Best Small Business CRM Software: 6 Features You Should Check Out Before Buying

qnaJulie launched a gourmet popcorn brand in Chicago a year ago and since then business has picked up slowly. She’s looking for a good CRM to speed up growth.

“Hi, my small business (selling independent packaged popcorn) is growing but I want to fast track its growth to get ahead of the game. Competition is just behind me and I thought a good CRM will do the trick. What will be the CRM features to look for? I’ll need it mainly for online and offline campaigns. Thanks in advance!” – Julie from Naperville, IL

That’s a good start to know what you need the CRM for. Picking the best small business CRM software will depend on how you want to use it. In your case, sales and marketing, so let’s make this feature the top priority. Good CRM software can increase customer recommendations (19.5%) and repeat purchase (18.4%), so noted the Customer Experience Professionals Association.

Since you’re a small business, we’ll recommend that you opt for cloud hosted (also called web based or online) CRM since they’re more affordable, at least in the short term.  With these two features in mind, it is easier to shortlist the best small business CRM software for your situation.

1. Seamless sales and marketing pipeline

Make this your top feature to check when reading a comparison review for the best or top CRM vendor. Choose a CRM solution that offers comprehensive pipeline functionality combining CRM, email marketing, social media and e-commerce. Look closely on how the pipeline integrates your existing customer database into leads and converts the leads into sales. Then make sure the pipeline can loop for another round for possible upsell or repeat sale. Infusionsoft has one of the best seamless sales and marketing pipelines on the strength of their email marketing platform. We can safely say it’s one of the best small business CRM software for your situation.

2. Great integration of different business operations

This is closely attached to your top priority; look for other non-sale business operations that can be linked to your sales and marketing pipeline to find the best small business CRM software. Features like project management (for example, you’re developing a new popcorn variety or organizing a grocery event) and collaborative platforms are highly recommended to be linked to your sales and marketing pipeline. In the age of crowd sourcing, your customers can be your collaborative partners in developing ideas. Zoho has a wide array of different business tools that are integrated to sales and marketing pipeline.

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3. Customizable

Aside from integration, the CRM should also be highly customizable to fit your current needs (this will change as you grow your business). Good CRM software allows you to add or subtract fields or tailor sales stages that are unique to your business. Pipedrive has an excellent customize sales pipeline feature.

4. Excellent contact management solutions

CRM started as a contact database tool. So it’s important that it features a comprehensive contact management solution beyond merely segregating your regular customers from best clients. It should automatically update and organize your contact list—your best client today may not be the best next month—and keep tab of your communications across email, social media and phone channels. Contactually has automated follow-up system that ensures you re-engage your best customers and other contacts (suppliers, partners, prospects, etc.) without losing a beat for business opportunities.

5. Intuitiveness

Also anticipate your users’ technical skill level when using the CRM system. Your users not only include your current staff, but the kind of human resource pool you think you’ll be tapping in the future. Things to consider include their educational level, technical skills and generational issues (millennials may have little difficulty learning the ropes than a forty–year old employee). Think of the intuitiveness found in Highrise, which offers custom reports, and easy-to-grasp, highly visual tutorials.


Guided by the right features to look for, you can now compare different CRM software more rationally, one that addresses your need. The software brands that I mentioned are just a guide; you can check our comparison section to find out more other brands and their details.

P.S. For further reading on CRM read these helpful guides: how to make your own top ten crm software; how to find affordable crm software; and the difference between small business and enterprise crm software.

Category: CRM Software, Questions & Answers

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