You already know a CRM could be a game-changer for your company, but as a small business, you can’t afford to waste precious time and money on the wrong tool.
So, what can a CRM do for you? How will you know which features you need for the best results? How will a CRM fit into your existing sales process?
If you’re considering a CRM for your small business, this guide will answer these questions for you.
What is CRM?
To define customer relationship management (CRM for short), it’s important to talk about it from two key angles: the concept and the tools.
First, customer relationship management is a method for building and maintaining your company’s contacts and relationships. As the name says, this includes your customers, but it doesn’t stop there. It can also include leads, email subscribers, advocates and employees.
The CRM process focuses on all interactions between your small business and other people. This includes calls, emails, negotiations, sales and more. It helps you nurture and improve all of your business relationships.
This brings us to the other important CRM angle: CRM tools.
A CRM tool helps you keep track of all these interactions in one place. Salespeople, for example, can make 100+ calls a week, and a CRM software helps them store every important detail.
Sales reps can see exactly where their prospect is in the sales funnel, what they already talked about with them, when to follow up and much more—all thanks to this central platform.
A great CRM also gives managers and executives an instant glimpse into sales, leads and predictions for the month or quarter, without sucking them into the nitty-gritty details. It gives everyone the information they need, when and how they need it.
The benefits of CRM for small businesses
Whether you want to grow into new locations and hire new employees or simply get more productive and profitable with what you already have, a CRM can help you achieve your goals.
Here’s how a CRM can help a small business:
- You know what to focus on each day
- You can personalize every interaction
- You can make smarter business decisions
- You can jump on a big opportunity
Here are those benefits in more detail:
Know what to focus on each day
Do your sales reps know exactly what to do when they sit at their desk every morning?
As a small business, you may give your sales team an ambitious sales target. But if your reps don’t know where their next sale (or even sales conversation) is coming from, they’ll end up jumping between leads based on their gut feeling.
With a CRM, you and your reps will know exactly how warm a lead is and focus on the ones most likely to move forward. Each morning, they’ll know exactly who to follow up with and how to prepare. They’ll approach every opportunity with a plan.
Personalize every interaction
One of your biggest advantages as a small business is the genuine care you can give to each of your customers. However, one study revealed that sales reps have an average of 94.4 interactions a day. This includes emails, phone calls, voicemails and social media interactions.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t remember everything about every person and company you talk to.
With a CRM, you’ll get an instant insight into all past conversations with a potential or existing customer. From questions they’ve asked to the products they’ve bought, you can tailor every conversation and nurture your relationship with them.
Make smart business decisions
With all of these lead and customer insights in one place, you can start noticing trends. Here are some examples:
- Recurring questions and requests for a product or a feature
- Comparisons to other solutions on the market
- Products frequently bought together
- Reasons for returns, complaints, etc.
When you notice patterns like these, you can get smart about the future of your business. For example, you can launch new products, improve existing ones, or bundle some products together.
You can also use these insights to improve your marketing copy, such as landing pages, emails, product descriptions and more.
Jump on a big opportunity
Ever missed out on a huge new customer just because things got busy and the opportunity slipped through the cracks?
Without the right system in place, this can happen too easily. But with a CRM that keeps everyone up to date, you’ll never drop the ball. With reminders, automations and a team-wide insight into all opportunities, you can quickly refocus your team on deals that matter most at any given moment.
The challenges of CRM for small businesses
By now, you’re intrigued. You can see the positive impact a CRM could have on your small business, but you’re still unsure it’s worth making that move.
Let’s look into two of the most common challenges of CRM for small businesses.
1. What if our current systems currently work just fine?
If you currently don’t use a CRM and your business still hits all the revenue goals, you may feel there’s no need for a change.
After all, why would you change what’s already working? Things get done, sales deals are won. Introducing new software would just distract from that.
Let’s look at some options you’re currently using to track your customer information:
- Sticky notes
- Business cards
One report shows that sales reps only spend about 35% of their time selling. The rest of their time goes to admin tasks, meeting preparation and research. Jumping between systems like spreadsheets, email and pen and paper definitely doesn’t help with this issue.
A CRM tool can centralize these systems and drastically shorten your admin tasks. You can find a lead’s address, notes from the last phone call, or the first email you sent them all in a matter of seconds.
Chris Goodfellow is the CEO of Box 2 Media and creator of The Pitch, an annual competition that provides workshops to early-stage startups. He started tracking sales with a spreadsheet but it soon became impossible to organize.
“Moving from a spreadsheet to a CRM led to a dramatic improvement in the number of potential clients we were talking to and helped make sure we kept ourselves accountable,” says Chris.
“Recording contact details and interactions in a CRM also ensures we get value from the hard work we put in; that information will help us win sales and grow in the future.”
Chris now recommends Pipedrive to the startups that compete in The Pitch.
2. Can I afford a CRM?
Even with these advantages in mind, investing in a CRM can feel scary for a small business. Here’s what you need to know about small business CRM pricing.
CRM is priced per user. The fewer people that need access to your CRM, the lower your monthly cost—perfectly suited for smaller teams and companies.
CRM pricing is usually tier-based. A great CRM won’t lock you into a high price with a bunch of features you don’t need. Instead, you’ll get to choose a tier that perfectly matches your small business. Be sure to review plans side by side.
When you find the right CRM, you can save with an annual subscription. You’re charged on an annual basis, but the rate per month often comes out cheaper.
Whenever you can, get a free trial. If you run a lean small business, even one month of a bad software purchase can set you back. A free trial will help you test a CRM in real day-to-day work and decide if it ticks all your boxes.
The cost of small business CRM tools starts around $15 per month for each user for the essential features and can go up to around $50 per month per user. How can you know this is the right investment to make?
First, figure out your potential monthly cost by multiplying this number with the number of people that would be using it. Then, ask yourself these questions about a CRM solution:
- How many hours per week could each person save?
- How many more deals could each person work on because of that saved time?
- Based on the average deal close rate, how many extra sales could we make?
- How many more opportunities could be closed each month due to more timely follow-ups?
The right CRM solution will give you the results that will far outweigh the cost.
How to find the right small business CRM
You now know that the cost of CRM ranges based on the features you need. Here are some features to look for in your small business CRM.
Ease of use
While this isn’t a specific feature, it’s massively important. Your CRM shouldn’t require a multiple-day training or hiring an expert to get it up and running.
The setup will ideally be self-explanatory, guided with easy steps so you can get to work quickly. Resources like video walkthroughs, written tips and community forum are a definite bonus.
This is exactly what we offer for our new users, but it was primarily Pipedrive’s simplicity is one of the things that attracted Chris.
“We looked for a CRM that was easy to use and presented information in a simple way,” he explains. “It’s important to have the depth of information and analysis, but if the user experience is too complicated team members are less likely to embrace it.
“Pipedrive lets us see our entire sales funnel in one simple view, which makes it easy to look at overall company performance. We can then dig into individual campaigns, staff activity and more.”
How you do sales is unique to you. Your sales pipeline stages or contact details you keep track of don’t necessarily match the default options in your CRM.
A great CRM will let you customize these elements (and more). Features like filters, custom views and dashboards should let you view the big picture of your small business, not someone else’s idea of a small business.
You’re already using some tools in your business for specific purposes, such as email, calendar, file storage, invoicing and more. Your CRM shouldn’t replace these, but to centralize all of your lead and customer information, it needs to integrate with them.
If it doesn’t, you’ll end up spending too much time on admin just like with spreadsheets and notepads.
Pipedrive integrates with hundreds of tools. Some examples of these tools are phone solutions, task management, proposals and contracts, customer support and more.
Check them out in the Pipedrive Marketplace.
The fewer tasks you need to do manually, the more time you’ll have to spend on relationship building and selling. The best CRM will help you automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as:
- Pulling contact data from search engines and social media
- Creating deals from new contacts
- Creating reminders
- Sending templated emails when checking in and following up
This will free up your time to focus on high-priority tasks.
As a small business, getting the right information to the right person quickly is essential. For example, executives may need a big picture and people working on the same deal will want details. Here are some features that can help make that happen:
- Visibility: company-wide or available for specific people
- Adding followers: selecting people who will get notifications about the deal
This is exactly how you can collaborate inside Pipedrive.
How to adopt your new small business CRM
Introducing a new software is always a challenge, no matter how great the tool is. A new tool brings a change of habits, which can create some resistance.
Here are the best ways to foster CRM adoption in your small business.
Communicate the benefits of using a CRM
What is the direct impact a CRM will have on your sales reps? The more you understand where they waste time and opportunities, the better you’ll be able to show the positive change that’s coming.
For example, you can show your reps they will:
- Spend less time updating lead or customer information
- Automate certain tasks so they can better focus on high-impact work, like researching a potential customer’s pain points
- Collaborate on deals with each other more efficiently
When sales reps see the effect of a CRM on their sales quota, their productivity and their overall job satisfaction, they’ll be much more open to making the change.
Involve your team in the CRM selection process
Ideally, you’ll have already narrowed down the selection to a few CRM options after vetting the features and cost based on your needs and budgets.
When you’re down to a few options, ask your team for input. Get them to take a free trial and share their feedback with you. This way, they’ll experience quick wins and be much more ready to transition to a CRM once you make the decision as a team.
Map out CRM functionalities to current processes
Finally, help your team understand how a CRM replaces their existing processes and tools.
For example, when they identify a new lead, the old way would be entering it into a new row of a spreadsheet. Then, they’d manually look for their website, email, phone number and social media accounts.
The new way is to create a new deal and contact in their CRM, which will automatically pull all public information about that person or company.
Do this for every stage of the sales pipeline and all admin tasks you can think of.
Then, leave plenty of space for questions and feedback. Also, make sure to overestimate the time it will take everyone to make the transition and replace all their existing processes with new ones.
More great sales software for your small businesses
If you feel like your sales toolkit can get even better, here are some pieces of sales software. You can integrate them with your CRM, make your sales workflow efficient and see even better results.
Lead generation sales software
Getting quality leads requires work, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right tools, spend less time capturing those leads and reaching out to them and spend more time talking to them.
Prospect.io and LeadBooster are among our favorite lead generation tools. The Pipedrive LeadBooster add-on has a number of great features, including a customizable chatbot that lets you capture more web visitors, engage customers with instant responses and automatically book meetings.
Sales software for phone calls
Make your call workflows simple and streamlined with tools that let you log your calls, add notes and tags, grab the right information quickly and analyze your calls to better understand what works.
Sales software for email marketing automation
With the right marketing automation tools, you can supercharge your entire sales cycle, from new leads through to nurturing and retaining your customers.
A tool like Mailigen will help you deliver the right messages based on your lead’s (or customer’s) behavior. You can integrate it with your CRM, as well as other tools like eCommerce, blogs, social media and more.
How Pipedrive can help
We’re powering thousands of small businesses just like you so they can get their sales process organized.
That’s how we know you’re always working on at least one of these:
- Getting customers for your business
- Pursuing media coverage
- Managing partnerships
That’s a lot to handle. Pipedrive can help.
The essential idea behind Pipedrive is your sales pipeline. It’s visual, intuitive and easy to use. There’s no complicated documentation or training required—you can start collecting leads for your small business in minutes.
You can integrate Pipedrive with your favorite apps (there are 100+ apps you can integrate Pipedrive with!) so you can truly make this CRM your own.
Want to try it out? Get a free trial with instant access here—no credit card required!
A CRM can turn your sales process from overwhelming and all over the place to simple and streamlined.
You now have powerful, easy-to-use options at prices that make adopting a CRM almost risk-free. Remember to:
- Map out how a CRM will save you time or help you work with more leads and customers
- Involve your team in CRM tool selection
- Boost your entire workflow with specific sales tools
In the end, you’ll build better customer relationships that will benefit your small business across the board.