Best CRM Softwares for Small Business

Kate Virchenko

Mar 29, 2022

What is CRM & why do you need one for your business

Whether you're just getting started as a business owner or been in business for some time now, staying afloat is a struggle that you’re probably quite familiar with (we all are). 

Once those first struggles of creating a business from scratch are gone, your business begins to climb up the ladder of success and growth. 

But growth comes with its own set of problems. The biggest one is staying in control of all your data.

As your customer base grows - your customer data increases as well. Moreover, you aren't alone anymore. 

From building your team from scratch to adding more teammates to your extensive family - inevitably, there is a chance of losing data and context. 

So what's the way out? 

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software has been proven effective in helping preserve data and context for businesses of all sizes. With time, the data also provides valuable insights to propel further growth.

For some reason, most start-ups are still reluctant to use a CRM. We've heard something like: 

  • "It's just too expensive."

  • "I don't have the bandwidth for another software!"

  • "It's something that bigger companies use."

  • "Spreadsheets are just fine for my business."

  • “I can handle it myself”

And it brings a flurry of genuine concerns from the business owners' side.

Can we change that? Of course! 

Let's look at the benefits of a CRM and dispel any doubts you may have. 

1. CRMs have proven instrumental in business growth irrespective of business size. 

2. It keeps track of customer data, interactions, and even notes about potential customers so that you can focus on the real deal; the growth of your business.

But where is all this "data" stored? All that data from all those customers go to the central database, which is accessible to your team.

Sounds great, right? But that's not it; there are even more benefits of using CRM:

Benefits of using a CRM

Are you still tracking your leads on spreadsheets and sticky notes? If you are, it's probably time for you to reconsider these methods. 

Especially, when your team is growing. 

More people tracking leads means more spreadsheets, more sticky notes, and well, more confusion.

Team members come and go along with them, the information and context that they carry. Every time a new member joins your team - they need to start again from ground zero!

Spare your precious time and stay efficient. 

Here is how a proper CRM can help you do that:

1. It Keeps You Organized.

When it comes to tracking your leads, it is important to centralize all the information on customers, suppliers, and everyone else you can think of.

And the right CRM system can quickly help you with that! 

The tool allows you to consolidate all multichannel contact information from emails, social media, LinkedIn, business cards (you name it!). This means no more flipping through tabs, emails, or spreadsheets to find that one piece of data you need. All your data will be right there in one place. Say hello to productivity!

2. Helps Segment Your Clients.

Having a perfect sales process would make things a lot easier, wouldn't it? Well, that's why having a customer segmentation option is important. 

All you have to do is harness customer data to segment your clients and identify customer profiles. It also finds out the demographics that give you the best opportunities.

With the right CRM tools, it’s easier than it sounds. In fact, some CRM software already have pre-set filtering and segmentation parameters. All you have to do is make use of them!

A neat segmentation will get you a step (or several steps) closer to providing a high-end personalized customer experience.

3. Helps Your Sale Process.

Just making a sale, unfortunately, will only get you so far. So you need to know your "real" return on that investment. Else what's the point, right? 

But how do you weigh the quality of a sale? 

Well, with information, of course. The "data" that people keep raving about, this is where it essentially comes to play. With the right sales CRM, you can create a sales report, taking into account all the essential metrics that you need to look at. 

TIP: If you wonder what metrics are worth looking at, start with the sales activity and trends. 

But what are those metrics all about?

Sales Activity: Sales activities are all of the actions that salespeople and managers do every day to move prospects and customers through the sales process. Sales activities allow the sales team to be more efficient and effective in closing deals, while also providing additional visibility into the state of each prospect’s or customer’s relationship with a company. 

Sales Trend: Sales trends are a way to track the performance of your sales team using data. They help identify both problems and opportunities for your organization. Sales trends can help you decide what your next best course of action is, so you can get better results from your sales efforts and improve your chances of hitting your goals.

Recognizing sales trends and seeing the potential in your sales activity gives you a great insight into the dynamics of your market. You will be able to think even further ahead. With the help of a CRM, you keep your business running and help yourself stay current in today’s fast-paced business world.

With the right metrics, the sales report can help you identify all the gaps and opportunities (and even help solve many issues that you may have overlooked). And in no time, you will have a seamless sales process.

4. Creates a Breezy Process for you and your team.

The process of tracking your clients can be overwhelming, we understand.

But who said you need to get through hundreds of daily tasks to keep track of your clients? 

Instead of creating new records each time you have a new interaction, you can just update your existing log with the new details.

This frees up quite a bit of your time which you can use to focus on problems that truly need your attention. 

5. No More Silo Effect Between Teams

One challenge business owners inevitably face is the lack of coordination between teams. 

For example, the marketing team may miss passing on context to the sales team. 

The sales team may not pass on the proper scope to the delivery team. 

The accounting team may not know how much to bill for the month's work … 

The right CRM makes real-time data easily accessible to everyone. Eventually, it helps the organization function as a single team.

While the silo effect is usually typical of larger enterprises, start-ups also have their share of struggles with this since they too have to work with multiple stakeholders such as their team, freelancers, contractors, and client teams.

So no matter if you have a team of 100+ or 1+, CRM software has been created to make your life easier.

What to Look for in CRM Software When you are a Small Business Owner

As a small business owner, you don’t usually have the time or budget to mess around with software that may not end up fitting your needs. You need reliability and flexibility, but what else? Here are a couple of things to keep in mind while choosing the best CRM when you are a small business owner:

1. Cost.

This one goes without saying; the price point is a deal-breaker for small businesses looking for their CRM software. 

Every penny spent counts; we get it. But don't worry. Just start your journey with a free CRM if you're on a tight budget.

2. Ease of Use.

As a start-up or a small business, you already have a lot on your plate. And having to take time to learn your way around a new platform is a big no-no! 

The CRM you choose for your small business should be an easy-to-use platform. Look for something that feels intuitive and is easy to access. 

That said, most things come with a learning curve; there's no denying that! Even though learning how to use a CRM would require a tad bit of your time and effort, it shouldn't be so complicated that you have a hard time navigating your way around the platform.

3. Customization options.

One of the upsides (also sometimes the downside) of a small business is that everything is very uniquely you. 

So why shouldn't your CRM be just that?

Yes, customization is something that should definitely be on your checklist while you shop for a CRM that uniquely suits you. It's always best to go for a CRM that you can tailor as per your needs.

4. Integrations. 

You must keep your business well acquainted with multiple tools. But having to manage all these tools at the same time can be quite the juggle. 

Pick a CRM with an all-in-one solution with all the features in a single platform, so you don't have to worry about switching between different tools and software.

5. Customer Support.

As a small business, having your very own IT department is probably not your thing yet. But that's okay.

Your CRM can take care of that too. 

Just make sure that the CRM has a solid support team. Whether for those nagging questions or as you learn how to use the system, the support team is there to back you up. 

Top 5 Best CRMs for Small Business Owners:

Hubspot

If you've been doing your research on CRMs, then you've probably already come across Hubspot. It's a big one in the market, and yes, it does offer a free version with a handful of basic features.

The free HubSpot CRM has:

  • The free version of the popular CRM has inbound marketing tools (you know, like, email marketing).

  • It manages workflows for you and helps improve project management.

  • It does a pretty decent job at assigning and tracking leads.

  • It also keeps an eye on the sales process for you and records customer interactions across channels.

  • It's well integrated with G Suite, Microsoft Office, and even Zapier. The integration makes sharing and accessing information across all sorts of apps quite handy. 

Drawbacks:

  • Hubspot is quite limited when it comes to customization.

  • The free version of Hubspot, as mentioned earlier, comes with a handful of features. However, most of those features are very basic. You might need to purchase an add-on or maybe a premium version in the longer run. 

SanityDesk

CRM system is a must-have tool for any business, no matter how big or small, and now you know why. But what if we tell you there is an all-in-one solution to take care of all of the processes for you? So you can just sit back, relax and watch your business grow? 

SanityDesk is more than just a CRM. It is also a Task Manager, Sales Deal Board Tool, Marketing Automation Software, Scheduling Tool, Website Page Builder, and much more. 

You will find all the tools you need in one place with SanityDesk.

Here's what it brings to the table:

  • It is easy to use, so you can just get started with it right away (no wasting time reading manuals)

  • You will find your task manager & CRM system all in one place. 

  • It's free (forever)! Pretty cool, huh? 

  • Live support chat to help through the learning curve (even zoom calls, if needed).

Drawbacks:

  • You will need to switch between Marketing & Support modules.

  • It is not yet fully customizable.

Bigin

If you're looking for a pipeline-centric CRM built especially for small businesses like yours, Bigin might be worth checking. Bigin made a conscious decision to cut down features that will not be of use to small businesses, thus, keeping things simple and minimal.

But don't worry, Bigin more or less covers all the essential features like:

  • Built-in telephony and email.

  • Multiple pipelines.

  • Workflow automation.

  • Activity management.

  • Fully-customizable dashboard to track key business metrics.

Drawbacks:

Even though Bigin covers all the important features, sooner or later you will need to switch to a better plan to meet the needs of your growing business.

Pipedrive

If you haven't already heard of this one, Pipedrive is an easy-to-use CRM tool that primarily focuses on key activities that help you close a deal. 

Pipedrive comes with its own set of perks, like:

  • Pipedrive is essentially focused on driving the sales process and tracking your contacts.

  • It comes with a very minimal, no-fuss interface that everyone can quickly get the hang of.

  • It is designed to move the customers down the pipeline.

  • The platform comes in handy for picking up leads, pipeline management, tracking your contracts (and just keeping you on top of the game).

  • Pipedrive also comes with a Gmail integration that lets you add contacts from your all-time favorite (email platform), make notes, and schedule sales activities.

Drawbacks:

  • Even though they have Gmail integrated, they don't have an internal email platform (you will have to shed a couple of extra bucks for Mailchimp integration).

  • Despite having a minimal and easy-to-use interface, Zapier integration by Pipedrive has been described as "complicated to set up."

Freshsales

Freshsales is basically everything a salesperson needs in a nutshell.

Here's what it offers:

  • It can attract quality leads for you. 

  • It is a fine reputation for engaging in contextual conversations.

  • Its deals are essentially AI-driven insights. The AI-powered insights also come in handy for nurturing customer relationships.

  • If you're looking to save time, then Freshsales has all the tools your sales team needs to pace up the process; Built-in email, phone, chat, and telephony.

  • With its AI, your sales team can have insights into the best deals and offers to go after.

Drawbacks:

The "free" Freshsales comes with a few pretty decent features; however, you will find the best ones in the premium packages.

A CRM that Fits you Best

Whether you're just starting out or established as a business, CRM software is definitely here to stay and is something you want to start using. They're indispensable for getting a grip on that beast known as the sales process. But before you get going with one, check whether they meet the needs of a business that's uniquely you. Good luck!

Written by:

Kate Virchenko

Senior Marketing Manager

Mar 29, 2022

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