Running a small business is no picnic. But despite the challenges, you still need to drive revenue, encourage customer loyalty and find ways to streamline so you can be more productive. That’s where CRM software enters the picture. And not just any CRM system — the best CRM for small business.
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If you think a solid CRM is restricted to the companies with never-ending budgets, tech experts and complex software ecosystems, think again. There are plenty of options out there perfectly suited to your unique needs as a small business. With the proper system in place, you don’t have to remain captive in spreadsheet hell or suffer through repetitive, time-consuming manual tasks every day.
The journey to finding your perfect CRM match isn’t easy, and evaluating technology that plays such a pivotal role in your business can be overwhelming. We’ve put together a list of the best CRM software for small businesses to help you out. In this article, we’ll cover:
Maybe this is your first investment in a small business CRM, or maybe you have a current system that’s too burdensome, complex or expensive. Whatever your situation, there’s a better alternative. Let’s get started so you can begin reaping the rewards.
Don’t think all those fancy benefits are reserved for the large companies who can pay for advanced systems. You can see a huge ROI from implementing a CRM platform that caters to your specific pain points and level of complexity.
A CRM for small business will help you:
1. Stay Organized
As a small business, keeping track of all your customer-related info can be a chore. Spreadsheets, sticky notes, random business cards — sound familiar? If you’re still handling data the old-fashioned way, a CRM will make a world of difference for your business.
By nature, a CRM system is a storage repository for all the data that flows into your business. Lead profiles, revenue numbers, meeting notes, metrics about marketing efforts — it all gets organized and neatly recorded. No more digging through spreadsheet tabs or looking through stacks of physical files.
2. Save Time
The beauty of CRM software tools is that they can support much of the work you’re used to doing manually, freeing you up to be more productive.
Workflow automation is one way this happens, and it can apply at any stage — marketing, sales or service. Instead of completing tasks yourself, you can program rules into the system, which then trigger automatic actions at the appropriate time.
Marketing automation and sales automation are two popular use cases. You can set up email sequences that send new emails automatically to groups of contacts or configure your sales process so leads are automatically assigned to sales reps and certain actions move the deal to the next stage in your pipeline.
3. Improve Communication
This benefit applies both internally and externally.
Internally, the disconnect between sales and marketing departments is an age-old battle. Add customer service and things can become muddled in a hurry. Even if you don’t have defined teams at your company, chances are your collaboration process could use some improvement. A CRM smooths out the process by providing historical info for each contact so everyone can operate with context. Some platforms even have built-in chat tools so teams can collaborate and work in the same application.
You can also streamline the tasks surrounding external communication. For example, you can run multiple marketing campaigns via an email marketing tool and integrate with social media channels that let you keep a pulse on what your audience is talking about.
4. Keep Customers Happy
Eight in 10 customers say the experience they’ll have with your company is as important as your product or service, according to Salesforce data. With such high expectations, keeping your current base satisfied is critical for long-term success.
CRMs let you measure customer satisfaction via surveys so you can always be improving. They also often include support tools, which let customers reach out on their preferred channels (social media, website, email) to provide greater convenience.
5. Focus On What Works
CRM products, as we discussed, are like data goldmines. But that data is worthless unless you can act on it. That’s where analytics and reporting tools come in.
Visual elements like dashboards, reports, charts and graphs help you get a grasp of your data, often in a way that’s much more user-friendly than fiddling with a clunky spreadsheet. You can view summaries or drill down for more analysis for all your customer-related activities.
Whether you’re looking at the performance metrics for your latest marketing campaigns or tracking sales pipeline data, having a clear view of your data will show you where your business stands. Such insight will help you do more of what’s effective and eliminate what isn’t.
6. Scale Growth
Everything else circles back to this goal. If you want to survive, you’ll have to scale. Automating tasks, getting your data in order — everything we just talked about contributes to this goal. In turn, you’ll have the tools needed to grow. And even if you start with a basic CRM package, you can always upgrade later so the capabilities you have access to align with your business needs.
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No two companies are the same, so the capabilities you need will be unique to your business requirements and workflows. However, there are some common CRM features to look for.
This is arguably the most critical aspect of a CRM for small business. Why? Because software is only helpful if you actually use it. A poorly designed interface with clunky navigation and a confusing layout will only make your job more difficult. At that point, you’re just wasting your hard-earned money. Look for intuitive placement of elements, easily understandable icons, logical navigation and an uncluttered UI.
The core component of any CRM system, contact management is the foundation for your CRM data, processes and operations. Ideally, this feature will automate data entry, ensure a database that doesn’t have duplicate records and capture all the contact info you need while displaying it in an easy-to-view manner.
Dashboards will give you high-level insights on a day-to-day basis so you can continuously monitor the health of your business. They pull critical pieces of information, like lead counts and revenue, for easy viewing. Some systems let you configure your dashboard to surface the metrics you care about the most.
Generating, nurturing and converting leads is a key part of business growth. Lead management provides tools like web forms for lead capture, which funnel into your pipeline.
A visual pipeline with the ability to define stages helps simplify tracking so you can easily see which stage leads are in, the number of leads in your funnel and more. Lead management also facilitates follow-up, and some systems offer lead scoring and automatic routing and further optimize and streamline your efforts.
Some CRMs have a built-in module to handle marketing activities, while others integrate with a marketing automation platform. In either case, these tools let you execute email campaigns, create segmented lists for more precise targeting, measure results and promote your product or service across multiple channels.
Any CRM worth its salt will have at least some reporting capability, so you can keep tabs on business metrics. Reporting functionality levels vary depending on the product, making it critical to know what you’re looking for. Common features include graphs and charts, along with the ability to export reports in multiple formats.
The right CRM tools can automate plenty of tasks — data entry, database updates, email sequences, deal progression, lead assignment and more. Workflow automation options are different for each system, so we recommend listing the tasks you most want to automate so you can evaluate systems accordingly.
In addition to the features we’ve covered, also consider a vendor’s support package in light of your needs.
- Do they provide a customer success specialist?
- What about data migration services?
- If it’s a cloud solution, what’s the average uptime?
Asking questions like this in advance will ensure you receive the assistance you need.
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