Part two in our series on CRM Systems, this guide is to help small business owners choose the right CRM software. After reading, you’ll be able to determine which features you need, what amount of technical support you’ll require and roughly how much CRM software costs.
Before we dive into the details on this topic, we also suggest you check out Insightly, our recommended small business CRM. Insightly is an inexpensive, easy to use, contact and task management system. Visit Insightly to learn more.
Choosing the Right CRM System for Your Business
Short for customer relationship management, CRM software is a collection of tools to help organize and report on your company’s interaction with clients. In our last article, we introduced CRM software and described the basic features. Depending on the nature of your business, however, there’s a world of additional features you may find beneficial.
While it’s important to choose a CRM system that handles the needs of your business, you don’t want to go overboard. If your system is too complicated, your employees could reject it and stick with their old methods. Likewise, the more advanced the CRM, the more it will cost and the longer it will take to set up and manage.
Choosing CRM software is ultimately a matter of balancing the features you want with the cost of service, hassle of set-up and willingness of employees to adopt it. In a bit, we’ll go over some of the key features so you can determine which are appropriate for your business.
The Two Ends of the Spectrum
You can look at your CRM software options as a spectrum. At one end you have low-cost CRMs that give you basic features: A contact book that’s linked with your various tasks and opportunities, a personalized dashboard with reminders, etc. At the other end you have advanced, pricier models. These are highly customizable systems that offer different modules and can integrate with other software.
We’ve chosen Salesforce and Insightly to represent the two ends of the spectrum – not only because they’re the premier products at their respective levels, but also because understanding their features gives you a good sense of your CRM options overall.
Fit Small Business which has 4 full time employees uses insightly. However, the co-founders chose Salesforce as their crm solution when they were managers at a company with hundreds of employees.
How Much CRM Systems Cost
You can use a limited version of Insightly for free. You get 2,500 records (which includes contacts, projects, etc.), 40 custom fields and can register up to 3 accounts. The full package boosts this to 100,000 records and 100 custom fields. This costs $7 per user per month and there’s no limit to how many users you can add.
Salesforce starts at $25 per user per month for the basic sales and marketing package and $30 for the basic customer service package. More advanced packages can cost well into the hundreds. The most popular sales and customer service packages are $125 and $135 per user per month, respectively.
Which Features Do I Need?
Using Insightly and Salesforce as examples, you can see how low-end CRMs stand up against the top products. Low-end models actually have many of the same features – they just tend to be less comprehensive and customizable. For example, both Insightly and Salesforce have tools for customer service, but in Salesforce, the features are much more sophisticated. For one, you can build a knowledge base of your products that agents can search through and use to help customers.
This brings up another key consideration: What do you need a CRM system for – sales, customer service or marketing? Some CRMs are designed specifically for one, while others are more universal and/or have features to support each.
Insightly can be used for all three, but only on a basic level. For example, a customer service agent could use Insightly to track customer history and manage service calls, but they won’t be able to chat with customers from their dashboard or search a knowledge base to answer questions. Salesforce has these advanced features, but not in a single package – sales, customer service and marketing platforms have to be purchased separately. As you’d expect, this offers much more functionality specific to the task, but also increases the cost and makes it more difficult to set up.
Here’s how other features compare between Salesforce and Insightly:
Looking for CRM Software? We Recommend Insightly.
Using your CRM system on a smartphone or tablet is ideal for telecommuters or salesmen on the go. Insightly offers a mobile app with limited functions, such as viewing contacts/projects and setting tasks. Salesforce has more robust mobile support, letting you edit projects, open files and search all data. Also, on some Salesforce platforms you can view and edit information even when you’re offline and automatically sync data when you get connected. Insightly does not offer offline functionality.
Integration With Email
Linking emails to your CRM can help you track correspondence with clients. With Insightly, you can archive an email by sending it to a unique Insightly mailbox address. The system will then identify all contacts and organizations CC’d in the email and link them to the message. Salesforce can do this automatically if you integrate your email account. Currently, many different clients are supported, including Microsoft, Gmail and Yahoo. Insightly can do this as well, but only if you have a Google Apps email.
Integration With Other Software
Insightly allows you to connect your account with a few other online applications, like Google Apps or MailChimp, so you can easily import/export contacts or upcoming tasks. However, whereas Insightly only supports a handful of applications, Salesforce can integrate a very wide range. This includes accounting software like Quickbooks and other back office software. It can also connect with some phone systems, so when you get a call Salesforce searches for the number and brings up the matching profile. These are just a couple of examples of the wide range of integrations that salesforce offers.
By nature, CRM systems are adaptable for your business. With Insightly you can customize how you enter in contacts or projects by adding your own data fields. With Salesforce, however, you can go far beyond and edit the software itself. You can make simple customizations like changing the appearance or access levels for different employees, or you can add code to change the logic of processing orders or transferring customer service claims.
Automated Leads / Customer Service Claims
If you generate leads from a webpage, you can set up your CRM system to receive the form and automatically assign the potential customer to a salesperson. In the same way, customer service claims can be automatically forwarded to your staff. Salesforce has tools to set this up. Insightly does not.
Track your company’s daily progress with automatically-generated reports, charts and graphs on your dashboard. Insightly builds 10 different reports, including figures on opportunities, sales made and tasks completed. With Salesforce, however, the possibilities are endless. You can build a custom report using any data in the system and add it to your dashboard.
Use your CRM to create step-by-step projects. Then assign tasks to employees and watch the progress unfold. Insightly offers this feature at no extra cost. To use project management on Salesforce, however, you have to install a seperate app.
Social Media Integration
Both Insightly and Salesforce can automatically link your contacts to their social media accounts, so you can view their LinkedIn profile and see their latest tweets. Will Salesforce, however, you can also reach out to clients through these channels from your dashboard, so you can connect with each client on their preferred medium.
It’s important to control who has access to what in your CRM system. In Insightly, when you create or edit an item (such as a contact, opportunity, etc.) you can easily select who has permission to view it: everyone, specific teams and/or specific individuals. With Salesforce, you have to assign objects to a permission set and assign that permission set to a user.
Administrating Your CRM System
Both Insightly and Salesforce are cloud based applications so you don’t have to deal with installing any software. It will take some setup, however, as you personalize the interface for your business.
With Insightly, this means adding your contacts and projects to the system, adding any additional data fields that are not already included, writing descriptions, and setting up any step by step processes you would like. While there is a small learning curve, you don’t have to have any special technical expertise.
You don’t need any technical expertise to use salesforce’s basic functions either. However, the more powerful features take a lot of setup, to the point where firms often hire a full time salesforce specialist to manage the system. These specialists do not come cheap and will generally cost upwards of $100 per hour.
You also need to get employees registered and trained on how to use the system. This step is key as your CRM system won’t do you any good if your employees can’t use it.
Insightly has a series of training videos that covers most of the features, and it shouldn’t take longer than an hour or so for your employees to learn how to use it.
Because Salesforce offers many more features, it also takes users much longer to learn how to use. Expect to hold special training sessions for your employees and have someone on staff that is responsible for answering questions after the rollout. Salesforce also has a training center where you can browse a wide array of topics and ask questions to other customers.
After it’s launched, you still have to upkeep your CRM. Troubleshooting low-end CRMs like Insightly should be fairly straight forward. Most issues you come across have probably been dealt with before. Nonetheless, you may want to train an employee to be your go-to when problems arise.
With a customized CRM like Salesforce, it can be much harder to troubleshoot. Your system will differ from others, so it may be tough to find solutions on the web. As a result, some companies with high-end CRMs have found they need a full time administrator just to oversee their system. Of course, this is unrealistic for most small businesses. But it goes to show how the more complex of a system you build, the more difficult it becomes to manage.
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When it comes to choosing a CRM system keeping it simple is usually the way to go. You save money, set up faster and don’t have to worry about confusing or overwhelming your employees. That said, you may find some features are necessary to make the purchase worthwhile. In that case, do look into them. But before you break out your wallet, make sure you and your staff are ready for the overhaul.
Looking for CRM Software? We Recommend Insightly.