How to Choose the Right CRM for Your Business Needs

CRM – customer relationship management – is essential for any business needing to keep track of their customers. This guide will teach you how to choose the right CRM software for your business.

I was once hired to lead a project for an organization that had three separate – but related – businesses under one umbrella. They were utilizing three separate home-grown CRM systems, and none of the three were serving the businesses very well. The companies knew they were losing customers and missing contacts. My job was to figure out what was working for each business, what wasn’t, and what was really important to each of them. Then I had to find common ground and implement one off-the-shelf, but customizable, CRM solution.

Most small businesses don’t need this level of detail. It would be overkill and a budget breaker. But do you need some type of CRM? Oh, yes. For me, as an independent consultant, I track customer information using emails sorted into folders. And yes, it’s driving me crazy, so I don’t recommend it. I’m in the process of changing how I manage my customer relations, so I definitely have some current thoughts on the issue.

CRM by definition

To establish a baseline definition of what we’re talking about in terms of CRM, let’s look at what Wikipedia has to say about it. Wikipedia defines CRM as: 

“CRM is a widely implemented model for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients, and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes – principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new clients; nurture and retain those the company already has; entice former clients back into the fold; and reduce the costs of marketing and client service.”

Critical CRM info and needs

Some critical fields you need in a CRM for your small business include:

  • Company
  • Parent company
  • URL
  • Primary contact
  • Secondary contact
  • Email addresses
  • Phone
  • Skype
  • Contact dates
  • Notes

Additional critical functionality that will be helpful to your business as you use your CRM to track your current and potential clients and customers:

  • Dashboard reporting view
  • Customizable fields
  • Ability to add fields
  • Standard reporting out of the box
  • Ability to create custom reports
  • Ability to initiate contact with clients from within the CRM

Start somewhere

You can start with a product, or you can start by building what you think you need (in an Excel spreadsheet or an Access database). Either way, having some type of CRM system as you launch your small business will keep you organized.

Summary

The bottom line is you could search forever and never find an exact match to what you want. I suggest you do as I did: Begin by writing down the key information you would like a CRM system to capture for you and possibly even begin to build what you think you need into a spreadsheet. 

Just do something, because if you wait too long, you may miss some key opportunities with some potential clients that you’ll never get back. You could wait forever for perfection and never get there, so get organized now. Hopefully this guide taught you how to choose the right CRM for you.

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