Small business does not need enterprise software (because it sucks) is a post I wrote just a couple of weeks ago. And CRM is one of those Big Enterprise systems that just screams "spend hundreds of thousands in consulting to implement me!". Even Salesforce doesn't make it particularly easy for small businesses that just want to manage their clients, prospects and contacts. Getting started is just too hard. Well, it seems that things might be changing. Just a few minutes ago, TechCrunch put out the story that Constant Contact Buys Social CRM Startup Bantam Live for $15 Million in Cash. For any of you who have been reading about my exploits getting my first email newsletter out to my contacts using Constant Contact, you'll know that I love what they do (and you may also remember that my wife works for them - I have not been rewarded for writing this). So I'm interested in how this new addition of Bantam Live to the Constant Contact suite will help small businesses to really know who they know.
I'm sure that Constant Contact are downplaying what this acquisition means right now. Sure, when I looked at Bantam Live during some research for my own efforts with Consected, just a couple of months ago, I would say that ease of use and fast start for getting contacts into the solution from numerous sources (including your social media contacts like Twitter) was appealing. And this is going to be considerably better than the sufficient email contact upload capability Constant Contact has available currently. But my hope is that you smart guys at Constant Contact are thinking about this more broadly. What do I mean? Well, as I have your attention, here is what I, as a small business owner want...
Just remember, as a small business owner I don't want to be looking in multiple places for customer contact information. So the CRM capability needs to really live up to the C in CRM - 'Customer'. Not just another contact I can engage through your email, event and social media marketing. But a true customer who is spending money with my business, and therefore sometimes contacts me about stuff. I need to know their history, know the key contacts, even mark some of them as 'do not send marketing emails', so that I can truly manage the customer relationship. And it all needs to just be there, up and running and configured when I first login. I don't have time, or energy to work out how to get it configured or choose from lots of options - it just has to work - now.
It is around the true management of customers that I hope the really solid features of Bantam Live live on. Easy to use social CRM will certainly help me in the engagement of my contacts, not just through email. But the collaboration and task management capabilities seem to allow the opportunity to offer more of a small business suite than mere email marketing alone. I'm bullish about this for one reason - Constant Contact has proven to hundreds of thousands of other paying customers that they can make previously complex technology accessible to users who rarely venture away from their Yahoo home page. If they can do this with the Bantam Live CRM + collaboration capabilities, then I think they are on to a winner and will be loved by more and more small businesses, for more than email newsletters.
A post from the Improving It blog
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