Magazine article CRM Magazine

SMBs Take to the Cloud: 2012 Holds Great Potential as a Breakout Year for CRM

Magazine article CRM Magazine

SMBs Take to the Cloud: 2012 Holds Great Potential as a Breakout Year for CRM

Article excerpt

SMALL businesses are turning to CRM more than ever, with many focusing on cloud-based platforms. A recent study by Dell Cloud Business Apps and Techsale found that 55 percent of respondents are using a cloud-based CRM solution this year--up 61 percent from 2010.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

This year, I organized the inaugural Social Biz Atlanta conference, aimed at helping small businesses transition from being users of social tools to true social businesses. I was hoping for attendance of 100 or so, but ended up with more than twice that.

I saw the same enthusiasm at InfusionCon 2012, InfusionSoft's annual user conference. With its focus on the 25-employee-or-less audience, it was eye-opening to see 1,500 people at the conference. Just four years ago, there were about 200. These scenes have been repeated at other conferences as well this year.

What's driving this growth?

the era of customer over-service

Empowered by social networks and an infatuation with mobile devices, consumers have changed their behaviors, activity levels, and expectations.

Being responsive and consistently engaged are two keys to building relationships with these customers. Jeanne Hopkins, vice president of marketing at Hubspot, presented these numbers at Social Biz Atlanta:

* Thirty-five to 50 percent of sales go to the vendor who responds first.

* Two-thirds of buyers indicate consistent and relevant communication is the key influencer in building relationships with vendors.

* Nurtured leads have a 9 percent bigger average deal size and a 23 percent shorter sales cycle.

Need more? Matt Trifiro, vice president of marketing at Desk.com, shared a story about John Pepper, CEO of the Boloco burrito chain, who created a culture of "over-servicing" customers. While partaking in a burrito giveaway, one customer received a $55 parking ticket. She mentioned this on Twitter. Pepper immediately sent out a tweet, offering to pay the fine. Others retweeted the story, as did five local media outlets that picked it up as well.

FROM CRM TO CRM-ISH

Customers expect more service, listening, and quality than ever. They expect to engage with vendors on social channels, on the device most convenient for them. …

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