Is CRM Software Worth the Investment for Small Businesses?

By Kirsten McNeice
Talent and Employer Brand Manager
Feb 5 2021 read

Is your service so in-demand that you’re running out of room in your head to memorize all of your clients' information? If so, pat yourself on the back. That is a great problem to have. As businesses grow and take on new clients, many small business owners need a solution for keeping more accurate records of this information. 

Maybe at first a small business owner got away with using spreadsheets or a Google doc to track the simple stuff like clients’ names, contact information, and payments. However, as clients keep signing contracts, the owner might hit a point where they wonder, "Is CRM software worth it for a small business?" In this post, we’ll answer that question while also giving you some pointers on how to choose the right CRM software for your small business.

What Is CRM Software? 

Customer relationship management (CRMs) software is an online tool that gives businesses a central location to keep track of information about their clients, prospects, and former customers. The tracked information includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Customer names.
  • Customer contact information.
  • History of purchases and interactions. 
  • Any notes about the customer. 
  • Customer's company. 

Most CRM softwares also allows business people to run sales and marketing reports, track stages of a customer in the pipeline, and spot opportunities for upsells and win-backs. 

The Different Types of CRM Software

There are different types of CRM software. Although they all allow you to track client info, each of them focuses on achieving a specific goal, whether that's analyzing sales performance or facilitating cross-departmental collaboration. Here are the five main types, along with an associated online CRM software. 

  1. Operational: This type focuses on helping you run your operations more efficiently — Hubspot
  2. Analytical: This kind of CRM prioritizes data visualization, furnishing you with insights about your customers and opportunities for improvement — Zoho Analytics
  3. Collaborative: These softwares focus on improving the way you can interact with your vendors, partners, and distributors — Pipedrive.
  4. Campaign management: This category is a combination of analytical and operational CRMs. It is effective in running and automating sales and marketing campaigns using the contact information in the system — Active Campaign
  5. Strategic: This type prioritizes the customer, allowing you to use information about customers and market trends to make better business decisions — Salesforce 

Why Invest in CRM Software as a Small Business?

Building strong relationships with your clients is essential to the long-term profitability of your business. Happy customers buy more and, better yet, talk more about your service to their social circle, acting as a walking, talking marketing campaign. And the best way to make clients happy is by knowing and providing for their preferences. So, to establish fertile soil for the growth of these relationships, small business owners should invest in CRM software, something that 91% of companies with more than 11 employees are already doing. 

Here are some other advantages of CRM software for small business owners:

1. Easy Access to Critical Information

Most CRM systems allow you to access information from a variety of devices. So, when you or your sales reps are out on the road, they can easily pull up important client information that helps them personalize an upcoming conversation with or an email to a client. This benefits inside sales reps as well. If they receive a call from a client about whom they remember little, they can quickly pull up their information in the CRM software. 

2. Never Lose Client Knowledge 

Most small businesses start out with one or two sales reps. The last thing you want is to lose client information along with the sales rep if they leave the business. In that case, the sales rep might have had knowledge about the needs and preferences of a large client or account, and now that they are gone, you and your team have to restart the process of getting to know that client. A CRM software prevents this from happening because all of the client data will have been captured within. 

3. Make Data-Driven Decisions

According to Search Business Analytics, 41% of companies currently struggle in tying customer data to business action. CRM software remedies this. It tracks data like revenue, account size, meetings booked, and more, depending on what you want to track. You can use this data to run reports about your business, revealing metrics like sales velocity, average sales cycle, or average deal size. You can use these reports to make accurate sales forecasts and predictions that will enable you to devise more effective strategies to grow your business. 

4. More Efficient Email Outreach

To run successful email campaigns, you need to know a few things: the last email you sent and the history with the client. Without that, you are shooting in the dark or scrambling through your sent emails category to find the addresses that you should follow up with. That can be an inefficient and tedious way to sell through email. A CRM, on the other hand, will usually allow you to send emails directly from the platform. Or, it will at least keep track of your past emails with the prospect or client so that you can craft the new one accordingly. CRM software also provides you with email templates that you can save and use later, boosting your team's productivity. 

5. Increase Scalability 

If you want to grow, you have to set up the right processes and standardized procedures among your sales team. A CRM helps you do that. It gives you a central place to document and enforce your standard operating procedures — how you want your sales team to interact with customers. For instance, you can define your sales process. Perhaps you want it to be five stages, from prospecting to contract sent. Because your reps can see the five pipeline stages on the accounts they are working on, they will be more likely to follow the step-by-step process you have chosen. 

Plus, as your business continues to grow, you will need a standardized way of collecting data about your customers. So it's a good idea to start that early. 

How To Choose the Right CRM Software for Your Small Business

Which software will work best for you depends on your business size, client profile, and more. For instance, some CRMs offer features that a small business might not need. Follow a few logical steps to simplify choosing the right CRM software for your specific business needs. 

  • Define your needs: First, recall why you began the search in the first place. This will help clarify what types of features you need. For example, if you want to increase the efficiency of your marketing team, you want CRM software with automation. If you want to make more data-driven decisions, you want one with strong reporting capabilities. If you need to evaluate and adjust your sales process, you want one with a pipeline view. 
  • Start shopping around: Go online and read some reviews about different types of CRM software. Plenty of bloggers share roundups of different software and who should use them. 
  • Sign up for the free trial or demo: In a live demo, a sales rep will walk you through the tool and answer any of your questions. Come prepared with a list of questions that you need to be answered before you can discern whether the software will fit your needs. A free trial will allow you to play around with the features and see how easy it is to use. Note: Try to avoid buying CRM software with a steep learning curve, as it will be hard to motivate your team to actually use it. 

CRMs Help You Grow

CRM software helps small businesses track their client information, run analyses on their sales and marketing performance, and spot areas for improvement. It will help you build more fruitful relationships — one of the most fulfilling elements of running a small business. 

Accelo can tell you what’s going on with your current projects, including who’s working on what and which projects are over, under, or on budget.  If you would like to find out for yourself a system that is right for your small business, check out Accelo's free trial today. 

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