Small businesses in the 80s and 90s were doing a better job at CRM. Then they were called CMS or Contact Management Systems. Most small businesses purchased a PC based CMS like ACT or Goldmine, EMIS or Maximizer. There were many others. When the commercial internet took off, people got more enamored about having a website and partially lost focus on maintaining a regular interaction with their customers. Now you seldom see Ads for the PC based CMS’s. These days a CMS refers to web based Content Management Systems like WordPress and Joomla – very different than the original CMS’s.
In the last 5 to 7 years though, the term CRM – customer relationship management has started becoming popular and it has more of the same features as the old CMS. Everything revolves around a central database of leads, prospects and customers and through a web interface, employees can maintain an ongoing relationship with their customers.
Notable names these days are Vtiger, Zoho, Constant Contact, SalesForce, Hubspot, Dynamics and many more.
What will make CRMs popular again? The industry as a whole has to do a better job of making small businesses understand what it is and why it is so important to have a robust CRM. It impacts your bottom line and that has to be communicated well.
Which one is right for you? If you are not using a CRM, consult with a company, share your objectives and decide on one in conjunction with them. Get started and let the CRM help you grow your business by maintaining a regular relationship with your customers. It is so hard to get a customer. Once you get a customer, don’t let it be a one and done deal. Stay with him. Consider your customer as a lifelong asset. Nurture that relationship.
We use Vtiger because it is open source. That means we get the source code for free and can modify it to our heart’s content and integrate it with whatever we like. Many of our SMB clients also use Vtiger for the same reason, that is, it is free and companies like us can help them get the best out of it without busting the bank.
Whichever route you take, get started. Anything is better than none.