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How to Choose The Right CRM For Your Startup

Jared Atchison
Jared Atchison
Co-Founder at WPForms

Starting a new business? Learn why you should use CRM tools from the very beginning.

One way a startup can grow quickly is to leverage the functionalities offered by a CRM tool. 

It may seem like an unnecessary tool for a small business. And that CRM platforms are better suited to large businesses that deal with thousands and many more customers. 

However, a CRM tool can give a startup an edge over its competitors. And because startups run on limited resources, growing the business quickly is critical. 

What does a CRM tool do for your business?

It can:

  • Help you find customers for your brand or product

  • Manage your existing customer’s information 

  • Track current and historical interactions with customers

  • Manage marketing campaigns

  • Streamline your fundraising efforts

  • Create a hub for contacts, leads, and conversations

  • Help you manage your potential partners

If you use a CRM tool in the early stages of your startup, you get several benefits. 

You can build strong relationships with your partners and customers from the very beginning. 

It can help you figure out which customers you should focus on. One lead generation report found that CRM tools helped 84% of companies determine lead quality. 

Because you've organized your outreach, transactions, customer support, and other activities, you'll find it easy to get reports from the earliest stages of your business. 

The use of a CRM platform will also allow you to scale up your business fast. And with the data it provides, you can get critical information; you'll avoid mistakes early on and leverage what you do well to get more customers. 

So, we've built a case for you to add a CRM solution to your startup marketing activities. But how do you pick the right platform? 

There are several tools available today and the following parameters should guide you on picking the best CRM for your startup.

There are certain characteristics that make a CRM tool good for a startup. Build a checklist by using this post. And make use of trial offers that most CRM solutions provide. When you look up a CRM tool, ask yourself how well it holds up against the standards shared in this post. 

Editor's note: Looking for the right CRM for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Usability

This is the top feature that you should consider when using a CRM for your startup. Think about who is going to use your CRM. It's going to be your sales personnel and customer support staff. 

So, it's important to have your employees and team members give you input on the kind of tool to use. 

One mistake that managers do is to pick a tool because it has features that they want, like impressive visual dashboards. 

Visual dashboards are important, but when your CRM tool is meant for your sales staff to build leads and get more sales, then it's their needs that you should prioritize. 

Workflow

This point is an extension of the previous one. You need to check whether the workflows of the CRM platform syncs with how you do your work. 

Most CRM platforms tend to have workflows based on their understanding of the sales process. 

You need to check if their workflow makes sense for your business. And this is why you need feedback from people within your organization who will directly use the CRM tool. 

A tool that’s flexible and allows you to create your own workflow is the best option for your business. You can tweak the tool to suit your needs or rework the process completely. 

Device-friendly and cloud-based

Today, 87% of CRM software is cloud-based. This makes them secure, faster, and easy to integrate with other tools that you use. 

What’'s more, you can also use CRM via mobile, which is well suited for a world where people are always on mobile.

Look for CRM tools that allow your sales and customer support staff to work on the move. There's an interesting study by Nucleus Research shows that 65% of companies using a mobile-friendly CRM, exceeded their sales targets. 

This is likely because mobile-friendly CRM is more convenient for your teams to use. Your employees will be able to respond to customers and leads immediately and with relevant information at their fingertips, they'll be able to provide personalized responses. 

Integrations 

It's important that your CRM software integrates with other apps that you use. For example, if you use an email marketing service, then it's critical that your CRM supports it and that you can manage your lists, launch campaigns, and get reports on your email marketing activities. 

Likewise, it's important for CRM to integrate with social media, project management platforms, e-commerce tools, and other apps that you frequently use. 

Automation features

The next thing you should look for is how well it automates your processes. CRM shouldn't add to your work, it should free up more time for you to focus on the bigger picture. 

Here are a few ways CRM can automate processes in your work:

  • Launch drip email campaigns when a specific trigger is set off

  • The automation of customer onboarding with welcome emails

  • Cart abandonment campaigns where users who leave their carts are automatically given a special offer

  • Call scheduling 

  • Collecting public data available about a lead or prospect

When repetitive tasks are automated and streamlined, you can focus on handling critical problems, coming up with new ideas, and helping your business. 

Budget

One of the major reasons why startups are reluctant to use a CRM platform is because they are worried about the cost. 

It's true that some of the best CRM tools available are priced in a way that is more suited to large and profitable businesses that can afford them.

But today, there are many options available. And many CRM brands have freemium business models. Many of them charge on a per-user basis and offer good discounts on yearly packages. 

You can even tailor your CRM product to exclude features you don’t need. 

These new aspects make CRM tools affordable and a must for startups. 

Customer support and learning options

CRM platforms can be complicated to use, making their usefulness questionable. 

A critical aspect to look at is how good the customer support is for the product you're considering. Look at reviews, forum discussions, and how the brand responds to people on social media. 

In fact, drop an inquiry of your own and look at how quickly your question is answered. Does the brand personalize their conversation? 

A good CRM platform also makes it easy for you to learn how to use their product. 

You can take a look at their documentation and also see whether they have academies or online learning options where they teach you how to optimize their product. 

Other features

These aren't the only features that matter. Go ahead and create a list of features you’d like to see in your CRM platform. 

This can include:

  • Security features

  • GDPR compliance

  • Refund policies and more

  • Data migration from one CRM to another, or from one app to the CRM platform

With a thorough understanding of your needs and by spending time doing research, you'll find a suitable CRM that works for you. 

We've covered key features you should look for before investing in a CRM tool. Remember to do your research and also make good use of any trials and cancellation policies to thoroughly vet the product.

Use the information given here and work with your team to find the best option for you, and you'll improve both your customer experience and your employee experience too by providing them with the right tools to do their job. 

Image Credit: shironosov/Getty Images
Jared Atchison
Jared Atchison
business.com Member
Co-Founder of WPForms, one of the largest WordPress contact form plugins in the market. I have been programming for over a decade and enjoy creating plugins that help people create powerful web designs without touching code.