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As our businesses grow, so too does the complexity of our operations. Where we may have once relied on sticky notes and Excel spreadsheets to help organise our contacts, these methods start to lose their appeal as we begin to deal with more and more people.
Enter the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool.
These platforms are big business and for good reason. Bringing a whole host of benefits to the businesses that use them, so...
In this guide you will find:
Why Use a CRM?
Organisation of Contact Information
First and foremost, investing in a good quality CRM is going to help you organise all the information you hold on all your contacts, from customers to suppliers and competitors. This goes one step beyond your paper or digital 'address book', providing you advanced data collection on everything from email opens to direct replies.
Limit Duplicated Effort
When working in a team, one very helpful benefit of a CRM is ensuring that effort is not duplicated. As all information regarding contact with specific customers is stored and accessible from one central location, all team members can check what has been done and what hasn't, so there is no need to cover the same ground twice.
Keeping all information in one centralised location can also be beneficial in saving time. Allowing you to quickly and easily understand what information has been communicated and what has been agreed without the need to dig through emails and notes.
Over time, as you build a better picture of your customers, the information that is held in your CRM can be used to help personalise future contacts. For example, you may use your CRM to identify which methods of contact are best responded to or to see at which points during a year a customer is most likely to buy.
What to Look for in a CRM
The first thing to question when deciding which CRM is right for you is exactly what it is you need from the platform.
For example, if you just need somewhere to keep contact information then you may decide to go for a very simple CRM platform. However, if you need your CRM to play a bigger part in your sales and marketing such as providing email automation and social media scheduling, then a more complete tool may be better suited to your needs.
Of course, a key deciding factor in the viability of a CRM is the overall cost. This is especially true when it comes to small businesses with small budgets who need to get the most bang for their buck.
Some of the examples we have highlighted below offer a free version to get you started when your business is still small. However, it is important to assess the potential ongoing costs involved as your business and demand on your CRM grows.
Opting for a more expensive, but more comprehensive CRM can often be a better option for more ambitious businesses as the cost of transferring can be significant.
When you face inevitable issues with your CRM, you want to know that the business behind it is there to help. Before you chose which CRM is right for you, find reviews of their customer service and identify which ones are going to help you remedy issues the quickest.
Also, consider your preferred method of communication. If you require support via phone, you may need to be careful about which platform you pick as this isn’t always an option.
The Best CRM for Small Businesses
Undeniably one of the leading CRM platforms on the market, HubSpot offers a complete solution to small businesses.
The platform has been designed to make it easy to execute large-scale sales and marketing with a small team by providing tools for everything from nurturing leads to organising, tracking and reporting on customer communications.
Automation is a big feature on HubSpot with plenty of integration options. For example, emails can easily be monitored and tracked by integrating HubSpot with your email tool such as Outlook.
The sales functionality offers simple and easy-to-use pipeline management, allowing you to speed up the sales process and cover more ground. It also allows you to send personalised email sequences, which can be triggered by events and even place phone calls right from inside the platform.
Small businesses looking for a simple, but relatively complete CRM can’t go wrong with HubSpot’s free platform.
HubSpot CRM Pricing
You can access many of the HubSpot CRM features absolutely free. These functions should be enough for most small businesses with no need to upgrade. However, if you need very advanced functionality, you will need to pay for the full CRM suite which can cost upwards of £1404 per month!
Monday.com is an easy-to-use CRM which is growing massively in popularity.
Log in to the platform and you will find everything you need to undertake seamless customer management from lead capturing and management to pipeline visualisation and data on marketing activities.
One of the best things about Monday.com is the user experience. Everything is neatly compiled, simple to navigate and fill out. This makes it easy to train staff, helping you to implement your new CRM quickly in your business.
This CRM offers access to its tools for free. However, as your business grows you will need to upgrade. Upgraded plans start at £8.50 per person, per month.
For businesses that already rely heavily on G Suite, Copper may be the perfect CRM option. This platform is quick to install and allows you to automate data entry, track customer journeys and identify and optimise contacts and potential sales opportunities.
This CRM is easy to use, with a simple-to-navigate sales pipeline. You can input all communication types ranging from email to phone calls and text. One really helpful feature is the ability to voice transcribe notes in the app, which can then be logged.
Copper CRM Pricing
Copper offers a free version. Their paid plans are available from $23 to $99 per month, depending on the functionality required.
Zendesk is the market leader in customer service software. But they also have fantastic CRM software that is perfect for small businesses.
Easy to use and affordable, the basic plan contains everything you need to deal with customer relationships within your business including customisable sales pipelines, email and calendar integrations, tasks and appointment setting, call and text tracking and recording as well as a helpful sales dashboard.
Zendesk CRM Pricing
Zendesk offers a free trial of their Sell software. After your trial is up, you will need to pay £15+ per month, per user depending on the level of functionality you desire
Another clear leader and well-known name in the CRM space, Salesforce is a great option for small businesses that want powerful functionality for a relatively low cost. This platform offers tools across the full marketing and sale spectrum, allowing you to increase overall productivity, easily fill your pipeline and make more sales.
Salesforce can be used to create strong customer journeys whilst automating large elements including email, social media and digital advertising. The platform is simple to set up and various plugins can make it even easier to drive leads directly into your pipeline for follow up and processing.
Analytics and reports are especially powerful on this platform, offering unbeatable insight into your audience and how to reach them.
Salesforce CRM Pricing
Prices range from £20 to £240 per user/per month depending on the required functionality. The majority of small businesses would not need to pay more than the entry-level rate.
Find out more about the Salesforce CRM here.
Zoho is another great option when it comes to CRMs for small businesses. This platform is a cloud-based suite of software that is specifically designed to help with the smooth sales and marketing of small businesses.
Leads can be captured and fed into your pipeline manually or through automated plug-ins to various other apps. Once this is done, Zoho will help you to segment your leads and drive sales with smart tools.
This platform comes with everything you would expect from a great CRM including logging contact information and communication, generating reports and team collaboration.
Zoho CRM Pricing
Zoho is completely free for your first three users and then costs from £12 upwards depending on your needs and team size.
Find out more about Zoho and sign up here.
Best CRMs for Small Business: Summary
Implementing a quality CRM in your small business is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to increase efficiency and drive more sales. Although your requirements for a CRM may not be vast right now, taking the time to assess your future needs and finding a platform that meets them will save you considerable time, resources and costs in the future.
Have any questions about the best CRM for you? Drop it into the comments below and our experts will be happy to help.