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Your Small Business Can Compete With Large Rivals — The Right Tools Are Key

Three people sitting down to discuss small business growth strategies.
A CRM functions as a single source of truth for your company, making it easy for everyone to find exactly what they need to work, and to stay on the same page in customer-facing situations.

Here's how a customer management tool like CRM can be the foundation for buying and ownership experiences that set your small business apart.

Today’s business buyers want more than just a good product or service: In fact, 80% say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. This is an amazing opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to win business from much larger rivals. Competing against large enterprises with seemingly boundless budgets and resources may seem daunting. But a thought-out technology strategy enables a small business to craft amazing customer experiences that enterprise businesses can’t match.

A customer management tool like a CRM is the foundation for creating small business growth strategies that set you apart. With the right CRM tools, you can develop incredibly personalized customer experiences without the big team.

Here are five ways customer management tools can help small businesses scale their impact without having to grow their teams:

1. Use automation to track campaigns and send prospects personalized offers

Marketing automation can deliver a better customer experience by engaging prospects with relevant content and offers, rather than bombarding them with one-off emails and call blitzes. Nurturing leads with quality content lets you deliver qualified, sales-ready prospects to your reps. And that, in turn, drives more sales.

Put marketing automation, lead nurturing, and sales operations on the same platform so that  your whole team — marketing and sales — are on the same page. Shared customer records, automatic lead scoring, and data analytics tools let everyone see exactly what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to marketing campaigns, sales techniques, and ensuring everything works toward the same small business growth strategies.

2. Create a sales playbook to keep your team on track

Your sports coach was right: Fail to plan and you plan to fail. You need to be deliberate about your team’s goals and expectations and lay out a sales plan to get them there. It’s especially true for B2B — 84% of business buyers expect sales reps to act as their trusted advisors.

Develop clear sales playbooks to create a consistent buying process for all prospects. Structure territories to prevent multiple sales reps from contacting the same company, possibly offering different products or opportunities to the same prospects. Set quotas to give your team concrete milestones to strive towards, and create a mutual understanding of goals you expect them to hit in a given month, quarter, or year. 

3. Use data and AI to create proposals and quotes

Give your sales team the right tools to get their job done, including delivering a more consistent and efficient buying process for customers. A CRM functions as a single source of truth for your company, making it easy for everyone to find exactly what they need to work, and to stay on the same page in customer-facing situations.

Bring more data, like products and price books, into your CRM and use it to automate sales processes such as creating proposals and quotes. A good CRM platform can speed up the entire buying process for customers, so they spend less time waiting for proposals and more time doing business with you.

The more data in your CRM, the more you can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to supercharge your business. AI lives on data, combing through customer records and crunching sales figures to surface insights that can help make better business decisions. One great use of AI is to make sure your salespeople are selling the right products to the right prospects. CRM-based AI tools are adept at matching customer data to product inventory and pipeline to help reps spot cross-sell, upsell, and new sales opportunities targeted to specific prospects. 

4. Amplify your small business growth strategies with partners 

Two heads are almost always better than one, so consider amplifying your small business growth strategies with partners. The right partnerships deliver the benefits of a bigger sales team without the downsides of increasing headcount. The key is ensuring that all prospects have the same amazing experience, whether they’re talking to an in-house team or your partner’s sales reps.

Use a CRM to keep your partners on the same page as your reps when it comes to everything from sales playbooks to customer-facing assets. CRMs excel at being a single source of truth in an organization, and it’s easy to extend that functionality to partner teams. Track partners’ sales efforts as well as those of in-house reps in the same place, keep tabs on which reps are nurturing which prospects and ensure that everyone is using the current versions of marketing collateral. 

In addition to tallying real-time progress, CRMs excel at slicing and dicing the data to show how a partnership performed over time, and how it compares to previous partnerships. From identifying campaigns and trends that paid off to putting the spotlight on partners or reps who didn’t pull their weight, a CRM is an ideal tool for managing sales partnerships.

5. Leverage automation to deliver the best post-sale experience

As much as technology like CRM can do to support employees, one of tech’s greatest benefits is how it delivers always-on personalized customer service — even when you and your team are off the clock. Scaling service efforts by investing in technology instead of headcount can pay huge dividends for small businesses in particular. 

Two big ideas to consider: 

  • Invest in robust self-service communities. Today’s customer is always connected to the digital world, and in many cases would rather resolve their own service issues than call an 800 number. Self-service communities put how-to content, product knowledge, and question-and-answer pages at your customers’ fingertips, 24/7. Many CRMs feature integrated self-service communities that are easy to set up and maintain and notify your service agents when customers need a human touch to solve their problem.
  • Free up your agents with service bots. Service chatbots can help straddle the line between self-service and speaking to an agent, using text chat to deliver personalized service around the clock. Service bots have gotten much better — and much cheaper — since they were first introduced and can scale as your business grows to support large product catalogs and complex customer service needs.

Start growing your business

Looking for the right small business growth strategies to grow your business? Try Salesforce Starter, the CRM built for small businesses. 

Brett Grossfeld Product Marketing Manager, Small and Medium Business

Brett Grossfeld is a product marketing manager who focuses on nascent small businesses at Salesforce. As a seasoned content marketer, he has written for multiple websites and publications that span across various industries and interests, including tech, wellness, and modern customer experiences.

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