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The role of CRM in today’s small & medium-sized businesses

2022 Act! CRM Survey Report Recap

Throughout the pandemic, increased resilience and adaptability became necessary as SMBs were forced to quickly adopt new ways of working to remain open and profitable while navigating numerous supply chain and resource limitations. As the United States slowly transitions back to a state of normalcy, it is evident that certain pandemic-era trends like remote working models and online shopping preferences, are here to stay and that SMBs must remain nimble to keep up with industry trends.

In May of 2022, Act! surveyed 1,146 SMB owners and decision-makers to better understand the new and evolving challenges facing SMBs today and how customer relationship management (CRM) software is leaving owners with an optimistic outlook for 2022. 

Let’s take a look at the key findings from the 2022 Act! CRM Survey Report: The Role of CRM in Today’s Small & Medium-Sized Businesses:

Post-Pandemic Challenges Facing SMBs

As the light at the end of the post-pandemic tunnel continues to shine brighter, businesses continue to encounter new obstacles. While labor shortages and “Great Resignation” discussions permeated our media over the last year, our study found that SMB owners were less concerned with hiring or retaining talent and more focused on the current economic downturn. Nearly half (44%) of SMB owners pointed to inflation as the primary challenge for SMBs moving forward, while some pointed to ongoing pandemic-related challenges like supply chain uncertainties (28%), decreased demand for services (25%)—which could directly correlate to an increase in market share and competition with other small businesses (21%). 

Results to question - what are the biggest challenges your business has faced over the past 12 months?

Fears over rising inflation, whispers of a recession, ongoing supply chain uncertainties and a decreased demand for services have many SMBs fixated on their budgets—which may explain why owners are wearing so many different hats these days. About 70% of SMB owners say they handle all of their company’s sales and marketing operations. 

CRM Myths Slowing Software Adoption Among SMBs

With overworked SMB owners and increased consumer demands for timely and accurate communications—over a fifth of owners stating that post-pandemic consumers expect more frequent communications—it is clear that owners and their teams need help. While larger organizations have adopted innovative technology to combat many of the same challenges, many SMBs continue to manage operations with outdated tools. Nearly half (45%) of SMB owners said they still use paper records to manage contacts, leads and customer communications, followed by 39% using spreadsheets—with only 22% leveraging CRM software. 

Results to -how have your cusotmers' expectations of communications changed since the pandemic?

Why is there such resistance to software integration by SMBs? While there will always be Luddites who, no matter what will continue to resist CRM and other digital solutions, there are other factors deterring SMBs from introducing CRM software including:

  • Their business is too small (47%)
  • The software is not applicable to their business (28%)
  • The costs of CRM are too high (25%)
  • They don’t have enough time to implement new tools (17%)
  • The integration challenges with existing software (14%)
  • They don’t see a return on investment (ROI) from CRM (12%)

These beliefs seem to stem from a lack of understanding or knowledge about the advancements in CRM software. The fact is that CRM solutions have evolved over the years to fit any business, regardless of size, and are highly connective so they integrate seamlessly into any company’s unique tech stack. Further, CRMs like Act! are highly intuitive and come with  Enhanced Support and comprehensive digital resources to make adoption effortless.

Reaping the Benefits of CRM

SMBs that have introduced CRM and marketing solutions to their operations have had no problem realizing the technologies’ ROI. Respondents leverage CRM within the cloud, on-premises, and via hybrid environments for email marketing (50%), customer service and support (40%), contact management (37%), tracking interactions (30%), reporting and analytics (27%) and more—with 40% of SMB owners acknowledging they leveraged the software daily to complete important tasks. 

Results to question - What function do you most use your software for?

As for ROI, SMB owners utilizing CRM and marketing software have seen significant improvements in:

Signficant improvements provided by CRM

Other CRM benefits

CRM has also helped SMBs simplify marketing automation, with 42% of SMB owners that use CRM successfully automating their entire marketing automation, compared to only 27% of owners simply using marketing automation software. 

And, CRM has given SMBs an optimistic outlook of the future. An astounding 70% of SMB owners that implemented CRM showed the greatest signs of optimism for the second half of 2022—while 32% of respondents not leveraging CRM technology felt pessimistic towards the end of the year. 

A pie chart showing levels of optimism about the future by CRM users

As businesses struggle to remain profitable and keep up with growing customer demands, today’s SMBs need software that can alleviate ongoing challenges and workflow obstacles, and help companies remain competitive. CRM’s ability to streamline processes, reduce workloads and improve customer relationships has proven to be invaluable for SMBs leveraging innovative this technology in today’s fast-paced markets. 

By trying a CRM, business owners will soon realize the myths surrounding CRM are uninformed and outdated, and solutions like Act! with a user-friendly interface and affordable pricing can easily fit with any size business and will help SMBs not only keep up but pull ahead of their competition. 

Download the full 2022 Act! CRM Survey Report: The Role of CRM in Today’s Small & Medium-Sized Businesses by clicking here!

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