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Enterprise CRM Software: How Does It Differ From Small Business CRM?

Category: CRM Software

qnaAndrew wants to know if his mid-sized business should have enterprise CRM or small business CRM.

“I’m a bit confused about the difference between enterprise CRM software and small business CRM. Are the terms interchangeable?  I know enterprise means more features, but today’s small business CRM has robust tools that can address the needs of even the biggest companies. Hence, my question: what’s the difference between the two? I sell herbal products and my business is like a big small business or a small large enterprise.” – Andrew, Grand Rapids, MI

Let’s answer your question by looking at the similarities first. Both enterprise CRM software and small business CRM serve three core services:

  • Manage your contacts more efficiently
  • Create targeted sales pitches
  • Provide customer service support.

Likewise, both CRM types share other common features that in no way define their category. These are:

  • Mobile version
  • Free trial or demo
  • Scalable
  • Online, cloud hosted or web based
  • B2B or B2C model

Over time, CRM developed into a more holistic business strategy that includes other functions. So the difference between enterprise CRM software and small business CRM lies in the number of these derivative functions (you’re right in that assumption).

In short, enterprise level CRM has more robust features to address the complexities of big business. Put it in another perspective, small business CRM software is the lightweight version.

The other derivative functions expected in enterprise CRM software include:

  • Business intelligence – the CRM integrates and consolidates data from other systems or modules (ex. inventory, logistics, project management, etc.) and merge it with customer database to get insights.
  • Purchasing – the CRM tracks your supply chain, profiles vendors and manages credit lines
  • Inventory – the CRM monitors warehouse stocks, FIFO, expiration dates and inventory clearance
  • Shipping or logistics – the CRM manages distribution of goods and delivery schedules and fulfilment
  • Accounting – the CRM keeps track of finances, collectibles and credit
  • In fact, CRM is becoming the default system as it integrates traditional ERP or accounting functions. Forbes even predicted the end of ERP.

Do you need it?

Whether you need an enterprise CRM software or small business CRM will depend on your business needs. Do you need the other derivative functions now? If no, then it may be more cost-effective to stick with the three core services available in small business CRM.

Another factor to think about is efficiency. Just because you’re using an enterprise CRM doesn’t mean you’re better off. It’s like buying a gas-guzzler, high-maintenance SUV when you just need an economy car for city driving.

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Moreover, price will be a key determinant for your business. Enterprise CRM costs as much as ten times of small business CRM. You’ll need an on-premise server, technical team to manage the infrastructure and expensive license fees. Not the least costly upgrades and security architecture to protect the CRM system from external and internal threats.

But it’s not to say small business CRM is less expensive over a long period. That’s because entry-level CRM charges a monthly subscription fee, which can jack up to hundreds of dollars in two to three years. Many entry level CRM packages also charge by the number of users, so if you have a sizable population of employee users, that can cost an arm and a leg.

Keep in mind also that you can always level up to an enterprise level CRM in case your business grows fast. Preferably, look for a CRM vendor that has both a small business and enterprise versions.


To find out whether you need an enterprise CRM or small business CRM, look closely at your business operations and have a clear set of strategies. Only after doing that can you clearly identify the functions you need, which should tell you the CRM type you’re looking for.

When you’re decided to go for small business CRM, check the product comparison section to review the technical specifications and other details of each software. You can also read the other types of CRM aside from enterprise vs. small business comparison.  Good luck!

P.S. For further reading on CRM read these helpful guides: the top rated crm software; what is crm project management software?; and how to choose the best online crm software.

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. No stranger to small business hiccups and drama, having been involved in a few internet startups. Prior to his for-profit ventures, he has had managed corporate communications for a Kansas City-based Children International unit.

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Gloria Collins says:

Both are important because -In today’s world small business CRM is very much a reality helping business owners improve customer relations and increase revenues. We are seeing lower fees connected to using CRM and more intuitive, friendly, interfaces that make with CRM one of the more easy tools on the market. Small business CRM has become so simple and reasonable. And a business should think about enterprise CRM if it has more than one sales department or multiple departments that deal directly with customers. It’s important for everyone who deals with customers to be working from the same information. Enterprise CRM is more expensive, but eventually pays for itself in improved customer service across all departments.

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