As the owner of a startup business, it can often feel like there are a million things to do (because sometimes, there actually are). Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a great tool for businesses and can revolutionize a startup’s processes, help create new workflows, and organize data.
Here’s everything you need to know what CRM software is, why it's useful, and how to pick the right one for you.
What is CRM software?
CRM stands for customer relationship management and focuses on organization and automation in sales, marketing, and related processes. CRM software helps businesses manage their relationships with customers and partners as well as streamline their own processes. It can help businesses manage their contacts, sales, productivity, and customer service. CRM software is also helpful to strengthen individual relations with employees and clients.
Why are CRMs useful to startup businesses?
There are many benefits a startup can enjoy by using a CRM, including:
Keep track of and build relationships with customers
So much of operating a small business is based upon customer relationships. By using a CRM you can keep track and develop all your customer relationships and their sales. The software supports this by organizing every conversation you have with a customer or company, keeping all of the call notes, emails, and sales in one place and sending you or assigned salespeople reminders to check in with them regularly.
Build a robust base of customer data for the sales team
All of the customer data mentioned above can be used to make informed decisions for your sales team. A CRM can organize all of your customer data and create reports analyzing trends. Through these reports, a sales team can assess what products and services are selling best, what sales methods have the best success rate, and where there are areas for improvement. When used together, all of the customer data housed in a CRM becomes an invaluable tool that allows companies to make smarter business decisions.
Increase revenue and profits
CRMs take many of the administrative and operational burdens from supervisors by automating task management. With less of their time caught up in business processes, decision-makers are free to build relationships with clients and develop products and strategies. Reclaiming the time spent on tedious tasks now automated with a CRM can increase sales conversion rates and be used to refine internal processes.
The goal for every entrepreneur and small business is to grow. With a CRM automating most of these tasks, it allows more time to generate profit, and companies can look to expand their sales team. Furthermore, with customer data readily available through the software, new sales members will spend less time getting familiar with customers and have more time to create meaningful connections. CRMs also make the process of onboarding easier and more efficient so that your top-tier employees will be prepared and informed from their first day.
How do I pick the right CRM for my startup?
There are several factors to consider when choosing CRM software for your startup. Here are three considerations every company should keep in mind as they research CRMs:
Functionality aligns with your processes and priorities
Before your company begins to look at CRMs, you should first evaluate what the existing internal processes are. Assess how you currently manage relationships with clients and what your internal sales processes look like, then brainstorm ways in which you'd like this process to be more efficient. Once you have a base of how your internal processes function, your company can look for CRMs that will optimize the existing workflows.
Companies should examine what features are included in CRM software and the different plans that vendors offer. If a CRM lacks essential features or is included in a plan out of your budget, move on and look for a better fit.
Ease of use
Using a CRM should make running your business easier, not harder. When researching the best software for your organization, look for CRMs with a clean interface in an intuitive user experience. Unless your startup needs a technologically involved process, your CRM should be easy to use and your sales reps should be able to learn how to leverage its capabilities within a few hours. The best way to test ease of use is by utilizing free trials for different CRMs and survey which one your sales reps find the most helpful. Ask for their preferences, what functions they liked, and which program they would be excited about integrating into their everyday work life.
Affordability, scalability, and support
Most CRM software has different plans and price points depending on the size of the company and the features. Startups should make sure their preferred CRM is within their budget — not just for the present, but for the future as the company scales.
Businesses should also consider adopting a CRM that has great customer support. All of the CRM's excellent features go to waste if your personnel have difficulty using them and customer service is unresponsive. Ideally, the vendor will have 24-hour customer support. During demo calls with the vendor, ask for references from other businesses who use the software and get direct testimonials from peers.
CRM software for startups to consider
If you’re looking for CRM software for startups, consider the following six options.
Hubspot is an all-inclusive system that offers support for marketing, content management, sales, and customer service. It offers a free version for an unlimited number of users, with paid plans that have additional features.
For sales teams that are heavily reliant on telephone capabilities, Agile CRM is a great solution offering inbound and outbound calling, recording, and call logs. Its free trial offers up to 10 users; however, the system lacks some customer support and reporting options.
Startups looking to scale quickly should conduct research into Insightly. The platform has a variety of project management tools that easily integrate with third parties such as Google Workspace and QuickBooks. With limited social media capabilities and a steep learning curve, this CRM can be difficult for beginners but great for project management.
Collaborative teams will love Pipedrive for its ability to set objectives, track team performance, and adjust goals. The downside is that it offers no free plan, but a 14-day free trial is available.
Streak is a great option for businesses reliant on Google Workspace for their sales teams. It easily integrates with Gmail and can be accessed from any desktop or mobile browser. While there is a free plan option, upgrades can be on the more expensive side.
Zoho is robust software with features including team collaboration tools, customizable billing and payment options, and product catalogs and reports. Its free plan is often appealing to very new startups but costs tend to rise as the business scales and more users are added.
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