SMB Technology

Q&A: Selecting a small business CRM

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How can I be sure I’m choosing the right CRM for my small business?

To be sure you’re choosing the right customer relationship management (CRM) software for you business, you first need to know your business.

You have to determine what information you need and how you need to use it. You need to know your growth plans (after all, there is little point investing in something if you are going to outgrow it). You then need to seek tailored solutions that suit your business (and your budget).

Dominic David, business development manager for Act Today says the following points should be top of mind when looking to purchase a CRM:

  • It needs to be easy to use – the less clicks, the better.
  • Choosing the right vendor is as important as choosing the right product. They need to be highly experienced and should be able to meet you face-to-face and provide hands on support.
  • Look for those that allow you to integrate add-ons.
  • Consider the real cost – be wary of ongoing fees or hidden charges.

It’s not a case of one-size-fits-all. When choosing a CRM, it’s not just features you have to consider, it’s also important to take into account the staffing resources you’ll need to implement and manage the system you opt for. If you know what you’re looking for, you can easily avoid shelling out for features you have no need for.

So what features should be at the top of the list for SMBs? First up, you need to decide whether you want to opt for an on premises solution, or a hosted solution (software as a service, or SaaS).

On-premises solutions offer complete ownership and control, and minimise security compromises as there are no third parties involved. SaaS solutions are usually billed on a monthly basis, and can be accessed via the web.

The key priority in today’s marketplace is flexibility. Whatever you chose, it needs to be applicable to your business needs, today’s and tomorrow’s.

For many, mobility will also be a key priority. User integration and data sharing means that information can be entered and updated while on the road, ensuring that nothing falls victim to procrastination.

David recommends that any system you look at should offer email marketing and mail merging, diary management, advanced search capabilities, multiple deployment options, security, and custom data capture and reporting. 

Choosing a CRM can prove a daunting task, given the variety of options available. David encourages those on the hunt to be realistic: “Analyse how you currently manage your data, and how a CRM will help with management of the already existing process”.

Published on: Tuesday, July 27, 2010

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