Selecting the right CRM system for a small or medium-size business is fundamentally an exercise in reduction. You need to decide which features are important to you and limit yourself accordingly.
The modern CRM landscape is crowded with CRM systems with various prices and capabilities. Winnowing down the field is an important part of choosing the right system.
This is particularly for small and medium businesses (SMBs) which operate under tight constraints on personnel, finances and other things. A system that isn’t sized properly for your business can be an expensive drag on your profits. You need to survey the field carefully so you don’t waste resources evaluating products which are obviously unsuitable for your needs.
The process starts with list making. List out all the features you need in a CRM system. It also helps to note those you don’t need. Obviously, you’ll need contact management, but do you need analytical functions and if so, to what extent?
All CRM products can maintain a contact database, including slicing and dicing it into sub-lists on the fly and record basic notes on interactions with the customer. The main distinctions are in other features and you have to decide what else in important to you.
There is also the question of balance. A CRM system that can handle a couple of thousand seats in an enterprise level operation is obviously going to be too big for a small company with a dozen or so seats. You need to steer a path between something that doesn’t have the features you need and something that is too big for your company.
The structure of your sales and marketing organization is an important consideration. Are most of your sales over-the-counter walk-ins or do you have salespeople in the field calling on customers? Do you have a continuing relationship with your customers that have to be nurtured or are most of your transactions one-time deals? This helps determine how close your relationships are with your customers and how much time you spend building it.
Price is an important consideration, obviously, but getting a tool that does the job for you is more important. One advantage for smaller companies is that most vendors offer their products with various numbers of licensed users. This ranges from a single seat on some products to hundreds or thousands of seats on enterprise-level installations.
This is different than limited versions of the CRM systems for tryout purposes – also a good deal when you’re evaluating systems. The limited versions are especially useful for evaluating the all-important user interface but not so much for checking the full capacity of the system under real-life loads.
Selecting the right CRM system for a small business takes work, but the effort is well-spent. Take your time and make sure you get the right one.