Whether you’re a small business owner or even just someone looking to get all of your contacts and sales efforts organized then you’ve likely already heard of and/or have already tried to implement a CRM(Customer Relationship Manager) system of some kind. Over the years we’ve seen a multitude of paid versions with loads of features and customization such as Salesforce.com, ACT!, Goldmine, and others but only over the last few years have we really seen a strong showing from a newer breed of FREE web-based CRM systems. These our known as “open source” crm systems because they are built on a code framework that is totally free and expanded by any programmer who wants to get involved. So what is the difference, feature-wise, between a free crm system and a paid version? The biggest difference is that there wont be as many bells and whistles with a free version but it will still have the core modules you’ll need to organize your business. These included modules are usually, “Leads, Contacts, Sales Opportunities, Tasks, Calendar, and Marketing, just to name a few standard ones. Paid systems will have upgraded features such as advanced process flow automation, full sync with Microsoft Exchange and endless customization capability, but that all comes with a large cost associated with it. For most small businesses and sales professionals, a free web-based CRM system such as the popular Zurmo will do just fine in getting your business organized.
Many business owners fall into the trap of spending countless hours (and dollars) getting the phone to ring, leads to flow in, and bodies in the door of their storefront yet fail to stay organized with those valuable leads. Statistically, you are probably losing a fairly significant percentage of business simply because your competitors are more organized than you. One simple fix for this is to start using a free CRM system like Zurmo to have a centralized place where all your leads are stored, notes and tasks can be created within each lead’s “record” in the system, and you can even set up a free web form so new leads that come in online flow directly into your system so you don’t even need to enter those manually! If this was the only thing you used a CRM system for, it would be well worth it, but these systems offer a lot more than just helping to organize your leads.
Using a Free CRM System to Organize Your Sales Pipeline
Once you get into a good habit of storing all of your leads in a good free CRM system, now you can begin learning where to focus your sales efforts to maximize closing more of those deals. For example, a free CRM system like Zurmo will enable you to organize leads into different sales stage categories such as “Prospect” “New Lead”, “Negotiating”, “Sale Won / Closed Sale”. By doing this, you may find that you are really good at getting leads in the door and making the initial introduction to your product or service yet the majority of your leads may be stuck in that phase, ultimately ending up drifting off or closing with a competitor. This should tell you that you need to focus more of your sales efforts on closing leads already in the system, and perhaps focusing a bit less on getting new leads in the door.
Using a Free CRM System to Organize Everything Else
Using a free CRM system such as Zurmo can do a lot more than just help organize your leads. All CRM systems have an “import contacts” feature where you can easily take all of your leads from another system (or even just a spreadsheet) and import those into your new CRM system all at once. Now you’ll have a centralized place where all of those valuable contacts you’ve been building over the years can now be better organized. You can even set up a monthly newsletter to go out to all of those contacts you’ve got in the system, create “tasks” around various contacts/leads, and potentially even sync all of your email activity (depending on which email service you use). Basically, the more of your existing systems you can consolidate into one CRM system, the more organized you’ll be and the better disciplined you’ll be at using it to keep track of your leads.
In conclusion, give a free CRM system like Zurmo a try and see what it can do for organizing your business. If you find that you like it but would like more advanced customization or integrations built for you, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation as we offer professional customization services.
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