The biggest challenge for any small business (SMB) is growth. SMBs aim to have more employees, more customers, and more exposure for more revenue. When small businesses are in the process of expanding and growing, it’s important for them to streamline all workflows and organization processes in the business. This is when customer relationship management (CRM) systems become valuable. Of course, larger businesses and SMBs operate on such different scales, so they would have different CRM requirements.
So how do you choose the right CRM for a small business? A good CRM for an SMB should be an out-of-the-box or hosted CRM solution because most small businesses don’t have the IT expertise or resources to implement an in-house CRM. Generally, SMBs should look for a CRM that is affordable, user-friendly, and customizable. It’s also a bonus if the CRM has strong vendor support and integrates nicely with other tools.
What Should SMBs Look For in a CRM Platform?
Organizations use CRM programs to optimize and improve customer experiences. An effective CRM software can streamline basic tasks like creating calendar events, setting reminders, and gathering contact information. CRM can also be utilized to track, document, and report on customer sentiment in real-time; all customer touchpoints are managed so that managers would gain insights on how to boost upsell opportunities, prioritize sales deals, and build customer loyalty.
In the past years, CRM solutions were thought to be a tool exclusive for enterprise-level companies. Now, however, small and midsize businesses have seen the benefits of employing CRM platforms to streamline their processes as well. A number of functional, versatile, and inexpensive CRM systems have become more and more accessible to SMBs, giving them plenty of options to choose from.
When you’re looking for CRM software suitable for an SMB, here are some qualities to consider:
- Affordability: The cost of technology is a major consideration for small organizations and startups. It’s important to find a CRM system that is cost-efficient and budget-friendly. While every CRM system can be used by an unlimited number of people, it’s better to find one that’s designed and built around smaller teams of 5 to 10 employees.
- Ease of use: Your CRM software will only be valuable if you can actually use it. Small businesses don’t have the time or manpower available to master complex software designed for enterprises, so you should look for a CRM platform with a well-designed interface, intuitive navigation, and a clear layout. A good CRM system should be simple to manage, even without additional training.
- Customizability: Most enterprise-level CRMs offer deep analytics that dissect every minor interaction or specialized feature like app development. However, these extra bells and whistles aren’t necessary for most SMBs. In fact, they produce an overwhelming and unusable amount of data. Find a CRM that allows you to customize which features to include, especially those that improve, centralize, and maintain communication.
- Free customer support: Small businesses have small teams, so it’s helpful to invest in a tool that offers sufficient support. If a CRM service tries to charge your organization additional fees for live support, you’re likely being ripped off. The support department should be a team of people who are available by phone, email, or chat.
- Ability to integrate with other tools: It’s always good to have software that can take on other tools and combine data for the best results. Your sales reps shouldn’t have to leave the CRM every time they need to check their calendar or send an email, after all. A CRM that can integrate with business software you already use is more productive since you can access everything in one place. Quality CRM programs would have marketing tool integration, for example, that allows you to execute email campaigns, create segmented lists for targeting, and promote business across multiple channels easily.
The Top 3 Best CRM Software for Smaller Teams
While there are several CRM platforms designed for smaller teams available in the market today, a few stand out from the rest. Three of the most highly recommended CRM programs for SMBs are HubSpot, Zoho, and Nimble.
The HubSpot CRM has a well-earned reputation as a go-to tool for sales reps and marketers in small companies. The completely free, basic version of their CRM package supports unlimited users, so it’s especially popular among SMBs. HubSpot is a reliable CRM for keeping track of company activities like capturing lead data, assigning and tracking deals, and managing sales pipelines.
It’s great if you want to integrate apps like SalesForce, Shopify, and Microsoft Dynamics for additional capabilities. Users would also appreciate unique features including a chatbot builder, website activity monitoring, meeting scheduling, bulk email tracking, ad management, and lead generation form builders — which are normally found in paid plans. Overall, HubSpot is a straightforward CRM that’s super easy to use.
Zoho is a cloud-based CRM used by small businesses and enterprises alike, as it comes in a variety of editions. It’s ideal if you’re looking for a completely secure platform; Zoho protects your database with encryption, two-factor authentication, audit logs, and IP restrictions. The Zoho app — whether on Android or iOS — is highly rated for easy mobile access.
SMBs opt for Zoho because they can customize their modules, fields, pages, buttons, and other elements as they grow. The CRM expands as your company does to offer a suite of products for all business needs, including accounting, collaboration, email campaigns, social media, human resources, and multi-language support on top of classic sales and marketing features. Zoho is free for 3 users, while the upgraded offerings range from $12 to $35 per month.
While Nimble CRM doesn’t have a free version, its affordable $19/user per month Premium CRM package is definitely worth it. Nimble CRM caters to small businesses exclusively, so it’s perfect if you want to combine contacts, emails, and social media interactions in one place. Nimble can create data-rich customer profiles by pulling information from social channels and external databases online; it can even recommend certain contacts based on factors like company and job title.
Although Nimble has a pretty simple interface, it actually has plenty of advanced functions like business card scanning, voice-based notes, AI-based contact search, sales forecasting, and email analytics. Nimble also offers an extensive app marketplace for add-ons for quick and convenient app integration.
Maximizing an SMB-Friendly CRM Portal
A CRM portal is so much more than a repository of customer information. When implemented correctly, CRM can be a powerful tool for business management and organization. Here are three ways you can maximize an SMB CRM platform so you can scale up your business:
- Choose reminders over automation
Automation is one special feature available in most CRM systems, but it won’t really work well for a business in the middle of scaling up. Automation is useful for bigger businesses, and they are better equipped to handle expensive, confusing, and heavy automation. Small businesses can skip on automation and save themselves from the stress. Automation also eliminates the human touch that makes small businesses unique, so maintaining personal and thoughtful interactions can give you a competitive edge.
Instead, it’s better to prioritize calendar management and reminders. The calendar functionality in a CRM can help employees respond to existing or potential customers promptly while syncing the sales team schedule for more coordinated efforts. Reminders are also effective for scheduling interactions with customers, especially the frequently forgotten follow-ups that lead to conversions.
- Monitor internal and external communication
CRM software can be incredibly useful for both internal and external communication. Of course, it’s easier to imagine using CRM to improve communication with customers. You can create multiple marketing campaigns using an email marketing tool, then integrate the CRM with social media channels to get an idea of what your audience is talking about.
On the other hand, CRM can resolve the traditional disconnect between sales and marketing teams for better collaboration. With the CRM as a shared database, all employees would have access to historical information about the same contacts, so it’s easy for everyone to operate within the same context. Built-in chat tools within the same app could also keep everyone’s messages organized for a quick reference.
- Track trends and changes
In order to effectively and efficiently sell products and services to customers, it’s necessary to know your potential customers and what they’re looking for so you can craft a sales pitch that appeals to them. Being on top of trends and changes across the industries you sell to is vital for being what your customers need.
Analytics in CRM software allow organizations to track changes in different markets, access reports on spending behavior, and predict what the next trends will be. Sales representatives can also note customer preferences, comments, and suggestions in the CRM system, creating an up-to-date database that’s accessible for everyone.
Let Abacus Help You Find the Perfect CRM Partner
If you’re uncertain about which CRM software to choose, why not consult with Abacus? As the leading managed service provider in New Jersey, we offer a wide range of IT solutions — including procurement. Together, we can help you choose a CRM platform that perfectly suits your business. Contact us at Abacus today to learn more about our IT support services.