Once the first customers come in, the crucial question every entrepreneurs ask themselves is whether their small business need a CRM, and what are the tools and solutions available on the market.
If there is one part of running a business outside of marketing that can make or break the whole thing, it’s customer service. Read nearly any testimonial, and the topic of “great customer service” will be mentioned.
Customers love being treated like they matter to a business, from ease of sale, to friendly follow up, and fixing unanticipated bumps in the road quickly and thoroughly.
As a small or new business owner, you may really want to provide top-notch customer service, but lack the staff to track feedback, follow up on sales, reach out to prospects on a specific timeline, and remember every customer interaction. And that’s why Customer Relationship Management software – or CRMs -exist.
What Does a CRM Do?
A CRM is a Sales department, a Customer Relations department, and an Admin, all rolled into one… and maybe even a bit more! Depending on the software you choose for your business, a CRM can:
- Organize all customer information in a central source, including contact data and records of all transactions with each customer.
- Track interaction history. If, for example, you have a prospect for a standing order, but the other company is still in negotiations, a CRM can let you track each interaction to see where the conversation is headed.
- Display metrics, such as cash flow, emails sent and their performance, meetings per client, and more.
- Collect communication history and display it in an organized manner. If you’ve ever had to scroll through all of your emails from all of your accounts to read every email from John Customer, you’re already craving this feature.
- Optimize marketing by gathering statistics about sale climates and segments, such as location, industry, seasonality, and more.
There are many CRM tools and products on the market today, but we’ll look at a few options that are popular with small and new business owners for getting things organized, prioritized, and ready to sell!
Zoho CRM is available in both web-based and mobile formats, so you can provide that top-notch customer service anywhere you get a signal.
Their interface is streamlined and easy-to-use, with multiple integrations with products like Twitter, Google Suite, Office 365, Mailchimp, and more.
They also offer a Zwitch migration system that can help you bring all of those spreadsheets and documents that you had hopelessly tracked information on previously over to the Zoho platform without fuss.
With plans that range from $12/month to $36/month, there are various levels of service and integration:too many to list here.
However, some of the main features that Zoho boast are:
- The ability to prioritize emails based on sales pipeline (including analytics and communication context)
- A conversational AI live chat feature for your website
- Single-click dialing and call analytics for sales calls
- Social media management and analytics
- The ability to create self-service web portals for customers, vendors, and partners
This is one of my favourites CRM tools. I strongly recommend you if you have a small business and are in a developing phase.
HubSpot CRM – Free
Nobody doesn’t like free, and HubSpot CRM is a very rich product with a very forgiving price tag. This product can track an entire sales funnel in one easy-to-view dashboard, yet allows you to drill down into a variety of significant details.
You can sort by name, account owner, sales stage, won/lost status, and more, accessing contracts, meeting schedules, and interactions, all of which are tracked automatically via email, call, or social media.
You can also link to Gmail or Outlook for real-time captures client interactions, meaning you don’t have to circle around with everyone to make sure they know how that meeting went.
Additionally, HubSpot offers live chat tools, team email functions, and a universal inbox that brings a full picture to anyone who needs access.
Agile is another product that is widely available, supported by Android, iOS, Web, Windows, and Mac, making it a great option for business owners who are constantly on the move.
Starting at $14.99 per user, per month, it is also one of the more expensive options, but fret not: there is a free option for up to 10 users and 50K contacts for those just getting started.
Key features of Agile include personalized contact management resources, allowing you to store a variety of data regarding all of your contacts. You can set custom milestones, and review progress with real-time metrics.
The calendar feature allows for scheduling, as well. Lead scoring is an important tool available even with the free option, so you can track the current warmth of a lead.
Depending on which package you choose, you can include social media monitoring, integration with websites, Shopify, and Stripe, and a huge variety of reporting capabilities.
Another options supported on Android, iOS, Web, and Windows is Insightly, which starts at $29 per user/month.
This product features a variety of dashboard and organization features, which can be extremely helpful for those trying to get a grasp on where all the moving pieces are and where they should go!
Lead tracking allows you to keep a timeline of calls, emails, and progress per client, as well as create a workflow of next steps.
Insightly also includes the ability to send bulk emails, which can take some stress out of the process of making sure every prospect, vendor, and client is aware of any significant changes or promotions. This is a good feature for your email marketing efforts!
You can also integrate with a variety of third-party applications to extend the usefulness of this product to a wider variety of contact bases and clients.
How can these CRM tools can help your business?
Keeping customers happy is the greatest goal of a business, no matter the size. By having a customer relationship management product in your toolbox, you’ll have a better chance of staying organized.
The more you’re able to keep track of where all the moving pieces and people are in your sales funnel, the better you’ll be able to turn them into conversions, with techniques that match their position in the sales funnel, as well as the status of the lead.
With all of your communications and interactions in one place, there will be no more “did anyone call Joe Customer?” and more “Congrats on landing the sale with Joe Customer!”
So what about yourself, are you using other small business CRM tools which have not been reviewed in this article? Let me know in the comments below.