Comparing CRM for Small Business

By Robin Wilding
Updated: April 29, 2011

CRM solutions are giving small businesses customer management tools previously unavailable in the small-to-medium business space. But when choosing a solution from the throngs that are available, you must first assess your needs; there are questions you should ask yourself about your CRM:

  • What outcomes would you like to see from your CRM?
  • Which processes of your business do you want your CRM to manage?
  • Are you technically prepared for this or will you need a third-party to help?
  • What are your initial and ongoing budgets?
  • How will your CRM fit into your overall customer and IT strategies?

Once you have an idea of what results you are looking for, you can decide which features will get you there. Typical CRM features to choose from are:

  • Contact management
  • Reporting
  • Sales pipeline
  • Order tracking
  • Email integration
  • Custom field options
  • Automated activities
  • Lead management

Once you have chosen the features that you need selecting a vendor will be easier. It is important to know what outcome and features you are looking for before you begin researching vendors because otherwise you will likely become sold on a solution that is either too robust and expensive for your needs or too feature-lacking.

Finding a CRM Solution

After you have chosen the features that you want, do some preliminary research to find out what category of CRM you will be purchasing, simple, mid-range or complex. And of course also compare which type of CRM fits your budget best—but do not focus too much on price as you will want to find the most robust solution possible within your price range that suits your needs—this isn't a time to cheap out.

When you have picked your level of CRM, find a CRM comparison website and begin comparing solutions. While there are many choices out there, you need to stay on topic and look for the CRM that has all the features that will get you to where you want to be, and within the price range that suits your budget.  

Comparing and Evaluating CRM Solutions

Once you have found a couple solutions that have what you need for the right price then you need to compare their services. Remember that only some companies offer installation and consulting services—a critical element if you do not have a technical person on staff with the know-how to install and maintain the system. If you do have someone on staff that can handle the CRM installation then you could save some money by going with a company that does not offer those services. As you contact the vendors, pay careful attention how attentive they are on the process as this is indicative of their service moving forward.

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