Being a small business owner isn’t easy. It requires a lot of time, resources and concentration - you need to keep a lot of things in mind at all times.
But eventually, you get used to it. So here are 11 more things for you to think about - but we promise, these ones will actually help your small business succeed.
In the article, we look into the most important things to consider when choosing a CRM for a small business, explain all the different options and share some top tips and tricks that will make your choice easier and more fruitful.
Choosing a CRM for small business: A checklist
Identify your needs
We have a whole blog section dedicated to customer relationship management and all things related. There, we talk plenty about the main characteristics of a good CRM solution, explain the importance of implementing one, and regularly update lists of the best CRM software for enterprises of all sizes and industries. We’re the real CRM experts out there - ready to share first-hand experience and the hottest tips and tricks!
But even we can’t tell you exactly which CRM solution is the right one for your small business (although we’re 99% sure NetHunt CRM is the one!). You need to decide that for yourself after examining and evaluating your very own business and the processes within it. Why? Because no two businesses are the same. What works for one company might be a complete letdown for another. You can’t just take some generic advice off the Internet or purchase the CRM system your competitors are using. The one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the way to go, especially if you’re a small business with lots of peculiarities to take into account.
The CRM software market is expanding rapidly: CRM vendors are offering more and more new products, both niche and more all-inclusive. You can easily find the tool that fits your business’s specific needs down to a T. There’s a tool for every goal out there: to increase teams’ efficiency, have better access to the contact data, or improve the flow of leads through the sales pipeline and so on and so on. With the help of a CRM system, you can quickly boost your business performance. But only if you have a clear agenda. If you don’t identify your needs, you risk investing in a solution that doesn’t match your small business’s workflows and, therefore, hinders your growth immensely.
That’s why the first thing you need to do when choosing a CRM for your small business is to map out your sales and marketing processes and see which parts of it you want to streamline and improve. Traditionally, business needs go hand in hand with the problem the business is facing, so focus on the things you’d like to improve first. There are several questions that can help you pick the most appropriate CRM system based on the challenges your small business is going through on the way to reaching its goal:
- Do I need to increase lead generation? If so, you should consider a small business CRM that focuses on lead generation and agility of the business.
- Are deals getting stuck in my pipeline? If so, you might want to identify the bottlenecks with the help of a CRM with strong sales reporting functionality. That would give you an upper hand in adjusting your business processes and moving your leads further down the sales pipeline.
- Do I need to better access my contact data? If so, the most appropriate solution for you is the one with a 360-degree contact view.
- Do I need to increase efficiency across my teams? If so, you’d benefit the most from purchasing a CRM solution that offers the most extensive automation of manual processes.
- Do I want easier access to insight around my results? If so, you should look into the segment of CRMs that provides customisable dashboards.
- Is my sales team unable to convert leads? If so, seek a CRM system with built-in lead scoring so you could qualify your leads and find the most sales-ready prospects to reach out to.
This list could go on and on, but we’re trying to keep things short and sweet, so you get the gist. Just remember that all your current business needs must go along with your broader business goals.
Check out this article to learn more about the small business needs a CRM solution can satisfy.
Identify must-have features of your ideal CRM solution
Once you know exactly what you want to achieve by implementing a CRM solution, you should be able to tell which features are the most important for you to have. Then, you should look for the tools that offer that set of features. Easy-peasy.
Here are some of the features that could be nice for your small business CRM to have:
- Contact management
- Sales pipeline visualization
- Marketing capabilities
- Social CRM capabilities
- Visual dashboards & reporting
- Sales automation
- Email marketing automation
- Integrations with other tools in your tech stack
At the same time, you should remember that at the beginning of your journey, you don’t need an overly complicated tool that your larger counterparts are using to manage their business workflows. In fact, opting for software too elaborate can set you back. If your employees find the software too difficult to use, you’ll quickly find yourself in a situation where you aren’t leveraging the benefits of using a CRM system for small businesses due to the low adoption rate.
NetHunt’s Hot Tip
Don’t take a CRM system at face value. Even if the vendor claims they have all the features you need to accommodate your business workflows, you still need to make sure they’re working properly. Make sure you request a demonstration or ask for a free trial.
The best way to handle this is to ask for a personal one-to-one walk-through demonstration so that you could both see a company representative show you how the product works and ask specific questions at the end of it. Ideally, you should book several demos and sign up for several trial periods from different vendors to have a basis for comparison.
Identify teams that will use the CRM
One thing you need to keep in mind when deciding on the must-have features of the CRM solution you’re willing to invest in is the teams that will be using it. While it does make sense to let the manager make the decision - after all, it is a managerial decision to make, - you should consider involving other employees in the process of choosing a CRM.
Not only will it strengthen the relationship between employees and top management, but it will also make the adoption of CRM easier in the future.
How to approach it correctly…
- Make a list of all the teams that will be using the CRM system
- Gather them and let them say which features they’d like to see in the solution
- Have them test out different solutions
- Choose the one that the majority of your employees found the easiest and most helpful to deploy
Plan your budget
As a small business owner, you need to remember that your budget is limited. You don’t want your CRM system to suck all the money out of your business pocket and leave you with massive overheads on the product. CRM software is meant to help your business grow and not kill it.
So, when choosing a solution for your small business, make sure you stay within your budget. Here are a couple of tricks that can help you cop the best tool at the lowest price:
- Make sure there is no hidden costs for any CRM features you gonna use
- See if it would be cheaper to pay annually instead of monthly instalments
- Check for special discounts and coupons
- Examine all the available plans the CRM vendor offers and choose the most appropriate one for your business type and needs
- See if you’re eligible for any special propositions for start-ups
As a former start-up, NetHunt understands the struggle. So we offer a special start-up plan for small businesses. Our year-long Startup Plan includes the first 3 months for free and the following 9 months at $15/user per month. During this time, our Customer Success team will help you onboard and set up CRM to your needs, as well as will make sure that you're making the most use out of your NetHunt CRM license.
You can check if your business qualifies and apply for it here.
Check GDPR-compliance of the tool
One of the most profound and defining sayings of the digital economy days is ‘data is the new oil’.
Indeed, nowadays, data is the most valuable asset, so it’s only natural people are reluctant to give it away, and the governments are trying to regulate the use and collection of it. The privacy laws are getting stricter and stricter by year, and the companies that aren’t following the rules are being faced with big charges.
As a small business (or any-sized business what all it matters), you don’t want to start your career off with a data scandal and a huge fine. That’s why you need to be extra careful with the CRM solution you’re using to collect, store and dispose of your data - it absolutely must be GDPR-compliant.
See whether or not the CRM provider has expertise in your industry
Being the first mover has its advantages. But, unfortunately, not when it comes to CRM systems. As a small business, you can’t afford to team up with a CRM vendor that doesn’t have enough expertise to help you. It’s a risk we don’t recommend taking.
Every industry has its own peculiarities, and the CRM provider needs to be familiar with those first-hand to be of good use for your small business.
It’s best to either ask the vendor you’re considering to work with directly or looking for past clients from your industry on their testimonials page or dedicated review websites such as G2.
Find out if the vendor offers a mobile app
In the past, having an authorised mobile app was more of a nice little bonus to a CRM system. Times have changed. Today, it’s more of a must-have requirement that every small business CRM needs to meet.
Large company employees have the privilege of never touching their work outside of working hours. Their work exists solely in the realm of their corporate laptop. Unfortunately, small business employees, let alone the management of small businesses, can’t afford a luxury like that. To outrun the competition and eventually grow into a medium- or even large-scale business, small businesses need to work extra hard, which sometimes includes working overtime.
That’s why when looking for a CRM solution for your small business, you need to pay close attention to choosing the solution that can be installed on your mobile device. That way, you can manage relationships with your customers on the go and never miss an opportunity to grow.
Cloud-based vs on-premise CRM solution
The two types of CRM solutions you can get your hands on are cloud-based CRM systems and on-premise CRM systems.
As can be deduced from its name, cloud-based CRM is housed in the cloud. This means that instead of storing all your CRM data on a local, on-site server, you pay a vendor to host all your CRM information remotely and access it via the Internet.
On the other hand, an on-premise CRM system refers to a situation when CRM software is being hosted on the company's own server.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of both types:
In 2021, more and more large companies let alone small businesses are shifting away from on-premise CRMs and give their preference to cloud-based solutions. It’s significantly cheaper, more time-efficient and offers more functionality.
On top of everything else, cloud-based CRMs are also known for their customer support, which isn’t the case with on-premise software.
Check the level of customer support of the CRM vendor
Speaking of customer support…
As a small business, you need to focus on providing the best customer experience to attract new customers and minimise the churn of the already existing ones. This is only possible when your CRM system is running smoothly, without any disruptions, and all the problems are taken care of promptly before they cause any irreversible damage.
All the aforementioned are signs of a good level of customer support delivered by the CRM vendor. Something you need to pay close attention to when looking for a CRM solution for your small business is the hours and channels when and where customer support is available. Ideally, you should seek a vendor that offers 24/7 multi-channel support.
NetHunt’s Hot Tip
Look for CRM vendors who focus on Customer Success rather than Customer Support.
While both these concepts exist to increase a customer experience level, there’s a small difference between the two. With a Customer Success team in place, you can expect your CRM vendor to explain how to reach the best business results using the CRM you’re using, while Customer Support will only help you solve the problems you’re already suffering through.
Moreover, Customer Success teams can help you with CRM adoption and implementation - another thing off our shoulders.
Make sure the system is compatible with your current software
It doesn’t matter how good the CRM you’ve found is if your current software isn’t compatible with it. You can only ever take advantage of the functionality offered if you can access it correctly. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money and potential.
Look into integration opportunities
Every small business wants to turn into a large corporation one day. That’s why scalability is one of the key features of a good small business CRM. You need to opt for a solution that offers an extensive list of integration opportunities and is continuously working on expanding the number of available integrations.
At the end of the day, you want your CRM vendor to grow as you do - it can be a real pain in the rear to part your ways and have to transfer all of your data.
Here you go. Ocean wished he had the aforementioned eleven instead ;)
Let’s get your small business growing!
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