A Startup's Guide to Choosing the Best CRM


Getting started on a customer relationship management software is a no-brainer, but picking the right CRM software that best meets your unique business needs is a challenge that every startup must overcome. The CRM market is a competitive one and there are literally hundreds of options for you to choose from. The software come in varied pricing tiers, from a few dollars a month to thousands of dollars for enterprise versions. The range of features that the CRM system comes packed with also varies greatly. The entry-level CRM gives you access to the basic functionalities while the advanced software come loaded with features that make use of technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

With so many options available at your disposal, how do you draw the line in the sand to decide the best CRM tool for your startup? Here is a guide to help you in making the crucial business decision to get a robust sales pipeline, close more deals and maintain better customer relationships.

Editor’s note: Looking for the right CRM software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to be connected with vendors that can help.


Factors to be considered while choosing a CRM for your startup

1. Simplicity and ease of use

The decision of investing in a CRM software is a strategic one. The efforts go undone if the software fails to be adopted by your sales team. A user-friendly interface bolsters the chances of adoption of the CRM by the sales reps. An intuitive drag-and-drop design that is easy to use saves up on the initial training and development costs which is very vital in the early days of your startup.

Make sure that the CRM solution you choose allows for easy on-boarding of the users with a low learning curve and requiring minimal time and efforts.

2. Flexibility and Scalability

The sales process is unique to every business which necessitates the incorporation of flexibility in the software. The CRM that you choose should provide customization of the sales pipeline stages according to your needs. The customizability of the CRM allows the sales reps to adapt CRM according to their own requirements thus improving the sales efficiency.

Another important quality in the CRM software that is important for startups and small businesses is the scalability of the software. The software that you choose for your startup should have the inherent capability to grow as your company scales its operations. The future need and scope of the software must be considered before making the selection.

3. Cost-value equation

While CRM software offers a range of features, only a handful of them get actually utilized by the sales reps. Don’t be lured into buying a CRM based on the list of features offered. Analyze what are the core features that you need in order to accomplish your sales goals and base your purchase decision on the availability of those factors.

Cost saving is crucial to your startup’s success. Make sure you don’t end up paying more for features your sales team won’t be using anyway. Majority of CRM software offer demos and free trials. Some options such as Benchpoint and Hubspot CRM also come with a forever free plan. Make sure you avail the free trial, test out the software and see how it fits with your business needs before taking the purchase decision to get the best value CRM software for the cost you are paying. [Are you interested in CRM software? Check out our best picks and reviews.]

Five Must-have features to look for in the CRM software:

1. Sales Pipeline Management

The sales pipeline is the core of the sales process. The CRM software that you choose should be able to give you high-level insights into the entire sales pipeline, help you identify the areas of stasis within the pipeline and aid your sales reps to move deals along the different stages of the pipeline to bring in conversions.

The sales pipeline management should be intuitive with a visually appealing visual interface to ensure that the CRM software is utilized by the sales reps. Detailed knowledge of the efficiency of the sales process with insights into the areas of rotting of deals is crucial for the long term sales success in any startup.

2. Contacts Integration

Contacts management is integral to sales success. The CRM software that you use should help your sales team organize all their leads and contacts effortlessly in a single place through contacts management. Based on your sales process, your sales reps should be able to do contact management within the software.

If you are focused on selling to prospects on an individual basis, the contact should be saved individually but if your sales process targets multiple prospects within the same organization, the CRM should be able to organize them according to the organizations so you can keep a track of all the conversations that you have had with the different stakeholders within the company.

3. Emails Automation

The CRM software you choose for your startup should be able to integrate with the major email providers like Gmail and Outlook, and it should let your sales reps send and receive emails without having to hop between different applications. Integration with email marketing platform such as MailChimp allows you to automate the emails via the use of email templates thus streamlining sales conversations and email tracking.

4. Calendar and Events Sync

The CRM should allow for calendar sync so that all the upcoming appointments and events can be viewed from right within the software. Alerts and reminders to the events and follow up appointments ensure that the sales reps do not miss out on any important appointments and therefore close deals more efficiently.

5. Deals overview

As a startup or a small business, it is necessary for you to have real-time insights into the dashboard and the status of the leads being pursued. The CRM software you choose needs to have a comprehensive dashboard and reporting features so that you can track your progress, perform analytics on the sales data gathered, do sales forecasting and make the necessary changes to your sales process.

Implementing a robust sales CRM software for streamlining your sales process during the initial stages of the startup journey has long-term benefits for your business. Leveraging technology to achieve sales success and efficiently close more deals can give you an invaluable competitive advantage. Shortlist a few CRM that offer the above-mentioned features, sign up for a trial and get started with a CRM software that meets your startup’s sales needs. Happy closing!

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