Keeping Up With Your Business Relations in a Pandemic – Consider a CRM!
By: Jeff Roseberry
If we’re at all like our parents and grandparents, we’ll be telling our kids and grandkids about the time in our lives when the world changed and nearly came to a stop. Without question, this pandemic is challenging virtually every aspect of how we have been living our lives up to this point. For those of us whose livelihood depends on selling directly to consumers, this is extremely challenging. As a result, we are faced with two possible scenarios:
1. Sit back and wait for this to end and hope that the government response and your financial situation will carry you; or
2. Adapt and innovate to do what you can to keep your business alive.
Note that the first one is always in play and is mostly beyond your control. So why not choose the latter option? Many of us have adopted the practice of having virtual meetings through applications like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and several others. These are critical tools for your trade – and we now know that they can work well!
But is this enough? Working from your home can be convenient, but it has its challenges. Business phone & video calls and meetings typically require documentation and follow up. You can go about this by writing everything down, but there are other tools available in the Cloud, many of which are available at no cost.
Consider A “Personal” CRM
Customer Relationship Management (“CRM”) systems are used by most businesses and you likely have one available through the DMS at the dealership where you work. CRMs help you to organize your contacts, document conversations, create follow up tasks, and multiple other functions. Their core design is for supporting sales, marketing and customer service operations. But they can also be terrific tools for building trust and deepening relationships with your customers. And in this new environment, customers will remember who was there to help them – and who wasn’t.
Some of you may know of the “big boys” like Salesforce, NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics. Frankly, you don’t need all the higher-end features that come with big applications like these. Thankfully, there are many other simpler alternatives that are easy to set up and maintain.
Some Good Options
Every CRM will require some degree of set up and a learning curve. However, several are intuitive and are designed to be set up and be fully functional within a couple of hours. Virtually all of them have a decent mobile application as well, which allows you to have 24 / 7 access to your customer information. Several are free forever or on a trial basis. If you want a little more bang from the application, the paid subscription rates are often reasonable too.
There are a lot of good places to look for the “right” CRM. When I am evaluating tools like this, I always look to certain information sources like Capterra and some other information sources (like this one).
Some of My Favorites
Streak – If you are using Google’s Gmail, this is a great option as well. The basic package is very adequate for staying on top of your business pipeline(s) and it integrates well with your Gmail for doing targeted & personalized mailings to your customers.
Agile CRM – This is very adequate package and offers some useful features like a landing page builder for having a web presence.
There are several other good choices as well, so take some time to investigate what is available. Also, consider keeping this practice alive after you go back to work – it’s likely that you’ll need to be working differently anyway, right? So go for it – your customers will appreciate it!