chain management or HR/payroll requires in order to maximize cost-effectiveness and minimize hiccups.
Those who appreciate the importance of CRM might mistakenly conflate the action of acknowledgement with the action of application; they might spend time thinking about it before it’s really needed and come to the conclusion that it won’t be a big problem because there are so many SaaS services that can be retained. This approach, however, does not effectively establish a good CRM practice because it’s missing a core tenet. CRM isn’t a piece of software, it’s a core philosophy that needs to be treated with the rigor of any serious business discipline.
CRM the concept.
A Google search of ‘CRM’ nicely encapsulates this problem: most of the results are websites that provide access to third party CRM software. For the most part, software will play into the CRM equation as it will be necessary for your agency to use some kind of software or service (particularly at scale) to ensure continuity of customer management across account and sales teams.
This, however, minimizes the essence of what CRM really is: a business concept—one that should be created on the blackboard before being introduced to the boardroom. Furthermore, the first step of applying CRM should not be comparing software costs or signing up for free trials. It should be whiteboarding the customer journey, the representative touchpoints, and the points of information capture, etc. A representative from every division of your company—marketing, ops, sales, even finance—should be included in the meeting to define all of the interactions your customers and potential customers will have and what data they will exchange with your company.