Struggling to manage the increasing volume of customers in your growing business? Juggling data between disparate systems can cost your business money while putting you at unnecessary risk. From tracking customer data to increasing overall sales, the advantages of CRM software can impact your business profoundly.

Follow this guide to discover how to choose the best CRM software and what benefits it can offer your business.

What Is Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a platform that helps manage an organization's relationship with existing customers and prospects. The software helps track and store data, build customer relationships, and increase the profitability of a company.

Companies use CRM systems to manage employees' interactions with their prospects and customers. These software platforms primarily manage sales, storing and analyzing sales data. Ultimately, CRMs help make businesses more money by showing them how to better connect with current and new customers.

CRM systems have different functionality depending on the platform you use. However, most CRM software has a core set of functions: lead tracking, marketing reports, and service updates they provide for users. These features provide a range of benefits for your business.

Of course, many of the competitive platforms out there offer a range of captivating features. Which one will best serve your business depends on your specific needs and which platform can meet or exceed those demands.

Still, if you're looking for a valuable tool that helps scale the systems in your growing business to meet growing customer needs, you need a CRM.

What Are the Small Business Benefits of CRM?

We've helped deploy a range of CRMs for small, growing businesses. From off-the-shelf-solutions to custom software solutions, there is a range of benefits your business can experience by deploying a CRM.

1. Powerful Analytics

The best CRM for small businesses comes with powerful analytics features that allow you to assess business data in real-time for new, actionable insights. React to market trends faster. Make more informed business decisions. And develop better business strategies with data you can trust.

2. Increased Sales

CRM software helps you track leads when they move down the sales funnel. This helps you manage them more efficiently, so you can find weak links in the sales process and fix them quickly.

CRM platforms help you realize upsell opportunities, create reward systems for repeat customers, and ensure personalized communication with them to improve engagement and increase conversion.

3. More Efficiency and Productivity

CRM software streamlines processes across your business operations and automates routine tasks. As a result, your employees can resolve issues faster and focus on selling. Rather than wasting time on menial tasks, your staff will have more time to focus on your greatest asset: your customers.

4. Mobility

CRM platforms are accessible. You can get data using mobile apps, web interfaces, and offline access. That's a huge benefit because it allows you to work on the go. Plus, you can even manage existing accounts, respond to client requests, check real-time inventory, make reports, all from a range of mobile devices.

5. Data Security

Don't take unnecessary risks by leaving your data vulnerable to attack. With a centralized CRM, you can store important confidential customer information and business data in a secure CRM.

You can also control employee access by establishing set permissions. This will only allow authorized personnel access to sensitive data.

cyber security

6. Contact Management

Contact management is the most essential component of any CRM. You can segment your customers and prospects into groups and organize their data. This will allow you to improve your marketing strategies by targeting the right customer with the right message at the right time.

7. Reports and Customized Dashboards

If your data is siloed on fragmented platforms (like spreadsheets), you're at the disadvantage. CRM platforms provide data visualization with clear dashboarding. This is a clear benefit because it allows you to view statistics in a highly engaging manner. As a result, you'll feel less overwhelmed or confused by data streams.

8. Sales Analytics and Forecasting

CRM platforms let you collect data from web traffic, social media, and other channels. You can use this data to better understand your market and design better marketing campaigns. From this, you'll increase the efficacy of your sales strategies and increase your bottom line.

9. Opportunity Management

This CRM feature simplifies the sales process, reducing the sales cycle length. With opportunity management, you can track your potential sales opportunities down all your pipelines. You can also prioritize the best sales with a higher potential for closing. Finally, you can set up better systems for recurring revenue. Each one increasing your bottom line.

10. Call Center Automation

With CRMs, you can integrate third-party programs into a unified system and control your company’s call center from your CRM’s user interface (UI). This gives you a single, accessible portal for your contact center and customer engagement.

11. Campaign Management

The CRM feature lets you manage your entire sales campaign from a single UI. Plus, you can combine analytics tools with software responsible for collecting the data.

12. Customer Satisfaction Management

CRMs help you be proactive with your customers' journey. These tools help you efficiently improve customer satisfaction levels by giving you the power to track existing cases and manage confidential information in a secure environment. You'll know where your customers are in their journey with your brand and what they need to build loyalty and satisfaction with your company.


Why Does Your Business Need a CRM?

Customers are the most valuable asset of your company. Your relationships with them determine the success of your business. And your CRM software is a system that helps ensure your business provides the best possible experience for your customer while increasing profits.

Gathering and organizing actionable customer data is a time-consuming task. But, you can't rush it. And you can’t afford to make mistakes. After all, mistakes mean missing out on opportunities and losing revenue.

Can Small Businesses Afford CRM Platforms?

When selecting new CRM software, you should always take into account the total cost of ownership (TCO). The TCO for CRM platforms includes all the costs of the project, direct and indirect. In simple words, the TCO is the sum of all the costs related to purchasing, implementing, and managing CRM solutions.

There is a large variety of CRMs with a range of pricing. Some of them are virtually free. Others can cost thousands of dollars per user annually. But this is only the purchase price...

The total cost of ownership includes all the additional expenses needed to operate a CRM system: customization, training, migration, maintenance, upgrades, ongoing support, and more.

The TCO also includes other costs like productivity loss to fixing system errors, downtime, and other factors that many business owners often omit when making buying decisions.

Of course, the price is important. But, it’s the total cost of ownership that should be the driving force of your tech stack decisions. Before deciding on how to implement a CRM, you need to perform a TCO analysis. This is because it determines your ROI and will help you avoid costly and ineffective solutions.

Understanding how much your CRM software will cost you over time will help you make a better buying decision. And in many cases, a custom CRM will be your best choice.

Major CRM Expenses to Evaluate for a TCO Analysis

There are 3 major costs associated with buying and implementing CRM software: acquisition costs, operation costs, and personnel costs. Let’s take a look at expenses that you should take into account when performing a TCO analysis.

Acquisition Costs

  • Software Cost: This is an upfront, recurring fee that can be paid monthly or annually.
  • Implementation Costs: These are the initial costs for setting up your small business CRM platform.
  • User Licenses Fees: Some platforms require businesses to purchase licenses for each user.
  • Customization Fees: This charge is for businesses looking for additional custom CRM features from a boxed software solution to meet their specific needs.
  • Data Migration: Some vendors (not all) charge a fee to migrate your data from your old system to your new one.
  • Integration Services: If you want to connect other existing systems to your new CRM, you'll need to pay a specialist for integration services.
  • Employee Training: To ensure your new CRM platform is successful, you'll need to invest in training your employees to use it properly.

Operating Costs

  • Ongoing Training: CRM platforms are constantly being updated to stay current. As new features come out, you'll need to train your staff on them.
  • CRM Software Support and Maintenance: You'll pay to maintain your CRM software. Your fee covers regular system updates, problem resolution, maintenance, and regular upkeep.
  • Security: Maintaining security for your CRM is crucial due as it's responsible for housing your most sensitive and valuable data.
  • Additional Integrations: As your business grows and you add new platforms and apps, you'll want to connect those to your existing CRM.

Personnel costs

  • CRM Admin: Depending on the size of your CRM, you may need to employ (or set time aside for) someone to manage it.
  • IT Support Staff: If you want to build a custom CRM, you'll need to pay professionals to maintain, upgrade it and keep it secure.
  • Process Consultant: You may want to hire a consultant to help you develop a CRM implementation plan and provide you valuable advice on how to use the software to achieve your business goals.

What Is the Best CRM Platform for Small Business?

If you want to choose the best CRM platform for your business to get the most benefits, you need to understand your business needs. There are a LOT of platforms on the market, and each one serves a type of business. You want to pick one with features that line up with your current and future needs.

You want to take a look at your priorities as well. While there are a lot of great features on these platforms, you need to focus on what's going to help make your business more profitable. Avoid getting distracted by features. Instead, look at how the program can support your core objectives.

Choosing a CRM Based on Priorities

  • Customer service-oriented CRM software monitors and stores customer data. It also mines it to get actionable insights for sales funneling (repeat sales, upsell, etc.).
  • Marketing and sales CRM systems measure the success of campaigns across different channels (email clicks, website visits, social media).
  • Appointment CRM software schedules time to communicate with your customers.

Choosing a CRM Based on Business Size

  • Enterprise CRM systems have a lot of capabilities. Mainly, they can handle large amounts of data. They also have more features and modules than other platforms (for a premium). And they usually offer full technical support.
  • Small business CRM apps handle smaller amounts of data, have fewer features, and limited support. As a result, small business CRM software is often cheaper.

Choosing a CRM Based on Technical Functions

  • Operational CRM software consolidates all customer data into a user profile.
  • Sales automation CRM tracks the whole sales process.
  • Campaign management CRM stores, tracks, and analyzes campaigns.
  • Analytical CRM mines data from different databases to check for patterns or trends.
  • Social CRM collects information about customers from social networks.
  • Collaborative CRM allows team members to share files.
  • Crowdsourcing CRM mines customer suggestions and ideas to develop a product or an event.

Off-The-Shelf CRM Benefits

Ready-made CRM software is easy to install. And most systems are ready to use straight away. Off-the-shelf CRM solutions from reputable brands are secure and have a wealth of features (many that you don’t even need and will never use).

But, you often have to change your business processes to fit your CRM system and share a data model with your competitors.

Freemium CRM Systems Benefits

Many popular, off-the-shelf cloud-based CRM solutions are available as free basic versions with limited functionality. This lets you test the system before you decide to upgrade and purchase premium features.

Freemium software has limited features, data storage, and the number of users. But the core CRM features like contacts, accounts, and leads management are typically included in the basic free solution.

Small businesses should consider freemium CRM software when evaluating potential CRM solutions.

Custom CRM Systems Benefits

Custom CRM development can be a good option for a small business if you know exactly what you need. For example, you can build a CRM system using Quickbase, giving your business more flexibility and functionality.

The low code platform lets you create exactly what you need while only charging you for what you need. The system fits your specific business process and workflow needs of your organization. As a custom solution, you have the freedom to run your business as you see fit without being limited or forced down a different path by your software.

Custom CRM platform takes some time and effort to install. But, it pays off in the long run. You'll get higher efficiency, more employee acceptance, and lower maintenance costs. In short, custom CRM platforms bring a lot of value than prepackaged software solutions.

How to Deploy a CRM in Your Small Business

Before you get the advantages of a CRM platform in your business, you need to set it up. And a lot goes into that. You'll need to define your business needs, assign resources, develop new business processes, and create an implementation team. Additionally, you'll need to think about integrating new and existing systems.

You should also think at least 2 years ahead and consider the requirements for your CRM as your business scales. More so, you'll need to plan the testing of the new system and make adjustments based on the tests. Meanwhile, it'll be critical to plan how to onboard your employees on these systems.

As you see, CRM implementation takes time and effort.

A great way to ensure the smooth implementation of CRM for small businesses is to work with tech consultants who have experience building, testing, and deploying software solutions for growing businesses.

See how we've helped our clients improve their businesses and get insane ROIs by checking out our case studies below.