How a Friend Made their Startup Profitable in a Few Months with an Effective SaaS CRM Solution

Science fiction films and T.V. series paint a bleak picture of the future - war, plague, floods, cannibalism, etc. And, if that isn't enough, there's always the newspapers talking about corruption, banking fraud, inflation, unemployment and more. There is a flip side to this realistic or unrealistic pessimism - the exponential growth of technology and with it, the speed at which people can connect to exchange ideas or learn through osmosis. 

One of today's most long lasting trends is facilitated by newer technologies - social networking. Obviously, businesses want to remain businesses and not abandoned office spaces, therefore, incorporating 'social customer relationship management', popularly called social CRM is the obvious next step when considering an Apple-esque progression towards customer-centricity. To simplify this for stay-at-home parents, students and elderly people, this is like the story of a "geek with zits" who becomes a "hip hop phenomenon"  overnight. My friend (Kabir), a nobody in school, became our city's most popular private investment consultant for his particular field of specialization by following the right advice and believing in customer experience optimization versus a focus on profit margins.

After graduating from business school, Kabir, traveled around the world for a few months to decide his career path. While looking at some second hand book titles on Kolkata's Free School Street, he chanced upon one by Paul Greenberg - the guru of social brought back memories of his professor's advice, "Kabir, you'll never take the trodden path! But, remember, you always need a pathfinder and facilitator to avoid drowning in the ocean of humanity and beat the cut throat competition." The professor put his hands on his shoulders, "Make the most of each day, leave the daydreaming for post-retirement, the world is full of surprises and friends to make!"

He returned home and found his school friends were either working abroad or freelancing as consultants. During the fag end of the trip, he discovered that deep inside, working purely for filling his coffers would be no fun - standing out from the crowd and making a difference in people's lives is what he really wanted to do. To earn some pocket money he'd given advice on investments to a large percentage of his relations. Now, he needed to take this to the next level. But, Kabir knew consultants were easily available everywhere, why should anyone want his advice on what stocks and shares to buy?

A few days later, while glancing through his high school yearbook, an idea crossed his mind - he could use his business school education and tech-savviness to help others make money and then himself. No, he wasn't going to post a video on Kickstarter, but, do something traditional with a modern twist!

The next morning a few of his close friends were crowded around the breakfast table to hear about his brainwave!

"We'll call it 'Zero m.p.h.'. Each one of us will specialize in giving advice to our clients about investments in our field of expertise. Janet can recommend rare wines as an investment to high net worth individuals, Ahmad can suggest the best antiques as long term investments to city folks, Viraj will share his expertise on all things artistic and I'll work on the marketing and rapport building to generate clients for each of you.

"You really think we can support our consultancy with the overheads of rent, hardware, software, catalogs...," Janet cut in.

"It's the 21st century - the first few months will require our collective pocket money, but, after that, it will all be revenue for financial advice to our clients, most of whom will be art collectors or sommeliers thanking us for our expertise and timeliness. This is how - I was part of a project in business school about evaluating CRM solutions for different industry verticals and discovered a Software-as-a-Service or SaaS CRM solution with an  affordable subscription fee and all the necessary features for effective sales automation, marketing and knowledge management," Kabir tried to explain.

"My cousin spent three months implementing a CRM software a few years ago and it bombed! It took him six months to get back his father's old customers!" Ahmad said loudly. 

Kabir knew it would be an uphill task initially to convince his friends. He had therefore, already paid three month's subscription for four users and customized the SaaS CRM solution to match his prospective business strategy and workflow. It was time to enlighten his close friend and future business partners. "I've set up a CRM solution to knit all my proposed business processes together, along with keep all users in the loop about new leads and prospective partners. What's  more, since these are investments where sharing information with our clients instantly is vital, the CRM software will enable us to access customer information everywhere through our mobile phones and tablets. All updates about new customers and deals can be added or viewed through web enabled gadgets around the clock."

"To answer Janet's earlier objection, we'll all work from our own homes, use our existing gadgets and most interestingly - schedule newsletters and brochures to be sent through the CRM software's marketing automation tools to email various customer segments with details of the best investments in art and antiques. Also, Janet will use Pinterest to share her latest suggestions with hip folks interested in a connoisseur's opinion of where to buy the best imported wines!" Kabir continued confidently.
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I spoke with Kabir a few months later after seeing his picture on the cover of a local magazine. He described his experience with CRM software and also how they had leveraged conversations containing specific keywords on Twitter to capture leads through social CRM. His team of friends had then sent personalized mail blasts and run email campaigns to create a large database of prospective customers. By carefully targeting each segment through multi-channel campaigns with details of the most relevant products, they had successfully created numerous customers in a short time. The feedback from dead leads was used to add new products to their business and redesign strategies for certain segments. The CRM solution's marketing and sales automation played a strategic part in continually improving their customer base and retaining relationships with profitable customers.

Kabir's friends who initially thought the CRM solution had a limited life and poor ROI, gradually began to understand the long term benefits of continually redesigning strategies to improve market wallet share with key CRM software features like real-time insights, clear pipeline visibility and social analytics.