A Guide to Selecting the Best CRM Solution for Your Small Business
The market for small business CRM software is a continuously growing one. Contrary to the common belief that technology solutions are only for big enterprises small businesses are increasingly growing inclined towards streamlining their operation by adopting software solution. In realizing the market potential for SMB business software solution many leading business software developing firms have shifted focus to small and mid-size businesses. The introduction of SaaS solutions has further promoted the demand for technological solutions among small businesses.
The SaaS business solutions are offered on internet and require no hardware or software installation on the users’ part. SMBs operating under resource strapped condition often couldn’t afford the huge initial investment required for installing legacy applications. SaaS ERP, CRM, and other business solutions have freed them from that dilemma. Moreover, the cloud based business software solutions available are way cheaper than traditional applications. These factors, coupled with the advantages offered by cloud solutions, have encouraged small businesses to embrace cloud based options.
According to recent market research, cloud based CRM system tops the chart of popular cloud trends in the current year and small businesses are likely to constitute the major portion of cloud CRM adoption demand in the market. According to Gartner prediction, cloud CRM adoption is likely to grow by 50% by 2020.
Why small businesses need a CRM solution
There is a lot of argument, both in for and in against, regarding CRM benefits for a small business. Some may opine that available free tools like – Microsoft Outlook and spreadsheets are all that a small business would need to run its operation. When this is only fractionally true a CRM solution isn’t only about managing emails and maintaining excel. It is often a complete business solution package that can help a SMB to look into its business conducts and streamline its operation.
In the growing complexities of the global economy, small businesses can’t rely on having a continuous flow of customers. There are needs for both acquiring new businesses and retaining the existing ones to stay ahead of competitors or sometime to remain viable.
CRM solution can be applied to sales management, reputation management, marketing management and of course, customer management. Many software vendors are now offering CRM solutions for small businesses loaded with features available in enterprise versions. As a result, tasks like sales process automation, marketing campaign automation, email marketing management, social CRM and report generations can be done directly from the software application.
Growing market size, product variety and prices have made the decision making process for selecting best CRM software for small business a difficult task.
Choosing the best CRM solution
Small businesses must base their choices of software application on the following parameters:
- Product features
- Backup solutions
- Vendor resilience
Market research reports have revealed that most small businesses emphasize on the pricing aspect while selecting CRM solution. When price is an important determining factor it shouldn’t be the sole criteria for choosing a business application. This is one of the reasons why CRM implementation failure rate is so alarmingly high among small enterprises.
CRM solutions if chosen correctly can take your business process to the next level. Availability of SaaS services has further made the solutions more flexible and feature rich. So, don’t hesitate to explore your options while choosing the right CRM solution.
It has often been seen that CRM decision is often regarded as IT decision, when it should be coming from the sales and marketing side. While deciding about the CRM, evaluate both your current and future needs. Explore the scopes where applying CRM solution can help in leveraging your potential.
Select a customer management solution that fits into your current business situation. If applying CRM needs you to realign your business process completely then it might not be a good choice for you. Select an application that matches more closely to your existing operation model.
Customizability is another aspect that needs consideration while selecting a customer relation management application. Products that offer easy customization solutions are a better choice since you wouldn’t have to spend time and money to make the software appropriate for your business.
Small business must look for a CRM solution that allows integration with their existing set of applications. Like, if you are using Google Apps or Microsoft Outlook, consider an option that offers easy ‘pluggable’ for such applications.
Mobility is another crucial aspect in small business setup. Agility is an important factor of survival for small organizations. Availability of CRM application on the mobile devices of your sales team will help them receive real-time updates on their current deals. This will help them optimize their sales effort. The CRM mobile application market is expected to grow by 500% in 2014 compared to its number in 2012 and will mostly be driven by small and medium sized businesses.
The cloud CRM solutions are subject to constant changes. The service providers continuously keep upgrading their application to improve user experience. Similarly, your business also needs to be adaptive to those changes.
Budget often plays a crucial role in CRM selection. Lower entry barriers are what have made SaaS a popular choice with small organizations. The cloud based CRM solutions are mostly subscription based with predictable monthly fees. One must compare pricing against functionality during selection.
Putting the customers at the core of your business isn’t an easy task. But CRM tools can help you in achieving it. It helps gleaning data on sales, leads, and accounts to help you measure your business performance. However, in order to receive complete business solution from customer management application the insight gained must be analyzed and results implemented.
Patricia Jones is a CRM expert and connected with Converge Enterprise. She has vast experience in CRM solutions and has sold cloud based CRM systems to SMBs. During this period she has observed what works and what doesn’t work for companies. She likes following market trends and writes about new technological innovations in the CRM field. She is an avid reader and enthusiast blogger and engaged with many online communities.