Typically, when we think about CRM software, we think about large sales teams and big organisations managing multi-million dollar accounts. Terms and phrases like implementations, buy-in and change management come to mind as managers pour over the data to predict future revenues and move the share price up a bit.
What we don’t usually think of are the armies of self-employed professionals that make up the majority of the modern day workforce. Solo-preneurs, handyman, micro-entrepreneurs, service providers, skilled labourers, Joe the Plumber – they go by many names, but one fact is becoming incredibly clear – they are using technology just like the large corporations to improve efficiency and become more productive in their line of work.
Small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs are the backbone of the global economy and are responsible for the vast majority of all new job creation and economic growth, especially in developing countries. With technology increasingly eliminating barriers of entry, we can expect to see the even more new businesses sprouting up in the immediate future.
It might be surprising to know that scores of skilled labourers, such as carpenters, landscapers, plumbers, architects, graphic designers, freelance developers, auto mechanics, electricians and even teachers all use CRM systems in their day-to-day business activity. Now, this may not always be the most cutting edge SaaS CRM solution hosted in cloud, but every skilled professional you know has some sort of system for managing their customers relationships, even if that system is a beat up old notebook in the glove box of their truck.
For the last 40 years or so, there’s been and ebb and flow of panic that machines are making the human workforce obsolete. Certain sectors have certainly been more affected than others and technology advances, however what’s becoming increasingly more clear is that it’s the knowledge professionals that have to worry, not skilled labourers. As IoT sensors explode worldwide and big data analytics becomes more powerful, we’ll start to witness white collar jobs like analysts, data entry, accountants, economists, retailers and even real estate agents become obsolete.
Coincidentally, most skilled labour jobs will be immune from the coming artificial intelligence revolution. The reason is that these types of roles, typically carried out by a self-employed professional, require a mix of human intelligence, intuition and snap judgements that can only be made by people that have years or even decades of experience in their field.
This also means there will be a fierce battleground competing for market share in cities and communities around the world.
The winners will inevitably be the ones who adapt more quickly and embrace technological tools to help them build their business. When you have a choice between two or more professionals to complete a task, you choose the person you like more, or if you don’t know them you, you pick the one that has the better reputation. This means that to be successful, skilled labourers will benefit most from a user-friendly, mobile CRM tool that they can access on the go.
This trend is already happening. Contractors, plumbers, electricians, tutors, interior designers, engineers, and private detectives are adopting software CRMs to capture key information, record personal notes and set follow-up reminders for their growing list of customers. Professionally, it’s critical to learn from past experiences and understand your market, but on personal level the CRM becomes a game-changer.
As many self-employed professionals travel to their customer’s location, a mobile-friendly CRM will enhance the service they are able to provide to their customers. It’s safe to assume that the large majority of solo-entrepreneurs carry a smartphone, but now that smartphone can access years of notes and technical data reminding the user of their entire history with a customer while their sitting in their car in your driveway about to knock on your front door. As their longtime customer, you’ll be relieved to know that they can retrieve that data on a moments notice and set followup calls to make sure you don’t have any recurring problems.
Just don’t be surprised when your housepainters remember the names of your three kids after a 7-year gap in between visits. They looked it up on their mobile CRM before they arrived.