Three years ago, the federal government published a report called “The State of Entrepreneurship in Canada,” and while it showed a surge of people launching small businesses at the time, it also indirectly helped explain why customer relationship management (CRM) has become such a vital contributor to their success and survival in 2015.

“Young firms face uncertain markets . . . and uneven organizational processes,” it said. “The fate of entrepreneurial firms is at least partially determined by characteristics of the business environment, such as access to finance, access to international agreements and consumer spending power, that individual entrepreneurs have little control over.”

That may be true, but there are still a lot of forces that are well within a small business owners’ control. This includes the ability to generate sales, keep customers loyal and be more productive—all of which can be accomplished with CRM.

CRM As A Way To Generate (And Keep Generating) Sales

Whether you’re starting a business in Canada or anywhere else, one of the biggest challenges was summed up by a recent headline in Profit magazine: Where to Find New Customers.

“You have to be where your potential customers are,” the article suggested. “A solo entrepreneur opening a hair salon, for instance, might use a mixture of digital marketing, mail drops, knocking doors and meeting people one-on-one.”

As you connect with those prospects and early customers, though, the ability to remember each encounter and the details about their needs could make or break your relationship with them. Far from being a high-tech rolodex, CRM helps small business owners capture what’s important while automating repetitive tasks, freeing entrepreneurs to focus on selling.

CRM As A Way To Keep Customers Loyal

A recent segment on Canada’s Business News Network (BNN) profiled a common small business problem: the “summer doldrums,” when things get really quiet and entrepreneurs start to worry about where all their customers are. In reality, those moments can happen all year round, but small business owners can use technology to mine data for opportunities that might otherwise be missed. For example, past sales activity could indicate when a particular customer will be buying next, offering a way of forecasting demand and proactively reaching out rather than waiting for the phone to ring.

CRM As A Way To Boost Productivity

In "Powering Profitable Sales Growth -- Five Imperatives," consulting firm Accenture said the adoption of mobile devices by sales representatives has increased by 400 per cent, but they’re still primarily using them for admin work rather than fulfilling strategic business needs.

What sales reps and small business owners may not realize is that CRM is no longer something that sits on a desktop computer—with cloud computing it can be used on-the-go. Thinking ‘mobile-first’ is a need for any modern business, and any tools small business owners choose to manage customer information should work on as easily on a smartphone as it does on a larger screen.

For decades, being “the little guy” has been a disadvantage, but not anymore. Now you can move your business forward faster with CRM. To learn more about how CRM works and what it can do for your business, check out Salesforce’s free eBook The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Finding the Right CRM.

The entrepreneur's guide to finding the right CRM.