Small Businesses See CRM Success

Small businesses--$75 to $100 million in annual revenue--are finding success with CRM applications, according to a recent report from Beagle Research. "An increasing number of companies say they are taking the time to analyze their businesses before bringing in CRM solutions, though only a minority [is] bothering to measure ROI," says Denis Pombriant, Beagle Research managing principal. Some 63 percent of small companies now analyze their businesses before bringing in CRM, up from just 50 percent only eight months earlier, according to Pombriant. By doing this preliminary research, companies know better what benefits they should expect to derive from a CRM project. "Many of the mistakes made by CRM's early adopters have provided learning opportunities for smaller companies, and the lessons have not gone unheeded," Pombriant says. "Smaller companies have unique requirements and challenges. From this data it's clear that they are getting much of what they need from CRM. That's a lot different from what we were hearing a few years ago." Some two-thirds of small companies say they are achieving positive returns with their CRM initiatives, according to Pombriant. Yet only 30 percent say they actually measure ROI, so some of those benefits may be soft, such as better customer satisfaction that should (but may not) lead to increased sales. Pombriant adds that small business owners' "gut feeling" about ROI tends to be fairly good, even if there aren't hard statistics to back the feeling up. Marketing-oriented applications appear to be the ones that help small companies the most: "We were somewhat surprised that marketing applications were viewed so positively by our survey population. But when we asked about things like customer retention and satisfaction, marketing automation was clearly held in high esteem by its users." More specifically, Pombriant points to applications that provide feedback to the vendor. Such applications provide insights that these companies are turning into revenues, profits, and happy customers. Earlier adopters of CRM didn't see the value in customer feedback, according to Pombriant. Instead, they tended to use CRM primarily as a transaction-oriented database to track deals and service calls. "We think that this new focus on the voice of the customer is not isolated in the small companies, and that it will lead to a fundamental change in CRM--from a technology orientation to one more focused on process, services, and results." Among the other findings reported:
  • More than 82 percent of the survey respondents said they already use an SFA product, but only 49 percent said they already have marketing applications.
  • More than two-thirds of respondents said they would very likely or definitely recommend CRM to others.
  • More than three quarters, or 75.4 percent, said that CRM is an important part of customer retention, and slightly more 76.6 percent said they track customer retention. Related articles: SMBs Are Adopting Right-Size CRM Can Small Companies Benefit From CRM?
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