The emergence of SaaS (software as a service) 2 decades ago dramatically democratized the access to tools which were previously only used by large enterprises. The most compelling example of such a change is the CRM market which is expected to be worth $85 billion by 2025, mainly due to the adoption of CRM solutions by SMBs.
However, change does not happen overnight and many small businesses still think that:
“CRMs are too expensive and complicated to use.”
“They don’t need a CRM to grow their business.”
Small business owners mainly think that a CRM is out of their reach due to cost and complexity. This is why in our previous article we looked into what a next-generation CRM is, what benefits can deliver for SMBs in particular and, shared your way a short questionnaire to help you evaluate if you truly need one for your business.
We explained how a CRM could be a game-changer for your small business. I hope you’re now sold and ready to start your research? To help you with the evaluation process, here are itemized the 5 criteria I consider essential when choosing a CRM for your business.
1. Affordable Pricing
The ‘‘you must spend money to make money’’ overly used in sales quote by Plautus, has no merit here. It is more a ‘‘you need to spend wisely to make money’’ kind of situation in an SMB setting.
Every dollar counts. CRMs with massive feature lists and capabilities usually come with enormous per-user costs, while some pitched by industry leaders as no-frills CRMs serve merely as a gateway to upsell you other solutions from their extensive offering.
Be sure to find an affordable CRM offering you all the features that cater to your needs, right out of the box.
2. On the Cloud
SMBs unlike big businesses, don’t have the resources to develop, manage, maintain and update their CRM internally. In most cases, there is not even an IT manager. By outsourcing all costs associated with said actions to a CRM provider in a SaaS model, the responsibility and the work is transferred to the latter.
3. A Set of Functionalities That Will Help You Scale Up
You don’t need social media management integration; you can use Buffer or HootSuite, which will do the job better for free. You should look though for a CRM that is able to pull out the social profiles of your leads (speaking of which, a People Widget is coming in Gmelius on the next product release).
The quintessential features to be expected even in the simplest no-frills CRM — otherwise you’ll waste both your time and your patience, are:
- Interaction tracking and management across your pipeline with vital tools such as per-recipient email tracking, scheduling, follow-ups, etc.,
- Email and marketing automation, e.g., templates with advanced personalization capabilities, sequences, a dynamic mail merge functionality,
- Task and pipeline management: and I’m not talking about a simple todo list but a capable solution that will unquestionably need to offer the option to turn your conversations with your leads into tasks, allow you to collaborate on it and overall cover your process and project management needs. You don’t have the energy, time and extra budget for a project management solution on top of everything.
- Team collaboration and shared inbox: functionalities such as shared templates, shared notes, email assignment, etc. Your small team handles various tasks and conversations on a daily basis; you need to be able to collaborate effortlessly.
4. Implementation and Usability
From implementing to using your CRM solution, each process step needs to work seamlessly.
Don’t even consider a CRM that requires extensive upfront training or even worse, a permanent admin to run it for you.
This is plainly not viable. Small business teams are best served by user-friendly, intuitive CRM solutions that can be learned in an afternoon and don’t require ongoing maintenance.
You want to sell more, smarter and quicker; fancy bells and whistles of no use they will only overwhelm your team.
Perfect, you think you just installed a CRM with a set of amazing functionalities… right at your fingertips, right? Unfortunately, this might not be the case exactly.
‘’’How do I do that?’’
‘’ What does this button do exactly?’’
‘’ Pff, this makes no sense?’’
‘’ What does … mean?’’
At some point or another, almost everybody has found himself in this position. You invest your time in choosing and implementing a solution that is so ‘’user unfriendly’’ that makes no sense to use it at all!
This is why you should look for a CRM with a user interface your employees can navigate intuitively.
For example, Gmelius is a CRM that seamlessly integrates into your inbox. This lessens to almost zero the amount of time spent on getting your team familiarized — even for your team members with little-to-no experience in using a CRM, and it motivates your team actually to use the system. It is right there in their inbox!
Lastly, don’t neglect to check if they offer a …
5. Stellar Customer Support
Yes, not just some support, but an optimum one. Do your research, read what other users in your shoes are saying. As discussed, an in-house CRM admin is out of the question, but mishaps happen all the time. Maybe you added a user and you don’t know how to remove him, or you need some help with a feature in particular. Whatever the reason, you need to be able to contact your CRM provider easily fast and efficiently.
‘’Their customer support is unbelievable’’ , ‘’Been a happy customer for years, and support is really quick and they also solve things…’’ This kind of feedback is what keeps us going at Gmelius, and you should expect no less from your next CRM choice.
Some CRMs nickel-and-dime their users by charging extra for the basic email support — they’re ripping you off.
A helpdesk full of resources is also a must. Don’t neglect to look for it. If not offered, how are you supposed to learn or solve minor issues in no time? It’s a no-brainer. No helpdesk, no help.
Moreover, the leading CRMs stress on building a relationship with you and offer an open channel of communication with their users and potential ones. You can go to their social media or better their website and drop them a line. A member of the team will get back to you and answer your questions asap. Not bad and certainly an advantage in the fast-paced environments our businesses are called to compete in.
Hopefully, the CRM criteria I’ve itemized in this short blog post will help you with your evaluation process. On our next post, Gmelius’ CTO will cover some more technical aspects you should be aware of when choosing a CRM for your SMB — from essential feature performance characteristics to GDPR compliance. Stay tuned!