You knew in your bones you could make it on your own as a consultant or subcontractor. You were tired of using your skills as someone else’s employee, so you decided to start your own business.
Now you have mixed feelings. You’re relieved, because now you are your own boss. But perhaps you are also overwhelmed. You might have scared yourself, thinking: How do I get started? How am I going to do this? Help!
Is this you? Well, you’re lucky! Until just a few years ago, small business owners had to get it all done using Microsoft Office and QuickBooks. Now, because of the cloud, all kinds of apps exist to help you manage your business. Some of these apps are available for free, others for a low cost.
I believe small business owners should use apps that talk to each other. Having one centralized database where you can see all the details of your interactions with your clients is a great way to manage your business. Helping small business owners achieve this is why I became a small business CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) coach!
© Can Stock Photo / stevanovicigor
Build a list
Keep in mind: small business is community based. That being said, it is essential that you start tracking the people you meet at each stage of the relationship building process from day one.
Start by building a list of the people you meet while you are out there networking and talking about your business. How do you do that? You might as well start off on the right foot, by using CRM – Customer Relationship Management.
Insightly CRM is a great option for consultants. Why? Because Insightly allows you to manage your contacts, create a sales pipeline to track your potential clients, and track your projects and tasks. And you can get started for free. Can’t beat that.
So, your business is expanding – congratulations! With such rapid growth, it only makes sense that you are considering getting a CRM. There are a myriad of reasons why that is a good business decision, from automating functions to enabling sales team to have better visibility over what is going with clients. Once you have done your research, you know exactly what product will fit best with your business needs.
However, one of the sticking points of a CRM is its implementation. You have likely learned that adoption, and the subsequent learning curve tends to be the biggest hurdle. The likely question then, is how can you ensure a successful implementation? Here are a few ways to make the process smooth and seamless.
1) Lead by example
The only way to keep your team engaged throughout the process is for you to stay engaged as well. Show up for meetings about the implementation. After the meetings, check-in with your team to learn about their concerns. Use the system, and show your sales team how the CRM is helping you to support them in their roles.
2) Get your team engaged
Businesses, whether large or small, often struggle with processes and operations as they continue to grow – especially in their implementation. As businesses expand, so do daily functions, and many struggle to keep things running smoothly. While this may sound challenging initially, we understand just how beneficial automation is for long-term and as well as short-term success.
A perfect example of this our ongoing work with Natural Acne Clinic to automate their business, and help them sustain their growth. Prior to our services being engaged in March 2016, this clinic had a few systems in place. However, none of them were integrated and that made it difficult for them to keep up with their rapid growth. They started receiving order notifications at an unprecedented rate… but all of their order notifications went straight to their email inbox. While an inbox is great for email, it is not really an efficient system for tracking order fulfillment.
As the skin care clinic kept growing, as did their orders. Their acne program continued to gain consumer attention, especially since they were catering to a niche market. A simple Google search for natural acne treatments was leading customers straight to their website, but the clinic was having trouble keeping up with that level of demand.
Our ultimate goal was to help this skin care clinic automate their business with Infusionsoft. But we needed to establish baseline measures, and really get to the core of what they were hoping to accomplish.
Have you heard of Connector Apps?
One aspect of our business that is of continued importance to us is creating seamless, integrated solutions for our clients. Though sometimes it is tricky to design apps and other methods that allow for increased connectivity, our overall goal is to create an experience that is easy and convenient, while solving our client’s business needs.
One method through which we accomplish this is through connector apps. You might be wondering what that term means, but it is simply creating an app that connects two solutions and allows for better integration between different systems. One example of this is our app, Scheduler Link. Scheduler Link connects Acuity Scheduling to Infusionsoft.
InfusionSoft is a CRM with e-commerce and marketing automation functionality, and is tailor-made for making business operations error-free and smooth throughout the process. Acuity Scheduling is a booking app, making the appointment process far more streamlined and easy to navigate – they also have great customer service.
John is the owner of a Colorado based distribution company. He recently hired Mike to help him with sales. Mike lives in Kansas. With a growing sales team, John wanted more visibility over how sales activities are progressing.
In small organizations, when the sales team hears that now they will have a CRM, their first instinct is to resist, because they worry they will be micromanaged.
This was not a problem in John’s organization. Mike used a CRM in his previous job. He understands that tracking sales activities in CRM would give John visibility over his workload. It would also enable John to be proactive, and take action to support Mike in his role when necessary.
You’re probably reading a lot about how the cloud and software automation continue to make businesses run more efficiently. What you maybe didn’t know is that there are a lot of cloud systems that provide automation for small businesses. These two together add a lot of value to small business owners who use customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. CRMs have become some of the most useful tools for customer communication, data organization, and business automation.
One CRM like this is the affordable and powerful Insightly, a program we’ve integrated into numerous businesses. We want to tell you a story about how Insightly helped a travel agency in Colorado, Chalets USA. This company’s target market is European tourists coming to the U.S. during ski season. This story demonstrates how automation and the cloud integrate to aid many tasks, that otherwise would take hours to do.