The right Customer Relationship Management or CRM software can be a small business owner’s best friend; it helps you keep up with every lead and customer without adding more employees to do the work manually. The wrong CRM software, on the other hand, will add to your burden — one more piece of technology that you don’t understand, and worse, have to pay for.
Karri Bishop, with TechnologyAdvice, shares her advice with us. Technology Advice is a B2B marketing firm that connects buyers and sellers of business technology.
The good news is, there are CRMs specifically designed to suit the needs and budgets of small business owners, with the same quality and performance as those used by the Fortune 500. Better yet, many offer free trials or free editions up to a certain number of users, which gives you the opportunity to try a system before you commit.
In the end, you can only choose one. As you do your research and run trials, keep in mind these three essentials that every small-business CRM software should offer:
If you’re a small business owner and your IT department is called Google.com, choosing a CRM software with a simple setup process is a must. After all, what good will your new software be if you can’t get it working? While any CRM you implement will require an adjustment period, some are known to be more intuitive than others. Insightly, for example, is praised by reviewers for its simple tools and elegant user experience, while Nimble, as the name suggests, gets high marks for a flexible, efficient interface. CRMs with a simple setup not only save you time but will make it easier to add users as your business grows.
CRMs are getting ever more sophisticated and rapidly expanding the features available to users. But more features isn’t always a good thing for a small business—especially if more features means a higher price tag money. The basic impetus for most people to buy CRM software is contact management. Add to that real-time data analytics, web forms, email marketing, and performance management, and CRMs start to become systems that can manage the majority of your sales and marketing processes.
But the point of a CRM is to make your processes more efficient, not more complicated. So if you’re not quite ready to deal with all of the features available in today’s CRMs and the cost associated with them, you’ll want to choose one with flexibility—like Apptivo which uses an app-like system to grow with you, or Highrise, which is just the basics, but with plenty of optional integrations.
Small business owners are always on the go, playing every role for their companies and being in 10 places at once. That’s why it’s important to choose a CRM that moves where you do — from your office to your phone to your tablet to your friend’s computer you just logged into in the middle of a dinner party.
Cloud-based CRMs help users do this by keeping their systems centrally managed and accessible from any location. Salesforce is the biggest and most well-known of the cloud-based CRMs, while Pipedrive is more small-team friendly. Most CRMs that have debuted in the past 5-10 years offer cloud deployment.