Does Size Matter?

By now you’re wondering…what’s this about?

So you’re shopping for a CRM solution to run your small business. You ask your colleagues what they’ve used, you ask your IT friends, your marketing firm, maybe even your competitors – then you post on LinkedIn “Can anyone recommend a CRM for a Small Business? We’re just starting out so nothing to complicated” and low and behold, you get almost a hundred recommendations from people all over the world in all different positions. Some suggest Zoho or Pipeline or Base or maybe even the “free” version of HubSpot; others suggest Microsoft or Salesforce, and before you know it your post is the site of a debate of how one tool is better than the next.

I’ve read many of the debates, and more often than not I have been targeted by other commenters for my comments and obvious allegiance to Salesforce. As recently as today, I continue to be astonished by the analogies and descriptors used by the anti-Salesforce-for-small-business crowd. These folks always seem to say the same thing about Salesforce: “you won’t use all that functionality,” “it’s too complicated for a SMALL business,” or my personal favorite, “it’s like hitting a nail with a sledgehammer.”

How many small business owners do you know who set out to STAY small? Not too many I suspect. Opening a business is about growing a business and to grow a business you have to think BIG.

Does size matter?

The size of your business that is…and NO it doesn’t.

No matter what “size” your business is, chances are there are lots of similarities between what you do, and what a “bigger” competitor company does. These days huge manufacturing plants turn less revenue and profit than a 1-man-operation selling hundreds of widgets a day on Amazon from his couch.

If you sell widgets, whether you sell 1 widget a week or you sell 1 million, you still have to find customers, market to them, field their inquiries, convert them to sales, know how many you’ve sold and will sell, deliver them, field questions after they’ve been delivered and then of course, find a way to make customers buy more.

Or suppose you sell a service, and only you perform that service or you and one other colleague, vs. your “bigger” competitors who sell the services of many people like you. Chances are you still must find customers (foster referrals), create campaigns (attend meetups and send out information to prospects), make appointments (and manage your calendar), manage projects, keep track of time and expenses, and create raving fans of your customers so they buy more or recommend your services to everyone they know.

My point is, even though “big” companies may do more of what you do, you still should accomplish the same processes as a small business – whether you sell 1 or 10 products/services. And even more importantly, years ago, customers of small businesses were loyal because they felt like the small businesses “knew them better,” and now thanks to the innovations around Artificial Intelligence, it’s commonplace that large companies ‘appear’ to know their customers even better than the small businesses do.

So why does that matter to a “small” business?
Because customer expectations are all the same size.

Their expectations are not relative to your size like they used to be. Now, Amazon knows what you need better than the guy at the corner hardware store, LegalZoom has copies of all your vital records and can help you plan your future more accurately than the attorney here in town, and all of a sudden you feel more in touch with some cloud than you do in your own town.

It’s a changing paradigm and CRM technology is the only way to keep up.

Innovation is key for a business of any size

Recent studies have released statistics that prove that consumers feel more empowered to “shop around” than ever before. They feel that technology allows them to do more research and be more frugal and they expect innovation and technology from all the companies they deal with, no matter what the size.

I almost never recommend a CRM other than Salesforce, no matter what the business size, I admit it. I can only remember 1 instance where a very industry-specific CRM tool was more appropriate for a small business, and even then, it was considered a necessary evil by management and when the company grew to be more than 1 location, the power of Salesforce would be necessary anyway.

There is nothing more efficient than operating a business on a single platform. The smaller it is, the tighter the cash flow, the more necessary efficiency becomes. The Salesforce platform can be configured or developed to solve for virtually any business process. Even more important than that, they have the most innovative customer centric technologies at the forefront of their focus. There is no debating that. None. It’s a fact. That’s why it’s #1 overall – by a longshot.

“We’re a SMALL business; Salesforce is too expensive”

I feel like this issue has been belabored to death at this point. Everything is relative. It depends how you compare it and what you compare it with. There’s a saying I’m surprised so few remember, “You get what you pay for.” That is so true when it comes to CRM. Besides, there is no simply stated price issue in CRM unless you relate it to actual business value.

CRM should not cost more money than it’s making or saving you.

Price is not an issue here folks. A company’s business plan, vision and model for making money is the only price factor when it comes to CRM. The fact is, if you automate something that you’re doing manually, it saves time – and time equals money, no matter what your size. What you do with the time you save can also make you more money. When you plan to implement CRM, no matter what size your company is, you need to be committed to a significantly positive rate of return on that investment, and the effort that goes with it.

If you are using the free version of any CRM, with no investment and no formal implementation of process, it probably isn’t making you a whole lot of incremental revenue either. So, if it’s not saving you much money and it’s not making you much money, I would say your free tool actually costs you more money than Salesforce.

If you “buy” a free version of CRM, you really can’t expect more efficiency savings than you’ve been willing to invest. Sure, it’s easier to have leads in a system and customers categorized, but how much time does that really save you in the end? Does it equate to actual headcount? Does it really stop people from using multiple tools? Not usually. Self-service portals help, and some tools offer slimed down versions of preconfigured portals, but if you grow – you will quickly outgrow most of their offerings, or you’ll just be behind the times again as it relates to technology.

With Salesforce you can start small and build your implementation as you grow. Other tools require lots of add-ins and fall short on integrations with common technologies; most of them simply lack the flexibility to cover a small business from end to end. Salesforce makes it easier for a small businesses to manage technology with everything residing in one place.

Just being up front…

Size doesn’t matter, when it comes to implementing Salesforce.

Though it’s a commitment to implement Salesforce (or any other technology like it), it doesn’t have to be complicated, overkill or expensive. Using an expert partner like Bridge the Gap Solutions (www.bridgethegap.com) can make implementing Salesforce the perfect combination between efficiency and effectiveness – for any business, small or large.

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