Best CRM for Small Business
Everything you need to know to choose the right
CRM system for your small business.
A CRM system helps your business build and manage relationships. They can enable better customer experiences, increase sales, and streamline processes.
With so many options available, finding the right CRM software for your small business can be a challenge. This article will guide you through the factors to consider when choosing a CRM provider.
Why do you need to use a CRM?
Customers are the lifeblood of your business. Managing client interactions when you start is easy because you have fewer of them to deal with. As you grow and the number of customers you work with increases, it becomes more of a challenge to keep these relationships organized.
This is where CRM software can help. It’s more than just contact management – a CRM solution has features that help you sort your interactions with customers and prospects. The software stores all your customer information, which you can use to ensure people have an optimal experience whenever they interact with your brand.
A CRM tool doesn’t just help with existing customers. You can also use one to manage relationships with leads and prospects. CRM systems typically include sales process optimization features such as marketing automation, email marketing and email tracking, landing pages, sales pipelines, and advanced reporting. Want to find out more about customer relationship management and CRM software in general? Check out this article.
Many businesses, both large and small use CRM software. Here are some situations you might recognize that are driven by a CRM system:
- Have you ever spoken to a rep at a business and then had a different person call you back about your problem? A CRM likely enabled this by allowing the first rep to note your problem and share it with the appropriate people.
- Have you ever had to leave a contract and then during the cancellation process had the person on the line offer you a different product more in-line with your needs? CRM software stores information about how you interact with a company or service, which makes it easy for the agent to offer a suitable deal.
- Have you ever downloaded a resource from a company and then received useful emails about the product? CRM marketing automation features make it possible for companies to send targeted, automated content to prospects.
Not sure if your small business needs a CRM system? Here are ten signs you might need one.
As you’ll see in the above examples, businesses can use CRMs in many ways. In the next section, we’ll look at how small businesses can benefit from the software.
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How can a CRM system help your small business?
Help customer support and sales work more efficiently
If you aren’t storing your customer interactions properly, it can be a pain for support and sales reps to get the information they need to do their jobs. Keeping this data organized within a CRM makes it easy to access, which saves time and ensures those at your organization are working effectively.
Many CRM solutions use marketing and sales automation to reduce the manual administrative work these teams have to do. For example, with the help of a CRM platform, you can automatically create contact entries when a new prospect fills in a form, or implement a lead scoring system so Marketing knows which leads to send to Sales for follow-up.
Improve customer experience
If you want to keep customers, you need to provide a great experience. Gartner found that customer experience is more important than both price and brand when driving loyalty.
A CRM can help by giving support and sales teams knowledge of the customer and their prior communication with your company. Reps can make notes about the customer’s problems so the next time they contact you, they don’t have to repeat information they already provided. You can also store email and chat histories for each customer within the CRM. Teams can use this insight to offer customers personalized solutions to their problems.
Increase customer retention
Having information on hand about how customers use your business can help increase retention.
Imagine a gym owner that keeps track of member attendance within the CRM. If the owner notices that a customer has stopped using the gym, they can send reminders about classes or a free workout plan to increase engagement and, therefore, the likeliness of the customer renewing their contract.
Optimize lead generation and lead management
Using a CRM to track interactions with prospects can help sales and marketing teams take the steps that are most likely to result in a sale.
You can segment leads within the CRM based on their location, company size, the product they are interested in, or any other measure that could suggest they are likely to buy. Once you have these segments, you can target them with the correct marketing and sales collateral.
CRMs also have task management features that ensure your team takes the correct steps in the sales process. If a customer requests a call-back, the CRM will highlight this so someone on your team can contact them. Once the rep has made contact, they mark that they have done so to ensure customers aren’t hassled by numerous phone calls.
Effective interdepartmental communication
Having all your customer and prospect information in a single place ensures all departments within your organization are using the same data. Cloud-based systems reflect any updates made to the CRM instantly across the entire organization. This keeps your data clean and means everyone is always up to date.
Imagine a customer contacts a software support team about an issue they are having with the product. If the customer support rep records information about the problem within the CRM, tech support can gain knowledge of the customer’s problem before they contact them.
Enable remote work
Another benefit of a cloud-based CRM is that your employees can access it anywhere they have an internet connection. Remote workers have the same access to data as those in the office—streamlining your team’s ability to effectively work wherever they are based.
This opens your organization up to the possibility of hiring employees on an entirely remote basis, allowing you to take advantage of global talent when hiring. Or, you can give existing staff flexibility in how they choose to work. This is important as studies have found that employees that work remotely are often happier than those that don’t.
Grow revenue per customer
A CRM can help you grow revenue per customer by highlighting upsell opportunities. For example, eCommerce stores can email customers about offers relating to existing purchases, while hair salons can contact customers if they notice they are coming up to their regular appointment schedule.
A CRM system will typically include in-depth reporting features. Many have sales forecasting and sales pipeline management tools that can estimate revenue within a given period based on average conversion rates and where your prospects are in the sales funnel.
If you use a CRM’s marketing automation features, it will provide information about how effective your marketing strategy is. This lets you take steps to optimize your sales processes and sales activities. Related to this is A/B testing which allows you to try two different versions of the same marketing element—for example, offer, call-to-action, or subject line—and see which one is most effective.
91% of businesses with 10 or more employees now use CRM software1.
How to choose the best CRM software for your small business or SMB
There are a lot of different CRM solutions on the market. You should have a good idea about what you want from a CRM before researching different solutions. Here are some questions to answer before choosing a CRM.
How user-friendly is the CRM and what documentation is provided?
You want everyone in your organization who can benefit from your CRM to be able to do so. That’s why ease of use is an important factor to look out for when vetting different CRM platforms. As well as choosing a CRM that is easy to use, look for one with robust documentation, so if someone in your team is unsure how to perform a task, they can easily find an answer.
What type of customer support is available?
Even if your software is easy to use, there will be times when you just want to pick up the phone (or keyboard) and speak to someone in real-time. The best CRM for SMEs will therefore have a strong support team. Think about whether online help is sufficient or if you would rather have the option of receiving support over the phone. Also, consider the operating hours of the customer success team—a CRM provider with a team based in the U.S. and support hours that match won’t be ideal for a company in the U.K.
Is the CRM cloud-based or self-hosted?
Cloud-based CRMs are generally more economical and flexible for small businesses compared to on-premise solutions. These solutions are pay-as-you-go which typically means a far lower upfront investment. As they are provided by third parties, you don’t have to hire an IT team to manage the product and ensure it works. Instead, the company that provides the software will keep everything running and provide tech support.
How will the CRM complement your existing workflow?
CRM systems typically work with many different tools. Ensure the one you choose integrates with the software that is most important to your workflow. Common integrations include email clients, Google/G-Suite services such as Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, social media, and eCommerce.
What happens as you grow?
If you plan to grow your business, consider whether the CRM will grow with you and what the costs associated with this will be. Some CRMs charge you depending on how many customers and contacts you have which can leave you with a hefty bill as you attract more clients. Also, consider how many employees can use the CRM. Some CRMs have limits on the number of people that can use them, while others have a minimum number of users that you need to pay for.
What extra features do you need (and will you have to pay for them)?
CRM software typically provides a ton of extra features. These include sales pipelines, marketing automation, email marketing, and more. Consider which ones you need when choosing your CRM. Also, be aware that these features aren’t always free. Sometimes you will have to pay more on top of your basic subscription for these extras. Consider how much you want to pay for your software and choose a CRM that fits your budget.
Our free guide explains everything you should consider when choosing a CRM.
What is the best CRM for small businesses?
Here is a roundup of some of the top small business CRM solutions out there. There are other great CRM and marketing automation tools on the market, such as Freshsales, Pipedrive, Insightly, and Mailchimp, but in this article, we are focusing on the top 4. Each CRM provider has several different plans and options, so the exact features you can access will vary.
Act! is an excellent choice for small and medium-sized businesses. Plans start at just $15 per month per user, and there are no extra fees. All the products come with essential CRM and email marketing features. The most popular plan is Standard which is only $30 per user per month and includes access to the full-featured CRM as well as powerful emarketing software.
Salesforce is probably the best-known CRM provider on the market. It has plans aimed at businesses of all sizes which means it will grow as you do. It also has a large variety of features and integrations. To gain access to marketing automation, you’ll need to splash out an extra $1,000 per month.
Zoho is another popular CRM. There is a free plan available as well as various low-cost options. However, these have limited features and even on the $35 per month Zoho Enterprise plan you are limited to sending 1,000 emails per day. If you want to send more, you need to pay extra.
Hubspot is a CRM with a significant digital marketing presence. HubSpot has a limited free CRM version, although the cost of additional features can soon add up. For example, compulsory one-time on-boarding fees range between $4,000 (Professional plan) and $9,000 (Enterprise).
Learn more about Cloud computing and SaaS solutions and download our free guide ‘Moving to a Cloud solution: 35 questions for you and your vendor’.
You won’t be surprised to hear that we think Act! is the best CRM software for small businesses. Act! is an agile CRM that has several features that make it a great choice.
Act! provides small businesses with an all-in-one CRM that makes managing relationships and spotting opportunities easy. Features include customer management, activity tracking, and a powerful sales pipeline. Act! also integrates with the tools your business already uses, for example, you can connect your favorite apps with Zapier.
The price you see on the website is the price you pay for our service. There are no added extras and the only way your costs will increase is when you add a new user or if you want to upgrade your CRM to the next level. Find out more information about our pricing here.
Great customer support
Act! has a US-based customer support team that is open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. EST. You can contact the team online or call us to get an answer to your question quickly. Being based in the US also means we can provide onsite training to your company if you need it.
Powerful marketing automation
Add powerful marketing automation features and useful marketing tools you can use to nurture leads and build sales. A highlight of this is the ability to create landing pages, plan marketing campaigns, and send automated email sequences to prospects via pre-built email templates.
Act! is a cloud-based CRM solution. This means low setup costs, no need to worry about hiring tech support to manage a self-hosted solution, and all the benefits of cloud computing—such as the ability for you and your employees to access the CRM anywhere in the world with internet access.
The integrated mobile app Act! Companion enables business owners to stay connected to key contact information and customer data from wherever they are using their iOS or Android device. All CRM features are just one swipe away – send email campaigns on the go and stay on top of all your business processes, even if you’re not in the office.
Act! has a track record of success
Act! has proven it can help businesses as they grow, and our customers have found success in various industries. Here is a summary of what customers are saying about our service, you can read more on our testimonials page by clicking here.