Beginners Guide to CRM

What is a CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. What does that mean? In that unimaginable time before computers, how did businesses operate? How did they know who their clients where, what their names where, their phone numbers etc? Well they essentially would have a big address book.
That's what a CRM is but on a computer.

Just a big database to store your clients/customers/suppliers/potential customer's details. But not just that, also; what they've bought, when, what the customer said, their order status etc. Now the term Customer Relationship Management makes more sense.

But computers are very clever machines, why stop there? If you can have a database of all your contacts, you can also have one of all your properties if you're an estate agent, or all your projects if your a construction company, or all your shoes if your a shoe stockist... and so on.

So nowadays, CRM's are a complete business tool. Something that makes your whole business run smoothly and efficiently.

Types of CRM

Hopefully that gives a good introduction to what CRMs are, which moves us on to type.

There are just 2 types of CRMs:

Cloud or hosted

This refers to where all that data is going to be stored. Is it going to be stored with another company; i.e. you go to their website, log in and then have access to all your data, or is it on your own server or your own website hosting company, where you would typically go to a part of your own website to log in.

There's advantages and disadvantages to both. Cloud means you're buying the service from another company, normally by a monthly subscription fee for each user in your company that would be using it. Which means you would be using their set template, so it might not be best suited to your exact business but it's generally cheaper, you can get started instantly, there's customer support (usually), they maintain the database, look after security and update hardware/software as they improve.

Hosted yourself typically means you get a company or programmer to custom make a CRM package to fit your exact business needs. They would sit down with you and go through exactly what you need. As you can imagine, the initial cost for this can be high, but then once you've got it, thats it. No monthly subscription fees. And you never have to worry if the cloud crm company is going to go bust with all your data

What CRM is right for me?

A quick search will show that there's literally thousands of CRM companies across the world;

so which one is best for you?

As you can imagine,that depends...

What does your business do?

There's cloud CRM companies out there for every industry, from lawyers to gardeners. Try searching around, take out trials with different ones and see which suits you, which feels easy and intuitive to use.

Two key points to consider:

The output of a CRM is only ever as good as data you put in. CRM companies with impressive sales forecast features and pipelines are all well and good, but they all rely on you first putting in all that data first. Such as when you called each client, how likely they are to buy, when you will/can call them next etc, how much they bought last time - you need to put that all in first. Something to think about.

A key feature to look out for is the ability to download/export your data to your own computer. Think about it, all that data you put in everyday will be the most valuable asset of your business. If that CRM company goes bust or gets hacked overnight; you're in trouble. So make sure you can get your data out. And do it regularly!

What do we, ESC offer?

We're glad you asked.

We offer a basic package where you can store your contacts, write time-stamped notes on each contact, set reminders, create a daily to-do list and issue invoices and other sales forms. Go ahead, play with the demo on our site or take a trial!

Plus we also build custom CRM packages.

We've built them for a school in Qatar, a church, a construction company, a magazine subscription company, to name a few. We love building them so if this is something you're interested in, give us a call to discuss your needs. We're based in London so if you're around come say hi!