Why do startups need CRM

This morning I saw a question on Quora Why do startups need CRM?, and it reminded me of a conversation I had a few months ago.

I was chatting to a local biotech startup founder. We started talking about networking, managing relationships, and inevitably, CRMs. (I always ask people about how they manage their professional networks to get a sense of what problems we should solve at Markd).

One thing he said stood out for me. “Why would I need a CRM tool? I haven’t got any customers!”

And he was right! The term “Customer” Relationship Management suggests you have a lot of customers, thus a lot of relationships with these customers that you need to manage with additional tools. Why would startups without tens of thousands of customers need one of these?!

I think of CRMs as relationship management tools, networking tools. They help you stay organised with contacts, with people you’ve met and people you want to meet. For startups, this could be investors you want to pitch to, potential customers you want to reach out to, talents you want to hire, or business partners that can elevate you to the next stage.

You don’t NEED a CRM system to do any of that, and many are using spreadsheets or email apps (outlook) to keep track of people. However, a good CRM will make it easier and faster to do this - freeing up time, and more importantly, freeing up attention for you to tackle other pressing issues being in a startup brings. It’s especially useful when you start to collaborate with your team on managing these contacts.

We talked a bit more about CRMs on What is CRM — a Short Overview in Plain English. I think the name is stopping many people who might benefit from CRMs from using it. In fact, wouldn’t most of us want to get better at networking and staying organised with our professional contacts so we can find the right people to talk to when we need a bit of help? :)