What Is A CRM, And Why You Need One For Your Business - Guide For Beginners
CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) are software tools that help businesses manage customer relationships. They track interactions between customers and companies, and provide insights into which customers are most valuable. They enable companies to collect and store data such as contact details, requests, questions, and preferences. This allows companies to personalize their services and products to each individual customer. It also connects your marketing and sales teams together, so they work synchronously to provide a seamless experience to your customers.
By understanding customers better, opportunities become much clearer, giving organizations an advantage to upsell and cross-sell their services, and eventually lead to new business.
Benefits of using a CRM
- Customer Service
When tracking your customers interactions, you build a trail of information that can be used any time a customer reaches out to your support team. You will be able to address their issues much faster.
- Customer Retention
Reducing churn rates is a priority for every successful business. Most CRM tools provide insight into customer sentiment and can show you where churn is happening and how you can address it.
- Increased Sales
Having a solid sales pipeline in place will lead to increase efficiency. When using a CRM, you are able to consolidate all your outreach activities into one tool, this gives you a bird’s-eye view into your sales pipeline.
Most CRM tools make analytics readily available, you would be able to track metrics such as deals in pipeline, customer acquisition cost (CAC), net promoter score (NPS), sales activities, and acquisition channels through custom dashboards.
What to Look For in a CRM
If you're looking for a CRM solution, there are some things to keep in mind when choosing between different options. First, make sure the software has an intuitive interface. This will help you quickly learn how to use it. Second, look for features that will help you manage your sales pipeline more efficiently. Third, find out whether the CRM offers mobile apps so you can access it from anywhere. Fourth, check whether the CRM integrates with other systems such as email, accounting, and social media platforms. Finally, ask yourself whether the CRM includes integrations with third party applications.
CRM Software for Small Businesses
The second question I get asked the most after being asked “What is a CRM”, is how do I choose the best “CRM software for a small business”. There are several different types of CRMs available today, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Here's an overview of some of the most popular options.
Capsule is a great choice for entrepreneurs and small business owners. The CRM includes contact management, analytics, reporting, task management, and sales tools. It also easily integrates with your existing tech stack through built-in integrations.
Capsule CRM Features
- You can import your contacts from other software or other sources. You can also review their current stats and keep their info up to date so you know who your best customers are.
- You can filter opportunities to manage your sales team's workload. They can be classified by how close they are to being finished, what tags they have, or by their status.
- Capsule has a whole range of features that can help you with task automation. When you look through your calendar, you can see what future events are coming up, set reminders, submit business proposals, calls, and meeting appointments.
- Access to a visual pipeline with drag-and-drop functionality to review forecasts, milestones, and conversions.
- Capsule's CRM allows for a lot of customization using different lists, tags, activity types, milestones and more.
- You can create more detailed reports on a variety of sales metrics with Google Data Studio and Capsule. You can also filter reports, create reports based on activity, or export them.
Capsule CRM Pricing
Capsule has a free plan that allows for two users and 250 contacts.
The Professional plan costs $18/month per user and includes:
- 50,000 contacts
- 10 GB storage
- Premium integrations
- Activity reporting
The Teams plan costs $36/month per user and includes:
- 100,000 contacts
- 20 GB storage
- Advanced sales reporting
- User roles and restrictions
- Team or individual record assignment
- Custom activity types
The Enterprise plan costs $54/month per user and includes:
- Everything in Teams plan
- 40 GB storage
- Implementation support
- Import assistance
- Custom training
- Dedicated customer success manager
- Ongoing priority support
Keap can help your small business streamline sales and manage customer experiences. It offers CRM, marketing automation, sales automation, payments and more - all in one place.
Keap CRM Features
- Sales and marketing automation using automation rules to help you save time and increase conversions.
- Allows you to create clients databases to keep track of conversations, emails, meetings, payments and quotes.
- Helps you keep your sales pipeline organized by dividing your sales pipeline into different categories.
- Accept payments using credit cards, send invoices, and track payments with integrations to PayPal, Stripe, and WePay.
- Advanced reporting and analytics functionality, you can sort conversions by sources, stages, and other criteria. Create sales reports, view payment trends, email metrics, and manage marketing campaigns performance.
- Built-in email marketing capabilities with advanced email capture options through opt-in forms and landing pages. You can also use their A/B testing feature to test different landing pages to see which is more effective.
- Appointment scheduling to arrange meetings by setting up your calendar through your email integration.
Keap CRM Pricing
Keap has a 14-day trial, and then you have two plans to choose from.
The Pro Plan is priced at $160/month for two users and includes:
- 1500 contacts
- Dedicated phone line and mobile app
- Live in-app support
- Automated lead capture and follow-up
- Email marketing
- Payments and invoicing
- Landing pages
- Sales pipeline and analysis
- Advanced automations
- Sell online
- Dedicated success manager
- Text marketing
The Max Plan costs $249/month for three users and includes all the features in Pro Plan, plus:
- Promo codes and upsells
- Marketing analytics
They also have a third plan called Max Classic, which is geared towards advanced marketing and sales teams that need a custom solution.
FreeAgent is a full-featured CRM platform and work organization system. You can use it to keep your team's projects organized and efficiently managed. It automatically organizes emails, calls, and meetings so that employees can remove tedious tasks and focus on ones that matter.
FreeAgent CRM Features
- Minimize admin work by monitoring important business processes. You'll receive instant notifications when something important happens.
- Get AI-driven insights into your contacts and opportunities.
- Customize the CRM to fit your business needs by creating custom applications, forms, form fields, icons and more.
- Save time and effort by automating repetitive tasks. Features include configurable rules for prioritizing actions, alerts for overdue tasks, and meeting reminders.
- Create sophisticated dashboards and views to help keep a close eye on key metrics across the organization.
- Records contacts, tasks, tickets, comments, and attachments. It also enables users to tag team members and assign tasks, so they can stay on the same page.
FreeAgent CRM Pricing
FreeAgent CRM has three pricing plans.
Contact Management Plan costs $42/month per user and includes:
- Access to FreeAgent platform, which includes all their work, task, and activity management, customization, personalization, process management, reporting, security, and automation features
- Contact management
- Task management
- Multi-channel communication
B2B Sales Plan costs $90/month per user and includes:
- All features in the Contact Management Plan
- Account management
- Opportunity management
B2B Full Funnel Sales Plan costs $120/month per user and includes:
- All the features in the Contact Management and B2B Sales plans
- Lead management
- Products management
- Quote management
- Projects management
- Knowledge management
An affordable, flexible CRM designed for SMBs with a user-friendly platform that’s packed with features to help with your lead generation and sales process.
Close CRM Features
- With automation, you can search for new leads and prioritize them based on custom metrics. You can also run filters and segment leads so that they're easier to find.
- Create custom opportunity pipelines based on products, customers, demographics and sales teams.
- Unify communications from phone calls, emails and SMS into one dashboard.
- Automatic calling to over 200 countries using VOIP
- Send SMS to NA, GB, and AU phone numbers within a single dashboard.
- Easily automate email marketing campaigns without having to juggle between your traditional CRM and email.
- Analytics includes features where you can see your team's lead generation efforts.
- Track your sales team by various metrics, to know exactly how each member is performing.
- Actionable reports allow you to analyze specific datasets for your entire sales team.
Close CRM Pricing
Close CRM offers a 14-day trial, and 4 paid plans to choose from:
Starter Plan costs $29/month per user and includes:
- Up to 3 users
- Lead, contact, and opportunity storage
- Smart views
- Email support and help center
- 2-way email sync and templates
- Task management
- Built-in global calling
- Built-in SMS
- Pipeline, activity and opportunity reporting
Basic Plan costs $69/month per user and includes:
- All features in the Starter Plan
- Up to 30 users
- Call forwarding
- Custom fields
- External phone numbers
- Sales leaderboard
- Comparison reports
Professional Plan costs $99/month per user and includes:
- All features in the Starter & Basic plans
- Up to 100 users
- Email and domain filtering
- Bulk email sending
- Email sequencing
- Call recording
- Power dialer
Business Plan cost $149/month per user and includes:
- All features in other plans
- Unlimited users
- Predictive dialer
- Custom roles and permissions
- Built-in call coaching
- Voicemail drop
- Call transferring
- Group numbers
- Custom reporting graphs
- Dedicated account manager
While this is not a CRM platform on its own, It’s definitely worth mentioning. Streak is an embeddable CRM (chrome extension) that works in your Gmail inbox. It basically extends your inbox’s functionality with CRM workflow management, so you can manage your sales pipeline directly within your inbox.
Streak CRM Features
- Collect data from your contacts and emails.
- Ease-of-access as it’s made to work directly in your email inbox.
- Integrate with Google Sheets, Chat, Drive, and more.
- Share your emails, notes, and call logs with your team so you can jump in where they left off.
Streak CRM pricing
Streak CRM has one forever free plan and 3 paid plans to choose from:
- Basic CRM functionality with up to 500 contacts
- Up to 50 mail merges per day
- Email tracking
- Basic CRM functionality with up to 5000 contacts
- Up to 800 mail merges per day
- Email and link tracking
- Advanced CRM functionality
- Up to 1500 mail merges per day
- Shared pipelines
- Custom permissions
- Data validation
- Priority support
CRM software is all about upping sales and empowering teams with the right tools to close deals more efficiently, here are my recommendations based on use cases:
- All-Around Best Features CRM Software - Keap CRM
- Most Affordable CRM Software - Capsule CRM
- Best CRM Software for Financial Capabilities - FreeAgent CRM
- Best Sales Focused CRM Software - Close CRM
- Best Free CRM Software - Streak CRM