Marketing Cloud, Trailhead...
How Owners Can Choose the Best CRM for Their Small Businesses
By Amanda DiSilvestro
Selecting the best CRM for small businesses is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. If you’re new to working with a CRM platform, you often have to learn how to use it before you know how it can help you run your business. When choosing a CRM, it helps to test it in a trial out before making a decision. This way you can dive in, customize the features to your business needs, and figure out what works best for you.
Unfortunately, when you’re shopping around for the best small business CRM, it doesn’t make sense to test-drive every CRM out there. The best way to make this decision is to research each CRM’s benefits and features, measure how they align with your needs, then determine which should be tested. This research is incredibly important.
What Do You Hope to Get from a CRM?
List your company goals or priorities that a CRM platform could help make more efficient. These tasks may differ from company to company, especially between B2B and B2C SMBs.
Create a streamlined sales funnel
Manage your customer list
Know the history of a customer’s interactions with your company
Forecast sales for the next quarter
Simplify the Quote-to-Cash process
Compete more effectively against bigger companies
Track your events
Keep your files organized from client to client
You should know your company’s goals when it comes time to choose the best CRM software for your small business. Then you can look at a list of all the different features a CRM could offer, determine which are important, and keep those front and center during the decision-making process.
One CRM platform may have excellent event tracking, which means you can learn what a specific visitor does on your website, from which pages they visit to the collateral they download. Another platform has automation tools for sales. Two may seem identical. You will likely find, however, that one is better than the other for your company’s needs. When you start with what you value most, from features to the provider’s customer service, it will be easier to sort through the variety of features, tools, and services.
The Process for Choosing the Best CRM for Your Small Business
Here are the six steps you should take when you’re ready to select a CRM platform.
Research your company’s current situation and create a list of your wants and needs.
Learn in-depth what a CRM system is.
Investigate the features of a CRM.
Prioritize the features you want from step 3 based on your findings from step 1.
Narrow down your list to the three best CRM options for your company.
Request demos. Invite reps from marketing, sales, customer service, and other departments that will use the platform.
As you get into the details of each of these steps, you may not know which features and tools will truly help your company grow. Small businesses that have never used a CRM platform before often don’t know where to start. Six of the most valuable ways to evaluate which platform is the best CRM software for small business are:
The quality of its reporting features
Reviews and customer experiences
Your personal experience using it
The opinions of your department heads
If you find a CRM platform that meets these needs, you’ll likely find success.
6 Ways to Evaluate and Find the Best CRM for Your Small Business
1. How intuitive is reporting?
Your CRM system will make it easy to pull data the way you prefer — spreadsheets, charts, graphs, and other visual representations — to populate your dashboards, forecasts, reports, and more. The dashboard feature is available and customizable for each member of the team. On it your team members can view the data, such as metrics and important contacts, that is most relevant to their daily tasks and department.
For example, your sales manager is interested in high-level metrics that show the department’s progress, as well as performance data for individual salespeople. They can build a custom dashboard to show that information so that it’s easy to understand at a glance. Someone in customer service, however, is interested in knowing how many customer calls were answered within a certain time period for each specific employee.
When it comes to data, your management team needs to be able to see not only how your business is doing as a whole, but also how each employee is performing. Dashboards are essential, but so is reporting. The best CRM for small businesses will give you access to automated, personalized reports. It’s important to make sure that collating this data is intuitive. If there are certain parameters you need to use in your reports, you should be able to create that report quickly and easily.
2. What are the integration options?
Your CRM system needs to be your go-to resource for business information. Many CRM platforms have proprietary tools for a number of departments and functions that automatically integrate with the platform. Additionally, other data from your social media accounts, apps, and more software can be pulled automatically into your CRM platform to be categorized and used in your reports.
It is important that your CRM platform integrate seamlessly. This is especially needed for SMBs that want to grow. Dive into what integration looks like and ask CRM providers to walk you through how systems work together. Be sure to ask about all the integrations you may need in the future, too.
For example, many CRMs do not have a built-in ecommerce integration, which is necessary for growing retailers. What this means is that when you make a sale, you have to manually go into your CRM and mark that sale. The best small business CRM integrates with your ecommerce solution. If your company doesn’t have an ecommerce solution yet, talk with the CRM providers about your options.
3. Will it scale with your budget?
Right now, your SMB is profitable, but hasn’t yet gotten the attention of investors. You need a CRM platform that suits your specific needs. However, in two years you may be working with a venture capitalist, and you may experience exponential growth. The best CRM software will scale with your needs.
As your business grows, you want to make sure your CRM can grow with it. Additional tools, features, and seats — the industry term for the number of unique logins a company can use on its CRM platform — are important. This is something to ask about right away, before you commit to a provider.
4. Can you read unbiased reviews and speak to current users?
It’s easy to get caught up in all of the features of a CRM platform. As you research your options, check for reviews. These will not only give you a pulse on how current and previous customers feel about the platform and the provider, but they may also help you come up with more questions.
Many CRM providers will also put you in touch with users for an unbiased, helpful conversation. Ask for references once you have your top three choices.
5. How is the user experience?
6. What do your colleagues think?
The more different perspectives you can bring into your decision, the better. When choosing the best CRM for a small business, there are a lot of moving parts. Departments have different needs and wants and, in some cases, they may not realize they need something until they see it. Your teams will be intrigued by what a CRM platform can do if they have not used one before, so get them involved and get their input.