Finding and converting leads into customers is one of the most important parts of any small business. Small business owners are seeking out customer relationship management (CRM) software to help manage that process. Great CRM software can simplify lead management for your team, and also help create a fantastic customer experience on the buyers’ end. Finding the best CRM software can help your team spend their time and mental energy on aspects of their job beyond leads. This article will teach you what to look for in a great CRM and also give an introduction to several industry leaders.
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Much like finding the right web host or POS system, choosing a great CRM can do a whole lot of things for your business outside of keeping track of your customers and potential customers.
Lead tracking. First, your CRM should be able to keep all your salespeople on the same page about who they’re contacting, the leads’ positions, contact information, and even business card scanning. This is usually accomplished on a simple customizable dashboard. You should be able to look at a lead and easily find their phone number, email address, LinkedIn page, previous purchases, and more. You always want your sales reps to be able to carry out lead scoring within your CRM to simplify the sales process.
Tracking interactions. Engagement with your customers is a key part of driving sales. Your sales team is human, and even the most organized human can let a customer relationship fall by the wayside in the course of their busy schedule. With CRM software, you can quickly and easily see how often your best customers are hearing from you.
Integrations. The best CRMs integrate with other apps and software. You should easily be able to store emails with a lead within your CRM, for example. If you use Zendesk to track any customer support issues, you should be able to see any previous issues with that customer at a glance. Email marketing is another space with potential for integration. Maybe you want to send a particular campaign out to customers who have made X number of purchases of Y size. You can do this simply and effectively if your email marketing software integrates with your CRM. Accounting software, document-signing software, Gmail, and some social media platforms are also possible integrations.
Data and Analytics. The right CRM will use automation to draw conclusions from existing lead and customer data. How effective is your marketing? Are your salespeople closing the right number of deals? Many CRM systems offer advanced tools that’ll take you past the surface-level data to understand how best to improve your team’s performance and even project performance into the future with sales forecasting or other projections.
Collaboration. Many CRMs will allow your team to collaborate on sales and lead generation. Systems typically feature note-taking, meeting scheduling, and remote teamwork. You can even have your team categorize leads to better understand performance. When paired with strong email integration, the best CRMs will allow your team to work together on leads seamlessly.
Customer support. You’re the customer! Your CRM software should have a team available 24/7 to help if something goes haywire.
How To Choose CRM Software
The best CRM solution for one company isn’t going to be the best for another. A restaurant will have different needs for tracking customer relationships than a manufacturing company does. So when you’re deciding which CRM to go with, you’ll need to decide on a few key factors.
What’s my budget? While many CRMs have a free plan, a lot of the features you’re looking for in an all-in-one lead management system will only come with a paid plan. While many of these paid plans are relatively inexpensive, monthly subscriptions can add up quickly, particularly if you’re running a startup.
What are the essential features? There are a lot of “nice-to-have” features and tools in the CRM space. But which features are absolutely necessary? Can you go without advanced analytics? Is a third-party invoicing software integration not relevant? Once you look through all the relevant software you can decide what your company needs and doesn’t need. Let that guide your choice.
How many team members are going to be using the CRM? Some CRMs have pricing scales that change as you add more users. On top of that, many CRMs have features for understanding compensation, productivity, commissions, and other human resource features. If you’re looking at only having a couple of people use your CRM, you could consider steering clear of those.
Ease of use. On the company’s end, you want your CRM to be simple to use. Some CRMs can require a more involved setup process, while others are drag-and-drop simple. For most small businesses, you want a simple user interface that allows your company to have its CRM up and running quickly to move on to generating sales. On the customer end, you want to make sure that your CRM allows for a similarly helpful user experience.
The Best Small Business CRM Software
The following list is by no means comprehensive and is meant only to provide an introduction to some of the biggest names in the CRM industry.
HubSpot is a big name in the CRM space, and for good reason. They offer a fairly robust free CRM platform with a ton of paid options that allow any business to build exactly the features it needs. If you’re a relatively new business or a business with simple needs from its CRM, HubSpot’s free features will do nicely.
HubSpot’s free CRM platform allows for contact management, of course. But there’s also a strong email system, allowing small business owners to create templates and track recipients’ engagement with those emails. You can how many people opened the email along with how long the openers spent reading.
HubSpot CRM offers many add-ons that can bump the price considerably. They offer add-on hubs for marketing, customer service, operations, and a content management tool. Each hub starts at a simple Starter level, typically about $45 per month. Their Enterprise levels for each hub cost thousands each month.
In short, HubSpot offers an excellent free CRM with the option to build as advanced (and expensive) a system as you’d like.
Pipedrive is a great option for a company looking for great CRM tools without the high price and multitude of features that come with a company like HubSpot. While Pipedrive offers no free plan, they also peak at under $100 per month with their Enterprise plan.
Their most basic pricing point is simple: you’ll get the pipeline management tools you’re looking for, 24/7 customer support, and a multitude of integrations, including Slack, Microsoft’s suite of tools, and project management software like Asana and Trello. As you add to your monthly bill, you’ll unlock features like workflow automation, revenue projections and other advanced metrics, and unlimited feature usage. Finally, Pipedrive offers a la carte add-ons like their Web Visitors add-on, which gives you insight into who’s visiting your website, how they found it, and where they spent their time.
Zoho CRM is another provider that offers many features in a free version of their product. You’ll have contact management, notetaking, filtering, and customizable pages within the workspace, but Zoho CRM does greatly limit some of the business processes available on their free level. You’re allowed only 150 emails per day or 50 emails per user (whichever is lower), ten total email templates, and only 10MB of data storage. If your business needs are going to require more optionality, you’ll probably want to opt for a paid plan with Zoho CRM.
Plans go from free, to $14 per user per month, all the way up to $52 per user per month. As you add to the price, you add marketing automation tools like unlimited email templates, Google Ads integrations, and auto responders. You can also add enhanced collaboration tools, inventory management, and advanced metrics, including some powered by Zoho’s AI, called Zia.
Salesforce is a leader in the industry. According to Statista, Salesforce held nearly a full quarter of the international market share in 2021. This CRM features nearly everything you could look for. It’s got a full suite of marketing, support, and sales features. You’ll be able to set up a help desk, track customer interactions, monitor sales activities, and plan marketing campaigns all from the same piece of software. You’ll have access to many third-party integrations through the Salesforce AppExchange, where companies like IBM, LinkedIn, and Adobe all offer tools to use with the Salesforce CRM.
The platform can be a bit expensive. It starts at $25 per user per month and ranges all the way up to $1,250 per month for the full gamut of tools. But with Salesforce you know you’re getting industry-leading marketing tools, app integrations, and customer service.
Freshsales is the sales arm of Freshworks, which offers a number of business software solutions. Freshsales is relatively inexpensive, with a strong free plan and peaking at $69 per user per month. This CRM is user-friendly. Its mobile app is available for both iOS and Android and allows business owners to see visual representations of sales pipelines, real-time updates to the sales process, and even receive notifications for customizable events.
Freshsales doesn’t allow for 24/7 customer support on its free plans, and some of its best features don’t kick in until you’re at the maximum price plan. But if you’re looking for a simple, great-looking CRM you can take on the go, Freshsales could be a great choice.