If you are a small business that wants to implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software system to help manage your sales prospects but don't want to spend a lot of money to do so, this is the article for you.
Why should a small business even be interested in CRM and what are the benefits of a CRM system? Well, a CRM system will help ensure you provide prospects with the right information when they need it. By improving your follow-up with prospects, this will lead you to get more new customers, higher total revenues and thus additional earnings for your business. What small business owner doesn’t want that?
So why not just buy a CRM system as opposed to building your own? There are many benefits to building your own system:
- Cost (it can be free!)
- Ease of use
But how do you build your own system? A great place to start is Google Docs. By using Google Docs you can build your own CRM system on a platform that will allow for sharing and same-time editing by many users. What this means is that if both Bob and Joe are using the CRM system at the same time and Bob inputs some new information into the CRM system, Joe will immediately see the changes.
Using Google Docs also allows you to provide different privilege settings for different people and allows you to download any data you wish. The download feature is very helpful as any user can then download any piece of data and modify it for analysis purposes without affecting the CRM system data.
What Information Should Be Included?
Now, on to the actual building. Within Google Docs you need to create a spreadsheet to hold all prospect data. Within this spreadsheet you should include the following fields:
- Demographics – contact name, email, phone number, company name
- Source of prospect – a note of where the prospect came from so that you know which marketing activities are working
- Next action code – a number system for the different actions required to be taken with a prospect
- Next action date – the date at which the next action needs to be taken
- Contact log – a large cell where you can log all contacts and key discussions with the prospect, making note of any significant buyer hot buttons or opportunities and on what date those discussion took place
- Lead nurturing stage – a numbered system of how close the prospect is to purchasing. I use the following system 1 = aware but not interested, 2 = interested, 3 = verbal commitment to buy, 4 = has purchased. This is just the numbering system I use but you could create your own numbering system that works for your business.
- Estimated opportunity size – an estimate of how large the sales opportunity is with the prospect. I always record this number as the projected annual sales to the prospect but this could be modified to whatever is applicable to your business.
The input fields above are what I recommend, but any input field that is relevant to your business could be added. If after using the system you determine you are missing a field, it is easy to add an additional one. The options are endless. That is why creating your own CRM system within Google Docs is a great option for small businesses.
Using a spreadsheet in Google Docs to set up this method allows great functionality given the sort feature within Google Docs. You can sort the data by any field you wish. So if you want to find all prospects that require an action to be taken, you can sort by the next action date field. Or if you want to find out which prospects represent the biggest sales opportunity, you can search by the estimated opportunity size field. You get the idea.
Using a spreadsheet also allows you to create other worksheets to summarize data of all your prospects. So, for example, if you want to know the total opportunity size of all prospects, you can calculate that with a simple formula on another worksheet within the Google Doc. Or maybe you want to know the number of companies you need to take an action with. Again, this can be done with a simple formula using date functions. Or maybe you want to know the number of prospects that are at a particular stage of your lead nurturing cycle. A simple function will allow you to do this.
Google Docs can provide all the functionality of a basic CRM system, but with increased flexibility and at a better price point – free. Additionally, this kind of system will improve your sales results, resulting in a noticeable increase in profits. I guarantee it.
Thumbnail image created by Martin Lafrance.