By Dirk Zeller

One of the most valuable tools in business is a customer relationship management (CRM) program. If you’re in business, you already know the profit to be tapped from existing customers. They’re already yours! It takes many times more effort, energy, and time to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.

No matter what your business, the ability to contact existing customers easily and frequently — with the inside knowledge of someone who knows them well as customers — is invaluable. Add the ability to send customers personalized communications at the exact time they’re in the market for your product or service, and you’re in business: profitable business. Even if customers won’t need to replace your product for many years, you may be able to offer them related items or garner a referral to their friends.

CRM helps you maximize the service, communication, sales, and relationship-building with prospects and existing clients — the lifeblood of any business — by providing quick access to critical customer information, whether you’re selling, serving, or invoicing.

Additionally, CRM enables your office practices to become nearly paperless, especially if you have compatible software that changes faxes into electronic documents.

You can even enter notes into your CRM software while you’re on the phone with prospects and customers, allowing you to keep records of discussions in one centralized place, banishing sticky notes and random slips of paper. This automation saves time and money and provides practically unfettered access to documents and client files from anywhere in the world. What’s more, it’s kind to trees.