Is a CRM Really Necessary?

by PaulintheSticks 25 replies
I'm not looking to build a big offline business and really just plan to do it part time as I have other pursuits that are more important to me.

So my question is if I plan on only having maybe 10 clients max at any one time, is a CRM really going to be a good investment? My sales coach tells me I need one but it seems to me I should be able to track everything fairly easily in Excel but maybe not.

As always, any insights are appreciated.
#offline marketing #crm
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  • Profile picture of the author digichik
    You may want to look a vtiger. It's free. Sometimes, when you only work at offline part-time, tasks and follow-up duties can fall through the cracks. Using a free software can keep you on track, even with a few clients. You can free yourself mentally and concentrate on you other endeavors, if you're organized.
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  • Profile picture of the author PaulintheSticks
    Maybe they changed it. I can only find the $12/mo. version.
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    • Profile picture of the author bawls
      well 10 clients is not that hard to keep track of by hand, but $12/mo that helps you save time should be a drop in the bucket if you have 10 clients.
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      • Profile picture of the author 63lincoln
        I'd look for a spreadsheet or something. I bet if someone gets wind of this thread they might have one for ya. You could just google it too and see what comes up.
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  • Profile picture of the author PaulintheSticks
    Is anyone else a little leery of putting all of your leads and deals in software thats hosted on the web?
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  • Profile picture of the author digichik
    Here's a link the the free version listed on sourceforge.org --

    Vtiger CRM | Free Business & Enterprise software downloads at SourceForge.net
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  • Profile picture of the author PanteraIM
    If you are a one man army then no.

    If you have a sales team then definitely.

    At the very least you should be databasing all your sales, leads, contacts, into an organized excel sheet that you can upload later when the need arrives.

    CRMs for a one person company can be a huge waste of time in order to manage and administer it correctly and it's not really worth it.

    If you have an email marketing list set up you can link your CRM to your list with their business information so if the need arrives for one the info is already there, which is what I do. CRMs are really a way for teams to manage the workflow of leads to make sure the team is focused on converting the highest ROI customers and to order the pipeline.
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    • Profile picture of the author Hu Dhaval
      if you want proper management then you have to use. so in future it will really help you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    Do you use Outlook for your email? You can use it as a basic CRM by using tasks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brian Alaway
    You don't really need a CRM. But in the War Room you can find just about anything you need. I just downloaded GreenSamba, a desktop CRM. Not sure I'll give up Outlook but I like to check out new stuff, especially when it's free.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    why wouldnt you want to keep track of all communication(emails, calls, notes, documents, proposals, invoices etc...) with each client? Why wouldn't you want automated reminders for future calls, tasks etc???
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    • Profile picture of the author Mwind076
      Originally Posted by NewParadigm View Post

      why wouldnt you want to keep track of all communication(emails, calls, notes, documents, proposals, invoices etc...) with each client? Why wouldn't you want automated reminders for future calls, tasks etc???
      He didn't say he didn't want to...he asked if he had to use a CRM for that...he doesn't.
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    • Profile picture of the author PaulintheSticks
      Originally Posted by PaulintheSticks View Post

      So my question is if I plan on only having maybe 10 clients max at any one time, is a CRM really going to be a good investment?
      Originally Posted by NewParadigm View Post

      why wouldnt you want to keep track of all communication(emails, calls, notes, documents, proposals, invoices etc...) with each client? Why wouldn't you want automated reminders for future calls, tasks etc???
      That's a classic example of where a lot of sales people go wrong. You ask a question like the one above and get a response that makes assumptions that were not implied and doesn't answer the question.
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      • Profile picture of the author malia
        That's a classic example of where a lot of sales people go wrong. You ask a question like the one above and get a response that makes assumptions that were not implied and doesn't answer the question.
        I do specialized work for one company. One. I have my own business and this is only part time work. I have a free highrise account (single user) just for that.

        I use different devices/computers and while I have IMAP email I still find it lacking as a way to track things.

        I wouldn't ask if it is worth the investment or necessary but rather how you plan to run a business. For me it isn't a question, I wouldn't be without one.

        Up thread the question was asked if someone is leery putting all their stuff into an online account and I will say, honestly, 37 signals is more managed, backed up, redundant and secure than my own website so yeah I feel comfortable.

        Now the question is asked CAN you track it in excel. Technically yes. The best tool is the one you will use and for us/me, highrise is that.

        Also was mentioned is SugarCRM. I used that when I didn't want to pay monthly for anything (I DETEST SAAS). NO ONE regularly used Sugar because it just wasn't as easy to use or as NIMBLE (this is the best word I can think of to subscribe it) as 37 Signals. We tried Zoho but it seemed way too fragmented and difficult to figure out what was where.

        Again, the best tool is the one you will use.

        Having said that, we still use excel. For example, let's say tomorrow you are going to call 10 people back. Way easier to just type it into excel than to go into individual contacts in a CRM and task yourself, or create a call sheet. But for day to day correspondence tracking, it's Highrise.

        So I hope to give you both sides, one on a group side (running my own business with employees) and the other on the single user side (doing PT work for one company and I still have a CRM even though only one client's "stuff" is in it).
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      • Profile picture of the author socialentry
        Why don't you just install your CRM on it on your computer?

        No need to have it hosted on the internet.

        Originally Posted by PaulintheSticks View Post

        That's a classic example of where a lot of sales people go wrong. You ask a question like the one above and get a response that makes assumptions that were not implied and doesn't answer the question.
        He makes a good point though. At the very least you should use something like Outlook.

        That or use a paper pad.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mwind076
    If it's just you, or even you and one or two salespeople, and less than 100 clients, then:

    No, you don't need it...those that don't know how to organize well feel they need one, and those that sell them/create them will tell you you need one.

    You can manage your clients with email folders, calendars and things like spreadsheets etc. Plenty of people have had successful businesses without CRMs over the years.
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  • Profile picture of the author Colm Whelan
    Don't forget that most web hosting packages will have the free version of SugarCRM that you can install on a subdomain - free, web-based and secure. Even if it's not included it's quite straight forward to install if you're at a level where you can install, say, Wordpress manually. Also WP-CRM is a CRM plugin for Wordpress - don't know much about it though.
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  • Profile picture of the author qu4rk
    Originally Posted by PaulintheSticks View Post

    I'm not looking to build a big offline business and really just plan to do it part time as I have other pursuits that are more important to me.

    So my question is if I plan on only having maybe 10 clients max at any one time, is a CRM really going to be a good investment? My sales coach tells me I need one but it seems to me I should be able to track everything fairly easily in Excel but maybe not.

    As always, any insights are appreciated.
    Paul,

    Yes, your coach is correct. A CRM is part of an organization system & is necessary for any sales "professional", even the part-time ones. You can view your sales pipeline/funnel & know where each opportunity is in your pipeline.

    I've tried excel & there is nothing like being able to know where people are in the sales cycle. Also, keeping up with information that can be used later in order to upsale customers.

    vTiger is what I use. I use the free version hosted on my server & it works great. It takes a little McGuiver'ing at times & if you don't want to get your hands dirty, then just pay the $12/mo.

    I used to be paranoid about people contacting my clients if they were outsourcers, hosting services. Truth be told, very few would do that & for the few who would, if they can steal your customers from you, then you are not relationship selling, you are commodity selling.

    So, soldier up & figure out which CRM you want to use. Imagine, being taken away your part-time IM business for a month by unforeseen circumstances. Then, you come back & know exactly where each opportunity is in your funnel because you have a CRM.

    Hope this helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author statusengage
    Zoho has a free CRM. I agree with the fact that with few clients, having a CRM can be a little cumbersome. Learning a new tool will take some time. Once upon a time I hammered the phone (both as a sales rep at another company, later at my own) and having a system that sets up reminders is always good. It will allow you to be persistent. Plus, it's good to keep track of how frequently you are contacting people, what the last conversation went like, notes, etc. Of course, you can simply write it down on a notepad, but if you are like me that just doesn't work. I'm constantly writing notes and ideas, but some get forgotten - putting it on a calendar and scheduling a date always keeps you on target. This way you can wake up each day, take a look at your tasks, and know right where you need to start. Wunderlist is also a good list for this. I also use the Chrome App "Task Timer" to ensure my workflow is consistent. The internet has too many distractions...
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  • Profile picture of the author acarterczyz
    A CRM would be overkill if you dont have many sales/clients. PM me if you need help building an excel file. You can customize it to show what you need/want.
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  • Profile picture of the author BillyParadise
    you don't need a car to get to meetings, right? The bus works just fine. But you would get where you needed to go a whole lot faster with a car, wouldn't you?

    trust me, crm is a much better investment in your business than a car. I've been using open source crm software for years, and it has enhanced my business results to no ends. It keeps you on task, reminds you when things are due... It lets me track the progress of my salespeople and contractors... I couldn't live without it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jesus M
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  • Profile picture of the author Scott Stevens
    Originally Posted by PaulintheSticks View Post

    I'm not looking to build a big offline business and really just plan to do it part time as I have other pursuits that are more important to me.

    So my question is if I plan on only having maybe 10 clients max at any one time, is a CRM really going to be a good investment? My sales coach tells me I need one but it seems to me I should be able to track everything fairly easily in Excel but maybe not.

    As always, any insights are appreciated.
    Hi Paul, great question.

    I'll just add my 2 cents.

    It obviously comes down to personal choice, and people will have success with or without CRM. Over the years, I've tried lots of CRM - Salesforce, Work etc, Base CRM - all of which are great. But I've come back to using spreadsheets (Google spreadsheets) for 3 main reasons:

    1) CRM take a a while to learn and configure, and I sometimes found myself cutting and pasting just as much as if I were using a spreadsheet, as well as as getting myself frustrated at the limitations of whatever CRM I was using at the time.

    2) I don't have a tonne of clients, and I work with less leads, aiming for higher conversion.

    3) I'm a maniac for stats, ratios and numbers. Whilst those CRM above have stats, none had certain metrics I wanted. With a a spreadsheet, I can create a formula and and track any stat/conversion I want. So over the years, I've developed a monster of a spreadsheet that does all I want. I love this thing, it's my baby.

    But that's just me. It's a joke among family and friends with me that I love spreadsheets and use them for everything - business, finances, fitness, books I've read, songs I've written, goals, diet, costings/pricing for my products/services - and things I don't know you all well enough for to share here.

    I suppose I'm old school. But it works for me. It's all subjective, really. As someone else pointed out, there have been many businesses that became huge even before CRM came along.

    So if you want to keep with the times, I wouldn't listen to me.

    Finally, here's some other tools I use to stay on top:

    - Evernote - to document procedures (can be shared with staff).

    - Gmail/Google Apps (search function means I can find emails, contacts, documents sent, etc in a flash).

    - Yesware - Gmail addon (tracks emails/links clicked).

    - Google Drive - see above for how I use spreadsheets (I also use a shared spreadsheet with staff for project management) + use it for agreements, client price sheets (can be shared with staff - my outsourcers add leads to shared spreadsheets).

    - Google Calendar - for weekly schedule/daily tasks with reminders (can have shared calendars with staff).

    - Dropbox - cloud-based storage (for anything downloaded, website templates, prospecting materials, etc - can be shared with staff).

    All the above can be done for free up to a point, and then you'll be spending a maximum of £25-30 pm like me.

    I've considered merging/uploading to CRM if I start getting huge. But to be honest, I may just stick as I am, because I don't see a need for CRM for me.

    You know what they say: Once you've had (Google) Apps, you never go back. Or something like that.

    Scott
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  • Profile picture of the author Handdy
    I agree with most of the answers abroad. If you have 10 clients or less, you don't have to invest in CRM as of yet. However, it is good to have all your data at one place so that migration to CRM is easy when your business expands. Loss of data is a common pet peeve for those who don't have a CRM system in place.
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  • Profile picture of the author GopalG
    Streak - CRM in your Inbox - Best CRM I have come across and integrates with your gmail account. the best part is its free!
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