3 CRM Features Ignored by Small Businesses

Having a CRM means a lot more than just signing up for a free account and dumping your data on the cloud. There are ways to make the best of your new system and Brent Leary, cofounder of CRM Essentials, knows this well. In this guest post for Destination CRM, Brent discusses the most important CRM features that small businesses don't take advantage of. Here we've highlighted our top 3.

Automating Important Processes

Look for options that enable users to be more effective at engaging customers and prospects by unifying contacts into a single system of record; enriching those records with company and business insights; and empowering them to engage everywhere they work.

At InterConnecta we are thrilled every time we're able to find ways to save our users some time in their daily workflow because we know this can add up to hours saved of time and a much smoother user experience. From automating incoming leads while preventing duplicates to keeping users on top of their game with notifications; if you've been running a CRM without automations, you've been doing it wrong.

Managing Relationships. Not Data

Insightly chief marketing officer Tony Kavanaugh notes that SMBs need to focus more on the “R” part of CRM. “CRM deployments should treat sales force automation as table stakes and focus on what it takes to make the buyer journey as frictionless and as fruitful as possible. Relationship scoring and intelligence, sentiment and signal analytics, next-best-action recommendations, project delivery, and AI-based advice at every step of the buying journey are all key to this new imperative.”

One key feature of CRMs is the ability to shape your data by creating relationships across modules. This may be a difficult concept to grasp at first but it is very important if you want to ensure that your database can grow. Companies nowadays not only manage customers but a broad range of relationships from the Account they belong to, Deals closed, Emails sent, and even custom data that are specific to the company's workflow. Every item needs to be captured and accessible. Maintaining these relationships and understanding how they add value to your sales process will help you make strategic decisions.

Connect All your Systems

SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin also thinks integrated data can help more SMBs succeed. “We find it surprising that a lot of CRM users are not yet leveraging third-party data sources and services to augment the data in their systems. CRM has seen some adoption issues, specifically because users don’t want to put data into the system. And using data services does the heavily lifting for users, driving adoption in addition to enhanced productivity.”

Taking things one step further, you can connect not only the data inside your CRM but to the data in other systems. Whether it is your marketing hub, books, ads, or business intelligence system; integrating other systems with your CRM will give you greater insight into the performance of your business while making your users more efficient.

Brent Leary is cofounder of CRM Essentials, an Atlanta-based advisory firm focused on small and midsize businesses. He is also the author of Barack 2.0: Social Media Lessons for Small Businesses.