Running a small business is hard. Fact.
When you’re starting up you’re balancing the need to find and get new customers, against the need to deliver your product or service, against the need to keep existing customers. You probably know everything you need to know about the communications you have with your business relationships.
Once you’re more established and have between 2 and 10 people in your team, then begins the management task of delegation, and getting the best out of your team to deliver results for you and your business. Ideally as you move closer toward the team of 10 stage, you start stepping away from working in your business to deliver your product or service, and focus more time working on your business to grow it. You start to rely on other people to communicate from your business, and quickly realise that the information you used to know about your relationships is now in someone else’s head.
From 11 people upwards, and then at whatever stage thereafter, you’re leading your business. You have a management structure which is responsible for delivering both their own results, plus results through their team. You’re heading up the organisation, perhaps marketing your business and promoting it to your key accounts, and your team is certainly doing the bulk of detailed day-to-day work in the business. You no longer have track of the daily communications that occur, but at any point in time would like access to these communications to understand the whole picture of how your business communicates with your customers, and what these relationships look like.
These numbers for your team may differ in your business, but they illustrate a key point. As your business grows it becomes harder to keep track of all the moving parts, all the communications and agreements between your business and your customers or clients, from initial lead or enquiry, through to order, through to product or service delivery, through to billing and ongoing customer service, and ongoing billing relationships.
Whether Dunbar’s Number continues to be as relevant in today’s business world with the presently available technology, I’ll let others debate. What it does help to do, is understand that most of us are able to manage only a certain number of quality relationships. Dunbar uses an average number of 150 quality relationships. Whether yours is higher or lower, it’s a powerful thought when applied to business.
What is a quality relationship in business?
- A strong two-way relationship with your customer, where you understand their needs, are aware of changes in their business, and understand how your products and services can help to support their business
- A strong-two-way relationship with your suppliers, to ensure that you stay at the forefront of their minds, get relevant support when you need it, but that they understand how your business grows and changes so you can discuss economies of scale as you start to place more orders with them
- A strong two-way relationship with your partners, whether these are consultants, partner businesses or other key partners in your professional network that you rely on for sound advice, supporting service delivery, and perhaps mutual help for growing your respective businesses
How many quality business relationships do you think you have? Add to this figure your personal relationships of family and friends and there’s a limit to the number of quality relationships we can manage, even with the help of social media and today’s communication tools.
So, how does better communications flow = a better flowing business?
All these relationships will likely result in a mass of communication activities – phone calls, emails, appointments, letters – and so on. Different people in your business will be having communication activities with your customers, and perhaps with multiple contacts within those companies.
Without the right system in place, these many complex communications make it difficult for your team to understand your customer relationships as a whole. Instead, using the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for your business provides a central hub for your team to record these communications for the benefit of other team members.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 makes it easy for your team to store records of phone calls, appointments and emails against customer records. Many of us use Microsoft Outlook on a daily basis. Microsoft Dynamics CRM has the best integration in the marketplace with a dedicated Outlook application, which not only makes it easy to track your communications into CRM, is also gives you the choice to operate CRM through Outlook or through your web browser or mobile device.
If you value quality business relationships, and struggle to keep communications flowing across your business, then having the right system can make a big difference.