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Customer relationships have long been one area where small businesses have an edge over their larger counterparts. The friendly neighborhood shopkeeper or restaurateur has always had a place in Americans’ hearts. But like everything else, customer relationships are becoming automated—in this case, by customer relationship management (CRM) software—and that’s giving bigger companies a chance to eat your lunch.

The good news, though, is that small companies, too, can benefit from CRM tools that enable you to streamline the customer relationship-building process and create stronger bonds with customers by collecting and using more detailed information about them. A survey by Capterra took a close look at CRM users and here’s some of what it found.

CRM, now the single fastest-growing type of business software, can benefit businesses of any size. (“If you have any customers, chances are that your business can benefit from CRM software,” is how the report puts it). According to the report, over half of both B2B and B2C companies use CRM software. While CRM started out at the enterprise level, it’s now becoming widely adopted by small and midsized businesses, which make up the fastest-growing group of users. The majority of companies adopt CRM software within two years of launch.

Though CRM can work for every business, certain industries seem to benefit from it the most. Retailers are the number-one user of CRM tools, which enable them to track purchasing behavior over time, suggest related products customers could buy and maintaining loyalty points in customers' accounts, among other things.

However, CRM is also very useful if your business sells products or services that are complex and/or have a long sales cycle. Business services, technology businesses and financial services-related companies are top users of CRM. For industries such as accounting, consulting, insurance and IT services, CRM can help record customer interactions over the months and months required to make the sale and keep track of all the different decision-makers involved in the purchase. After the sale, CRM helps keep track of contracts, invoices, communications with customers, and more.

Obviously, the bigger your business gets, the more use you have for CRM. Two-thirds of companies in the survey adopted CRM after they hit 100 employees. However, as your customer list grows, using CRM could make sense even if there are only a few of you. By enabling you to keep track of customer interactions better, faster and more easily, CRM lets you do more with fewer workers.

Curious yet? There are lots of CRM products out there for even the smallest businesses (Capterra lists its picks for best small-business CRM software). If you think CRM can help you manage customer relationships, improve your marketing results and boost sales, it’s worth looking into the options available.

Your SCORE mentor can help you decide if CRM is right for you and which product will best fit your needs. Visit www.score.org to get matched with a mentor if you don’t already have one. 

About the Author(s)

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship and SmallBizDaily.com.

CEO, GrowBiz Media
CRM, Customer Relationship Management