Cloud based CRM software is really a buzzing topic of late.  It used to be that I’d mention CRM in a sentence and people would ask ‘What’s CRM stand for?’

Now business owners are beginning to understand how to access and use digital technologies to facilitate their growth. Awareness has skyrocketed with people searching for possible CRM solutions online, asking what other businesses use or gathering opinions via social media. I talk to lots of business owners every week and they are really interested to learn more about how CRM software could help their business, or how a more robust system might improve their current situation.

A recent report from software review website has provided direct insight into the unique needs of small business CRM buyers. The sample consisted of businesses from United States, England and Australia with more than half of the sample representing small businesses with 10 employees or less. The report highlights these major findings:

  • By far the top requested CRM integration in Australia is basic contact management followed by calendar, company website and accounting.
  • 88% of buyers request sales force automation while only 10% want a customer service application.
  • Over half of the sample use manual methods (eg spreadsheets or paper) to manage customer relationships.
  • In Australia, very few buyers (2%) are requesting a customer service and support application, suggesting small business here have been slow to take up the opportunities offered by social media, such as leveraging social signals to help sales reps create real-time interaction opportunities.
  • Nearly three quarters of CRM buyers specifically request solutions hosted in the cloud which makes sense as this significantly reduces upfront investment and installation costs.
  • 34% of Australian CRM buyers have started to request an integrated suite that combines sales force automation with marketing automation. Increasingly they are looking to implement a full, end-to-end CRM solution.

In my discussions, the shared goal of most businesses is to increase productivity, efficiency and opportunity optimisation – these can be supported and delivered by implementing a carefully selected suite of cloud based solutions.

However this wave of embracing technology and increased digital awareness can’t come quickly enough…

At a conference recently I heard Ben Shields from Deloitte present about getting out of our own way and unleashing productivity. He made a strong case that unless Australian businesses cut down on self-imposed rules, red tape and regulations our prosperity as a nation and our standard of living will decline in the very near future.

The days of duplicate data entry, not being able to access critical data on the road and handing your accountant a shoebox of receipts on June 30th need to be a thing of the past. Putting tools in your employee’s hands that empower them to scan receipts upload images and documents and share critical data in real time is possible and a must have to thrive in business. Productivity focused businesses want online forms that their customers or sales people can complete, submit and get the answers they need on the spot. Their focus is finding ways to share information within the business more efficiently and how to deliver their goods and services in the most customer-centric and cost effective way.

Small and medium sized businesses are a significant part of the Australian economy and those with higher digital engagement have better business outcomes than those with lower engagement.  In fact, 63% of those with a higher digital engagement reported that they were growing with an average of a 20% increase in annual revenue.

Now more than ever Australian businesses need a road map outlining how they will leverage CRM and other business software along with the integration of an effective digital strategy into their business model. There is always some uncertainty about which tools and digital channels are going to best fit your particular needs. Being open to and seeking guidance on the steps and actions which are suitable for your business is the best way to overcome uncertainty and get out of your own way.

By | Posted on 16 February 2015 | Business Strategy,Cloud Business,CRM

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