In a previous post, we discussed how marketing automation software could boost your small business. Next, we’re going to take a look at another class of software, customer relationship management software. As we will show, this can really help boost a small business and free up resources needed to help the business grow and meet the needs of new customers.
CRMs and Other Sales Software for Small Businesses
Choosing the best sales software helps you grow and manage your small business effectively by saving you time, increasing your company’s productivity, and maintaining positive relationships with your clients and customers. These types of software allow you to manage customer records, organize sales proposals, monitor ongoing deals, automate sales procedures and processes, and store important business data online.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
CRM is a collection of tools and applications that help organize your interaction with your clients. It basically allows you to build a custom database of client information that can be updated as you go along the sales process. It can assist you in listing new leads and prospects, monitoring ongoing sales negotiations, and providing effective customer service. Storing all the essential client information in the CRM software enhances productivity, promotes effective collaboration among sales reps, and provides insight for overall business performance.
Is CRM Software Ideal For Your Business?
Sales management often involves a number and variety of tasks and responsibilities that can be challenging and at times overwhelming for your sales team to handle. Because of this, hundreds, if not thousands, of tools and software solutions are developed to make sales management easier to achieve especially for small businesses. With these tools, sales managers and sales reps can work with improved efficiency by selling more products within shorter period of time.
Using CRM software may not be beneficial and practical for some businesses. To determine if CRM software is right for your business or not, it is important to look into and evaluate how you currently perform your sales tasks and how you complete existing sales processes. For instance, if your business requires you to work on multiple spreadsheets, address books, email accounts, and calendars to manage relationships with your customers and clients, a CRM system can centralize this information and thus improve your productivity. In addition, if you work with several people who also interact and deal directly with clients, CRM software can also help you coordinate and supervise sales activities effectively.
What You May Not Like About CRMs
Installing and implementing the use of CRM software involves monetary and operational costs. Although there are free versions of CRM tools available, full-feature CRM software usually costs from $10 to $150 per user per month. To ensure its correct and full utilization, setting up the CRM software and training sales reps and managers of its use also take time.
Benefits of Using CRM Software
Despite the costs, small businesses can still benefit from implementing the use of CRM software on the individual, team and management level. CRM systems provide a platform for individual users to store and access client information in one central location. CRM software also keeps sales teams organized and offer tools to streamline the sales process and promote close collaboration. On the management level, it delivers insights to analyze employee productivity and effectiveness as well as business performance in general.
Key Features and Functions of an Effective CRM
CRMs are not limited to extensive enterprise systems and applications that are only suitable to big companies. There is also a number of sales software that is specifically designed to cater for the unique needs of small businesses. These small business CRM solutions are commonly affordable, cost-effective, practical, easy to implement and use, and customizable for your business.
- Lead Generation and Contact Management. Lead generation refers to the process of capturing customers’ interest and tracking them towards closing successful deals. Sales leads are captured from various sources and channels including marketing campaigns, referrals, phone calls, and brand promotion activities. In addition, CRMs provide a 360-degree view on customer information by incorporating key contact details with account history, customer communications, and internal records.
- Sales Tracking. CRMs help you monitor the sales pipeline by tracking associated sales activities as they happen and highlight important actions when needed. Streamlining the sales process increases the likelihood of translating sales opportunities to actual revenue.
- Business Process Automation. Automating routine business processes frees your people from doing mundane tasks and directs them to focus on creating leads, closing deals, and engaging customers. A CRM system’s workflow automation feature eliminates redundant tasks by associating new and modified CRM records with custom functions such as email notifications and personalized alerts.
- Email Campaigns and Management. One essential feature of CRM software is its built-in email marketing tool which allows you to set up marketing campaigns and send marketing emails and newsletters. This feature can be automated to send multiple marketing blasts on a regular basis and track their corresponding customers’ responses. New leads and closed deals that result from the marketing campaign can then be monitored to determine the ROI, thus providing data to optimize marketing spend.
- Integrated Data Reporting and Analytics. CRMs with integrated data reporting functionality provides tools for users to create reports based on relevant customer information. Aside from its ability to generate data, CRM systems also offer analytics to help you make important sales and marketing decisions. This feature is particularly useful in determining what demographics are purchasing your products or paying for your company services, and in identifying which campaigns have been effective in engaging with new and existing customers.
Aside from these main CRM functionalities, some CRM software also features tools for website visitor tracking, sales forecasting, and marketing automation.
Choosing the Right CRM Software
To ensure success and maximize its benefits, choosing the right CRM software for your small business is extremely important as you would need a system that contains all the right features and is simple and reliable enough to encourage users to stick with the software and use it consistently.
Below are some of the factors to consider when choosing the ideal CRM software for your business:
- Company size. Identify the number of employees who will need access to the system. Determine the scalability of the software as it needs to grow along with your business. CRMs shall ideally allow you to add more users and upgrade to advanced features when needed.
- Choose a CRM system that is available 24 hours a day and is easily accessible online via any device.
- Features and functionalities. Decide which software offers the basic and advanced features that are applicable and important for your business.
- Software integration. Ensure the ease of integrating the CRM software with currently used software and services including accounting or finance software, document management software, lead generation services, and email systems.
Best Sales Management Tools and Software for Small Businesses
Small businesses may not require expensive customer relationship software with extensive features. The following are cost-effective CRM options that provide the best range of features and functionality small businesses need.
With a Premium plan at $10 a month per user, Apptivo is one of the low-cost CRM software with all the needed features. It includes lead and contact management system with built-in project management tool and email and payments integration.
Base is a user-friendly CRM with an advanced VoIP system and a mobile application for Android and iOS equipped with geolocation feature via its Google Maps plugin. Its VoIP service (provided by Twilio) is especially useful for sales teams who make and receive calls directly with their CRM while its killer mobile app is excellent for mobile businesses.
Bitrix24 is a social collaboration, communication and management software that is best suited for small businesses working with remote teams. It is loaded with project management and CRM functionality, providing an online platform to post updates on a group project, send private messages with coworkers, publish announcements, store corporate documents, and more. Its free subscription plan is available for use of up to 12 employees with 5 GB of online storage.
Hatchbuck is a small business CRM that is ideal for web-based businesses and online stores. Its impressive email marketing tool helps you generate leads and attract customers by tracking their online behavior and preferences. It will then place the customer into personalized ad campaigns depending on their specific interests.
Infusionsoft is a sales and marketing automation software that equips small business with essential tools to engage prospects and convert leads into actual sales. Its e-commerce functionality also provides a platform to customize and make your own online store with built-in shopping cart, secure payment processing, quotes and invoice generation, and inventory management system.
Priced at $12 a month per user, Insightly is considered as one of the least expensive CRM options. It is highly recommended for microbusinesses as it carries the essential CRM features including contact management, project management, email tracking and sales reporting, all in a single, easy-to-use solution. It is also highly scalable to meet your changing needs as your business grows.
Microsoft Dynamics is perfect for small and medium-sized businesses and existing users of Microsoft programs such as SharePoint, Outlook and Office. In addition to its basic features (Contact Management, Sales Pipeline, Task Management, and Reporting), it also provides for offline access when you integrate Dynamics with Outlook. Doing so will synchronize your existing contacts and tasks and allow you to view and update them offline.
Like Insightly, Nimble is an affordable and easy to use contact management tool. It provides a unified inbox where messages and comments from your email and social media accounts are organized in a single database. Nimble also helps you plan your day with its ToDo List, Engagement Opportunities and Deals feature.
Salesforce Sales Cloud is a sales process management and workflow automation software that allows you to automate certain business processes with its easy-to-use point-and-click interface. Its functions include creating automatic email alerts, formulating workflows, and automating manual tasks such as filling out orders or organizing proposals. It also offers a wide range of customization options that allow you to set up third-party applications that address a unique requirement of your small business.
Zoho offers more advanced features that are not found in most sales software. Some of its essential functionalities include customer service case management, website visitor tracking, and invoicing. At a price of $20 a month per user for its “Standard” edition, it also provides automation tools to setup alerts for completed deals and automatically send follow-up emails to new customers.
As we have hopefully shown you, the best CRM software can boost small business in a number of ways. The automation of various processes allows a small business to free up valuable resources that helps them expand and acquire new business. While our list isn’t exhaustive, hopefully it gives you some idea of the scope of software out there. Be sure to check out our reviews of CRM software to help you get started on the path of implementing this new tool in your business.