If your business isn’t already using CRM, then 2017 is the year for you to give it a try. CRM, which stands for customer relationship management, has many potential benefits for small businesses. Here are 15 different reasons why your business should be using CRM in 2017.
CRM Benefits for Small Businesses
CRM Helps Your Business Grow
On the most basic level, CRM is a tool that can help your business scale. If you personally are in charge of managing all of the communications and customer data for your business, then you can only ever handle a small amount of clients. But CRM lets you manage a much larger amount of data.
Ramon Ray, founder of Smart Hustle Magazine  and small business evangelist for CRM system Infusionsoft , said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “The only way you do not need CRM is if you have a very, very small business with five clients, maybe ten. Then you may be able to get by with something like Google Contacts. But as you grow, you’re going to need something more sophisticated.”
CRM Organizes Your Data
One of the most basic functions included in almost any CRM tool is the ability to input and manage data about your customers and leads. This lets you stay organized without having to create your own system. And it also ensures that whenever you’re communicating with a customer, you’re aware of their history so that you can more effectively sell to them.
CRM Keeps Your Team on the Same Page
Going even further, many CRM systems let you collaborate with your entire team. So if one person communicates with a customer or lead, they can input any relevant information so that all other members of your team can access it the next time they communicate with that same person.
CRM Makes Sure No One Looks Stupid
The ability to organize and easily access customer information isn’t just about making it easier for you and your team. It can also make the experience much easier and more positive for your customers or potential customers. If they have to constantly remind you or your team members of their information or history each time they interact with you, it’s likely to get tiresome. And furthermore, many customers expect that you’ll already have their past information when they interact with you. So if you’re missing pieces of information, it can really reflect poorly on your company as a whole.
CRM Lets You Stay in Touch
CRM tools like Infusionsoft  and Hubspot also give you easy ways to keep in touch with your customers or prospects via email. Keeping in touch regularly can help you keep your business at the top of customers’ or prospects’ minds, increasing your potential ability to sell to them.
CRM Nurtures Your Leads
More specifically, one of the main potential benefits of using CRM is the ability to increase sales. By keeping organized information about potential customers and staying in touch regularly, you can nurture your leads and find ways of turning those relationships into actual sales for your business .
CRM Segments Your Contacts
But not all of your customers and leads are going to react the same to the same content and modes of communication. That’s where segmentation comes in. CRM gives you the ability to create different groups of customers so that you can communicate with them in different ways. For example, a customer who signed up for your email list because of a free download is likely interested in different things than a customer who has repeatedly bought the same types of products from you. So CRM lets you sell to those different customers in the ways that make the most sense in each situation.
CRM Automates Your Communication
And of course, communicating with all of your customers and prospects takes a lot of time. But CRM helps you do more in less time by keeping different lists and even automatically segmenting some customers into specific groups based on their purchases or other behavior.
CRM Sends Out Specific Information
In addition, if you have things like free downloads, ebooks or other items that customers can receive by signing up for your list or making purchases from your website, CRM can automatically send out those items. This saves you time and ensures that people actually get the items they signed up for in a timely manner.
CRM Keeps Your Customers Coming Back
From there, you can also use CRM to target your existing customers as well. If people have already bought from you, they’re more likely to do so again. But you have to be able to target messaging specifically for them based on their preferences or buying habits. And CRM allows you to do that easily. For example, if someone has purchased a particular piece of software from your company, and there’s now an upgrade available for that product, those are the customers who you’d send that message to.
CRM Lets You Access Metrics
You can also access reports and metrics based on your information and communications with customers. For instance, you might notice that certain customers are more likely to notice your emails if you send them out in the morning instead of the afternoon. And others might respond well to a particular style of headline or message. Having that information can help you tailor your messaging even more.
CRM Helps You Build Good Habits
All of this access to information and automation features gives you and your team another important benefit – the ability to build good habits. When you have the most accurate possible data, you can use that to inform more of your decisions going forward. And if you’re able to do that on a consistent basis, you can build good habits that are more likely to resonate with your customers and prospects.
CRM Connects to Other Services
Using CRM also doesn’t have to be a complicated process for your business. Many services connect to platforms you probably already use. For example, Infusionsoft can integrate with WordPress and various payment platforms. And Hubspot can integrate with Zendesk, Google Drive and more.
CRM Uses Social Data
Some CRM tools are even coming up with new and interesting ways of integrating customer data. Nimble , for instance, can comb through various social platforms to find relevant information about customers or potential customers. This lets you bring even more data into the equation, which could help you create even more specific groups of target customers or narrow down your messaging even further.
There are CRM Tools for Everyone
There may not be just one CRM tool that is perfect for every single business. But there are so many options that you should be able to find one that is going to fit  with your company’s specific needs.
Ray suggests first considering what it is you want your CRM to help your business do. And from there, you can read reviews, ask around and compare features to find the best fit for your specific business.
CRM  Photo via Shutterstock