Sometimes the biggest casualty of an established business is the scrappiness that came from being small, broke, and hell-bent on getting something done. This passion and focus tends to lead to inventive ways to solve complex problems, and more likely than not, very cost effective ways. But once businesses start to grow up, they tend to have more resources, and solve challenges with more established, and costly tools. Hence the “all-in-one” CRM tools. These big platforms have a little bit of everything thrown in to cover just about anything a small business will need, from quoting to helpdesk.  And although it is nice to have one integrated system, is that really a good thing?  I mean, when has a one-size-fits-all approach ever lent itself to greatness? Is an all-in-one solution really setting businesses up for success, or just mediocracy?

So why are we forcing our CRM tool to do everything?  Sales and customer support are completely different, so why do we lump them together in one system and expect it to be great?  Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a company that was using one CRM and keeping all departments happy.  Either sales and marketing are frustrated at the painstaking process to update information, or operations and customer support are frustrated because they never have what they need to do their jobs effectively. Five years ago I could understand an all-in-one approach, as it was painful getting different applications to talk to each other; but not anymore. Almost all online systems integrate with tons of other systems.  In fact, sharing data between applications has never been easier, and it’s getting better every day. So why are many small businesses still using one CRM tool for the entire company?  My guess is a couple reasons.


Nobody said we could use multiple tools.

Well consider this a formal request for consideration. Stop using one tool for all activities within your company. And yes, it is possible, and it’s how the kids are doing it now-a-days. And by kids, I mean start-ups. The ones continuously making dents in established industries. They’re using different tools for advertising and marketing, there using another for lead nurturing, another for sales funnel management, another for customer management, another for customer support, another for customer satisfaction, and even more for analytics and reporting.  And guess what, they are most likely doing it for less money, and getting more performance and better data.

Businesses should be using the right tool for the right job, not finding a tool that does everything and then forcing everyone to use it.  An advertising tool should be used to manage exposure to your potential audience, research tools should be used to identify potential target leads, marketing tools should be used to manage the messaging and information necessary to move a target into a conversation, nurturing and communication tools should be used to qualify leads and establish 2-way discussions, and sales funnel tools should be used to discover opportunities and move them through the sales process until close.  All this before we even talk about operational tools and customer experience tools.

inlineThis sounds way too complex.  

I agree, from the outside it sounds complex.  But it’s not.  Everyday these tools are getting more and more integrated. Data is being shared more readily, reporting tools are capable of extending across different application stacks (think of a stack as the group of apps you decide to use in combination), and more people are writing about unique ways business can take advantage of these solutions.  The fact is, it is getting easier and easier to connect best-in-breed tools together and take advantage of their combined power. For example, say you’re a business services company. You might already be advertising in Google, Bing, and Linkedin. But why not use a tool like Wufoo Forms to collect potential leads from your website, then have the potential leads added to a nurturing tool like Drip or ActiveCampaign.  Your nurturing can automatically send emails out and rate the leads based upon their interactions.  When the lead is scored high enough the tool can move then over to a tool like PipeDrive to have your sales team run it down.  When you close the deal a tool like Zapier can drop the lead into an internal CRM tool, like Insightly or Highrise. All of this can be setup in a matter of hours and typically costs less per user than a “we do everything” CRM system.  You can even carry over any data you think is relevant through each system, and even overlay an analytics tool like Segment, or New Relics Insights to get tremendous visibility into what works, and what does not. Although this sounds like a lot, it is not that complicated once you get familiar with the tools. And the best part is you don’t need to force everyone to use the tools they don’t need.  Each job function works with the one or two tools they need, and the executives access the dashboards and reporting tools to measure progress.

It’s time that we rethink how we use software. When you use the right system for the right job, you’ll be amazed at the higher level of satisfaction and adoption among your teams.  The technology will feel like it is supercharging your workforce, not annoying and frustrating them.  You’ll be able to optimize and create efficiencies that seem almost unachievable in the current environment, and you’ll undoubtedly see the return in more deals and happier customers. Happy Tooling!