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Customer relationship management (CRM) for small business

Why should a business buy a CRM? When is the right time for a CRM? Like as business decisions, you need to get some value from a CRM. When the current manual methods become unwieldy then it’s time to take a closer look.

CRM systems are designed for three business functions:

  • Sales
  • Service
  • Marketing

The key features of Sales functionality are managing contacts, organising sales appointments and managing sales opportunities. The Service features include the ability to share knowledge and expertise across the support staff to deliver quality customer service. The Marketing features include campaign management, market feedback and optimised tactics and messages.


Managing contacts is all about capturing the details about an individual and a company in one place. You will want to capture all the details on a person’s business card that person’s “role” in addition to their title.

At a higher level you will want to capture all the individuals within a company under the same “account” umbrella.

The CRM can capture and record all your customer interactions such as phone calls, emails, letters and appointments in one place. This will allow you to manage, plan your sales effort and opportunities to ensure that you are contacting the right people and companies at the right time.

This leads to capturing and managing Sales opportunities. A core capability of CRM systems is helping a business manage their future growth by adding some discipline to the sales process.

The major benefits for sales is time saving, making it more efficient, reducing rework and cross checks. As a management tool it also provides a better understanding of future sales opportunities, what sales resources are needed and being applied.

[Next: CRM as a service tool]


Service functions of CRM are about sharing knowledge and expertise. Questions can be posed, answers captured and shared. A service representative can identify a problem and share a resolution. Experience can be digitised and shared as can manuals and training.

As service patterns with a product become clear the service operation can become proactive, preventative maintenance carried out to reduce time to repair and downtimes.

The key benefits being service productivity and a better customer experience.


The marketing functions of a CRM are usually focused on Marketing Campaigns – a set of activities to communicate a message to customers or prospective customers. Campaign Management pulls the activities together:

  • Choosing who to communicate to
  • Choosing the medium
  • Choosing what to say
  • Measuring results and feedback

The key benefit to a marketing functionality complex marketing campaigns manually, can be easily created and executed within a CRM. Even more important is that you can measure the response to a campaign more easily and then create a new and improved one from the experience.


One of the terms often held up as a benefit of CRM is “a single source of the truth”. The entire customer facing information on a client is held in the CRM, this is then accessible and shareable to all relevant staff. This reduces the amount of cross-checking and reworking of activities associated with that customer. This saves time and money – and allows you spend more time on activities that grow your business.

When do you need a CRM? Typically if a business is running on spreadsheets – when you spend too much time arguing which spreadsheet version is correct, then it’s time for a CRM.

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Leighton Jenkins

Leighton Jenkins

Leighton is the founder of CRM-Guidebooks &amp; ERP-Guidebooks - a service to help SMB’s find the right IT solutions for their needs. He is an accomplished marketing professional with 20 years experience in various corporate roles across sales and marketing, in Australia, Asia and Europe. He is passionate about understanding customer needs, delivering value and the finding the right solutions to businesses problems. You can follow Leighton on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/LeightonTJP">@LeightonTJP</a> or contacted via email leightonj@thejenkinspartnership.com.au.

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