In the midst of a still-struggling economy, SMBs are trying to do more with less, with renewed customer demand putting a strain on already limited resources. In order to ensure success, companies need to refocus their efforts and more effectively interact with their customers and prospects across all sales, marketing and customer service interactions.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are unique. Although their organizations often resemble their larger corporate counterparts, SMBs must accomplish the same business goals with radically different budgets, tools and human resources.

In today’s economic landscape, SMBs need every possible competitive advantage not only to survive but also to grow their profits. Efficiently utilizing existing resources is one of many ways SMBS can achieve this -- and the opportunity to “do better” arises every day with each customer interaction. With a customer-centric approach, SMBs can maintain a strong base while nurturing prospects into new customers for a measurable impact on the bottom line.

The CRM Journey

Most organizations are aware of customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, and some have already implemented a CRM strategy -- an important step in becoming a customer-centric organization. However, in order to effectively interact with prospects and customers throughout the company, organizations must align sales, marketing and customer service to ensure every touch point is consistent in the customer experience.

Implementing this vision isn’t easy, but it can be accomplished with a top-to-bottom approach that integrates CRM into an organization’s culture with a consistent vision and actionable goals. SMBs should look to:

  • Automate sales and marketing: Leveraging technology to automate sales and marketing will allow staff to spend more time on higher-impact activities and work with more qualified leads
  • Think multi-channel: Businesses need to make it easy for customers to do business with them, whenever and wherever they choose. By thinking, acting and marketing in a multi-channel interface that includes both web and mobile, organizations provide their customers a more consistent and innovative customer experience.
  • Eliminate islands of data: Organizations must capture and integrate comprehensive data from these channels and make the best use of it with the right tools. By using this information to gain insight into customer behavior and demands, SMBS can build-in brand loyalty and increase responsiveness.

The Social Component

As social media becomes an increasingly large component to social interactions -- both at home and in the office -- every business should at least be evaluating what social media strategies work best for their organizations. At CDC, we’ve found that integrating traditional CRM applications and social media sites are a great way to better identify qualified leads, gather sales intelligence through increased collaboration with customers, develop effective sales campaigns, help close more deals and ultimately, improve customer service. The right technology helps businesses filter and convert non-traditional data into useful, relevant and understandable information to drive business decisions.

Companies can leverage social media for a cost effective way to reach a broader audience, but in order to work, it has to be ‘baked into the business’ and embedded into the daily workflow of sales, marketing and service organizations.

Additional articles on Social CRM include: