There seems to be a real struggle to capture the flag by software makers when it comes to small business CRM. It’s very difficult to find a clear leader in this space, although many claim to be serving it.
I think the problem may reside in the fact that what small business marketers really want (need) out of their marketing software may be hard to define and it’s probably not customer relationship management.
No, what most small business owners want and need out of marketing software is the ability to get home earlier at night, to be able to spend time doing the tactical work they love (I didn’t say that was best, but it is reality), and to follow-up automatically with leads.
If that’s true then the entire category of software aimed at small business might more accurately be dubbed “marketing automation” software instead of CRM software. Marketing automation software would track contact details, capture leads, send emails, execute on campaign steps, distribute leads to sales folks, and create order and fulfillment tasks and do it all with the potential to use both online and offline marketing tools. (I know, most CRM software does this, but it also rotates and balances your tires.)
The notion of marketing automation software came directly from a recent conversation I had with Clate Mask, CEO of Infusion Software, on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. Infusion has poured a great deal of effort into creating a marketing automation tool just for the small business, and while they may not be alone, they certainly seem to be on the right path. (Full disclosure – I am an Infusion user)
Sometimes it’s hard to abandon long established industry terminology and blaze new paths. It sometimes requires a great deal of energy just getting people to understand how your tool is not what everyone else calls it, but when you get it right, the payoff is worth it.