Are you losing track of customer requests, sales and orders? Are you not sure which of your customers need a follow-up call your email? Have you been thinking about getting a CRM for your business but are not sure how to start? Join hosts Elizabeth Larkin and Gene Marks as they walk you through what a CRM can do for your business and how to get started.
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Elizabeth: Welcome everyone to another addition of the Small Biz Ahead Podcast. Today we’re going to be talking about Gene’s favorite topic, which is CRMs, which is short for Customer Relationship Management. Instead of answering listener questions today, Gene is going to get questions from me all about the Customer Relationship Management tool, which he sells.
Gene, how are you today?
Gene: I am doing fine, and very excited to talk about CRM because I’m passionate about it.
Elizabeth: I know, it’s your favorite topic.
Gene: Yes, we love it. Every business should have one of these things.
Elizabeth: We’ve referred to CRMs a lot in previous podcasts and we were thinking we should explain what they actually are in case there are business owners out there who don’t know what they are because, Gene, as you’ve written for us, it is a tool that can really change your life.
Gene: Let me tell you a story, I forget if I’ve told this story before, but who cares. My wife and I, Elizabeth, we don’t go out very much on the weekends. We are like home bodies, watch a lot of TV, whatever. Friday nights honestly for the past twenty years we order Sushi in. We have been ordering from the same Japanese restaurant in our neighborhood for years. They have a CRM system. They use a little system called Act, which by the way, Act, A-C-T, that’s been around for a thousand years. It’s one of many that are out there. Here’s the deal, when I call up their restaurant at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon, whoever picks up the phone, their phone system is tied in to their CRM system, they get a screen pop that says it’s me calling in. Whoever answers the phone, like, “Oh, hello Mr. Marks. Good to hear from you.” I’m like, “Yes, same order as last week,” and they’re very nice people, but hard to understand. They’re like, “Yes, same order, same order,” because they’ve got the same, my history there as well, and they always get the order right.
Every month I get an email from them inviting me with a coupon for like a free glass of wine if I buy a California roll. Once a year, Elizabeth, I get a card in the mail from my Japanese restaurant wishing me a happy birthday.
Elizabeth: That’s so nice.
Gene: Yeah, I haven’t got a card from my kids in like five years, my Japanese restaurant … And last Christmas, this is a true story, we had a fruit basket delivered to our house from our Japanese restaurant thanking us for being such a good customer. I don’t know if anyone listening here has ever had a fruit basket delivered to their house from their Japanese restaurant.
That’s what a CRM system does though, it’s a database. Every business should have one. In that database is anybody and everybody who touches your business: prospects, customers, partners, vendors, suppliers, doesn’t make a difference. Everybody has got, they’re all in that database, and your CRM system will do three big things for your business. Number one, no one will fall through the cracks.
Elizabeth: That’s huge.
Gene: Huge, right, a CRM system will allow you to schedule follow-ups, make sure that they’re on certain lists. You want to have a system for making sure that people are always followed up on. No customer ever gets left unturned. Everybody’s got some type of task or reminder associated with them, so that’s number one.
Number two, no one in your company will look like a dope with a good CRM system, because whoever calls your office, whoever picks up the phone, they’ve got the CRM system, “Well, hello Mr. Smith. It’s good to hear from you. I see we did this service for you last week. Are you happy? Or, “I understand your son’s getting out of prison next month.” That’s good for that, or whatever information you’re keeping in that database, it’s all there and everybody’s sharing it, so … Because there’s nothing worse when you call up a company and they don’t even know who you are and you’re like a customer, so no one looks like a dope.
The third thing, it increases the value of your business. If I want to come and buy your company, Elizabeth, and you’ve got people, and you’ve got your property, and you’ve got equipment, that’s great, but then you say to me, “Hey Gene, I’ve got a database here of everybody that we do business with, and who our customers are, and who our prospects are with our backlog and our prospects, and there are forecasts, and notes about them all.” I’ll pay you extra for that because it’s an intangible asset that your business has, so those are three big benefits that the CRM system provides.
Elizabeth: Let’s talk about life before a CRM. I’m thinking about in my personal life I have an Excel spreadsheet in Google Docs, and I have all of my contacts in it, so if I sent out invitations for like my nephews baby shower, I have all those in there.
Elizabeth: But this is from my personal life, so you’re saying for a business-
Gene: You’ve got to go well beyond that.
Elizabeth: Well beyond-
Gene: You bring up a really good question. People ask me like, “What’s the difference between a CRM system and just a spreadsheet,” or, “What’s the difference between like a CRM system and like I have Outlook or Gmail, yeah, I’ve got all my stuff in there.”
There’s a huge difference, and here’s the huge difference. CRM systems are a database. They’re attracting every communication that’s going on: emails, calls, appointments, notes, fields of data for all of these people and connecting them in to companies. They’re tracking it, not just for yourself, but for your entire organization, so when everybody’s doing their emails, and whatever, it’s all going in to one consolidated place so you can all see and share that together. The data itself then is used for marketing purposes because you can send out newsletters or communications. You might be like, you know what, we have a price increase coming up, let’s do … We need to create a list of everybody who’s bought this product in the past two months because we want to immediately email them all and say, “We’re going to have a price increase so you might want to buy them before the increase.” The CRM system will let you do that. You just can’t do that with a spreadsheet, so it’s a database that provides automation and marketing and a collaboration among everybody that’s in your company.
Elizabeth: Let’s say you’re a sole proprietor, let’s say you’re a freelance writer, just because I work with a lot of freelance writers.
Elizabeth: What would you use a CRM for?
Gene: That’s a really good question. Now, if you’re just a sole proprietor or even if you’re just a freelance writer, I want to say Outlook might do the trick. Like it’s just a basic contact. You’re not sharing your data with anybody else, right, but here’s what it is, if I’m a freelance writer, I’m building up a community, a database of people that I’m interviewing: publishers, editors, everybody in my universe. Somebody that I might meet and say, “Hey, you know what, that might be a good guy to write about some day.”
Gene: Sources, ideas, businesses that you’re stumbling on to that they might want to use them as an interview source or maybe a topic in the future. You’re putting them in to that system, and you’re coding them in such a way, you come up with a way to code; to describe them, so that six months later somebody says, “You know what, we’d like to write a story of everybody who’s got blue eyes and green hair that’s a Mets fan.” If you’ve been coding your database the right way, you could be like, “Aha, let me just do a search for that,” and my data is, “Ah, here’s a list of people that fit that criteria, let me call on them so that I can ask them the questions,” and whatever.
Gene: If you’re doing freelance writing, your whole universe is people that you’re dealing with. You should be building a database. Again, just a spreadsheet doesn’t give you all that history, and even Outlook is limited, and Gmail, is limited in to the number of sort of fields that you can create about a person.
Gene: Whereas a CRM system you can really go to town.
Elizabeth: A lot of the freelance writers I work with, they try to send out a monthly newsletter because they want to get themselves back in front of … I hire writers, they want to get themselves back in front of me as an editor. Can you, I know that you can actually do this, but how easy it is to link up something like MailChimp to your CRM. I think that’s actually the beauty of this CRM is you can link up the other pieces of software you’re using so that you don’t have to keep track of all these different things and different places.
Gene: Completely agree. Now, I use Zoho CRM. That’s one of the CRMs that are out there, and we do have it integrated with Constant Contact, which is like MailChimp,a bunch of other stuff, so if you’re sending out thousands and thousands of emails, they all integrate very well with email marketing services, but you know what’s also great about a CRM system, like with Zoho I’ve got in my database all of my customers that we provide a certain type of service for, I can immediately draw up a list of them, and then just send out if there’s four hundred of them or three hundred of them, I create a template email in Zoho, and then it blows out the email right from the … I’m not even using an external email service. Because when you’re only sending out a few hundred at a time, you’re way under being looked at by any kind of spam or anything like that, so don’t discount the fact they’re CRM systems, because they all come with email or integrate with email, they all give you the ability to send out bulk emails without having to use a bulk email service as well.
Elizabeth: What other features do they have like that?
Gene: They not only give you the ability to do the bulk emails, a big part of the CRM systems that I like is, the good ones nowadays, they integrate with your website. For example, somebody comes to your website, likes what they see, they fill out a form, send me more information. If you have it set up the right way, as soon as they click on okay, that information comes right in to your CRM system, and-
Elizabeth: And they’re a prospect.
Gene: They’re a prospect, and, because the CRM systems today, good ones: Zoho, Salesforce, SugarCRM, Sage, there’s Microsoft Dynamics, a bunch of great ones, what they do is they will recognize, you can program them to have workflow, so if Elizabeth Larkin is interested in this product and she’s from Connecticut, your record gets created in the system. Then the sales rep who covers Connecticut then gets an email or a task schedule saying, “Hey this person just requested information. Her name is Elizabeth. Reach out to her.” You get an email automatically saying, “Oh, look to hear from Ted, who’s your sales rep in the area.” By the way, if Ted doesn’t follow-up on that task in, say, twenty-four hours, maybe Ted’s manager gets a reminder or an alert saying, “We just sent a lead and Ted hasn’t followed up.” That’s what the CRM system is telling him, so there’s automation that’s involved that comes directly from the web. Plus it’ll work if you just want to import data as well. Say you go to a trade show, you can build up automation to do that as well. Powerful stuff.
Elizabeth: Does CRM systems, and I know you just named a bunch of them.
Gene: I can name them again.
Elizabeth: The one that, and we’re going to list all of these in the show notes as well, one of them that follows me around the web, and when I say that I mean they’re definitely doing Google AdWords because every website I go to I see their ads, is Insightly.
Elizabeth: So that’s a free service.
Gene: Yes, but they charge … First of all, Insightly is awesome. Great CRM application. It’s funny, my company sells CRM, we don’t sell Insightly, but I’m a fan of Insightly. I wish we could. We just don’t have enough bandwidth to do it all. If you’re a Google person, you’ll like Insightly because it integrates really well with Gmail and such. It is, a lot of the CRM applications provide free versions if you’ve only got like a couple of users and if they’re limited in features, so the free version of Insightly might be completely fine for what you have to do, but then if you want to take a step up, and then you want, I don’t know, the workflow that we talked about, or more customization, or you want to add more users as you get larger, then you start paying. Insightly costs, don’t quote me on it, but it’s between ten and fifteen bucks a month a user. It’s not that expensive at all. Zoho, the top price is like thirty-five bucks a month a user. Microsoft Dynamic CRM, which is great, it’s built inside of Outlook, so if you’re an Outlook user, you’re in to that.
Elizabeth: Oh, that’s handy.
Gene: It’s right inside of Outlook, sixty-five bucks a month a user. Salesforce.com, which is-
Elizabeth: The gold standard.
Gene: The gold standard, right, Salesforce is wonderful. Salesforce’s stock ticker is CRM, just to give you an example. They’re comparable, they go up as high as a hundred and twenty-five bucks a month a user because Salesforce is, they go after small companies, but really their appetite is for enterprise and mid-level organizations,
Elizabeth: Yeah, definitely.
Gene: On the lower, lower end, this podcast is for small business owners, so Insightly is a great choice. Zoho is a great choice. I like Sugar, these are all … And we’ll list a bunch more in the show notes as well.
Elizabeth: Okay, great. Let’s say you have three hundred contacts, you’re a two person business, and you know you’ve really got to ramp up your marketing and your lead generation, would you suggest people start with one of the free versions, or do you think they should kind of just go for the one that has the bells and whistles?
Gene: First of all, it depends on what you want to do because a lot of times the free versions are really just like glorified contact managers, but if you’ve never had any experience with a CRM before, then I would recommend that you start with a free version. I’ll tell you the reason why, Elizabeth. The CRM is a culture, okay, so say it’s just the two of you … Say it’s just one of you-
Gene: Like I have my CRM system. There’s ten people in my company, but I’m telling you now, tonight in front of the TV I’m going through my open tasks and completing them. I’m following up on emails. I’m looking at what other people’s tasks are. I’m in that system all the time. We’re like really committed to it as a company, so there is … You have to have a culture for it.
Elizabeth: All right, so that brings up another question, I actually worked at an investment bank, and we had, it was we called it the database, but it was definitely a CRM.
Elizabeth: One of the issues we ran in to was that we did not have a culture of imputing everything in to this CRM.
Gene: Then it fails.
Elizabeth: How do you get companies, when you’re selling these systems, how do you get people on board with that?
Gene: Such a great … That is the biggest issue that every company has.
Elizabeth: And challenge.
Gene: Because it’s not an order entry system or an accounting system where like, “Jeez, if we want to get paid, we’ve got to generate an invoice.” CRM systems are like there’s nobody putting like a gun against your head, so the question is, how do you get people to use the system? There are three things you have to do to make sure that people are using the system.
Number one, no matter how small you are somebody’s got to own the system. You have to have an internal administrator.
Elizabeth: Even if there’s just one of you?
Gene: Just one of you, somebody’s got to become the expert with that system. It’s their thing, so if it’s one of you, five of you, ten of you, there’s one person in your company that’s your CRM admin, and you’re giving that person the time and the resources to become expert with this system and be the go-to person. That’s number one.
Number two, there has to be executive buy-in, which means that whoever, if it’s just you or if it’s two/three/four people, whoever owns the company, you’re saying this, “If it ain’t in the system, then it doesn’t exist.”
Elizabeth: That’s a great mantra.
Gene: We’re in it, and this is it, and that is … I know you were doing stuff on spreadsheets before. I’m not looking at those spreadsheets anymore. If it’s not in the CRM system, it doesn’t exist, so you better get it in there. That’s number two, the executives have got to be fully committed.
Number three, reports. I found that my best clients with CRM systems have a couple/three reports coming out of the system that they’re using to manage their business from, because in the end, a CRM system is just a database, and you need reports coming from a database, so they’ll be like, “Listen, I know we were doing it on a spreadsheet or pipeline report before, all of our open quotes, or open proposals.” That spreadsheet’s gone. Whatever spreadsheets you have in your company, you replace them with your CRM system.
Elizabeth: You’ve got to go all in.
Gene: You’ve got to go all in, and you’ve got to make sure that you’re doing whatever is necessary to do so you get the output needed to run your business, then everybody will … By the way, the reports themselves might be lousy at first or incomplete, or whatever, but if the executives are looking at the reports, they’ll be the first people to say, “Okay, we need to fix this. This is wrong, this is out of …” Then people will eventually get up to where you’ve got to be.
Elizabeth: What happens, what advice would you give someone, let’s say they’re listening to this podcast, they’re a salesperson at a small business, there’s ten of them, like your business, but they’re not in charge, they’re not the business owner, and they think, I’m going to go check out Gene’s website and I want to get a CRM system for our business, because they’re behind the times and they don’t have one yet. How do they convince the boss?
Gene: Boy, you’re really, you’re coming up with some good questions today. This is pretty good. Something in your coffee. Here’s the thing, if it’s not your bosses idea, you have got a huge mountain to climb.
Gene: Because our most successful clients that implemented CRM, the tone came from the top. If the boss needs to be convinced that this is a valuable tool, then you probably have better ways to spend your time, and I don’t know how long the boss will continue to be a boss. My advice, whenever I see people saying like, and that happens, “I’m working in a group, my VP of sales or my sales manager still isn’t buying in to CRM. I know it would be really great for the group, what do I do” My advice is to say, “Listen, start with your own for like six months to a year. You commit to one of the free systems, or jump up and pay twelve bucks a month for Insightly or Zoho, or whatever.
Elizabeth: It will make your job a lot easier, right?
Gene: Yes, yes. I don’t understand how sales people or even service people do their jobs without a CRM. How do you remember all the things you’ve got to, so you go and commit yourself to it. Give it six months to a year, come back to your boss and say, “Let me show you what I’m doing with this system. This is how I’m organizing my day. Imagine if all ten of us were doing it. What do you think?” Then your boss might see the light.
Elizabeth: I would think another way to convince a higher up is those beautiful reports.
Gene: Yes, also true.
Elizabeth: Wouldn’t it be so much easier if you’re the boss, you’re looking at reports all the time. If you get a beautiful report, a simple easy to use report from someone.
Gene: That’s on demand. They can generate it whenever they want.
Gene: They get it on their smartphone, or they can get it … Because the CRM systems do, they’re mobile reporting, that would also, you’re absolutely right, have a big impact.
Now, other advice I have about getting users to use the system is that I found out there’s three types of users in any company. 20% of your users will get it automatically, go ahead, you throw them the ball, they’re going to run with it. I’m cool with this, I love this. They’re going to run with it. That’s great.
60% of your users are going to be the ones that need a little bit of TLC. They understand, they just need some extra little bit of training, a little hand holding, they’re going to get there.
Then you’ve got the 20% of the people, and we all know who they are, they can’t turn on their TVs. They’re just, they’re going to resist. By the way, those 20%, they might be great sales people. It’s just, listen I’m not a tech guy. You hired me to sell, not to enter data in to a CRM system, so you have to respect that. I get it. It’s not what you do, so you have to make their jobs as easy as possible. If you can teach them to put some data in through their iPhone or their Android phone, that would be great.
I have a client outside of Philadelphia, they sell meats; packaged meats, to deli. You can imagine, like the guys, these guys are their sales people are like their average age is 102, and they’re driving around in Chevy’s with like hats like Sinatra, and they’re stopping in to delis and selling packaged meats. You think like, how do you get those guys to like use it? Well, you know what they did, they set up a voice mail and they have the guys … Say, “Listen, clearly you’re not going to use anything on a smartphone. You don’t even have a smartphone. Just, when you’re done with this appointment, call this number and leave the details.” “Just went to J&G Deli, dropped them off these meats, have another appointment with them on August 21st.” “Leave a message on the phone.” They hired a high school kid for like eight bucks an hour, they just check the voice mail and they enter in the information in to the CRM.
Gene: Yeah, and then the sales manager gets his reports.
Elizabeth: Brilliant. You’ve got to work with people.
Gene: Really good. Easy.
Elizabeth: How many small businesses out there would you say don’t have a CRM?
Gene: A lot.
Elizabeth: A lot.
Gene: Yeah, a lot. More than 50% of small businesses do not have CRMs, which is great news for me because a lot of opportunity for my business.
Gene: The thing I always say is, “In the world of small business it always comes from big business first, and then it trickles down.” Every bigger company: enterprise, mid-market company, they all have some type of CRM now. That’s change the past ten … That’s changed.
Gene: And so if you’re a small business, you look at big companies, you’re like, these guys have these systems. This is like for real now. We need to get something similar.
Elizabeth: Cool. Can you tell us a little bit more about some of the features. What do you think most entices business owners, aside from the fact that it makes their business more valuable, which I would think would be the number one, but what other features do they have? I know some of them can integrate with your social media marketing. Let’s say you’re a business owner and you’re thinking, I don’t have time for social media marketing. I know that some of the CRMs actually make that a little bit easier for you.
Gene: Not really. They say they do, but-
Elizabeth: They say they do.
Gene: They do, but their integration with social media is still not great because a lot of the social media services don’t want to give up their data directly for you.
Elizabeth: That’s true.
Gene: There’s like scraper kind of tools. Scraper meaning that like you can go to a LinkedIn page and highlight certain information, and then you can have like an add in on your toolbar, just bring it in to your CRM system, but it’s cumbersome and not all together working that well.
I’ve got to tell you, when you talk about CRM features, people get all wrapped with the spreadsheets, all these different bells and whistles and features for the CRMs to have. 90% of the clients that we deal with, if they just had a good solid system; a database of their contacts, the people they do business with, their accounts, the companies they do business with, and then their opportunities, just their open opportunities, their pipeline that they have. If you think about yourself, you’re listening to this podcast and you think about your business, do you have a really excellent database of just people and companies and opportunities that your business is dealing with. I bet you, if you’re like 90% of my clients, you’re going to say, “Yeah, not too great. We have it on sixteen different spreadsheets and Outlook,” and whatever. Before you get all wrapped up with all these advanced features of the CRM systems, the very first thing you want to do is have a really solid advanced contact management system first. Prove that you can do that as an organization, as a culture, then you can take a step up to some of the cooler features, and the cooler features are not necessarily social media integration, but website integration I talked about before.
Gene: All the automation that we talked about before, and in the integration with other services. For example, Eventbrite does events.
Elizabeth: I love Eventbrite. It’s really easy to use.
Gene: So that integrates with a bunch of different CRM systems as well. A lot of people integrate their CRM systems to their accounting systems so that if you’re a sales guy and you’re about to call up this person and you’d like to know if they have any open invoices first, or if they’ve got a problem. That’s also another great feature of a lot of CRMs systems. All of those are great, but you’ve got to get the basic contact management down first.
Elizabeth: The biggest stumbling block to that for me would be, as you referred to it before, is source codes. Sourcing who’s who, and how … I would assume when you work with a client and you tell them, start out as simply as possible and then you can work up to different levels of sources.
Gene: It’s a database, so when you’re talking about source of where the data is coming from, you’re saying, and who they are.
Gene: One big mistake that people make sometimes is they get crazy with their CRM system.
Elizabeth: Yeah, see that’s what I would do. I would over complicate it.
Gene: Yeah, you would over complicate it, and that’s such a natural human thing to do. You’re like, “Oh, I want to know this person’s shoe size, and I want to know who their favorite baseball team is.” Then you’re asking your sales people to fill in all this information, they’re going to be like, “Forget about it.”
Gene: the best advice is start with your reports first and work your way backwards.
Gene: If you have a spreadsheet with your open quotes, design your CRM system to give you that spreadsheet. I know you’re not tracking all this other great information that you’d like to know. Start there though, because if you’re going to have thousands of fields in your system, people, they’re just not going to fill all that stuff out.
Elizabeth: Yeah, I think if you have any stumbling blocks, if you make it too difficult for people-
Gene: They’ll resist.
Elizabeth: They’re not going to put the-
Elizabeth: And I’m assuming you can put their areas in a CRM where you can put in notes on a call or something.
Gene: You can.
Elizabeth: And you can search those.
Gene: You can.
Elizabeth: So if you want to know, if you talked about the Mets with a customer, that will come up.
Gene: You can.
Elizabeth: And you really, really find a need to know who’s a Mets fan.
Gene: You absolutely can. You can search through emails. You can search through notes as well, so you’re absolutely right, you can do that. Now, by the way, searching is one thing in a CRM system, but then grabbing that data then use to send an email to everybody, that’s a little bit more … But you’ll figure that out as you use it. If you’re using a CRM system for a year, and you’re like, “You know what, it would really be good to know who’s a Mets fan.”
I can’t believe we’re talking about that. I’m a Phillies … Forget the Mets, the Phillies.
Elizabeth: I’m a Mets fan.
Gene: All right, well okay, again, we’ll talk about the Phillies, so they’re not there anyway, so whatever team … It might be important for your business to know if they’re a supporter of the baseball team in your town.
Gene: Only because you’ve got season tickets and a few times during the year you want to send out mailings to people that might want tickets, so you’ll figure that out. You don’t have to do it all at the beginning, but you’ll figure that out.
Elizabeth: Okay. Now this is a question coming from someone that works at an insurance company.
Gene: Who would that be?
Elizabeth: If you’re putting all of this personal information in to a database, who is taking on the risk for that information? What if your company is the target of a data breach?
Gene: True, there is certainly that risk that’s out there. In fact, we, a lot of times, if you’re selling like the healthcare world, that’s a big question. Are you HIPAA compliant? Are there CRM systems secure enough. People in financial services, they get … Particularly if most of these systems today are on the cloud. There are some good on-premise applications in there. Like GoldMine has been around for ages, still great, and you can buy it and stick it on your server in your office so you don’t have to be potentially exposed to the cloud and any security breaches there. It just depends on what’s going in to your database. I don’t know many people that keep credit card information in your CRM database, or personal financial information: social security numbers, stuff like that. I’d be very, very wary about doing that unless it’s really with a very secure system because you could be exposing yourself. Sure.
Elizabeth: If you did put that information, or just any, we call it here PLL: personal information, would you be responsible if there was a data breach, or if you’re using Zoho, are they the ones responsible for that risk?
Gene: You’d be responsible.
Gene: You’d be responsible. I think Zoho is, I’m picking on them, they’ll make certain sureties to you about the best practices they use to secure the data, and again, picking on Zoho, it’s their business model. They really don’t want to be breached because that would put them out of business, so they have a lot of motivation to make sure your data is super secure, but let’s face it, if you are keeping personal customer information, if I’m keeping your social security number or credit card number on my CRM system, and then we get breached and there’s a class action suit, you’re suing me; the business. I might be able to turn around, if I have a good attorney, and sue Zoho or the CRM provider, but the customers are suing me.
Gene: You, the business owner.
Elizabeth: Right, if your sales person left their iPhone out unlocked in a restaurant and someone grabbed it.
Gene: You’re also exposed to that.
Elizabeth: That’s how a lot of the data breaches happen for small businesses.
Gene: True. That’s really true. It’s funny when you say that because the, and I don’t want to get too far off track with the CRM, but you’re right. Sales people walk around, they’ve got this stuff on their iPad, or they got it on their phones, or whatever, and then they leave them unlocked without any security. Jeez, if you pick up somebody’s iPhone and the CRM app is on it, you can get access to like a ton of information.
Elizabeth: Exactly, addresses.
Gene: Oh, absolutely, so it’s really a dangerous, dangerous situation to be in.
Elizabeth: We should definitely cover that in another episode.
Elizabeth: Because as a small business owner, you really need to have in your employee handbook like rules around locking phones and making sure that your laptop is always secure and your employees … We’re becoming so much more of a remote workforce, especially for small businesses, that that is so important. We will definitely cover that in another episode.
Elizabeth: To wrap up on CRMs, you’re just starting out, you’re trying to convince everyone in your company that you really need to do this, what is your first step? You’re going out there, you’re researching CRMs, maybe you’re contacting Gene’s company to get some advice on that. What do you recommend people do to get everyone on board with that?
Gene: First of all I’ve got to tell you this, you don’t have to get all wrapped up in all the different options of the CRM options that are out there. Believe me, believe me, it’s 2016. CRMs are really mature now. I always tell this, you can buy products that we sell, or buy other products that are out there, you’re going to be fine with them all. It’s like buying, like you buy a Toyota Camri, you buy a Honda Accord, they’re both great cars. They’re going to get you to your destination. Some people like the look and feel of the Honda versus the Toyota, it’s just … You don’t have to get too crazy about that. It’s just all about how you implement your CRM system.
Elizabeth: So you’re not going to make a bad decision.
Gene: You’re not.
Elizabeth: It’s just a good decision to get one.
Gene: Yeah, that’s exactly right because, again, if you don’t have one at all, that tells me right now you’ve got no central database for managing all the people that you do business with, so anything would be an improvement. If you’re a very, very small business, don’t worry. If you get like a system like a Zoho, an Insightly; a smaller CRM type of system, and you expand and grow, and whatever, you can absolutely migrate to some of the bigger ones.
Elizabeth: Yeah, I’m sure everything’s exportable.
Gene: It is. It’s a pain, but it’s doable. It absolutely is. You don’t worry too much about that, so pick one that … Look at a couple that are out there. You can search on popular CRM applications that are there. I’ve written one piece in Forbes that was very popular called, “Eleven Terrible CRM Systems” where I list eleven really good CRM systems, but the point of the column was that they’re all terrible if you don’t have a good administrator and the executives don’t buy in, you don’t have good reports. That’s a good list for you to look up, and we’ll have some in the show notes as well.
Elizabeth: Yeah, we’re going to have in the show notes. We also have one of our writers, great writer Kathy Simpson, just wrote an article, “Why Every Business Needs a CRM” and she really goes through step-by-step what you do to find one, how you implement it, the rewards awaiting you at the end of the long process of getting your company on to a CRM, and that will be linked in the show notes.
Everyone, thanks for joining us for another week. We will be back with questions next week, so if you have any, Tweet us at @smallbizahead on Twitter. Be sure to give us your name and your state and your burning small business question. Gene, thanks for being here again.
Gene: Awesome to be here. Thank you Elizabeth.