Choosing Best CRM For Your Small Business — A Beginners Guide

When does your small business need a CRM and why?

If you are a small business owner, you would have realized a small business environment is ever-changing, dynamic and challenging.

You would have also realized understanding the needs of customers and improving sales is crucial for your small business not only to grow but even to sustain where you are now.

Cutting vegetables require a knife and similarly tracking customers and slicing and dicing your potential leads require a tool. This tool is called customer relationship management software or simply a CRM.

What is CRM, by the way?

If you have just started up, launched your first product, or busy onboarding your first customer, probably you will not need a CRM right away. In the very early stages of your ‘small business journey, you would not have a large amount of customer data and hence you can do with other methods to manage them, say using spreadsheets, phone contacts, and so on.

However, when you have crossed the first goal of having a sizable number of initial wins, and are ready to welcome many more new customers and prospects, it is the perfect time for your small business to embrace a good CRM.

Scaling up sales needs a lot of enthusiasm, energy, and effort. It needs a good tool as well. Having a good CRM can be a boon and can free up time for you to continue to focus on customers and sales.

During the early stages of growth and traction, time is the most valuable resource that you can gift yourself. Any investment in tools and processes that saves time will contribute to your top line and bottom line. CRM at this stage can be of great help.

What should you look for in a CRM?

Now that you understand why your small business needs CRM, let us see what the best small business CRM would look like.

With a wide range of CRMs available in the market, choosing the best CRM for your small business can be a tricky decision and hence we are glad to share this exclusive guide with you.

You could find much pricier and more costly CRM options with a huge list of offerings promising to provide the moon. But remember, a CRM is truly valuable if you use it. Many businesses invest a good amount of money and resources on a CRM deployment, only to see sparse or no use of the tool later.

We have seen, over time, we all buy something, but never end up using it — at home and at the office. CRM should not fall into this category.

Before choosing a CRM, it is important to have a deep look at your sales process and sales cycle and understand the needs of your business. Write down the challenges that you wish to solve using a CRM and determine the features that are most important to you, your sales process, and your business goals before clicking the ‘buy now button.

Below are the top 5 key aspects that you need to review when choosing a CRM for your small business:

  1. Ease of use
  2. Easy to learn
  3. Can scale quickly
  4. Fairly Priced
  5. Great Customer support

1. Ease of use:

By picking up an easy-to-use CRM, you make sure to get buy-in from your sales team. When a CRM is easy to use, your sales team is comfortable using the tool and they will use it in their everyday sales activities. When they use it in their everyday sales activities their productivity goes up and hence sales.

An easy-to-use CRM will help you get over the initial trouble of convincing your sales team that they need to adopt a new system or a tool for their work.

Any productivity tool, including a CRM, that you and your team use, should make the job easier and not the other way. If learning a tool itself takes time, then it poses a barrier to quick adoption and use. An easy-to-learn and intuitive CRM, on the other hand, make smooth sailing for your sales team and paves way for increasing sales.

2. Easy to learn:

As a small business, you and your team do not have the necessary time or required motivation to get trained and use newly purchased CRM.

You and your team need time to generate new leads, win more deals, and will not have the luxury of investing time for long training sessions.

Learning and onboarding a new CRM should be an enabler and not a barrier for your sales team.

So, pick a CRM which has an intuitive user interface, which you and your sales team can easily learn and start using for everyday sales activities, right away, without spending days and weeks for onboarding and training.

3. Can scale quickly:

Many small businesses grow quickly in offerings, sales volume, and customers, The CRM you have chosen should also be capable of adapting and continue to fit your business as it grows.

Two aspects you need to keep in mind are:

(a) the CRM should be able to scale in terms of number of users, and number of transactions and provide a good response even at an elevated number of transactions

(b) the CRM should be able to give you features that you do not need now, but that you will need when the business grows shortly.

Your business scales with its challenges and a well-chosen CRM facilitates this growth and allows seamless collaboration among the sales, customer support, and marketing teams.

4. Fairly Priced:

Cost is an important element in the early stages of your business.

Start-ups and small businesses need to be careful with their expenses to ensure sufficient funds are available for marketing and to grow the customer base and scale their business.

A CRM is not just a business expenditure but a long-term investment.

Being a small business, you will not utilize 60% of the top-end features provided by a CRM. As a result of it, you will be paying for features that your sales team may not be effectively using or using at all.

The best thing you can do is to have a detailed discussion with your sales team, understand and streamline the sales process, identify the problems you are trying to solve, note down what features you need, and then take an informed decision.

As most of the CRMs in the market today are available with a free trial period, go ahead and run a trial or a pilot with a few suitable CRMs, along with your sales team.

At the end of the day, you should do a thorough cost-benefit analysis before deciding which CRM suits your needs best. Work out costs and benefits for a 3 to 5-year period and then make an informed decision. Invest in a CRM that you believe is fairly priced.

5. Great Customer support:

Great customer support is another big-ticket item that you should look for in a CRM.

Since your small business has few and ‘always-busy’ team members, it is quite helpful if the tool you use offers sufficient support and guidance for you to get up and running whenever any issue or problem is faced.

Along the way, you could run into some issues in the product and the support team should be able to guide you and provide you with the required technical support instead of leaving you to google your way of troubleshooting.

What are the must-have features in a CRM?

Apart from the basic things that you look for in a CRM, there are a few features that your CRM must have to help you and your small business to grow and reach new heights.

Based on the size of your business and the industry you are in, the features you need may vary. However, below are the top 10 sought-after and fundamental features in a CRM, that small businesses such as yours would need

  1. WhatsApp Connectivity
  2. Auto Texting and SMS
  3. Facebook lead integration
  4. Team management and performance tracking
  5. Comprehensive dashboard and analytics
  6. Email integration
  7. Easy to configure features
  8. Quotes and Invoices
  9. File Attachments
  10. Multiple methods to capture leads and customers

1. WhatsApp Connectivity:

In this changing world, you must connect withyour prospects and customers using a medium in which they are active.

Currently, for any business, including small businesses, WhatsApp has become the most preferred communication medium.

Hence, the CRM, you choose, should have the capability to let you connect with your prospects and customers using WhatsApp.

Setting up WhatsApp message templates and letting you choose them while connecting via WhatsApp will be a breeze for your daily sales activities.

Also, many businesses get their sales enquiries through WhatsApp. A CRM which has the power to capture those WhatsApp enquiries as leads and connect with them quickly will add more value to your everyday sales process and improve sales for your business

2. Rapid lead response by Auto Texting and SMS:

You must respond toyour prospects and customers at the speed of light. Responding to them quickly improves the trust and reputation of your business.

As, it is not possible every time that you have enough time and resources to respond to your customer enquiries and requests, a CRM that powers you with capabilities to auto-respond to your customer via email and text messages will solve this critical need and will be of great help.

3. Facebook lead integration:

The CRM you choose for your small business should have the capacity to capture the leads generated from your Facebook lead ads. A system that could automatically capture every enquiry from Facebook and distribute it to your sales team for further follow-ups, will be a perfect time-saver and productivity enhancer.

Auto response to Facebook lead enquires will also help in quick connect and better sales conversions.

4. Team management:

Sales, like other business functions, is a team sport.

A CRM that you choose needs to accommodate all your sales team members and provide perfect team integration.

A business can effectively be run if every stakeholder can get access to high-level sales overviews and also ground-level insights. A CRM you plan to purchase should provide both of these,

In a small business, bringing all your team members to a single platform and making everyone get immediate access to lead data, customer data and analytics is a key factor for sales success. The CRM, you are thinking of, should do this, Additionally, the CRM should provide an overview of sales team performance and this can help while monitoring every team member’s activity and measuring their performance.

5. Comprehensive dashboard and analytics:

A key capability of a CRM is to show you the results of your team’s effort and to let you visualize the progress of your business.

Based on the business or industry you are part of, the metrics and analytics may vary, but few of the measuring sticks are global and common across businesses. Below are a few examples of these measuring sticks.

How many prospects have been contacted? Which product or service of my business is gaining more interest from prospects? How many customers did we win and lose? What is the result of the follow-up calls done by my team? How much time did each team member invest in speaking to prospects and customers? How many deals have been closed by my team, in the last 30 days?

6. Email integration:

If you have hundreds or thousands of prospects and customer data, it is not practically possible for you and your team to call and connect with them individually.

And of course, frequent calls will also make your prospects feel uncomfortable and that is where email communication helps. So, make sure your CRM is capable of providing you with an emailing solution and email integration capabilities as it can greatly help you to nurture, convert, and win new prospects.

7. Easy to configure:

Even if your small business does not need a very customized CRM, a CRM which can be configured to suit your sales process will be helpful.

Also, these customization options or configuration options should be easy to do with lesser training or support.

A few basicconfiguration options include listing your products, services and customer groups. It will also include configuring lead or customer stages.

8. Quotes and Invoices

The hard effort carried out to convert a prospect into a customer finally ends in sharing with them a price quote or price estimate and later an invoice for them to make payment.

The CRM to which you are planning to subscribe, if it is enabled with features to generate price quotes, estimates and invoices it will make the sales process easy and quick. It can save time and improve productivity.

9. File Attachments

We always have a few things to associate with a prospect or customer. It can be a document, or image of a customer’s office or their products or even a recording of a conversation that you had recently.

A CRM should provide a way to add, especially from mobile, pictures, images, audio recordings and documents.

Instead of managing the files separately and tracking them, it would be a breeze if your CRM empowers you to store and manage all the files and track the history of which files were shared with whom and when.

10. Multiple ways to capture leads, prospects and customers

The world is changing and the ways we generate leads are also changing rapidly.

Earlier, tradeshows used to be the biggest source of lead generation and now it is social media — Facebook, Instagram, Google to name a few — where many small businesses are generating leads. So make sure, the CRM you choose for your business is capable of capturing and managing leads and customers from a wide range of sources including Website Enquiries, Phone calls, WhatsApp, Third-Party listing platforms, Expos and tradeshows, business cards, phone calls and other sources.

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