Customer relationship management (CRM) is a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. The goal is simple: Improve business relationships. A CRM system helps companies stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability.
When people talk about CRM, they usually refer to a CRM system or platform, a tool that helps with contact management, sales management, productivity, and more.
CRM software helps you focus on your organisation’s relationships with individual people — including customers, service users, colleagues, or suppliers — throughout your lifecycle with them, including finding new customers, winning their business, and providing support and additional services throughout the relationship.
With a CRM solution, the sales and marketing team can track and follow a customer’s interaction journey with your business. This can enhance the customer journey and experience by refining each customer touchpoint.
What Are the Benefits of a CRM System?
There are many advantages to using CRM tools in a small business, all of which help you to streamline your day-to-day operations and grow your business faster. Here are a few of the ways in which even a simple SMB CRM can help a small business expand:
1. Stronger Customer Relationships
Being able to share your customer data with all your team members from one location means you can deliver a consistently positive experience for your customers, no matter who they’re talking to you at your business. That way, you can build stronger relationships with your existing customers while nurturing your leads, all from the same place.
2. Keeps Your Teams Connected
Many of the best small business CRMs offer project management features that help individuals across your organization keep each other updated on specific tasks without needing to leave the platform. This helps to minimize any errors or mishaps that often result from delayed or fragmented communication between teams.
3. Better Understanding of Your Business’ Performance
As the saying goes, “what gets measured, gets managed.” And when it comes to growing a small business, not having concrete data to analyze your business’ performance is often a limiting factor. Tools like CRMs give small businesses the capacity to service more customers at higher business levels by providing sales forecasts and detailed analytics.
4. Centralized Database of Information
Having a CRM gives small businesses a place to store all their customer-related data and information in one centralized location. As opposed to fragmented systems where team members have to scavenge for information across multiple incompatible systems, CRMs make it easy to pull up any relevant details about any customer at a moment’s notice.
5. Improved Customer Segmentation
Because of all the data that CRMs collect on your customers, you’re better able to sort and segment your customer base into categories along different types of dimensions. For example, in addition to basic filtering criteria like demographics, you can use a CRM to group your customers according to more insightful information such as their average purchase size or frequency of purchases.
6. Saves Time and Money
One of the lesser known features of customer relationship or client management software is the ability to automate different parts of your business. From one-on-one messaging with your customers to administrative tasks and overall operations management, CRM solutions help small businesses make more efficient use of their time, which leads to better profitability.
Of course, a lot of this depends on which CRM platform your small business ends up using.
What Makes a Great Small Business CRM?
From a purely subjective standpoint, some small business CRMs may work better than others simply based on what you need and prefer. In general though, there are many features that are commonly sought-after among SMBs and startups.
1. Multiple Integrations
If you’re a small business that’s already using several platforms to communicate with your customers—whether through marketing, sales, or customer support—you’ll likely want a CRM that’s compatible with those platforms. However, the best CRM for your small business is the one that seamlessly integrates with all of your platforms, essentially creating a fully digital system to run your business.
Some of the more common types of integrations that small businesses look for in CRMs include:
- Phone system
- Livechat/Chatbot program
- Email client
- Digital marketing platforms (e.g. Google Analytics, Facebook Ads)
- Personal/Business calendars
- Invoicing software
- Point-of-sale (POS) systems
2. On-the-Go & Cloud-Based Functionality
Small businesses are beginning to rely largely on digital tools and platforms to conduct their day-to-day activities. Consequently, many of the more popular and preferred small business CRMs are designed as cloud-based softwares. Several of these cloud-based CRMs offer their own smartphone app version of their software as well, which lets small business owners and employees manage customer interactions from anywhere.
This is particularly useful for retail businesses or any company that uses tablets, phones, and other mobile devices to engage with their customers.
Small business CRM solutions that offer native iOS and Android app versions (as opposed to browser-based apps) also allow users to share data and capabilities with other mobile applications. The best mobile CRMs are designed from scratch, which typically makes for a more user-friendly experience.
3. Organizes, Aligns, and Enhances Your Funnel
A big challenge for many small businesses is figuring out how to set up and structure their sales funnel from top-to-bottom.
That’s why the better options for small business CRM software don’t just help you collect and manage your data but also leverage it to tweak and optimize your funnel.
Cross-platform integrations also make sure all your teams across business functions are working together and using the same information throughout the customer journey. This prevents things like messaging and support tickets from getting mixed up.
CRM Features to Look for
Here are some of the key features to look out for when shopping for a small business CRM:
1. User-Friendly Interface
User experience might not be the first feature that comes to mind when you’re thinking of criteria for your CRM. And often that’s because user-friendly CRMs are intuitive and easy to use. On the other hand, CRMs that are clunky and difficult to navigate can end up causing lots of frustration. Even the most sophisticated capabilities are useless if they’re hard to use.
2. Industry Specialization
Nowadays, you can find CRMs built for specific industries or types of businesses. Whether you’re a marketing agency or a realtor, you’ll likely come across CRM platforms custom-fit for the unique needs of your business. You may find that an industry-specific CRM works best for the kind of product or service you deliver and comes with nuanced features that generic CRMs don’t have.
On a more individual level, it’s good to use a CRM that gives you full control over feature activation and user privileges. Even if you’re working with a small business CRM system that’s made for your industry, your business’ needs are probably different from others. Having the ability to customize your organization’s CRM means you can get rid of any features you don’t need and keep the experience clean and simple.
With smart technologies on the rise, we’ve started to see an increasing number of CRMs incorporate AI- and ML-based elements and tools into their software. These added capabilities go a long way to helping your business run on its own and staying in touch with your customers, even while you’re asleep.
Of course, one of the top criteria to keep in mind while evaluating any CRM is how much it costs. Especially for small businesses that are just starting out or bootstrapping. You’ll want to focus on CRMs that are both cost-efficient and fit within your budget.
While you may be tempted to pick out a CRM that you can afford right now. Also be sure to think about whether the CRM you’re leaning toward will be able to scale with you as your business grows. Free or low-cost CRMs may seem like a viable option for your current situation. But you also need to determine whether the CRM you choose today will be able to manage tomorrow’s business levels.
7. Easy to set up and use
Another key factor to consider when reviewing CRMs is how easy it is to use and set up for your business. Lots of CRMs look great on paper and contain impressive and powerful features. But you may find that some CRMs feel better simply because they deliver a user-friendly experience.
The 10 Best Small Business CRM Solutions
If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find hundreds of different CRMs available all over the web. Each with their own unique features and capabilities.
So to help you find your way through the sea of CRMs. We’ve put together a list of the top small business CRMs in 2022:
1. Semrush CRM
2. Hubspot CRM
8. Bigin by Zoho CRM
10. Agile CRM
As digital technologies become a bigger part of customer journeys. Businesses of all sizes need to leverage CRMs and other sales-based platforms to keep up with consumers, especially small businesses.
Not only do CRM systems allow small businesses to store all their customer data in one spot. But many platforms also provide additional capabilities such as collaborative project management and advanced marketing automations.
While there are many popular and well-known CRMs available on the market. Some CRMs work better than others depending on the type of small business you’re running. Much of the deciding criteria will revolve around your particular needs and the other kinds of software you’re currently using.