4 Ways Small Businesses Can Leap from Spreadsheets to CRM with Ease

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Adopting a CRM can be a game changer for any small or medium-sized business (SMB).

After all, many companies come to Salesforce relying only on a spreadsheet-based system, wherein everything from sales reports to customer records – and beyond – is tediously squeezed into Excel sheets that have been painstakingly tweaked to fit their needs (as best as possible).

However, implementing the right CRM tools can be liberating for any SMB. Why? With a CRM system firmly in place, customer information can flow a lot more freely between employees and teams. Not to mention, that information can also be easily accessed virtually anywhere and on any device. This means that even simple tasks like looking up a prospect’s email address or checking in on a sales cycle require only a few simple clicks. All the information you ever need is always all in one place. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

But change can be difficult, even if it’s a change for the better. Fortunately, as resistant to change as many people may be, we also know that growing pains are only temporary. Smart planning can make change management much easier for everyone involved.

What Is Change Management?

Change management is the term applied to everything an organization does to plan and execute wide-scale change. People oftentimes approach change management from two angles:  1) The “soft side,” also known as organizational change management (OCM), which pertains to how people are affected and supported and 2) the “hard side,” which revolves around the processes, systems, and technologies being changed. We’ll look at how both sides play a role in this process below.

Making the leap from spreadsheets to CRM will have a big and lasting impact on the people and processes in your organization – but only if the change management process is managed correctly.  Ready to get started? Here are a few best practices that will help you drive the adoption and long-term success of your new CRM strategy.

Craft a CRM Strategy

CRM can do a lot to help your business run more efficiently and grow. To do this, you must define a clear business strategy up front, one that will ultimately guide your CRM implementation and help you better customize it to support your business’s overall goals. In the meantime, however, here are a few tips especially worth calling out:

  • Define your strategy: Strategy is what makes your vision achievable.
  • Define your business objectives: Business objectives are where vision and strategy get translated into day-to-day work. View your move to CRM as an opportunity to review and optimize how you work.
  • Get your leaders on board: Executive sponsorship is vital for your overall vision, CRM strategy, and business objectives for a successful rollout.

You’re probably thinking, “Don’t all three of these tips touch on the people side of change management?” You’re right, they do! The soft and hard sides of change management aren’t mutually exclusive. The point here is that before installing any new technology, it’s wise to develop a business strategy to inform how your new CRM can best support new ways of approaching day-to-day work.

Much of the change management centres around scaffolding the change with formal structure. It may not be rocket science, but it does require thoughtful planning, communication, and follow-through.

Analyze and Automate, Wisely

Analytics and automation are two powerful elements of any CRM that can really make a difference in a business’s day-to-day operations, especially if you’ve been managing everything in spreadsheets up to this point. Harnessing the power and productivity latent in these features can free your teams from repetitive tasks and even surface actionable insights from data that will help your teams work smarter.

Before analyzing data or building any automation, however, you’ll want to make a plan. Here are a few tips you absolutely will want to keep the top of mind:

  • Don’t just automate for the sake of automation
    Keep it simple. Automation that trigger managerial approvals, for example, can slow things down unintentionally. Automation is a wonderful thing. Just make sure that you use it to simplify and streamline your team’s day-to-day operations – not add extra layers or steps that over-complicate simple processes.
  • Make sure your analytics are purposeful
    Auto-generated charts and graphs are fun to look at but just be sure that someone on your team actually has a use for them before you build them out.
  • Analytics are not meant to be static
    As your business evolves, your data needs will need to evolve, too. Be sure to update your dashboards and reporting tools regularly to ensure they match up to your business needs at all times.

Gather and Import Your Data

Take stock of your data as you prepare to implement your new CRM with these four steps:

  1. Gather up all of your existing data by pulling it all into one master file (if possible).
  1. Standardize your data by combing through it to make sure it’s “clean.” Did you put the first and last names in the correct fields? Does the data in the address and email fields actually represent valid postal and email addresses? Simple clean up like this will make a world of difference once you import your data into your new CRM system.

(If the thought of weeding out duplicate entries from your database makes you cringe, Salesforce offers a deduping functionality via the Import Wizard and Data Loader tools to make it a lot easier to delete duplicates.)

  1. Make backups – and adopt a data backup strategy, especially if you don’t already have one in place.
  1. Import data into your new CRM. If you’re moving to Salesforce, we’ve got plenty of resources to help you get up and running, fast. And before you say goodbye to your old system, take the time to warm up to your new CRM. As with any major change, there’s always a bit of a learning curve that takes place whenever onboarding onto a new system. You’ll want to make sure you understand how your new CRM works and that all of your customer data is showing up correctly and in the right place before saying farewell to your once beloved spreadsheets.

Plan for Success

Making the leap from spreadsheets to CRM is a great thing for your business. A CRM is designed to adapt to your needs, maximize efficiency, increase productivity, and grow alongside your business. Whether you are a  team of two or two hundred, effective change management can help maximize your CRM investment – and pay off in a big way in the long-term.

For more information, be sure to check out our additional resources on change management and Salesforce implementation today.

Thinking of making the leap from spreadsheets to a CRM? Try out our new CRM built for small businesses, Salesforce Essentials.

Credit: NOAH KRAVITZ | Source:

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Why Most Small Businesses Automate Repeated Processes

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As small business owners, every minute matters, we need as much help as we can most especially if we have to fulfil multiple roles in the business. Automating your daily tasks does not only save you time but this makes your work more efficient.

Small business owners now have the choice to automate their repeated day-to-day tasks. Why spend hours on a task when you can have that automated by software? Automate alerts, feedbacks and other tasks will help you streamline your business operations and this is not even complicated to set-up.

All good CRM systems have automation built in, and the good ones have a lot. Once set up properly, you’ll find these aspects of your business can be handled faster and with greater productivity than before.

Zoho CRM gives you the option to automate workflow procedures and set up automatic replies, alerts, and notifications in advance. You can create workflow rules and associate workflow alerts, tasks and field updates with them. Additionally, you can set up case escalation rules and also assignment rules for leads, contacts and cases generated via web forms.

Zoho CRM’s advanced automation capabilities save your sales team time by automatically completing routine tasks, so they can focus on closing more deals faster.

1. Workflow Rules
Every time your team follows up with a lead or updates a field, there is a lot of manual work. Use workflows and perform a task faster.

2. Macros
Perform three tasks with one Macro. Send an email, update required fields, and also schedule follow-up tasks.

3. Assignment Rules
Assign leads based on a particular channel or industry, or distribute them equally through the round robin method.

To make sure you are able to automate correctly, consult with a Zoho CRM expert as they are able to provide you support, advise and as well as walk you through each step that will make it easier for you.

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CRM Integration to Social Media

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The popularity of social media has increased significantly that all business owners are aiming to establish their brands on different social media platforms.

Small business owners are presented easy opportunity to reach out to their target markets and attract potential customers. With just one click sales can be made, this provides business owners easy opportunity to market and sell products.

Just how much users are there? Here are the statistics we got based on Social Media News (Australian Social Media Statistics)

Social Media users in Australia are some of the most prolific in the world, with a total of around 60% of the country’s population an active user on Facebook, and 50% of the country logging in at least once a day.
It’s also worth noting that globally Facebook now as 2.01 billion monthly active users, growing by 500 million users in the last 2 years. Facebook’s continued growth means they now have over 20,000 staff around the world.
As we come up to Christmas, we generally see an increase in social media usage as people take holidays and time off. It is also a time of the year when we see new users join social networks.

With the number of users in Australia alone, can you imagine the countless opportunities you have to market your product? The best thing about social media is that it offers the businesses the ideal arena to boost sales.

Is integration to social media really important for a CRM?

Establishing your social media presence is highly important most especially for small business owners. Customers nowadays would first search for your business via social media, check on your page and reviews.
These social media outlets open new horizons and countless opportunity for interactions between you and your customer. Businesses that utilize social media based CRM reach a wider range of audience in a lesser amount of time as compared to their competitors who use traditional CRM.

One of the leading CRM, Zoho CRM allows you to integrate your social media into your CRM. With this, you can track revenue from your social media marketing efforts. Engage with prospects and generate leads from social media. Enrich leads and contacts in Zoho CRM with social data, and help your sales force close deals faster.

Convert social activities into new leads — automatically.
Define social activities (likes, mentions, retweets, comments, etc.) as lead qualifiers to automate lead generation for your business. Select predefined rules for each social network to create new leads based on actions, such as likes, shares, retweets, and mentions.

All your social connections, now with the power of Zoho CRM.
In Zoho Social, everyone who has engaged with your brand on social media is defined as a Connection. Make them a part of your CRM by adding them as leads or contacts. Identify and segment your connections based on their CRM status. View CRM details, track associated potentials, and add notes for each Connection.

These are just only a few advantages offered by Zoho CRM, there are tons of it that is definitely a game changer for your business.

Technology is ever changing, you have to keep up and not miss out on the opportunity it brings for you to improve your business and customer service experience.

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Four Must-Have Add-ons for your CRM System

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We found this share-worthy blog from Zoho CRM Blog, this was contributed and written by Gene Marks, a CPA, author, columnist, and owner of The Marks Group.

If you are wondering what are the essential and important add-ons for your CRM, then below is a must read for you.

When people ask me what customer relationship management (CRM) system to buy I always recommend that, whatever the choice, the application should be cloud-based. Why? It’s because cloud-based applications integrate much better with each other. Changes can be made in one place, rather than in hundreds of thousands of separate installations. Updates are quicker. The tools are more consistent. Programmers can more easily access data. Support is faster.  The best CRM systems, like Zoho CRM, offer applications and tools so that third parties can build custom solutions and connect their systems in order to provide a more powerful experience for their users.

Because of this, most of my CRM clients use one or two third-party add-ons, and the best CRM platforms provide many choices. So what are some of the most popular types of add-ons? Here are the top four.

When a customer calls, you want to make sure you have everything about them at your fingertips. A good CRM will always be tracking activities, emails, and notes. But what about order history? Open invoices? Products bought? As an accountant myself, I want to be clear that a CRM system is not an accounting system. It lacks the internal and audit controls necessary for a strong financial database. That’s why so many of my clients prefer to integrate their CRM systems with their accounting systems. A good add-on will allow you to synchronize contact information and view a history of transactions. Some even let you create orders or invoices in the CRM system and then port it over to the accounting database. You’ll do less double entry and you’ll have all the information you need about a customer in real time.

E-Mail Marketing  
If you’re in the habit of sending a few hundred emails at a time, then your CRM system should be capable of handling that. But if you’re like me, and you send thousands of emails regularly to various opt-in lists, then you’ll need to connect your CRM system to an email marketing service. Why? For starters, your local internet service provider may shut you down if you don’t. However, that won’t happen with a good email marketing service because it’s their job to deliver the email. A good email service will put you through some due diligence to make sure you’re not sending spam or inappropriate messages. Once you’ve passed those tests, the service should be able to handle tens of thousands of emails at a go and bring the results of those campaigns back into your CRM system. Remember: Your CRM database is where all of your marketing and communications begin. An e-mail service is a tool that should use this data to help you get your message out there to the masses, and then track that message with good analytics.

Wouldn’t it be nice if when you get a call, the person’s record automatically pops up on your screen with all their history of prior interactions with anyone in your company? How productive could you be if you had the ability to start an outgoing call with just a click of the button on a contact record? Or be able to record the call and have the audio file connected to your contact’s record for future listening? You can have all that if you integrate your CRM system with your phone system. Many of today’s phone systems are cloud-based, which has made this type of integration much easier. With a few minutes of simple setup you’ll be able to make calls faster and keep better track of your company’s calling activity.

Data Integration  
Sometimes a specific add-in doesn’t exist. It’s usually because you’re using an accounting, inventory, point of sale, order entry or some other type system that’s a niche product, or specific to your industry, or has been highly customized to suit the intricacies of your business. Back in the day, that would’ve been a problem.  Today… not so much. There are now powerful tools that you can use that are automatically configured to read the tables of your CRM system, and which can then enable you to read and write data in and out of both systems. Even if some of these out of the box tools can’t cut it then don’t worry; good systems provide application programming interfaces, or APIs, that will enable a good programmer to accomplish these objectives. Today’s data integration tools can accomplish just about anything.

In the end, your CRM system is just a database. But it’s a critical database that’s storing information about everyone that comes in touch with your business. My best clients use powerful add-ons like the ones I’ve described above to leverage this data. You should too!

Credit to: Gene Marks CPA | Author | Columnist | Owner of The Marks Group

Source: ZOHO CRM
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Reasons Why Your Business Needs a CRM Consultant

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Have you recently deployed a CRM system, expecting a high return on your investment but it seems to be doing the opposite? Did you aim to increase your team’s productivity but only ended up consuming even more of their time figuring out the CRM system? Are you still having a difficult time organizing your data and not improving in it? – at this point it would be easy to say, ‘This CRM does not work, and as soon as you give up, you are missing the full potential and maximum benefits of a CRM to your business, just it didn’t work out the way you wanted it to be, doesn’t necessarily mean it is not functional, perhaps it needs an expert that knows its ins and outs to help you understand your CRM.

Many business owners nowadays would often choose the path to DIY (Do it Yourself) even with complicated tools like CRM, one would think that guides and processes are easily obtained on the internet, but that is not the case. Majority of businesses do not utilize their CRM to their full potential because they lack the knowledge to operate and administer it, they are not aware of the vast functionality of the CRM – often then not, this leads to decrease in productivity, efficiency, customer satisfaction and most of all, a decrease in revenue.

We identified few reasons why you should consider hiring a CRM consultant for your business:

1. Insufficient IT resource

You may have the best IT team or you may even be one yourself, but that does not necessarily mean you are a CRM expert. Handling CRM requires the right combination of skills; acquired knowledge and experience to handle a CRM project.

To implement a CRM successfully, you need an expert to first understand your business flow, identity and analyze the data of your business. Having to rely on your IT resource or yourself might choose a CRM that does not cater to the needs of the business, it might lack some functionalities, attributes or even misaligned workflows.

It will even take a lot of time on your hand implementing a CRM system, putting aside important task on hand, what takes a month for a non-expert to implement may only take weeks for an expert.

2. Operational Issues

Imagine you are in a meeting and your team needs you to address a certain problem they encountered with the CRM. How will you go about with that? Should you put your meeting on hold or should you place the operation to halt?
Having a CRM consultant provides you with a peace of mind. They do what they do best while you excel and allocate time with yours.

3. Easier to Budget

CRM consultant will be able to suggest and provide you with options for the integration even before you start implementing, a clear strategy and requirement is already identified, and there will be no surprises along the way.

Your team might lack the clear executive strategy for supporting CRM software and tracking its use throughout the company or most commonly you will go over the budget with unanticipated operating expenses, unexpected implementation cost and hidden licensing fees.

4. Expertise

A CRM consultant caters to different nature of the business, numerous requirements from clients and different projects. Having a CRM consultant will not only help you with a successful CRM implementation, but it will also help you look at your business from a different perspective.

Hiring a CRM consultant will not only save you time, effort and money – but most of all they will help you with your business goal. They can help you improve your service and close more deals.

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