Picking the right tools for the job at hand is one important element to the completion of any entrepreneurial endeavor. In a digital world where technology greatly multiplies our capacity to do work, this need is truer than ever.
For instance, once a business grows large enough, using software to manage customer information becomes inescapable. This is where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software comes into action and starts paying large dividends. If you are not sure about what CRM is or what platform is the right fit for your needs, worry not: CRM is now easier than ever.
Without a doubt, a large portion of the operations and metrics of your business must revolve around customers. This means your customer information needs to be reliable, accessible, and complete. For these and other reasons, putting some time and effort into picking the best CRM for small businesses is sure to pay off in the long run.
As with many modern services, there are lots of options available when it comes to CRM. While there’s no one specific best CRM platform for all small businesses, there are several very good CRMs to try. Without a doubt, one of them is going to help you a great deal in maintaining and growing your customer base and it is also likely to impact sales in a positive manner.
In this article, we will go over the main options to consider as the best CRM for small businesses, including details about them. We will also go into pricing, capabilities, and limitations. After reading it, you will be in an excellent position to define if and which CRM adapts best to your needs.
What Is CRM Software?
Managing a business often comes with some tasks that are not a lot of fun and may take a large fraction of your time. Some of the best ways to improve productivity and success for your operations will involve information technology software. Moreover, it is key when you consider scalability and business-client relationships.
One of the best tools of modern technology in this regard is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. CRM is a software system designed to better manage communications with clients and potential clients. This software has to cover several different channels, such as telephone, email, social media, and interactions with the company’s website.
A good implementation of CRM means combining sales, marketing, and customer support in a way that serves everyone better. Customers will be happier, employees will have a smoother workflow, and management will have more accurate information. All of this can be implemented with varying degrees of automation, opening the possibility to make some processes a lot faster. Consider how much of an improvement this is when you compare it to old-school methods of information management. The power of having access to real-time data as well as statistics is simply irreplaceable.
In the marketing sector, CRM software will help turn sales leads into customers through different tools. It often allows the automation of many different tasks such as sending emails and posting on social media. CRMs can also provide insight into customer engagement in social media platforms, an essential aspect of modern marketing.
All in all, CRM software not only saves time and effort but also makes the whole experience of doing business easier. A considerable amount of thought has to go into the decision, however. In each particular case, finding the best CRM for small businesses is an important task. For that reason using trial periods can be useful, as they make it easy to test the service.
How Does CRM Software Help Small Business Clients?
When it comes to your sales force, CRMs will provide improvements at all levels. From the moment a potential client or lead can be identified, CRM software can keep track of it. Later on, as some of those become clients, all the necessary information can be stored. As salespeople and customers interact through time, the relationship will also be tracked.
You can immediately recognize the value in this, as the experience of clients will be much smoother. They will not receive duplicate information or be contacted repeatedly through your salespersons when they don’t want to be contacted. Your data will also be more precise and synchronized through all departments, and easy to search too.
There’s still more power in automation through CRM software. It can often cover several different channels that customers use to contact your business with automated responses. For example, many of them can help in providing support to clients through phone, email, knowledge bases, or ticketing systems. These can sometimes also trigger different alerts to handle situations in different ways.
All of this can sound like it’s valuable for big companies but not as necessary for small businesses. However, there is a great use to finding the best CRM for small businesses too. This is especially true as clients often feel closer to small businesses, developing a sort of sentimental value for them, feeling that they do matter. This is great for both clients and businesses, but it is a relationship that has to be carefully maintained.
Small mistakes can make customers lose that feeling of closeness. Even if the company has the best intentions and is well organized, which is something that can happen and should be avoided. That is where a good CRM software and policy can make an impact on small businesses.
Just think about it. You probably have experienced feeling better about a certain business, which is a huge part is about your interactions with it. Avoiding mistakes when handling information can help make your customers feel more at home, more relaxed, more appreciated.
Over and over again, you will see that choosing and implementing the right software is vital for growth. Finding an appropriate CRM is a great example of that.
How Do You Know Which Is the Best CRM for Small Businesses?
As the online world develops, it becomes harder to keep track of all the interactions with customers. So businesses with large online exposure benefit greatly from having this information well organized. And which business doesn’t have that kind of exposure? Most of them do.
Then, once a big enough follower base has been reached, using a CRM service becomes increasingly helpful. As the amount of data grows larger, the more useful it is to manage it well. If you are considering a CRM for your small business, that is something to keep in mind.
Picking the best one from the start will save you time as well, as changing it later can be challenging. You have to study what each one offers and then see if you can try the features you need first. While one CRM may sound perfect on paper, if possible it is best to try things out before fully committing. Testing a few different services is a great way to see how they behave and compare them to each other. Some of the plans are free, but the paid ones often offer free trials, a great way to see their potential. You will find a list below with the best CRM for small businesses, along with their most important characteristics.
When Should a Small Business Get a CRM?
While paying for this type of service is not within every business’s reach, some free tools can prove helpful. In fact, many businesses can benefit from the free tools and services available. This may also prepare the organization for a time when using this kind of software becomes unavoidable. Surely, there is a point where a big enough follower base can be too much to handle manually or one where a site has enough visits that it should actively try to turn those leads into sales.
In fact, most services reckon that this happens and adapt by offering different services and billing plans. Getting to know and experience the potential of these tools is easy and straightforward, often being just a matter of a few minutes and the creation of a free account.
However, there’s also a great incentive to start early with CRM software: having good records of your interactions with customers and being able to access that in the future.
What Are the Best CRM for Small Businesses?
Now you are prepared to spot the advantages of CRM plans for your small business. While this list does not contain all options, these are some of the most popular ones. They have many options in terms of tools and payment plans to serve all sorts of clients.
Salesforce is one of the biggest players in the CRM space. Serving over 100,000 businesses and having 20 years in the making, it possesses vast experience in many different fields. Highly customizable and designed with ease of use in mind, it is a great fit for a lot of companies. This experience is one of the strongest selling points of its service because whatever requirement you have has probably been dealt with before.
Whether you work in financial services, healthcare, communications, consumer goods, retail, manufacturing, transportation, energy, or education, you can use Salesforce. Rest assured it has ample experience with similar clients and will know how to guide you through the implementation.
If you use Salesforce’s software, you will have great support options. Besides phone support, it has an ample knowledge base and online training, as well as forums to interact with other users. This is key when parts of your business depend on software to operate normally.
Salesforce Essentials edition costs $25 per user each month and is billed annually. This plan is limited to 10 users, and you can get it running within minutes. With a 14 days trial available, you have more than enough time to see if it works for your business.
Salesforce also offers Sales Professional and a Service Professional plans, starting at $75. These services consist of a sales solution and a customer service solution that can make your life easier. This is somewhat pricey when compared to competitors, but they offer a 30 day trial period. Make sure to check it out if you think Salesforce’s CRM may be right for you.
The communication platform Slack was bought by Salesforce in 2020 in a $27B deal. This partly reflects how Salesforce points towards team building within organizations. Without a doubt, being better connected can lead to better productivity.
Freshworks is another favorite that has a large selection of options. Over 50,000 customers trust their data to these products, including huge companies like Fiverr and Bridgestone. With a focus on serving not only customers but also platform users well, Freshsales has a great strategy. This may not sound important but will often help a great deal in making relationships flow and keeping employees motivated.
Having a design protocol that takes the end-user into consideration is essential in every software project. After all, ease of implementation and productivity will largely depend on how friendly the software is.
Freshworks offers an app system that attempts to help you make the best use of this CRM and other tools. These will help you connect to many different social media sites, and access all sorts of reporting and analytics tools.
Freshworks offers several different paid services to allow for modular implementations, as well as two free tools called Freshping and Freshstatus. The paid products are called Freshdesk, Freshsales, Freshmarketer, Freshservice, and Freshteam. All of these can be accessed for a trial period, and some have a few free features. Let’s break that down.
Freshping helps in monitoring websites. In fact, it does much more than that, offering insight into issues and alert configuration. It is free of charge forever and can be set up in no time. Freshstatus can be used to alert customers, employees, and others about issues with your platforms. It is also helpful in receiving alerts about incidents so you can get to work on them as soon as possible. Together, these make for a great resource for small businesses looking for free CRM tools.
Freshdesk is a customer service solution offering all sorts of email, automation, bots, and other tools. It consists of a limited free version, and three other levels namely growth, pro, and enterprise. These cost $15, $49, and $79 respectively if you choose annual billing. The growth plan includes some automation, marketplace apps, custom SSL, and timesheet summary reports. Definitely worth considering it as one of the best CRM tools for small businesses.
Freshsales is also divided into one free and three paid levels. For $15 a month, billed annually, you can hire the Growth service. With that, you get AI-powered predictive contact scoring, a visual sales pipeline, custom reports, a product catalog, and several other features.
The next tool in Freshworks’s toolbox is Freshteam, an HR software designed with small businesses in mind. It helps in recruitment, onboarding as well as in storing employee data and managing time off. It charges $1.20 per employee in the cheapest plan, plus a fixed $71 platform fee. While not strictly CRM-related it is worth considering.
Having a lot of free tools assured a spot for Hubspot in this list, pun intended. These are really free of charge, not for a determined period. This is definitely a service that you could try to cover your business’s needs. While somewhat limited, there are several features that are great to have, like deal tracking and customizing a landing page. It can also help you set up a ticketing system, live chatbots, and a shared team email.
Hubspot has most of the services you can think of when it comes to business CRM. It can definitely follow along and provide useful services as your business grows. For startups, it has a HubSpot for startups program your business can apply to. There is also a Hubspot for Nonprofits which features up to 40% discount.
This CRM company knows how important it is to stay connected in this world, so it invests a lot into integration. When using Hubspot, you can access an app marketplace containing over 1,000 apps to connect to different services. This way you can make use of Gmail, Google Calendar, WordPress, Outlook, Zoom, Google Ads, or Facebook Ads. For example, you can sync your Google Contacts with your Hubspot contacts.
Hubspot offers many different services with a wide range of prices. Besides the free tools, you have starter, professional, and enterprise bundles that include more powerful features and lesser limitations. You can also choose from plans with specialized services for categories like marketing, sales, or customer service. You may need one or more of those to gather the features you require, that’s why they also have bundles
From starter prices of $45 a month to enterprise bundles of over $5,000 there are many plans in between. HubSpot attempts to provide useful services to businesses of all sizes.
The starter $45 a month bundle offers capacity for 1,000 marketing contacts, ad management, email, and in-app support. It also removes HubSpot branding that appears on emails and other communications in the free edition. This version supports up to 2 users, and you have to pay extra to add more users.
The professional bundle starts at $2,243 per month and supports 2,000 marketing contacts. It allows for up to 30 currencies, compared to 5 in the starter bundle. This bundle also has Google Search Console Integration, SEO recommendations & optimization. This suite includes up to 5 users and also charges for extra users. It has too many features to mention, so make sure to check it out if it’s within your budget.
Another widely popular CRM to consider is Pipedrive, a company large enough to serve 95,000 customers. With offices in 8 countries and clients covering 175 countries, it has ample coverage and knowledge. Started in 2010 by a team of experienced sales professionals, it focuses on covering the needs of salespeople.
The focus on sales can provide benefits besides the obvious increase in sales. These include better collaboration and optimized time management for employees.
All of Pipedrive’s plans offer lead and deal management, customizable pipelines, products catalog, and tracking of communications. They also have automation tools, reports, Android and iOS apps as well as a marketplace with over 250 integrations.
To access phone support you have to possess an enterprise plan. Other plans are limited to finding help through live chat support or the online help center.
With both monthly and annual billing, Pipedrive offers four different plans called essential, advanced, professional, and enterprise. All of them are available as a free 14-day trial without having to register a credit card.
Essential starts at $12.50 per user per month, billed annually. It covers all features needed to be one of the best CRM for small businesses and many others. While lacking some tools like email open and click tracking, it has more than enough to get started.
Advanced plans start at $24.90 per user per month when billed annually, and provide several extra tools. Some of the most notable ones are access to a workflow builder, group emailing with open and click tracking.
Professional and Enterprise go for $49.90 and $99 per user per month, billed annually. With those, you enable features like one-click calling and call tracking, additional security options, and an implementation plan.
Clearly, you first have to decide if your business can take advantage of the tools provided by these CRM suites. That involves deep knowledge of your organization and careful thinking about how its processes match up with the tools. It may prove useful to consult with salespeople, and other stakeholders to know where help is needed most.
While their prices can be intimidating, these tools can pay for themselves quickly by bringing in more sales and improving workflow. Deciding what is the best CRM for small businesses can be challenging but is key for company development.
To take your best shot at making the right choice as early as possible, take advantage of free tools and trials. See if you can make your team try them out and evaluate them for the particular situations they face.
Once you are ready, make sure everybody on your team is aware of the implementation. See that all of the processes it affects are contemplated and that the information is entered correctly. This should make the operation easy and straightforward. That is all, now you are ready to decide for yourself what is the best CRM for small businesses. This insight will also help in taking advantage of your service as much as possible.