Historically, small businesses have been the lifeblood of the communities they have served. However, more and more small businesses are going online, and are starting to serve a national or global community with their products and services, However, in our service-oriented economy, many small businesses now provide support to other businesses, whether through marketing and advertising, customer support, or other adjacent services. For those small businesses that serve a large variety of clients in this manner, it may make sense for them to opt for a CRM (customer relationship management) system. This is because it is hard to keep track of business contact and client information, and a CRM provides a systematic approach to keeping all of this organized.
That being said, if you are just starting out as a support-based small business, you may want to look at some of the best free CRMs available on the market. There are certainty a variety of options, and most CRMs allow for free trials or use of truncated versions of their software for free. However, if your small business seems to be growing rapidly to a medium sized business, then you may want to opt immediately for a paid CRM solution. With that in mind, here’s what you need to look for in a CRM for your small business.
Contact Syncing and Custom Reporting
Of course, the reason to get a CRM in the first place is to sync your contacts and house them in a cohesive manner. Manual entry can take up a ton of time for your sales staff, and would make the productivity you would gain from implementing a CRM redundant. You also want to make sure that the CRM you are looking at for your small business is able to sync email accounts, as well as calendars so that a meeting or sales call is never missed. Additionally, a good CRM solution will be able to sync with smartphones, so that not everything needs to be done at a terminal.
Additionally, CRMs should be able to create custom reporting so that you can forecast sales goals. Not all free CRMs have this capability, so if you are going to start with a free CRM, make sure that you look deeply into the features so you can best utilize the data you are feeding into the CRM.
When integrating any software solution into your workflow, you need to make sure that it is set up properly. It is more than likely that you’ll need customer support to work out any kinks and make sure that it is set up to and customized to your specifications. While having free support shouldn’t be an expectation with a free CRM, if you are paying a monthly fee, you need to make sure that you can get unlimited support for one monthly fee. Otherwise, your support fee for setting up your CRM may end up being higher than the fee for the CRM itself. As such, make sure that you are dealing with quality customer support agents who will be able to solve your problems quickly and efficiently. Otherwise, you may end up spending countless hours on the phone – and the CRM will end up becoming more of a headache for your small business than it is meant to be.