If you own a small business, the marketing options are endless and overwhelming. Using a sales and marketing software to streamline your efforts and reduce the time you spend on e-mail marketing and follow-up is becoming a necessity.

There are tons of options out there– how are you supposed to decide? There are many things to consider when narrowing your options, here are a few that we have run into:

Talk to Current Users

If the company has a blog, ask questions to current users in the comments as well as read the current comments to see what people are saying. Search for forums where people are discussing products that they have used as well. Check out their social media sites and see if their current customers are saying anything there. You can get a good idea about the pros and cons of a software by what the current users are saying. You don’t want to waste your hard earned money on something that won’t be effective for you.

Compare Price versus Features

This is a pretty obvious one. Price is everyone’s first concern when shopping around. That said, if you go with the cheapest option with software, you will get what you pay for– less features. Make a list of what is important to you and then find 3 or 4 systems with those features and then compare prices between those few. Many will offer free trials as well, give  your top 2 a try. Getting started with these systems can take some time and effort, so you really only want to test out a couple and give them your full effort, not spread yourself thin testing too many at once.

Do you already have a CRM?

Some sales and marketing software systems have full CRM features and some don’t. If you are already using a CRM that you love, try to find something that will integrate or work well with your current system. If you aren’t using something or aren’t sold on the system that you are using, then try to find something that has CRM features. It’s easier to only have 1 database to focus on instead of trying to combine or use 2 or more of them (as many people do).