5 Questions To Assure Your Database Management is Right for You
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When you are in business, a primary focus is finding people that are interested in your products or services. You spend an inordinate amount of time networking, going to meetings, having one-on-ones, sending emails, newsletters, and using social media. You gather business cards like precious trinkets of gold, hoping one of them will turn into a client. If you are like most people, these critical pieces of information end up in a big pile on your desk. Then when you need to contact someone, you shuffle through these cards, praying you find the right one.

I think there is a better way that will make you more productive in handling your database I will outline how to choose a system that will help you grow your business.

You need a database system

Most business owners know they need a management system to handle all these names, phone numbers and email addresses. There is a huge selection of options available for this task. Many of them free and many of them paid.

The options can be as simple as entering everything into an Excel spreadsheet or as complex as using a CRM (customer relationship management) system such as Infusionsoft or Salesforce. So the real question is: what is right for you and your business?

It’s not an easy question to answer. You can spend a tremendous amount of money on a database management system, or you can pay nothing. Let’s explore five of the major questions you should ask yourself before you decide how to handle all your contacts.

Five considerations when choosing a CRM

The first consideration you should have is the budget. Although this is a major component of how you will choose which system will handle all your contacts, you need to take budget into consideration along with the other four key factors we will discuss below.

If you decide to consider some of the paid systems (like Infusionsoft or Salesforce) from the start, make sure you are aware of other added costs that may occur. These costs could be sign up fees, system integration, software customization, integration for ipads, training, etc.

The second vital factor you need to consider is what your business objectives are by using a CRM system. Are you just going to email or send an occasional newsletter to these contacts? Maybe you sell a product or service that is downloadable. Delivering a product can be managed through the more sophisticated systems, and they can integrate a shopping cart, etc. Another consideration will be if you use a drip marketing campaign (when you send scheduled emails to your contacts to entice them with offers), or if you use the system to only store names, phone numbers and addresses simply. Maybe you have an online course where you release the modules on a scheduled basis, say one module a week. The more robust the system, the more bells and whistles you get, the more expensive it will be.

You will also need to keep an eye on your long term goals. Say you do sell an online course, but right now you only have two or three students. Your long term goals are to have hundreds of students taking your course. If you begin using a simple, free CRM system, you will need to migrate to a more sophisticated system as your business grows.

Third, you will consider if you want your system cloud-based or if you want it on-site. There are pros and cons for each side. Cloud-based or a Saas (software as a service) system will give you immediate access and will not cause you to buy support-intensive technologies (like servers, etc.). However, some businesses are reluctant to turn over the running and management of such a critical system to a third party. Be sure to do your research into any company you are considering for their availability, downtimes, etc.

Forth you will consider the scalability of your system. Ask yourself if you can start your CRM out small and grow it as your business gets bigger. Once you decide on a long term solution to your needs, you do not want to be forced to migrate to another system. That can be a lengthy and costly process, and never goes as planned. You also need to consider who is going to be using the system. What training will your staff need? How much will it cost?

Finally, you will consider the reputation of your intended provider. If you are considering investing in a paid system, be sure to do your research. Investigate, ask to talk to customers, read articles, Google and follow up on everything before you make a decision. Ask questions and be satisfied with the answers before you lay down your money. Deciding on a CRM is a critical decision and making the wrong one can be very costly.

Make the decision that works for you

CRM systems run the gamut between the large, expensive, all-encompassing ones like Infusionsoft and Salesforce. They can also be smaller such as an Excel spreadsheet. Systems like MailChimp allow its use free until you reach a mail list on 2,000. AWeber is very inexpensive and can set up autoresponders. Even using your Gmail contacts database or your Outlook database can start the process. These type of system will not include product delivery, drip campaigns, or other marketing tools.

Keep an eye on what you are using the system for to make the right choice for you and your business. Whichever way you go, make sure you use it consistently. Keep your contacts up to date, input all new contacts immediately.

If you have fallen behind on keeping up your database or haven’t set up a database yet, give me a call. I can help you get started, input the information, and get you started using it to grow your business.

What CRM do you use? Is it effective?

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