The Small-Business Guide to Choosing the Right CRM

As a small business owner, you may be unsure whether or not you need CRM. But if you are ready to take your business to the next level, or simply just organize your customer data in one place, then yes, you need CRM software for your business.

A CRM is one of the essential business software, irrespective of your business and size. According to Small Business Trends, a CRM system enhances customer relationships, increases sales and revenue, improves customer retention, automates communication and a lot more. In fact, 47% of businesses have adopted it (on an average) and are making the most out of it.  On the other hand, the market is also seeing a rising number of CRM vendors that cater to the SMBs today.

With a wide range of CRM vendors to choose from, selecting the right CRM for your business can be quite overwhelming, especially if you are implementing such a system for the first time.

So how do you find the right CRM for your small business? Here are seven steps that will help you to choose not just any CRM but the right CRM for your business.

1. Come up with an organizational objective

Brent Leary, co-founder of CRM Essentials said in phone interview with Small Business Trends, “Every business has its own specific challenges. So the best thing a company can do is have a very detailed understanding of what their main challenge is and what it would take to make sure that they can answer that challenge in a way that allows them to stay true to the way they want to engage with customers.

Before you embark on your selection journey, get feedback and inputs from customer support, sales and marketing team stakeholders on what they want to achieve from a CRM solution. For instance, the marketing team would want a CRM that tracks the ROI of marketing activities; the support would want insights into the customer’s data to improve relations and retention, the sales team would want a CRM that helps identify industry trends to enhance sales strategy, and track and improve sales productivity.

After collecting their requirements, create a list of what business challenges the CRM should solve and what benefits they expect from a CRM. This would be very useful in evaluating a CRM.

Nobody knows your business better than you, so know exactly what you want before you look for the right CRM solution.

2. Look for right functionality

Most CRM providers advertise their software to be the best in the market. But before you jump in and buy one for the brand name, wait for a second and think whether your business really needs a complex, feature-heavy, enterprise CRM just because it’s well-known in the market.

Your CRM has to help you resolve organizational challenges while getting you within striking distance of your objectives and one of the most critical phases of choosing the right CRM is determining if a tool has all the needed functionalities. To illustrate this point, real estate firms searching for such a platform should look for one that can manage inventories and listing, monitor deals across sales pipelines, automate, gather leads, among others. Only after accomplishing such will you be ready to come up with a list of platforms and start evaluating them.

3. Pricing

As with any other purchasing decision, shopping for a CRM requires one to have a budget. Long-term costs should be computed while evaluating a software’s potential benefits. A surefire way of doing this is to inquire with vendors as to a pricing model’s additional benefits. An example of this would be to determine if a plan involves additional expenses for services such as implementation, training, support and customizations, to name a few.

Meanwhile, finding out if a CRM tool has the ability to integrate with other apps is also a good thing to do as it prevents additional expenses on new systems.

4. Is it scalable?

For many small business, the prospect of organizational growth is inevitable, increasing the size of their salesteams to further boost income. With the increased business requirement, you might require more from your CRM. Features like custom fields and personalizations, automated follow-up activities, setup approval processes etc will become vital to running your sales process smoothly. In addition, migrating to a new system to accommodate your needs is not financially sound.

This is why choosing a scalable CRM is the right thing to do. Also, there are a lot of CRMs in the market, each one of which carries a different price tag, depending on business requirements. This makes it easy to change plans without having to migrate data.

5. Is it mobile optimized?

Sales personnel nowadays spend more time on their mobile devices than their desktop computers as they are always in the field, therefore, the need for a CRM that is mobile optimized. Such a tool can be accessed from virtually anywhere, and in some cases, even without an Internet connection.

The ideal mobile CRM should be able to access information that include appointments, customer information, deal pipeline, along with being able to sync data.

6. Quick Implementation and ease of use

The ideal sales CRM software should be intuitive, easy to navigate for your salespeople to use it. It should also be able to import/export any information sans the need for IT experts or rigid training and quite easy to implement. The tool should also be flexible enough to play well with your sales processes.

One way to find the right CRM solution is to test run the deployment. Most vendors offer free trials of such tool, giving you ample time to evaluate it.

7. Robust support

System glitches are not uncommon among CRM platforms. So in the event that such occur, knowing that your software vendor provides excellent support can ease your worries. One good way to find out about this is to try contacting their support in the course of your evaluation. Customer service should be speedy, otherwise you might want to seek out other platforms.

Customer support comes in different forms. Some vendors offer demonstrations, certification programs and user guides. You should take part in such offerings to gain a better understanding of your tool.


Let’s be real. No CRM software will readily fit your business like a glove. It will require some amount of customization before it becomes a perfectly fitted one. Buying a CRM software for your business isn’t a one-time purchase but a long-term relationship. And making a hasty decision while choosing a CRM will only cost you your time and money. But if you’ve found the right CRM, the time invested in research and implementation will be worth it when it delivers the benefits your company needs.

Radhika Bhangolai
Author bio: Radhika is the Product Marketing Manager at Freshworks Inc., responsible for content strategy for Freshsales – CRM for SMBs with AI-based lead scoring, built-in phone, email, activity capture and more.

Astrid Eira

By Astrid Eira

Astrid Eira is a resident B2B expert of FinancesOnline, focusing on the SaaS niche. She specializes in accounting and human resource management software, writing honest and straightforward reviews of some of the most popular systems around. Being a small business owner herself, Astrid uses her expertise to help educate business owners and entrepreneurs on how new technology can help them run their operations. She's an avid fan of the outdoors, where you'll find her when she's not crunching numbers or testing out new software.

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