One person using a simple spreadsheet might be adequate for tracking client information, but as a business scales, spreadsheets become increasingly inefficient. Critical data is buried, important tasks are manually tracked, and client history can be lost.
Spreadsheet chaos ultimately leads to wasted time, lost sales opportunities, and poor client experiences. Employees spend too much time searching for information, while clients become frustrated having to re-explain their history and needs.
Implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) system can avoid spreadsheet chaos. A CRM centralizes customer data into a searchable database accessible by the entire organization. Employees waste less time on administrative tasks and can deliver greater value to their clients.
Why use a CRM?
As a centralized repository for client-related information, CRMs solve many problems associated with managing customer data in spreadsheets. They can increase efficiency, automate marketing efforts, and provide data-driven insights and enhanced customer experiences.
Large organizations, such as my firm, Crowe, can easily adapt to CRMs based on their size. And while some accountants might think a CRM is too robust for their firm’s needs, the scalable nature of CRMs is worth noting. Many platforms level up gracefully as a business grows, without needing to adopt complex systems.
Moving from spreadsheets to a CRM can enhance business agility, efficiency, and client experiences, leading to accelerated growth and more satisfied clients.
How do you know when the time is right for a CRM?
Every organization must determine when it’s time to implement a CRM based on its own unique circumstances, but common triggers include the following:
- An expanding client base.
- The need to convert more sales leads into clients.
- Gaining a competitive advantage over accounting peers or in various niches.
- Client support issues.
- Struggling to keep client data organized.
Future business goals also play a role. For example, if a business plans on being acquired or perhaps turned over to relatives, a CRM demonstrates value and helps build a pathway to success because it contains a historical record of leads, referrals, and client information.
How can you implement a CRM?
Getting optimal value from a CRM requires careful planning and execution. Here are five best practices to follow:
- Consider functionality needs. Determine what solutions your organization needs. Don't pay for features you won't use, but also look for room to grow.
- Consider the cost. Evaluate your budget and determine an appropriate spend. With many CRM options on the market, at least one should fit your budget.
- Confirm integrations. Confirm the CRM works with critical tools. For example, Intuit Mailchimp integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks Online and e-commerce platforms such as Shopify.
- Provide sufficient training. Don't assume users will immediately understand the CRM. Plan onboarding and ongoing training.
- Get help when needed. Consult a specialist for CRM expertise to complement internal resources. Working with an outsourced accounting provider can offer insight into a CRM that makes sense for your business and confidence in having support from experienced specialists.
Following these practices can help support smooth implementation and maximize the CRM to drive business growth.
Take the next step: CRM for scaling businesses
As a business expands, relying on spreadsheets for client data management isn’t sustainable. It leads to decreased productivity, time gaps, and subpar client experiences. Implementing an efficient CRM system can keep organizations on track for growth.
CRM software can deliver organized customer data, improved efficiency through automation, and data-driven insights for sales and marketing teams. Leading options are increasingly user-friendly and accessible for smaller budgets.
Experienced consultants can provide proven CRM wisdom to complement internal resources. Consultants navigate technology selection, handle implementation intricacies, and provide ongoing optimization, saving countless hours and achieving maximum CRM value.
With the right tools and guidance in place, organizations can break free from spreadsheet chaos and grow to new heights.