There is a lot of mystery surrounding CRMs. What they do, who they are for, how they help the small business, and more. Along with the mysteries come CRM myths. Some CRM myths are so prevalent, and so wrong, I felt they needed to be addressed: honestly and in an easy-to-understand format.
CRM should not be that intimidating. As you will learn from this article, CRMs are just a tool, and “yes”, every small business needs one – including yours.
CRM Myth #1:
I Don’t Need a CRM
If you own a business, and you have customers, you need a CRM.
If you work for a business, and you have customers, you need a CRM.
If you are a salesperson and you have customers you need a CRM.
You are using a CRM now, whether you know it or not. When you write down a customer’s phone number on a sticky note, or when you jot customer notes in your spiral notebook, or when you commit to memory a follow-up you need to do for a customer… All of these are examples of you “using a CRM”.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Normally when we think of CRM we are thinking of a software tool to help you manage your customer relationships. However, you still are managing customer relationships even if you are doing it in your head or on a post-it note.
You are doing it the hard way.
Everyone who has customers needs a CRM. The ones uncomfortable with a CRM software tool are making unnecessary work for themselves, spending more time than they need to manage customers, and letting important customer details fall through the cracks.
A CRM software tool will just make the things you are already doing easier and with less chance of error.
Let’s compare doing it the hard way vs doing it the easy way. Here is our scenario:
You met someone at a conference who is interested in doing business with you and they asked you to follow up with them in around 90 days. You jotted their name and number on a sticky note. This was an important contact who could mean thousands of dollars for your company.
The Hard Way
Since this was an important potential client, and you didn’t want to lose track of them, you put that sticky note on the wall next to your desk when you got back to the office. Solved! That way you will see that note and in 90 days you will follow up.
As the days went by, that sticky note got a bit less sticky. One day, around day 35, it fell from the wall and ended up behind your filing cabinet. Day 90 came and went and your prospect spent those thousands of dollars with someone else. You never even knew you lost that deal. You forgot all about it.
The Easy Way
Since this was an important potential client, and you didn’t want to lose track of them, you added that contact’s name and phone in your CRM. You did that right from your mobile phone at the conference. You also did 2 other things in your CRM:
- You added that prospect to your monthly newsletter list so that they would get your newsletter every month.
- You added a to-do reminder for yourself to follow up in 75 days.
Solved! The CRM will keep your hot prospect warm with your monthly newsletter and then remind you to follow up at the appropriate time.
When day 75 came around the CRM reminded you to call the prospect. When you called, your prospect welcomed your call and remembered who you were because of the newsletters you had sent him. It was also good that you called him on day 75 instead of day 90 because he decided to move forward sooner than later. He purchased from you and you pocketed the $5,000 profit from the deal. That was easy.
So you do need a CRM. You are already managing your customers in some fashion, you are just causing more work for yourself, and leaving a lot of things to chance.
CRM Myth #2:
All CRMs Are Pretty Much the Same
Oh boy – is this ever a myth! You think if you tried a CRM and it didn’t work out for you, you’ve already been there – done that? Well, the good news is: CRMs are not at all the same!
Let’s take Salesforce and AllClients as our examples:
Salesforce is a beast. And that can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on who you are and what you are trying to do. Salesforce is perfect if you have hundreds of employees and you are looking for your CRM to run your sales and marketing departments. Anything you can think of, anything you want the CRM to do for you, any products you want your CRM to communicate with… Salesforce is perfect for you.
If you have long, complicated sales processes, you’ll want something like Salesforce. Let’s say your salespeople work with prospects for years before they close. They have extensive communications over the long term with the CEO, the Buyer, and many of the eventual end-users. There is an RFP process, lots of demos and sales meetings, and much more complexity in the sales cycle. Salesforce can handle all of this with ease.
One more thing: While Salesforce can be configured to work and “think” like you and your company, it will take a Salesforce expert/programmer to set it up and manage it for you.
Now let’s look at a completely different CRM.
AllClients is a CRM designed for small (and very small) businesses. Like an entrepreneur or a small business with a handful of employees. It can’t compete with all the features and functions that Salesforce has. But it does exactly what most small businesses need.
Because AllClients was designed to be a CRM that does everything a small business needs, and nothing more, it is easy to learn and easy to use.
AllClients CRM Helps the Small Business Owner:
AllClients is the place you will put all of your contacts: Past, Present, and Future. Imagine having all of your contacts in one place! No more sticky notes, no more searching for a contact in Gmail, then Outlook, then in spreadsheets!
If you only used a CRM to get yourself organized, you would be miles ahead of most of your competition!
Get new customers
Use landing pages, and autoresponders to find (and convert) new prospects. A one-page landing page with a compelling offer is often much more effective than the pretty website that you brag to your friends about!
Oh, and what about that large percentage of prospects you didn’t convert? Are you just letting them go and focusing on the ones you can close now? Imagine if you could just put them on an automated email campaign and let the campaign do all the work. Keeping in touch with them in this automated way will produce new customers when they are ready to do business with you. This is like getting free money!
Follow-up with past customers
For many small businesses, their past customer list is a goldmine that is often ignored.
You might say… “Those are past customers – what good are they now?”
How about doing another transaction with you? How about them referring their friends and family to you? How about writing or recording a customer testimonial?
There are many ways your past customers can help your business today. And with a simple CRM like AllClients, you can stay in contact with them without lifting a finger!
Automate your campaigns, workflows, and business processes
A small business owner is busy! They don’t have time to chase past customers or cold prospects. They don’t have time to make sure they provide an excellent customer experience every single time.
Things fall through the cracks, and important tasks get forgotten.
In AllClients you can set up automated workflows to do all the tasks you know you need to do, but don’t have time for. And the best part is that you don’t need a computer guru or programmer to set up, run and manage the workflows…you can do it yourself!
So you can see that all CRMs are not created equally. And we are not talking about good vs bad CRMs. We are talking about different businesses needing different functionality.
CRM Myth #3:
Your CRM Should Integrate with All of Your Other Software Tools
In a perfect world, you would have one software tool for everything in your small business. This software would run your accounting, your operations, your sales and marketing, and everything else you need technology for. You would only have one login to this software and you would never have to put the same data in multiple systems ever again.
Wow! That sounds great! Where do I sign up?
Wait… Not so fast.
That’s in a perfect world – but we live in the real world!
A one-size-fits-all approach to software has been tried many times before and it always fails for the same reason:
The different tasks you need to run your business are…well… different! For example, the accounting functions you need are quite different from the marketing automation functions you need. So when the developers build this magical software, they can’t be experts in everything, so they may build great accounting functions but fall well short when they build the sales and marketing part of the system.
And do you want a sub-par sales and marketing system? Of course not! It is much smarter to go get the best software you can find for each segment of your business. Now you have the best tools for every area in your successful business.
But…as always, there is a trade-off. In our “perfect world,” we had one tool that did everything, but it did everything in a mediocre way. In our scenario where we have all the best tools for the job, those separate tools don’t talk to each other. So now we have the problem where we have to learn different systems and sometimes have to put the same data (like identical client demographics) in multiple systems.
We like having all the best software tools for the job, but how do we solve the inherent problems that come with having multiple software systems? How do we automate as much as possible and reduce the need for employees?
The way most small business owners answer these questions is…
“Let’s just integrate all of these systems together. They can talk to each other and eliminate the need to get warm bodies involved.”
For someone who doesn’t live in the computer world, this sounds perfectly logical. There are products like Zapier that can do this, and there are lots of programmers out there who can surely tie everything together.
Here is where the logic falls apart.
- While it can be done, it is usually not cheap to do it.
- Making computers talk to each other means there will be no human eyes on the data. Therefore, you need to build the interface perfectly and account for every possible scenario. Computers only can do exactly what you program them to do. They don’t think.
- Once you build interfaces, the computers just talk to each other and share data in their own worlds. You have no visibility as to what is going on and no way to be sure it is doing what you intended it to do.
- Most software is constantly updated and changed. Your software company has no visibility or insight into the interfaces you have built. So they make a change to the software and it breaks your interface. In the best case, it just stops working and the integrated tasks stop doing their jobs for a couple of weeks or months until you discover the problem. In the worst case, it does bad things to your data, like delete it! There is no telling what will happen when you have an integration built to do particular tasks and then the programs are altered.
- When someone builds an integration it is, like programming. A smart person or programmer builds the logic and connects the systems. When it breaks (not IF it breaks), it is best to have the same person who built it, fix it. So it is important to keep them around and available.
Wow! Integrations sound like disasters waiting to happen. Are they always a bad idea?
No. There are many situations where integrations are a great idea – like the simple ones that can be done (and undone) easily. And the ones that will do repetitive tasks that never need human interaction. The AllClients CRM can integrate with hundreds of other products. But just because it can, doesn’t mean it should.
We just don’t want to jump right to: “It is critical that all these systems talk to each other.” That is true in some cases but not a good idea in most cases.
Many small business owners get stuck thinking everything must talk to everything else. They spend way too much time and money on this trying to eliminate employee tasks that only take a few minutes a day.
The best advice here is to integrate only when it is necessary.
CRM Myth #4:
You Have Already Tried a CRM and CRMs Are Just Not for You
Here’s your CRM story:
Some time ago, you were convinced that adding a CRM tool to your business would be a good idea. So you did! You might have tried some random CRM brand, or you might have tried a better-known CRM brand like HubSpot or Zoho.
In any case, your experience was somewhere below what you would consider a success. You had difficulty learning it, all of your normal tasks seemed harder to do with the CRM, and you found yourself dreading every time you had to log into it.
After giving it some time, you rationalized that you could do things better and faster without it. What a relief it was when you made the decision to not use that CRM! You felt free! Liberated!
With that CRM experience in your rearview mirror, you have had several opportunities to try another CRM. After all, most of your peers and competitors are using a CRM, and most swear by it.
But when that thought came to you about trying another CRM you went into the file folder in your brain labeled “CRM” and opened it up. All those negative thoughts, all the anxiety you felt, and the CRM failure you experienced the first time around came flooding back.
You being an excellent rationalizer, backed by experience and sound logic, said to yourself:
“I have been there and tried that – While a CRM may be good for other small businesses, it is not for me.”
Before you completely throw in the CRM towel, there are 2 CRM truths you need to know.
Truth #1: There are many flavors of CRM.
Some are better suited for different business types. Some are better suited for B2B (Business to Business) businesses, others are better for B2C (Business to Consumer) businesses. Some are better for big companies, some are better for mom-and-pop shops.
See Myth #2 above.
Truth #2: There are some CRMs out there that are just plain awful.
Sorry but there is just no polite way to say it. Many are confusing, unnecessarily complex, and provide a horrible user experience.
There is a relatively new CRM company that named their product “Less Annoying CRM”. While they didn’t get the name quite right, they certainly had the right idea. Bad CRMs won’t annoy you, it’s actually much worse. A bad CRM will cost you time, money, energy, and probably customers.
There is another CRM company that will remain unnamed. Their product was so confusing it got the nickname “ConfusionSoft”. That unflattering label was universally attached to their CRM and their company. You just had to say “ConfusionSoft” and everyone knew who you were talking about. After unsuccessfully trying several different ways to shake that moniker, they actually went as far as to change the name of their whole company to try to put it behind them!
2021 Update: Since the name change, this unnamed company has focused heavily on the problem, working hard to make their system easier to use and…well… less confusing!
There are plenty of ugly CRMs you can try and perhaps the one you tried, in our scenario above, is one of them. The concept of a CRM is straightforward: A database where you keep track of all of your client information. So every programmer and his brother thinks they can build one. Thus we have a marketplace cluttered with rubbish that some people call CRM.
So don’t be so hard on yourself. Just because you tried it before and it didn’t work for you, that doesn’t mean CRMs are not for you. It’s just a matter of finding the right CRM that’s a good fit for you and your business.
CRM Myth #5:
You Need to Know a Lot about Computers to Use a CRM
It’s a common myth that using a CRM requires technical and programming expertise. This misconception originates from those complex systems we discussed in the myths above.
CRMs are all different, most don’t need a computer guru to set them up and run them, but some do.
Let’s use Keap (Infusionsoft) and AllClients as our examples.
Wait…What? There’s nothing there! It looks like a blank canvas! Exactly! And all you need is a skilled artist to paint you a masterpiece!
There are plenty of examples of outstanding versions of Keap where programmers have built amazing tools with Keap as the foundation. The whole point here is that you need to have that skilled resource on hand to build what you want, and then manage it for the long haul.
But we said this was a myth. While it is a myth with most CRMs, there are a handful of CRMs like Keap that live up to the legend of this myth. With most CRMs, you are able to start using the CRM right out of the box and without a lot of computer know-how.
The AllClients CRM is designed for non-technical users. With AllClients, you can log in and start using it, and getting value from it, immediately.
Small business owners are experts in what they do. If you are a Real Estate agent, or a Chiropractor or Restaurant owner, you know your business inside and out – backward and forwards. But chances are, you probably are not also an expert in computer programming. You just want to USE the CRM, you don’t want to have to write code to make it go!
With most CRMs you are not going to need a computer nerd on staff to help you use it.
A great CRM is one where you can get in, do your work, and get out. It’s just a tool to help you do what you do – easier, faster, and with more consistency. If you run across a CRM that requires extensive setup, and ongoing attention, keep looking.
CRM Myth #6:
CRMs are Scary!
You are a successful small business owner or a successful salesperson. You have been doing this for years and you have your systems down. You have a spiral notebook or perhaps a monthly planner where all of your client’s notes and history are stored. Is it really necessary to rock the boat and go get a CRM? The thought of moving everything (your whole business) into a CRM is unsettling for some and downright scary to others!
It’s scary, not because it’s a bad thing, it is just an unknown…to you. Let’s take all the mystery and scariness out of using a CRM.
The first step in our process is to wipe out your memory. Forget everything you know (or think you know) about CRMs. Even the good things you know about CRMs – forget it all. We need to start with a clean slate so we can get you moving in the right direction.
Great! Now we can get started!
Forget the term “CRM” for now and imagine a magic box.
Let’s start with the very basics and see how this magic box can help you.
Imagine gathering up all of your customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails, and then putting them in your magic box. Get them out of Gmail and Outlook, take your sticky notes and business cards taped to your wall – all of it! Toss it all in the box.
Have past client info in a spreadsheet? Put the spreadsheet in the box! Have an old database with customer information in it? Dump it in the box.
Got it all in the box? Fantastic!
Now just so you are not tempted to put new customer data into one of those old systems, delete them, throw them out, or at least commit not to use them again.
Moving forward, every time you get a business card or you get a new lead, put them in the magic box.
Now every time you needed to check on a customer, you would go to your magic box and look them up. No more searching for a phone number. No more having duplicate information in 3 different places. No more losing track of customers. And every time you get a new customer or a new prospective customer, you know where to put them.
If you just used a
CRM (whoops) magic box for this, you would be doing great! Now that’s not so scary… is it? In fact, it’s being smart. You are saving time, and money and ensuring important client info will never get lost or forgotten about again.
I bet you are getting more comfortable with the idea of a CRM now, aren’t you? But now you are getting anxious and scared about what’s in the next few paragraphs…right?
OK, then what if we just stopped right there? There is no need for some people to go any further with a CRM. Just get yourself organized – that’s it. End of your CRM story.
For some, a CRM is just a database to put all of your customers. Past, present, and future. Simple as that. And as long as it is easy to do the data entry to get your data in the CRM, you are actually liking the idea of a CRM!
But what about the person who wants to go a bit further with the CRM? What’s next for them?
Your first step was getting all of your contacts in one system and in one place.
Step 2 is starting to use the CRM as more than just a Rolodex – but still in baby steps. In this step, you will use the CRM for 3 more things:
- You will add notes to the contact record when you speak with a client. Instead of keeping everything in your head, every time you talk to a client, enter those notes into your CRM. Now you have a permanent record of all your client conversations. This will come in handy when you have to refer back months (or years) later.
- You will schedule to-dos and reminders for things that you need to follow up on with your contacts. “Call the client back in 6 months”. “Or review the client contract again in 2 years.” Just set it and forget it. The CRM will remind you when you need to give that client attention again.
- You will begin to categorize your contacts. Not all contacts are equal. You will have past clients, current clients, and prospective clients all mixed together in your CRM. A good first start is to attach a category to each contact indicating where they fit. Once you have them categorized this way, you can easily ask the CRM: “Show me a list of all my past clients”. Or “Show me all my prospective clients”.
This is a very simple way to start categorizing your clients. Then later you can get fancy and break that out into smaller segments where you will be able to slice and dice your clients any way you see fit. In AllClients you can use categories and tags to really dial in your client database. Then you can ask AllClients for detailed searches, like: “Show me all of my past clients who live in Denver and have not purchased anything from me in 12 months”.
Then start using the CRM to communicate with your customers through email. Many CRMs, including AllClients, will replace your email platforms like Constant Contact and Mail Chimp. Your CRM already has all of your contacts loaded in and in Step 2 above you even did a bit of categorization. So now you can send emails to all of your past clients. Or put your prospects on a marketing drip campaign.
The great thing about a CRM is that most will allow you to crawl, walk and then run. In AllClients when you are ready to run, you can begin to utilize the Marketing Automation functions in building campaigns and workflows. Have too many prospects to follow up with all of them individually? No problem! Create a sales campaign that stays in touch with your prospects until they are ready to buy.
Want to keep in touch with your past clients to encourage repeat business and referrals? Great! Create a follow-up campaign to send them an email every month. With these automated processes, you are in continual contact with them, but doing it on auto-pilot. You don’t have to do any of the tedious follow up let AllClients do all the heavy lifting.
So you see, a CRM doesn’t have to be all that scary. It is just a tool. Use it for just the basics and if you ever want to use more, it is there, ready to help you take your business to the next level.
CRM Myth 7:
Email Is Dead – Text Messaging Has Replaced Email as the Way to Gain New Customers
For marketing, is email really dead?
First let’s address the new, fashionable concept that “Email is Dead”. I think that phrase was made up and perpetuated by all the new companies offering business text messaging services!
These companies also tout how much more often text messages are read vs emails. While this may be true – they say nothing about how many people buy because of text messages vs. how many are turned off by receiving pesky marketing text messages!
Emails and text messages are just tools.
When you go out and buy a new hammer, does that mean you throw away your wrench? Of course not.
Email and SMS tools do different things and are used for different purposes. They are not interchangeable.
Emails are non-intrusive but text messages are
Email is not-intrusive. That means email does not interrupt you and forces you to address it now. You can check your emails and respond to them whenever it is convenient for you. An email won’t disturb your dinner, your time at the lake, or require your attention while you are driving. With email, you have control. YOU decide when you will read, and possibly respond to it.
Text messages, on the other hand, are intrusive. They can arrive at the most inopportune times, and they require your attention…now. You don’t read your text messages at a time of your choosing, you read them when they hit your phone.
It’s okay that text messages are intrusive because in most cases, they come from people you want to hear from, like your family and friends. Your mobile phone is a very personal device and most people use it primarily to communicate with people close to them.
Emails and texts used for marketing
Generally speaking, for most businesses emails are well suited for marketing because they are non-intrusive. The recipient is not ambushed and they can review your marketing email at the time of their choosing. Email is a great vehicle to convey information and encourage the recipient to take action. Perfect for marketing and follow-up.
Text messages, on the other hand, should be carefully considered before using in marketing.
Most text messages are of a personal nature:
- “Hey! Where should we go to dinner tonight?”
- “I’m at the golf course – where are you?”
- “Jeff! This is your mother! Call me!”
Mixed into the texts above, you might not welcome texts like these:
- “Lowes is having a big sale this week on appliances!”
- “Remember Roger Jones – call me for all of your insurance needs.”
- “We have been trying to contact you regarding your vehicle’s warranty.”
Text messaging can be valuable and important for marketing, like when you sign up to be notified about something. For example, you want to know when interest rates drop below 3% or when a house goes up for sale in an area you are interested in moving to.
Texting in business is also valuable for notifications. Like an appointment reminder, or a text telling you your prescription is ready for pickup.
Email is not dead and text messaging is not king.
Both have their place in business and in marketing. However, it is important to know when to use each method of communication so you can achieve the desired result.
CRM Myth #8:
Outlook and Gmail Are Good CRM Alternatives
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.
Outlook and Gmail are good electronic Rolodexes and do a great job of taking care of the C in CRM. In Gmail and Outlook, you can store all of your contact information like name, address, phone number, and emails. It’s smart to have all of your contacts and their info in one place and Outlook or Gmail can do this for you. However, Outlook and Gmail stop after the C. If you also want the R and the M in CRM you will have to keep looking for another solution because these tools will not manage the relationships you have with your customers.
Relationship Management in CRM
When we talk about managing customer relationships we are talking about much more than knowing their address and phone number. You will keep notes on each customer, schedule follow-up to-do’s, and in many cases keep in regular contact with them through in-person visits, phone calls, emails, and text messages.
CRMs will help facilitate this regular communication and make it easy to manage these relationships.
In addition to the traditional ways to manage customer relationships, many CRMs now include automation tools to help you build and run email autoresponders, sales campaigns, multi-step workflows, and more.
Regular Email vs. Business Email
Most people use a tool like Gmail for their regular email communications. You might have 200 or so contacts that include family, friends, and probably some current customers. If you are thinking of using this same tool for your business emails, consider this: Your list of several thousand customers including past customers and potential future customers is going to get all mixed in with your personal emails. That might get messy and hard to keep things straight for some people.
Better to have a separate tool for your business emails, like a real CRM! CRMs give you many more choices when it comes to emails, like being able to easily blast out emails and sending emails in an autoresponder. And most will also be able to navigate the complex SPAM rules by giving recipients an easy way to opt out of receiving future emails.
Outlook and Gmail have their place, but they are not replacements for a CRM.
Myths come from uninformed people making uninformed claims. CRM myths are problematic because repeated enough times, they turn into facts for some people. So let’s review:
- You do need a CRM
- All CRMs are not the same
- Your CRM does not need to integrate with all of your other software tools
- Just because you tried a CRM in the past and it didn’t work for you, doesn’t mean you should give up on CRMs
- You don’t need to be a computer guru to use a CRM
- CRMs are not scary – at all
- Email marketing is not dead
- Outlook and Gmail are not CRMs
Now that you are armed with the facts, you need to get on board with a CRM.
My company has an easy-to-use CRM called AllClients allowing you to crawl, walk and then eventually run. We have been in business since 2004 and lead the CRM industry when it comes to small, and very small businesses.
We normally give a 2-week free trial of the product, but since you are now somewhat of a CRM expert, I will give you a full month to try it and see if it is right for you.
After 14 days, send an email to AllClients Support with the word “Myth” in the subject and you will get an additional free 14 days to give it a try.