Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the ultimate wingman for businesses looking to woo their clients.
Choosing the wrong Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is like buying a pair of shoes that don’t fit. Sure, they might look great on the shelf, but once you slip them on, it’s nothing but blisters and discomfort.
My name is AJ! In my decade-long career, I have built and sold my own digital agency for a multi-million dollar exit.
During that time, I have used several CRMs to manage customer relationships. Now, I aim to share my knowledge about the best CRM for small businesses (make sure to check out this review after reading) with the Small Business Bonfire (SBB) community!
So strap in and get ready to learn all about CRMs!
- There are various CRM solutions on the market
- CRMs can help increase sales and marketing campaigns
- Customer loyalty can be improved with the help of a marketing CRM
SBB Featured Partners for CRMs
Best for Small Businesses
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Definition
A CRM is a strategy that businesses use to manage their customer interactions, everything from sales and marketing to customer service. It’s like having a personal assistant who knows everything there is to know about your clients.
What Does a CRM System Do?
A strong cloud-based CRM helps businesses build better relationships with their customers by keeping track of their preferences, needs, behaviors, purchasing history, and communication channels.
With it, companies can personalize their marketing efforts, provide better customer services, and ultimately increase their profits.
CRM systems come in many shapes and sizes, but they all share the common goal of helping businesses understand and meet the needs of their customers. Plus, who doesn’t love feeling like they’re being treated like a VIP?
How Does a CRM Work?
A CRM system involves tools and technologies, such as databases and software, that allow businesses to record and analyze customer engagement and data. It works by storing all relevant customer information in one place, such as their contact details and relationship history.
It also allows businesses to make more informed decisions, upsell and cross-sell products/services, and build stronger relationships with customers.
Moreover, a CRM platform can be integrated with various communication channels such as email, phone, chat, and social media, enabling businesses to provide customized and timely customer support.
This, in turn, enables them to provide more personalized experiences and build stronger relationships with their customers, ultimately increasing sales, revenue, and customer satisfaction.
At my agency, I found that customer relationship management is a powerful tool that has many benefits.
Let’s go over these main advantages!
Improves Customer Service
With a CRM, you can monitor interactions, analyze behaviors, and gain insights into what makes your customers tick. This information lets you offer better and more efficient customer service, leading to customer retention, loyalty, and satisfaction.
Increase Business Sales
By using a CRM, you can increase your business sales by keeping track of your customer’s needs and reaching out to them with personalized offers and follow-up emails. This can result in more loyal customers, repeat business, and higher overall revenue.
Connect Your Business Silos
A CRM can consolidate customer data from various sources and provide business insights enabling you to connect your business silos. This means that your sales team, marketing professionals, customer service representatives, and product development teams can share information and work collaboratively.
Make Improvements to Your Bottom Line
A CRM system provides a centralized database that allows you to track interactions and data, which can then be used to create personalized and geographic marketing campaigns, provide better customer support, and identify cross-selling and upselling opportunities. Additionally, it can help you streamline your sales management and marketing processes, track leads, and automate routine tasks.
Identify And Categorize Leads
CRM tools can help simplify the lead management process. This means you can track and organize every single point of contact with your existing and new customers, from social media interactions to email campaigns.
By doing this, you’ll be able to gain valuable insights into who your potential customers are, what they’re interested in, and how likely they are to convert. Plus, with all of this CRM data at your fingertips, you can make more informed decisions about where to focus your time and resources.
Increase Customer Lifetime Value
Another key benefit of CRM systems is that it helps you increase your customer lifetime value by analyzing customer behaviors. This refers to the total amount of revenue a customer generates for your small business throughout their relationship with you.
By better understanding your customers and providing them with personalized experiences, they’re more likely to continue doing business with you in the long run, resulting in a higher customer lifecycle.
Offer Better Customer Support
With a CRM in place, businesses can track every interaction they have with a customer, from inquiries to purchases and beyond.
This means that customer service teams can access a complete history of interactions and provide more personalized and efficient support tailored to the customer’s needs.
Plus, CRM systems can automatically assign tasks and follow-ups, which can help businesses stay on top of customer needs and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
Improve Products and Services
One of the most significant advantages of CRM is that it helps companies improve their products and services according to customer interests and preferences. By collecting customer data and insights from customer interactions, businesses can identify these areas of improvement to tailor their products and services to what their customers are looking for.
Additionally, CRM systems offer better analytics which is a game-changer for businesses. This data can be used to gain insights into customer preferences, pain points, and trends over time. By analyzing this data, you can make smarter decisions about your customer service, sales, and marketing strategies.
Improved Customer Data
Lastly, a CRM can help improve all your customer data. This system can create a holistic view of your customers by gathering information from various touchpoints, such as social media data, website interactions, and the sales process. This can lead to more personalized and targeted marketing campaigns, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Types of CRMs
Alrighty, let’s dive into the types of CRMs out there!
There are a few different types of CRMs, each with unique features and benefits.
Collaborative CRM Systems
One type is Collaborative CRM, which is all about improving communication and collaboration between different departments and sales teams within a small business. These types of systems are designed to bring teams together and help them work smarter, not harder.
By creating a central hub for customer data, collaborative CRMs let team members see what everyone else is doing, meaning they can avoid duplicate outreach or missing communications.
Plus, many collaborative CRMs offer features like shared calendars, task lists, and even chat functions, so everyone can stay on the same page in real time.
Operational CRM Systems
Then there is Operational CRM, which is designed to focus on streamlining business processes like sales automation, marketing automation, and customer service automation.
You know when you call up a company, and they already have all your information on file? That’s an operational CRM system doing its thing. These are the systems that deal with the day-to-day interactions your business has with customers.
They also have automation features that can often save time and boost efficiency. With an operational CRM system in place, companies can drive growth and improve customer satisfaction, ultimately leading to increased profitability.
Analytical CRM Systems
Finally, there’s Analytical CRM, which is all about data analytics and predictive modeling to help businesses better understand their customers and market trends. They are a critical component of a business’s customer relationship management.
This type of CRM incorporates data mining and predictive modeling technologies to help companies identify trends, utilize customer segmentation by population, and optimize their operations to maximize customer satisfaction and profitability.
Additionally, it can help companies analyze customer feedback, identify the root causes of customer complaints, and implement corrective measures. So, if you’re looking to get the edge on your competition, an analytical CRM system might just be the ticket to help you better meet your customer’s needs.
What are CRM Integrations?
Integrating with a marketing automation tool connects multiple channels of business applications to a CRM system. It can help tailor your campaigns to specific customer segments and track how they engage with your brand through contact management.
The possibilities are endless, and the benefits are numerous.
Phone CRM Integration
Phone integration lets businesses link their phone calls with their CRM, which means that every call made or received is automatically logged and recorded in that same central database.
This helps employees have all the information needed before taking calls, ensuring that new customers have a smoother and more satisfying experience. It not only saves your sales team time but also enables them to deliver personalized services to your customers, making them feel valued and appreciated.
Plus, it also allows for better data analysis, generating insights that can lead to more informed business decisions. So, if you want to improve customer satisfaction and increase your business’s bottom line, phone CRM integration is worth considering!
Live Chat Integration
Live chat integration is a powerful feature in CRM systems that allows businesses to communicate with their customers in real time. By integrating this feature, businesses can provide immediate support and answers to their customer’s inquiries.
This helps to enhance the customer experience and build strong relationships with them. With live chat features, businesses can track their customer’s journey, analyze their behavior and personalize their support.
Besides, your clients can use these chatbots to handle routine queries, which saves your business time and resources. Therefore, integrating live chat into your CRM is a no-brainer if you want to enhance your customer support and satisfaction.
Email integration is also a vital aspect of any CRM. It means that your CRM system can be seamlessly connected with your email client, such as Gmail or Outlook.
This way, all your emails and communication with your customers can be automatically synced and recorded within your CRM in one central location. It also saves you time and prevents you from missing important messages or leads.
With email integration, you can also create personalized email templates, schedule follow-up emails, and track your email campaign’s success. So, if you’re looking to level up your customer relationship management game, email integration is an absolute must-have feature!
While a CRM is like a digital Rolodex with a ton of added features that can help you streamline your workflow, you might be wondering how it is different from other software out there.
Let’s talk about how CRM systems compare to similar cloud computing management systems.
CRM vs. Project Management
We’ll begin by diving into the differences between CRM and project management! While there is some overlap between these two tools, they serve different purposes and are designed to solve different problems.
For starters, project management is used to plan, organize, and oversee resources to complete specific goals or objectives for customer requests. Its main focus is on the proper management of projects, tasks, workflows, and timelines.
These systems are used by everyone from software developers to marketing teams. It can also help to coordinate team members, set project milestones, and manage deadlines.
When it comes to choosing between the two, it ultimately depends on the specific needs of your organization and the goals you are trying to achieve. Both are incredibly useful CRM tools, but it’s important to understand their unique strengths and use cases to maximize their potential.
CRM vs. ERP
Now let’s discuss the differences between a CRM and an ERP system!
ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning and is essentially a system that helps businesses manage many different aspects of their operations, including inventory, financials, and human resources.
In some ways, it’s a lot more comprehensive than a CRM. While both systems are alike in certain areas, ERP is more geared toward streamlining internal processes and data sharing across various departments within a company.
So, if you’re looking for a system to help with all aspects of your business, ERP might be the way to go. But if you’re primarily interested in managing customer relationships and improving your sales process, a CRM might be a better fit.
CRM vs. CMS
Although CRM and CMS might seem similar at first glance, each is tailored to different business needs.
A CMS (content management system) is a tool used to create and manage digital content. This can include website pages, articles, images, videos, blog posts, social media content, and more!
The goal of a CMS is to streamline content creation and publishing, making it easier for businesses to manage their online presence. Think of a CMS as a virtual filing cabinet that stores all your web content in one place!
It provides an interface where you can easily add and edit content on your website without any coding skills or technical knowledge. With a CMS, you can also create SEO-friendly content to help your website rank higher in search engine results.
CRM vs. CDP
As you already know what a CRM is, let’s go over how a CDP compares. If you want to gain a better understanding of customer data and create more targeted campaigns, then a CDP might be the way to go.
CDP is short for customer data platform and is a tool used to collect, store, and analyze customer information from various sources. This includes things like website visits, transaction history, email campaigns, and social media posts.
This system can help you create segmented audiences based on these insights so that you can better target your messaging and optimize campaigns. Additionally, it can also help you build customer profiles that you can use to personalize their experiences with your small business.
At the end of the day, CDP and CRM are two different tools used for different tasks. However, they can complement each other by providing a holistic view of customers, enhancing your company’s relationships and ability to deliver personalized and relevant experiences.
CRM vs. ATS
Next, let’s explore how CRM vs. ATS differs!
An ATS (applicant tracking system) is designed to streamline the recruitment process by tracking candidate applications. It helps companies monitor and manage job applicants, from receiving resumes to scheduling interviews.
It also simplifies the hiring workflow, ensuring that all steps are completed, and candidates are evaluated fairly by using algorithms to sift through a large number of resumes and filter them based on relevant keywords, experience, skills, and qualifications.
This feature saves your hiring sales manager valuable time searching through countless resumes manually. As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, ATS offers recruiters a way to stay organized and find the best candidate with the right qualifications, skills, and experience, ultimately helping companies make better hiring decisions.
CRM vs. SRM
At last, let’s take a look at the differences between CRM and SRM. Both are designed to help businesses manage their relationships with key stakeholders, but they differ in their focus.
SRM (supplier relationship management) is a system for managing your relationships with your suppliers. This includes everything from finding new suppliers to negotiating prices and contracts, managing orders, tracking shipments, evaluating performance, and more.
The key goal of SRM is to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the procurement process. It provides a centralized place for companies to manage all of their suppliers, including important information like contracts, agreements, and performance metrics.
By leveraging SRM techniques, businesses can focus on building strong relationships with suppliers, gain a competitive advantage, and create a more sustainable supply chain.
If you’re a small business owner looking for CRM software, there are many different options at your disposal depending on the industry you’re in and the size of your company.
Here are a few examples of popular CRM solutions we have used and tested:
It is also important to remember that CRM software comes in all shapes and sizes.
For example, tools like HubSpot and Monday provide an extensive suite of software that you use and personalize to fit your specific needs. Whereas, Pipedrive and ClickUp are smaller CRMs focused mainly on sales.
No matter which CRM platform you choose, the goal is always the same: to better understand and serve your repeat customers.
A Short CRM History
If you’re a tech geek like me who loves to learn, let’s quickly go over the history of CRMs.
The concept of a CRM tool started in the 1970s with the advent of database marketing. It then evolved in the 1980s with the introduction of contact management software.
By the 1990s, CRM evolved to include sales force automation and customer service management. Today, CRM systems integrate all aspects of a company’s customer engagement, including customer service, analytics, sales, and marketing.
With the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, CRM software continues to evolve, offering endless possibilities for businesses to deliver personalized experiences and build stronger relationships with their existing customers.
How to Choose a CRM
Looking for a CRM tool can be overwhelming due to the different options available in the market. However, there are a few things to consider before selecting the right one for your business.
First, assess your business needs and objectives, as this will help you determine what features and capabilities your CRM should have. Next, evaluate the user-friendliness and compatibility of the CRM. Make sure to choose a CRM that integrates with the tools and software that your team already uses, such as your marketing automation software and social media networks.
Lastly, take into account the pricing structure and commitment required for each CRM option, factoring in both the initial set-up expenses and ongoing operating costs. This also includes assessing the customer support services offered by the CRM company.
By taking all of these factors into consideration, you can choose a CRM that fits your business and budget, ultimately improving your customer relationships and the overall success of your operations.
How to Get Started with a CRM
Once you’ve selected your preferred CRM software vendor, the next step is to get started with implementation.
The process is simpler than you might think!
Step 1: Import Your Contacts
The first step is to import your existing contacts into the CRM. Most CRMs have tools and instructions to help you do this smoothly, but it’s important to make sure that your contact list is in a clean and organized format before importing.
This means checking for duplicates, misspelled names, and incomplete contact information. With your contacts organized in a CRM, you’ll be able to track your interactions with them, set reminders for follow-ups, and gain valuable insights into your customer relationships.
Step 2: Add Customer Fields
Next, you’ll want to start adding customer fields (also known as customer accounts) to your new CRM. These fields are used to collect specific information about your customers, such as their contact information, purchase history, and preferences. By having this information readily available, you can better understand your customers and provide them with tailored experiences.
Step 3: Categorize Your Contacts
It’s also vital to think about how you want to categorize your contacts. This will make it easier to find and filter contacts later on. You might want to create categories based on industry, job title, location, or even interests. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the information yet, and you can always add or edit categories later.
Step 4: Add Tasks, Notes & Files
Adding tasks, notes, and files are key features that can help you keep track of your interactions with clients, as well as help you remember important information. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals. With these features in place, your CRM will become an essential tool for streamlining your business practices and improving your client relationships.
Step 5: Create a Lead Capture Form
Next up is creating a lead capture form! This is where you will collect information about your sales leads for customer acquisition, such as their name, email address, and phone number. It’s important to keep it simple and to the point to create an effective form. Ask for only the most essential information, and make sure the form is easy to fill out!
Step 6: Check Additional CRM Features
The last step is to check out all the additional features it comes with. Don’t just stop at the basics. Dive in and see what else your CRM can do! Some CRMs offer marketing automation, sales forecasting, and social media integration, among other things. By taking the time to explore all the features your CRM has to offer, you’ll be on your way to streamlining your customer management processes in no time.
Best CRM Software
As we previously mentioned, there are multiple sources for CRM tools in a competitive market. However, after our agency researched and tested many different solutions, we found some of the best CRM software dedicated to sales teams.
Some of these CRM technologies include the following:
- Less Annoying CRM
With one of these CRM solutions in place, you’ll soon be able to grow your business successfully!
Did you know that with the increasing use of mobile devices, CRM software has become more accessible than ever before?
According to a recent study by Nucleus Research, around 65% of sales and marketing teams who use a mobile CRM strategy achieve their sales quotas compared to only 22% of those who do not.
That being said, mobile CRM is also known to improve data entry accuracy and shorten the sales cycle.
With the ability to access customer information and sales tools from anywhere at any time, your sales team can stay on top of their game and help grow your business to new heights.
Do Small Businesses Need a CRM?
Cloud-based CRM software can be a game-changer for small businesses looking to improve their customer satisfaction and retention rates.
With its ability to help businesses manage customer interactions and data, a CRM system can streamline workflows, increase sales productivity, and even help drive revenue growth.
While it may seem like a daunting investment for a small business owner, there are many affordable options available for CRM software, making it a worthwhile investment for small business owners in the long run.
Are you a business owner trying to enhance your customer relationship management? Do you have any questions about what is CRM and how it can help with your business development? Sound off in the comments below!
FAQs About CRMs
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is a tool that helps businesses manage interactions with their customers and improve relationships with them. It can help optimize sales, marketing, and customer service processes, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Yes, most CRM systems offer customization options to fit your unique business requirements. You can configure fields, data types, and workflows and even create custom reports or integrations with other systems.
Most modern CRMs are designed with user-friendliness in mind, using intuitive interfaces and simple navigation. However, it may take some time to get used to the software’s features and functionalities.
Yes, a CRM can help you increase sales by providing a complete view of your customer’s interactions and preferences, allowing you to personalize your sales cycle strategies and approach. It also helps your sales team track leads and opportunities and prioritize follow-ups.
To choose the right CRM for their needs, businesses should consider factors such as their budget, business size, industry, and specific business needs. They should also look for a CRM that offers robust features and integrations, an easy-to-use interface, and excellent customer support.