Richard runs a small business supplying retail stores in California with personal beach trinkets and he wants to know if the most popular CRM software services fit his small-scale but growing operation.
“I have an online store that sells beach items like hats, towels, bracelets, beach umbrellas, etc. but I also supply to ten retail outlets, mostly mom-and-pops, across California. Business is good so I anticipate expanding to the east coast possibly Florida where my items are well suited. Clearly, I need a CRM system beyond my current semi-manual Excel strategy to better manage my growing customer base. I know the most popular CRM software, but are they any good for small-scale operations like mine? Would love to hear your insight. Thanks!” – Richard, San Diego, CA.
Hi, Richard. There’s a misconception that the most popular CRM software solutions are only for large enterprise. Thoughts of extensive servers, runaway subscription rates, capital-intensive I.T. technical support and regular costly upgrades quickly run in the small business owner’s mind. Or that the most popular CRM software are designed for B2B and not B2C. The truth cannot be any farther.
Although the top CRM vendor companies like Oracle, Salesforce and NetSuite started developing enterprise solutions for big businesses, today the advent of cloud hosted, web based or online CRM made it possible for small businesses to tap the most popular CRM software products.
Search online for “product comparison review of the best or top CRM solutions” and most likely you’ll come across these brands:
What is the best CRM for you? Each one has its pros and cons so you’ll need to identify first your priorities and only then can you choose the right solution. Some of these have mobile version, others offer free demo or cheap subscription.
To help you decide, rank these five key areas according to your priorities:
The best CRM solution allows you to track the best customers with easy cost vs. benefit analysis lookup. An excellent CRM gives you additional data like the amount time spent per customer, which has business cost. The profit may be greater in one customer, but if he costs you more time to secure, the second most profitable customer may turn out to be your best bet.
Likewise, an excellent contact management lets you connect instantly to other departments to address customer queries. Look for feature that allows you to temporarily dial out of customer conversation and into, say, tech support, to give the customer accurate answers.
Remember that your best customers will help your business stay open during difficult times, so you need to find them and make them happy. Here are suggestions on how to take care of your best customers by the National Federation of Independent Business.
Some of the best features to look for include: ability to forecast campaigns; create instant sales quotes; follow leads; and monitor competition.
As your business expands, so does your staff requirement. A good CRM helps you track how your employees deal with customers, such as:
Not to be overlooked, this area should be a priority if you have a less-than tech savvy users (ex. an older generation team of accountants and marketers). The best CRM solutions have built-in intuitive tutorial prompts that anticipate common errors by novice users and provide them with logical tips. Look for features that offer step-by-step instructions, illustrative help and video tutorials. Also check for an option to disable these features once you’ve mastered the software.
Lastly, the best CRM packages have live chat and 24/7 telephone or email support. But it comes with additional price. At the least, the best CRM guarantees replies within 24 hours. Also look for a full support team that you can tap even for a fee in case a serious technical problem comes up.
As soon as you’re done ranking these five key areas according to your priority, check this comparison page to find out which CRM software fits your business best. At the end of the day, your CRM software should help increase your profitability and efficiency and other derivative benefits explained in this guide article.
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