Want to Grow Your Small Business? Take A Page From The Big Business Playbook Jonathan Herrick There’s no shortage of advice available for those who are new to running a small business. Obviously, building lasting customer relationships and delivering great customer service is paramount to sustainability. But when you’re looking to grow your business to the next level, where do you turn for ideas? Big business. I know what you’re thinking…”My business is great because we’re small, nimble and personal. The exact opposite of my big business competitors.” I agree. But most small businesses I talk to are afraid to play big. You simply cannot unleash your maximum potential if you don’t try to seize great opportunities or if your business goals and dreams are too small. One of the greatest ways to play big is to leverage cloud technology that gives you and your business access to amazing tools that once belonged only to huge enterprises. In other words, don’t buy into the excuse that your business can’t accomplish something simply because it’s small. With the right tools, from CRM software to email marketing to robust reporting, your small business can offer customers an alternative to larger providers, while still maintaining the strong relationships that are characteristic of many smaller businesses. Exceptional Customer Service Is Your Imperative It bears repeating: customer satisfaction is what brings existing customers back to your business. Not only is retaining existing customers far less expensive than acquiring new ones, if you build strong enough relationships with them, they’re more likely to advocate for your brand to other people. Tools like CRM, email marketing, and automated lead alerts help you manage customer relationships from the first contact until well after the sale, and these tools are as useful to the small business as they are to large corporations. You might think that you can manage your small customer base without marketing and sales tools in place, but as soon as you begin to scale, you’ll realize you need more effective tools than Gmail and Excel. Once you try more sophisticated tools, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly they provide a return on your investment. The truth is no business can afford to let customers and potential customers slip through the cracks – and this is particularly true for smaller businesses. Efficiency Key to Serving Customers Effectively Yes, people say that they crave the level of attention they get from smaller providers of goods and services. But at the same time, they expect efficiency and skill in their providers’ everyday processes. Often the word “process” can be a scary for smaller businesses that believe only larger companies need rigidly structured systems in place. That’s a myth. The reality is your small business can benefit immensely by finding a way to consistently communicate to your customers and drive improved efficiency. For example, if your team is able to put a sales and marketing process in place to score leads, segment lead lists effectively, and manage the deal pipeline proactively, it demonstrates consistently that your organization is on its toes and enables your business to better serve your customers in real time. At the same time, you’re probably working with a team that wears many hats and that has to do more with fewer resources. That’s an even better reason to implement more efficient processes and it also reaffirms the need to take advantage of big business tools such as a CRM. Tools Big Businesses Use Just as the master carpenter has a tool kit containing a specific selection of equipment, the business owner needs a selection of tools that make the marketing and sales processes more efficient. Being competitive requires being efficient, no matter what size your business is. Large enterprises have long enjoyed software tools for: CRM Instant alerts for hot leads Form builders Email templates Tag scoring List segmentation Deal pipeline management Task management Reporting With the growth of technology, enterprise features are now available to SMBs and are easier to use than ever. So there’s no reason your small business can’t have all these tools in one, integrated software platform, even if you run a solo operation or a very small operation. There’s a multitude of small business tools including CRM software, email marketing, and marketing automation software (including Hatchbuck!) that are designed to help smaller businesses remain organized, turn email messages into productive sales conversations, and automate marketing processes so that no opportunities slip away. If you’re looking to grow your small business, take a page out of the big business playbook. Develop and define a healthy process for your business that will help you deliver a repeatable experience for your customers and seize the opportunity to use tech tools to help you market like the big guys.