Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me the perfect CRM software match. 

The right small business CRM is essential for helping your business cultivate leads, turn leads into customers, and turn customers into dedicated brand loyalists. And there’s really not a single point in the sales process where it won’t come in handy.

Where things get tricky is choosing the small business CRM software that meets your unique needs. From budget to integration preferences, you’re not likely to find all available CRM software options equally appealing. This is particularly true when you’re running a small business since you usually need to achieve significant results without a big pool of resources to invest in doing so.

That being said, small business owners are nothing if not resourceful — and there’s CRM software out there that can align with your budget and your ambitious goals. To help you find it, we’re outlining the basics behind why small businesses need customer relationship management software, plus the various factors that you should consider before you make your final pick.

Why Small Business CRM is a Necessity

Smaller business, smaller tech needs, right?

Not so much.

While your small business might not be juggling hundreds of thousands of leads, you still have a lot of data to manage — and a lot riding on out-performing the competition when it comes to customer support and relationship management.

CRM software has become a mainstay in the business world, with 87 percent of businesses relying on cloud-based CRM solutions in 2017 versus just 12 percent in 2008. That “cloud-based” designation is key, primarily since this past year taught us that your sales team is just as likely to be working remotely as they are to be working in the office.

A complete CRM solution can provide small businesses with a lot of worthwhile advantages, all leading to a better run business. These advantages include:

If these sound like things that your small business could benefit from, then it’s time to invest in CRM software that fits your needs and budget.

What to Consider When Choosing Small Business CRM Software

There are many CRM software platforms out there to choose from, but not all of them will be a good fit for your small business. And since getting up and running with your CRM is no small feat, it’s essential to do plenty of research on the back-end before you commit.

Businesses that hit a groove with their CRM enjoy many concrete benefits — from a potential 300% increase in conversion rates to a 47% increase in customer retention and satisfaction rates. To hit these impressive benchmarks, however, you need to get your software right.

Here are eight factors to consider when shopping around for the perfect small business CRM solution, with the questions that you should be asking yourself as you narrow down your choices.

1. Your Budget

For many small businesses, marketing budget is the single largest determinant when it comes to selecting a CRM tool. So before you even start looking, it’s best to figure out what your CRM spending budget is.  Keep in mind that your actual costs will likely go beyond the initial base price to include time-related to set-up and training, among other things.

Note that what you see on a software company’s pricing page isn’t always what you’ll end up paying. Some products have a startup fee or other hidden fees, and these can creep up unexpectedly and add on to your final bill.

However, free CRM software is out there for small businesses that aren’t ready to make a major investment. For example, our Free Forever Plan is absolutely free, meaning you pay nothing to sign up, and there are no hidden fees. Promise. 

2. Your Team

Check and see how many users a CRM software option allows you to have. You might be able to get away with a single user plan if that’s all your budget allows for at the moment (you can always upgrade later on to add on more users). If you know that you’ll need a certain number of people to have access to your CRM right off the bat, then you should accommodate that in your initial purchase decision.

3. Your Contact List

A lot of CRM software options determine their pricing based on how many contacts you have. And typically, the more contacts, the more costly your software is going to run.

Having lots of contacts is a good thing for a business, but only if they’re high quality. If your contact list size is pricing you out of a CRM option that fits within your budget, you may want to consider auditing it to see if there are dead-end leads you can remove.

4. Pay Frequency

Your desired payment frequency is important for setting your budget and possibly scoring a better deal, with both annual and monthly pricing available. You’ll usually find that pricing is discounted if you agree to pay an upfront annual fee, though this may be cost-prohibitive based on your total budget. Just make sure you view both options to determine if there is a discount either way. It may not be huge, but it adds up over time. 

5. Do You Want Email Automation?

Integrating CRM with email marketing can be hugely beneficial for your business since it allows these two tools to work together for enhanced lead nurturing capabilities. This also means you can build beautifully designed HTML emails that help elevate your brand and messaging. Consider whether you want email automation to be included, and if so, how many emails you want to be able to send a month.

Note that some CRM software providers cap your emails at a certain amount or don’t offer email automation at all. If it’s a feature you know you want, make sure that you factor it in when you’re looking over your options. 

6. Do You Want Marketing Automation?

If CRM plus email automation is good, then CRM plus marketing automation is even better. But it’s a good bet that if the software you’re looking at doesn’t include email, then it doesn’t include marketing automation either.

Sales and marketing automation often go together as two sides of the same coin, and if you don’t get marketing automation through your CRM, you’ll likely still have to get it from somewhere else. If you know you’ll need it, select a CRM tool that has it included so you can get all of your essentials in one application.

7. Do You Want to Create Landing Pages and Forms?

Landing pages and forms are excellent lead generation tools, providing your prospects with a direct location where they can provide their information in exchange for high-quality resources and content. This allows you to enroll them into your lead nurture campaigns, and it advances them to the next stage of the buyer’s journey.

Many CRM platforms allow you to create landing pages and forms, but not all, so pay attention to whether this functionality is included if it’s something you know you want. 

8. Do You Want Access to 24/7 Support?

You can have all the bells and whistles in the world, but if you don’t have anyone you can rely on to walk you through it all, then what’s the point?

A great CRM provider will offer their clients customer support as part of the larger package. As for what that entails, it depends. Do you want access to things like 24/7 assistance, email communications, and chat? If so, look for CRM software that comes with a commitment to accessible customer support, which will ensure that you always have help on hand if you need it.

The Bottom Line

If you take two major things away from this guide, let it be this:

  • There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all CRM, and it pays to do your research and select your best pick.
  • A stellar CRM platform doesn’t have to break the bank.

It’s up to you to decide which CRM solution is right for your small business, but don’t feel pressured to over-spend. Many small businesses find that they can have their needs met through free or low-cost CRM software options — and that pricier, more advanced CRM software doesn’t quite pull its weight when it comes to real-world utility.

The goal is to find what works for you. Use the considerations above to guide your search, and you should have no trouble settling on CRM software that aligns with your budget, your business, and your big picture goals.

If you’re dying to know more about BenchmarkONE’s all-in-one CRM solution, watch an on-demand demo!