So. You’re ready to jump on board the technology train for your small business, but not really sure where to start? Don’t worry; you’re not alone! Although most small businesses agree they’d like to be more productive and build closer relationships with customers, the majority are not taking advantage of basic tools and systems like CRM, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI).

More than 300 small business owners participated in a nationwide survey commissioned by Harris Poll on behalf of Salesforce in November 2016. After reviewing the research, we’ve identified several ways small businesses can take the anxiety out of their purchasing decisions:

  • Crowdsource feedback. The majority of small businesses do not have an IT staff, so it’s no surprise that 72% of their owners are responsible for making their companies’ technology buying decisions. Unfortunately they rarely have time to completely research a market or evaluate competing projects. Luckily  there’s help. Just check out reviews in your favorite technology publications or review sites (like GetApp and G2Crowd) that feature evaluations from real users. Always check ‘em out before you make any commitments.

  • Look for value. When considering which technologies to purchase, most small business owners favor price (74%), followed by convenience (43%). Unfortunately, they may be sacrificing compatibility with their current infrastructures or the ability to scale — aspects that add significant value over time. Look at what the company offers beyond the product. Do they offer thought leadership in an industry that matters to your business? How committed are they to your success? What kind of support do they offer? These things matter… sometimes more than price alone.

  • Balance your spend. Small businesses report that the majority of their technology dollars are spent on hardware (46%) and financial software (33%). While both are important for running a business, unless you balance with items like CRM and customer support solutions, you can’t build the close customer connections that will position your company for growth in the future.

  • Consider custom apps. More than half of today’s small companies (55%) have never built a custom business app. That means they’re missing a big opportunity to make their businesses more efficient or build closer relationships with customers. Not to worry, though. With tools like the Salesforce App Cloud, you can quickly and easily build your own apps.

  • Use the cloud to its full potential. While the majority of small business owners (62%) say they trust the cloud, fewer are actually using cloud-based technology services to their full potential. In fact, small businesses average only 14% of their technology in the cloud. They’re missing a huge opportunity to save money while enabling employees to be more productive. And it’s often easier to scale your business when using cloud products, so looking at the cloud now can help position you for success later.

Want to learn more about how small businesses spend on technology? Download the research report now.