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A Startup's Guide to Choosing the Best CRM

ByRahul Varshneya, Last Modified
May 03, 2019
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CRM software has become a must-have business tool for all companies, from emerging startups to enterprise-level businesses.

Getting 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, with literally hundreds of solutions for you to choose from. The software comes 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 functions, while the advanced software comes loaded with features that make use of technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

With so many options 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. These are 

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 in choosing a CRM for your startup

1. Simplicity and ease of use

The decision of investing in CRM software is a strategic one. The efforts go undone if your sales team fails to adopt the software. 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 on the initial training and development costs, which is vital in the early days of your startup.

Make sure that the CRM solution you choose allows easy onboarding of the users, with a low learning curve that requires minimal time and effort.

2. Flexibility and scalability

The sales process is unique to every business, which necessitates 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 the software according to their own requirements, thus improving the sales efficiency.

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

3. Cost-value equation

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

Saving on costs 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. Most CRM software offers demos and free trials. Some options, such as Benchpoint and HubSpot CRM, also offer a forever-free plan. Make sure you avail the free trial, try out the software and see how it fits with your business needs before making the purchase decision to get the best value for what you are paying. [Are you interested in CRM software? Check out our best picks and reviews.]

5 must-have features in 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 interface to ensure that your sales reps use the CRM software. 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. Your sales reps should be able to manage contacts within the software based on your sales process.

If you focus on selling to prospects on an individual basis, each contact should be saved individually, but if your sales process targets multiple prospects within the same organization, the CRM should be able to arrange them by company so you can keep track of all the conversations you've had with the different stakeholders within the company.

3. Email automation

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

4. Calendar and events sync

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

5. Deals overview

As a startup or small business, it is necessary for you to have real-time insights into the dashboard and the status of the leads you're pursuing. 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 you gather, forecast sales, and make the necessary changes to your sales process.

Implementing robust 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 CRMs that offer the above-mentioned features, sign up for a trial, and get started with a CRM that meets your startup's sales needs. Happy closing!

Rahul Varshneya
Rahul Varshneya
See Rahul Varshneya's Profile
Rahul Varshneya is the co-founder of Arkenea, a custom software development company that builds custom mobile and web apps for entrepreneurs and enterprises. Rahul has been featured as a business technology thought leader in numerous media channels such as Bloomberg TV, Forbes, HuffPost, Inc, among others. He is a columnist at Entrepreneur and has written for Forbes, Inc and HuffPost in the past.
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