At Salesforce, we understand what it means to start small and grow fast. We know how stressful and rewarding it is to go from scrappy startup to enterprise software leader. Over the past year, our marketing team has also spent time talking to many smart entrepreneurs and small business leaders about what makes them successful.

 
  • Good CRM drives growth
  • Hire smart, word hard, be kind
 

Some spoke about how to manage sales pipeline, while others focused on delivering the kind of customer service that inspires enduring loyalty. Still, others highlighted the importance of hiring smart, working hard, and — one of our favorites — simply being kind.

And while we’ve compiled an e-book of 25 tips that you can download and read at your convenience, we identified these five insights as the topline tips we see as the foundation to success.

 

Many small businesses are so focused on ensuring growth actually happens that they fail to adequately plan for it. Maria Frantz is Vice President of Operations at AchieveIt, a results-management platform designed to help business leaders successfully execute their plans and initiatives. “The goal is to grow and scale over time, so what tools are going to get you in the right spot from the beginning?” Frantz notes. “The challenges at the beginning are all about identifying the steps you need to take and then figuring out which tools support those steps in order to scale over time.”

Armando Mann, Vice President of Sales and Customer Success at SalesforceIQ, has great advice for sales reps looking to close more deals (and honestly, who isn’t?). According to Mann, successful reps follow the five commandments of closing the deal:

  • Know thy customer
  • Know thy numbers
  • Know thy pipeline
  • Know thy resources
  • Know thyself

Michael Boyette, Executive Editor at the Rapid Learning Institute, explains, “The key to a healthy pipeline: disqualify bad leads early, freeing up time to dig deeper with good leads.” In other words, having a fat pipeline does you no good if the leads aren’t quality leads.

Ethan Senturia is Co-Founder and CEO of Dealstruck, a financial technology startup that provides loans to other small businesses. According to Senturia, you might need CRM sooner than you think — and here are two key signs you’re at that point. “If you’re unable to keep up with lead flow or customer demand,” Senturia says, it’s an early sign you need a better system. “If you find yourself being slow to respond to people, or you’re getting lots of inbound follow-up like ‘Hey, I’ve been waiting to hear back from you,’ then you probably need CRM.” Sound familiar?

Getting the right tools is only the first step. If you’re not using your CRM system — living in it, in fact — you’re not getting maximum value out of your technology. Dave Kurlan, the Founder and CEO of Objective Management Group, says salespeople should get cozy with their CRM systems. “Live in your CRM,” Kurlan advises. “Begin each day in your CRM, identify your pipeline gap and fill it, update your conversations in real time, jump-start stalled opportunities, follow your sales process. Use email and calendar to support your life in CRM. Live in your CRM.”

 
 
 

Create more meaningful and lasting customer relationships with the world’s #1 CRM for small biz.

 

See how small businesses use Salesforce to sell, service, market, and connect everything to grow.

 

What’s the secret to finding, winning, and keeping customers? Customer relationship management.

 
 
 
 

Win Customers: Start by Walking in the Customer’s Shoes

 

Top 5 Growth Tips (The First of 25 from Small Business Leaders)

 

Guy Kawasaki Quotes for Small Biz
 

 
 
 

CRM 101: The Complete Hanbook
 

 

Small Business Podcast: Serious Business

 

Do More With Less: 4 Secrets
 

 
 
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