10 Tips
for Small Business CRM Success

As one of the most pivotal pieces of business software, a CRM system can either make or break your workflow. This tool is designed to help, yet, similar to medicine, it can have side effects or contraindications. But when implemented properly, a CRM system can help you and your team in improving productivity, increasing sales, and becoming better-organized professionals overall. Here are top 10 tips for how to use CRM for small business.

Choosing a CRM system

1. Don't pursue more features

To improve your CRM experience, begin from the ground up. As it's usually the case, more doesn't mean better. When choosing a small business CRM, don't aim to get absolutely every business organization feature developed and accumulated by the CRM software during the past 30 years.

When your business is only developing, you don't need advanced lead generation, call center features or custom development capabilities. Stick to the basics. You can always add the complicated bits later, additionally saving yourself time, money, and potentially improving adoption inside your team.

2. Put clear and specific requirements

A CRM can boast with doing a hundred things, but if you can't do a single one which is the most important to your workflow, then it's pretty much useless. Before choosing a CRM, meticulously go through your work processes and draft a list of features and use cases which a CRM must have in order to work for you.

Keep in mind, a CRM might not have a particular feature as you've imagined or got used to. If you decide to go for a demo, ask the CRM vendors not about a feature itself, but rather explain what use cases you need it for.

3. Consider integration capabilities

An important aspect of almost any software today is how it works with other services you're using on a daily basis. If you're using a certain accounting service, check if a solution you're eyeing can integrate with it. In case you're using several services from a single ecosystem, then it makes sense to choose a CRM system which works with them.

If you're using Gmail and Google Drive, for example, NetHunt CRM can help you in interconnecting these and other Google Apps. This is a great way to place the bits of the CRM data and functionality into the apps you use the most.

Implementation process

4. Find the CRM leader in your team

There's probably at least one person in your team or department who's a fan of checking out new software and apps. Or someone who's an organization freak and likes to keep everything systemized and scrutinized. Those people are essential to a swift CRM implementation into your workflow.

Let them test out the new features coming out and check if they can be useful to your processes. Let them be the go-to guys for the whole team to answer questions or optimize the resources. Such teammates can help you in translating your business processes into the CRM and, what's important, they will do it much better than a randomly appointed employee.

5. Don't overload your team with novelty

Usually, a CRM system is quite a complicated piece of software with an extensive list of features. Even if you're expecting to use all or most of them, do not immediately demand everyone on the team to explore every nook and cranny of a completely new software.

First of all, introduce them to the basics: how to create records, what fields to fill and with what type of data, how to assign tasks, check pipeline status, etc. What's important is that you explain not only how, but also why they need to do that. This is a rule to apply to any business process organization as it helps to understand the process and find better alternatives.

CRM tricks for Small Business

6. The simpler the better

You perfectly know your sales process in such details that a pipeline in a CRM would consist of a dozen stages and ten fields for each record. But is it really that necessary? Over-detailed processes can eventually confuse your teammates and make the pipeline or dashboard difficult to navigate.

Try to keep things simple where possible: combine several stages into one, use preset field data to make selection easier and more precise, use checkboxes for binary fields instead of text, etc. Also, not everyone on your team needs access to every stage in the pipeline. Hide them from the default view to unclutter it without deleting unused records.

7. Do not force everyone to use the same views and reports

A great CRM system can not only help in improving customer relations via personalized approach. It can also add the same touch of personalization for the people who work with the system. Often it's much better to create a single big pipeline or a folder and limit some elements to users (depending on their job responsibilities).

In NetHunt CRM, for example, it's easier when a client has a single record in the Clients folder, instead of creating his or her records in Sales, Support, and Clients folders. Simply include all of the sales stages into a single pipeline and remove the unnecessary stages from the view of different departments.

8. Always rethink and reinvent

What's great about the CRM systems, is that they are flexible when it comes to structuring. Do not expect your first folder or pipeline structure to be ideal. As time passes, you might notice that having a new field or stage might help. Or you might decide that you're not using some of the CRM data at all, so why are you even gathering it?

Occasionally review your CRM structures and make the necessary adjustments. Also, discuss this with your teammates. They might have a better insight into the processes (as they are actually the ones who work with the system the most), have their own improvement suggestions or stand against the changes which might make their job unreasonably more difficult.

9. Go mobile

Almost every service today has a mobile app. CRM systems are not an exception. A mobile CRM might not be as comfortable to work with as on a desktop, but it certainly helps to have a possibility to check or update client data from your smartphone.

A mobile app enables you to quickly find the client contact data, create a task or put down a note before you get to a PC and forget the details. This is especially useful for those who work in the field, like real estate agents, lawyers, consultants, etc.

10. Remember, CRM is for its users first

You, as a project leader or CEO, might need a the CRM most. For analytics, reporting, performance reviews and other business insights. It might be the best software for you but keep in mind that you're not the one who's using it the most. Your teammates, sale reps, support members are the ones who actually "feed" the CRM with data.

There's nothing worse for productivity than working with an unruly software, an over-complex interface or too many fields to complete. There will always be resistance to a new business management or collaboration app, but if you'll be using a CRM to increase sales, you'll need to make it comfortable for the salespeople to work with.

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