How To Start & Grow Your Business

Top 5 CRM Solutions For Growing Your Small Business

Asher Fergusson
Aug 13th, 2015

Sales Tools

Sales/Charts and graphs Photo Credit: SergeyNivens Depositphoto.com

CRM stands for customer relationship management. It’s a cloud-based way of managing your communications with current and prospective customers.

Here’s the deal:

Typically setting up a good CRM system involves paying for software from a provider such as the ones reviewed below.

However:

If you’re only using CRM for your sales (the most important part of a CRM) then it can be setup successfully FOR FREE using a spreadsheet as we show below.

Simple Free CRM Solution

We’ve created this sample sales spreadsheet to show you how you can effectively keep track of your sales funnel for free using Google Spreadsheets. A typical way to use this spreadsheet is to have a regular time (weekly or daily) for your sales team to update the “status”, “next steps” and to continually add new “prospects”. Many startups and even established small businesses can get by in this way without having to pay for an expensive solution. Get instant access to this spreadsheet in our free members area.

sample-sales-crm

Paid CRM Solutions

insightly.com

Insightly

Pros: Great social networking and email marketing integration. Affordably priced and basic free option. High level of security and easy-to-use interface.
Cons: Can be quite slow at times. Email integration could have more options and customization tools.

infusionsoft

Infusionsoft

Pros: Powerful platform that does “everything”. Extremely flexible email list segmentation. Good integration between email marketing and ecommerce. Good phone support.
Cons: Email builder isn’t very good. Default templates for ecommerce and email marketing are not very aesthetically pleasing. It can get expensive and it’s overly advanced for startups and really small businesses.

salesforce

SalesForce

Pros: Industry leader. Simple, easy to use interface. Incredibly informative reports if setup correctly. Good workflow process. Huge third-party app platform. Chatter (internal social platform) works well in practice but is best used by larger organizations.
Cons: Pricing gets very expensive because they charge per user per month and their aggressive sales team will try to lock you in to a multi-year contract. Low cost packages are missing functions that other CRM services offer for free.

zoho

Zoho

Pros: Strong email marketing. Helpful Web forms for building leads and also tracking support tickets. Integrates nicely with Google Apps accounts. Affordable.
Cons: Not very intuitive workflow for businesses new to CRM. Requires a lot of customization at the outset to make it useful.

What’s the bottom line?

No matter which CRM you choose, whether it’s the free spreadsheet option or the most expensive SalesForce option, there are bound to be headaches. This can be due to choosing the wrong platform for your business or simply because your team isn’t trained or disciplined enough to use the software correctly.

We recommend that you thoroughly do your homework before locking into any one of these options. We suggest taking advantage of the free trials first to see if you like them and what the costs are. Create a spreadsheet showing a comparison of the systems you are considering and which features they each have.

Once a CRM is setup properly, and your team does use it correctly, the power and automation it creates can be the lifeblood of your small business.

About the Author

Asher Fergusson

Asher has a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) degree and was the CEO of his own startup Internet marketing business for 6 years before selling it in 2014. He specializes in fields such as Search Engine Optimization and Facebook Advertising where he's helped countless small businesses successfully compete with large corporations. He is now the full-time CMO at bizHUMM sharing all his knowledge of how to start and grow small businesses in the most powerful and cost effective ways.