man at work on headset and computer
CRM software allows you to integrate a variety of processes into one central location that is available to all team members, making customer relationships more efficient. — Getty Images/Bojan89

As a small business owner, you know how vital customer relationships are to the success of your business.

As your customer list grows, you’ll quickly find that you need more than your phone’s contact list or a spreadsheet to manage everyone efficiently. Rather, you’ll need customer relationship management (CRM) software that can store more detailed information about each contact, such as what products/services they are interested in, what they have purchased from you and when you last communicated with them.

Types of CRM software

Businesses of any size can benefit from CRM software. Depending on the needs of your business, Zapier suggests the following:

  • Conversation. Designed to monitor and organize your team’s conversations with your clients, this type of CRM organizes every conversation from across your company onto a client’s profile so everyone can see what has been discussed or offered.
  • Leads and deals. Primarily used as a project management app for sales teams, this type of CRM allows you to track potential customers (“leads”) as they move through the sales funnel. Once customers have purchased your product or service, they become “deals.”
  • Contact. Contact CRM focuses on the personal touch to make a lasting connection. It is designed to help your employees record important details about your customers, such as their birthdays, interests and special preferences.
  • Marketing. A marketing CRM helps you automate tasks based on the data you’ve stored from your customers. For example, if a customer regularly opens and reads emails from your company, your team member is notified to contact them directly.

If you’re not sure whether you need to invest in this software, look for these six signs that your business needs a CRM.

The first step in implementing a CRM is to import all data from your current system(s) to your new software.

How to implement your CRM software

Have you already chosen a CRM system? Here are a few steps you can take to get your software up and running:

Import your existing data

The first step in implementing a CRM is to import all data from your current system(s) to your new software. Nearly all CRM software allows you to import this information from a typical spreadsheet or CSV file, so if you’re already using a spreadsheet to keep track of your customers, you can quickly migrate the data.

However, make sure to manually check the data for accuracy and to include additional information as needed.

Train your sales team

Next, you’ll want to add users to your software and train them. Once everyone has access credentials for your CRM, you can quickly gather comprehensive, reliable data from each sales rep. You and your team can then analyze and act on this data to further refine your products, services, sales funnel and customer communication cadence.

Customize your settings and dashboard

While you can use your CRM’s standard or default settings, the ability to customize your software can make it an even more valuable asset for your business. Take the time to adjust settings so that the software follows your marketing or sales funnel. Most tools allow you to create custom dashboards, so you can populate the most crucial data to guide your team and drive success.

While it may seem daunting, taking the time to properly implement CRM software into your business will allow you to collect valuable, actionable data that will help you reach your goals. While you search for the best CRM software for your business, keep an eye on the latest CRM trends.

CO— does not review or recommend products or services. For more information on choosing the best CRM software, visit our friends at business.com.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published July 11, 2019