Guide: How to Compare CRM Software for Small Businesses?

Darren Gordon

Mar 29 2018

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a dedicated technology designed to streamline your company’s interactions with leads, prospects, potential and existing customers, colleagues, and suppliers. A CRM system helps organize, automate, improve, and accelerate various aspects of contact management, sales management, marketing and sales processes, team productivity and business growth.

Why Every Small Business Needs CRM Software

If your small business is going to last, you absolutely need to have a clearly defined strategy for the future. Naturally, for a new business, setting up sales targets, defining business objectives and working towards establishing profitability are among the top priorities, but as the number of leads and customers starts to grow, lack of time and resources become a major issue and maintaining priorities by getting reliable, up-to-date, structured, and filtered information on your progress turns into a real challenge.

Each new customer interaction adds more and more data from multiple channels – sales, marketing, customer support, social media – and at some point, the amount of data becomes an obstacle rather than an advantage.

A well-suited CRM system allows you to negate all those potential, yet very real, issues. It does this by collecting, storing, structuring, and displaying all data in a single, customizable dashboard. This helps you and your team keep track of all the information about a prospect and share his/her history with your company, the status of their orders, possible customer support issues, the number of previous sales touches and their position in the sales pipeline. This allows your team to make smarter decisions, identify opportunities, minimize confusion (both internal and prospect-related) and ultimately, close more deals in less time.

Benefits of CRM Software for Small Businesses

Organized and Structured Processes

A cloud-based CRM system allows to gather and store all customer-related data in a single place, which can be accessed by any team member (as long as they have authorization and internet connection) anytime, anywhere. This not only helps eliminate the countless notepads, Excel sheets, and even pen and paper notes scattered throughout the office but also ensure no amount of data will ever be lost or stolen.

Routine Task Automation

CRM systems allow you to automate many routine, time-consuming tasks (emails, reminders, calendar updates, notifications, lead assignments, workflows, etc.), giving your team the breathing room they need to focus their efforts on meeting sales quotas.

Improved Prospect Communication

Most CRM systems let you separate and keep all customer communication in a single place. Moreover, thanks to the visualization of the lead pipeline, sales reps will be able to minimize the number of sales touches while providing more value to customers with each consecutive call.

Anytime, Anywhere Access to Customer Data

Nowadays, many prospects prefer to be contacted outside of normal business hours. This means that sales reps often have to make calls outside of the office. Having access to previous interactions with a particular customer, along with the whole customer history, can make the difference between a closed deal and a missed opportunity.

Effective Marketing and Sales Collaboration

It is not uncommon for businesses to miss out on potential deals due to lack of proper communication between marketing and sales teams. By having a clear definition and a visual interpretation of every lead’s stage (hot leads, cold leads, sales qualified leads, etc.) using a CRM,  your marketing team will be able to identify the needs of the sales team. They can then supply them with well-nurtured leads that are ready for outreach through a representative.

Likewise, sales reps will get the chance to foster this collaboration by constantly adding and refreshing customer information, allowing the marketing team to fine-tune their campaigns and get even more leads.

How to Choose the Right CRM Software for Your Small Business

When shopping for a CRM system, your job is to make sure that it suits your business perfectly. While it sounds easy, it’s not as straightforward as it may seem. For all you know, the highest-ranking CRM system out there might be an inefficient choice for your particular business – and vice versa, depending on what you need to achieve. Here is a list that will come in handy on your buying journey:

Make Good Use of the Free Trial Period

Luckily, 99% of CRM vendors offer a free trial and product demo (with the option to ask an unlimited number of questions for free) to potential users before they decide to commit. This is a great opportunity to really test the product and try out every aspect it. Most people simply go through a few steps to get the touch and feel and then assume it will work for them without going into too much detail.

If you don’t have the time to test different products, have your team members do it for you. Ask them to perform everything from common day-to-day activities to really complex stuff. You also need to make sure that the vendor is well prepared to handle crisis situations in case they happen.

Business Type, Features, and Customizability

It’s important to choose a CRM vendor that fully understands the type of business you’re doing. B2B businesses have different goals and strategies, longer sales cycles, more sophisticated audiences, and different needs compared to B2C businesses.

The features and functionality required to stay on top of your efforts will vary accordingly, depending on what type of data you want to focus on and what actions you need to automate.

Ease of Use

Every decent CRM software should be extremely intuitive and easy to use, and this aspect is vital to your success. A good to could do is involve your team in the selection process, since they will be the ones using it daily. Having your team around will also help make the transition a lot easier while boosting the adoption rate of the system.

Mobility, Integrations, and Scalability

With the number of gadgets (smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.) actively being used by both sales reps and customers nowadays, and the fact that many sales calls happen outside of traditional business hours, your CRM system absolutely needs to be cloud-based, accessible by anyone, anywhere, on any device.

Integrations are another important aspect. Make sure that the CRM system can be seamlessly integrated with all (or at least most) of the tools that you are already using. Finally, it’s good to know that the software you choose has the potential to scale with your business. Swapping CRM systems in the future isn’t a big deal, but why go through the trouble if it can be avoided?

The Best CRM Systems for Small Businesses

1. Pipedrive

Pipedrive is primarily designed for small businesses looking to streamline their sales operations. The UI is very newbie friendly, making it exceptionally good for teams that have no prior experience with CRM software.

This vendor offers a 30-day free trial and all the core features that every team needs to succeed including pipeline management, email integrations, sales reporting, and forecasting, along with some decent level of automation for routine activities. Also, every feature is fully customizable to fit your business and sales strategy. Contact management is easily done via drag and drop options, and leads can be separated from existing customers by creating a different pipeline.

Pipedrive is cloud-based and available on every common operating system including IOS, Android, Windows, and Linux and seamlessly integrates with most popular apps including Google Suite, MailChimp , and Zapier.

2. Salesmate

Salesmate is a small business oriented system that mainly focuses on your sales processes. The UI and design are pretty straightforward, allowing teams to make calls, send emails, look through data, add notes and update deals without leaving the sales pipeline.

One of the most distinctive features of Salesmate is that it supports multiple currencies and time zones, allowing each user to sync with any time zone across the globe. This is particularly useful if you have a remote team or work with multinational customers. You can also set a preferred home currency, and the CRM will automatically convert all sales data using up-to-date foreign exchange rates for accurate analytics and reporting.

The core features like pipeline management, activity tracking, deals management, sales automation, contacts management, and common integrations are also present, along with some more advanced features like sales intelligence and sales forecasting.

Salesmate is available on most common operating systems, and its mobile app can be found on both IOS and Android platforms.

3. Freshsales

Freshsales CRM is a flexible CRM that is suited for technically any business size. Thanks to its well-designed packages, it is especially effective for teams that value customer support, giving them all the tools to handle requests and queries quickly and effortlessly.

The Blossom and Garden packs give small businesses everything they need to handle routine tasks, manage leads, deals, and customer data, integrate with existing systems, get a clear view of the sales pipeline, as well as make high quality calls directly through the CRM software. Additionally, there is an emphasis on collaborative work, as Freshsales lets you assign the same prospect to multiple sales reps at once.

The UI is very intuitive and easy to grasp right from the start, and scalability will never be an issue. Another big plus is the exceptional customer support Freshsales offers, no matter what issue you’re facing, they will always deal with it in the shortest amount of time.

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