Whether it’s a mom-and-pop shop or a multimillion-dollar corporation, no business wants to lose money on ill-fitting software. Small and medium-sized businesses are especially vulnerable to the negative impacts. SMBs are working with fixed budgets, fluctuating business needs, and limited resources, so purchasing the “wrong” software is a big investment risk.

The good news is that many risks can be minimized or completely avoided by approaching the project the right way. With 32+ years of experience, our team has taken SMBs through the process of software selection thousands of times. So today, let’s examine selection for the most common B2B and B2C software—CRM (Customer Relationship Management). These are the top SMB CRM selection considerations for successful outcomes:

#1 Business Needs

Before selecting a CRM, identify the specific needs of your business, such as sales automation, customer service, marketing automation, analytics, or project management. Choose a CRM that aligns with your business goals and can cater to the needs of your team. 

#2 Ranked Features

The CRM you select should have features that precisely match your business needs. This is more nuanced than you might think. Let’s say most CRMs offer 100 different features out-of-the-box. If you have a clear definition of your business needs, you can identify which features are most crucial to your goals, rank them by importance, and then down-select CRMs that match. By doing this, you narrow your CRM options to concentrate on your must-have features instead of getting distracted features that are “nice to have” but don’t really contribute to your goals.  

#3 Scalability

The right CRM should be able to scale as your business grows. What does this mean? Well, a CRM is scalable if it can handle increasing levels of data, users, and business processes without losing performance or functionality. Part of scalability also means the CRM can seamlessly exchange data with a variety of other business applications (such as telephony, ERP, marketing automation, accounting software, etc.) so as your business grows and needs change, the CRM can adapt.

#4 User-Friendliness / Ease of use

A complex CRM system can cause frustration among your team members, leading to low adoption rates. There is no value in a system that you don’t use. As you go through CRM demos, take note of which solutions seem the most intuitive, have the cleanest interface, and have the least number of clicks to complete a given task.

#5 Integration Capacity

As we mentioned in #3, a scalable CRM should be able to integrate with other software you use, such as your email marketing software, your accounting software, and your website. This can help streamline processes and save time. Even if you’re not considering integration right now, it’s important to make integration capacity a factor in your CRM purchasing decision. If you decide to integrate later, you don’t want to be stuck with an incompatible CRM solution.

#6 Mobile Compatibility

With more people using smartphones and tablets for work, it's important to choose a CRM that has mobile compatibility. This enables your team to access customer data and update records on the go. Look for a CRM with a corresponding mobile app and check out the mobile app to make sure it’s easy to use.

#7 Data Security

This CRM selection consideration is hopefully a given. Customer data is sensitive and must be protected.  This includes securing access to information externally and internally. Ensure the CRM you choose has robust security features such as field security, object security, data encryption, and multi-factor authentication. 

#8 Total Cost of Ownership

Regardless of business size, cost is always a factor for CRM selection. Educate yourself on the scope of costs associated to CRM ownership, including any additional fees for customization, integration, and support. Confirm that the total cost of the CRM aligns with your budget and provides a good return on your investment. 

#9 Support Options

Support is an overlooked factor in SMB CRM selection. You’ll need support throughout your CRM lifetime, so make sure you know how to access it, the expected response times, and the hours of availability. You should ensure a support plan exists that fits your business’ hours of operation.  

#10 Customization Potential

Nearly all businesses require some level of CRM customization, so when selecting CRM, make sure you understand what it can do. Modern CRMs provide low code and No-Code options to diminish reliance on IT and let your business customize the CRM on your own. If this is an important feature to you, find out if the CRM has low code and No-Code capabilities.

#11 Reporting Capabilities

The CRM should provide the ability to track your progress and make informed decisions through robust reporting. It should be easy to develop and deliver those reports in the form of dashboard, mobile reports, and traditional reporting. 

#12 Analytics

CRM reports are useless if they’re not drawing from analytics. When selecting CRM for your SMB, get acquainted with each provider’s analytic functions and capabilities. The analytics should be intuitive and allow you to easily understand your customers, your products, the competition, and your internal processes. 

#13 Training

 It’s easy to forget about training during the CRM selection process. The CRM provider or your CRM consultant should provide training that covers all levels within the organization including IT administrators, end users, and power users.   

Only once your SMB has considered these factors can your team can start to narrow down your CRM choices. It's important to get demos from a few different CRMs before deciding, so you can see first-hand which one is the best fit for your business.  If you need help, an experienced CRM consultant can guide you on the proper techniques and strategies for SMB CRM selection.

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