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Everything you need to know about CRM for SMBs

With all the choices of CRM for SMBs in today's market, picking the right one for your organization can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help choose the one for you.

For owners of small and medium-sized businesses, choosing the right CRM can be daunting because, historically, vendors have created CRM platforms with large enterprises in mind -- as well as their concomitant big IT spends.

Today, with cloud hosting, advancements in big data mining and fierce competition driving down costs, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don't need to start with a huge investment to reap the benefits of CRM technology.

In fact, the range of CRM for SMBs includes so many vendors that the hard part can be narrowing down the contenders. We cover three vendors here, but it's important to evaluate each prospective CRM system's pros and cons for your company based on three criteria: cost, ease of use and scalability.

For starters: Capsule CRM

There are many things to worry about when starting a business, and a massive CRM implementation shouldn't be one.

There's little time to create a sales pipeline or customize a CRM application's features to fit an exact sales model, which, for many startups, is evolving anyway. All that is needed is a reliable, easy-to-use CRM system whose costs won't be prohibitive as a business scales up.

Capsule CRM can work for beginner -- and technophobe -- business owners because it's simple and reliable. You can easily navigate the platform, as well as understand where customer information needs to go. Capsule also integrates with Google's G Suite of apps, which many small businesses use to manage email or team sites.

New businesses are constantly on the move, and waiting to update until you're by a computer may hinder productivity; Capsule's mobile app is easy to use.

Some CRM for SMBs vendors use exploitative freemium pricing models to lure in small businesses and force them into expensive plans as they grow. Capsule's plan allows the user to have up to 250 contacts, as well as the ability to share those contacts with one other person for free.

This version also allows for unlimited cases and opportunities -- so if you just need to keep track of a small customer base, you may never need to pay for an upgrade. However, when it comes time to scale into a larger business model, it costs a straightforward $12 per month, per user.

For growing businesses: Pipedrive

As a business takes off, CRM for SMBs can be incredibly stressful, as entrepreneurs continually adjust operations to accommodate a growing customer volume. Those changes can sometimes cause the sales team to miss out on key opportunities. The primary goal at this step is to capture as much growth as possible, while still maintaining a high-quality customer experience.

Pipedrive touts its CRM system as one where important conversations or activities don't slip through the cracks, which is perfect for new or sprawling sales teams.

Two sales managers designed the application, starting with the idea that CRM systems in general are made for executives -- not daily users -- and purport to visualize the sales funnel. This approach offers business owners access to the analytics data they need for planning and spending, while tasking the sales team with clear, action-oriented objectives.

The customizable Pipedrive adapts the funnel to meet the standards of each sales team. Customization is possible to integrate into popular services such as Slack, MailChimp, Zapier and Mixmax.

Plus, if you ever decide to leave the platform, Pipedrive offers a multitude of ways to export your customer data into your next CRM system.

For businesses with marketers: HubSpot

HubSpot's CRM officially launched in 2015 and, technically, it is free. The real potential comes when a business pays for services linking to HubSpot's sales and marketing packages.

Many marketers prefer HubSpot because it was built as a marketing platform first. The CRM integration reflects this mindset: Because all three modules share the same database, there is no waiting for synchronization across platforms. Leads get added to drip campaigns instantly, allowing for immediate relationship building opportunities.

The benefits of using the same platform for sales and marketing activities are staggering. Creating dynamic content for landing pages, or even your entire website, is a breeze. Social network integration with suggested post times, automated release and engagement reports are all part of the full platform.

Such features as call recording, predictive lead scoring and personalized booking links keep the sales team focused on the right opportunities at the right time.

Another valuable resource that HubSpot offers is its certification program. Small businesses rarely have an employee integration process, which can hinder initial productivity. Building prerequisites around HubSpot Academy can upgrade a small business's new hire process and improve the productivity of a fledgling marketing department.

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