Finding the best CRM for small business can be a minefield.

Startups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have specific requirements for sales and marketing functionality compared to the larger enterprises that most vendors focus on. SMEs need a unique mix of both the range and scope of enterprise tools, but with a greater emphasis on simplicity and ease of use.

Here are some questions to ask to make sure you choose the best crm platform that’s going to meet your needs.

1. Is the platform affordable?

Let’s start with cost. Most Marketing Automation systems charge per contact or by the number of communications you send to customers. This becomes more and more expensive as you grow and will ultimately limit your team’s output. The main issue is that most pricing models are based around larger enterprises, yet SMEs often have similar size contact databases, leading to unrealistic costs.

We designed SalesSeek to be affordable for owner managed businesses. We charge per user and not for usage, so your team can do as many campaigns as they like and make their communications personal to customers.

2. What are the implementation and integration costs?

Most systems are focused on only one part of the revenue generation process, so you may need several packages to fulfil your needs. This can become an integration nightmare, further increasing costs, not to mention the time it will take to get things set up.

SalesSeek includes everything an SME needs to manage this revenue generation process. Out-of-the-box we support contact management, marketing automation, outbound email, social selling, web analytics, sales forecasting, reporting and content management.

Of course, there are situations where integration with other systems is needed. Rest assured, SalesSeek can support custom integrations if required using it’s cloud-based platform, drastically reducing costs. We also already support a number of complimentary systems such as Zendesk for support and Xero for accounting, so in many cases this integration need not cost anything.

3. How easy is it to get started?

Old school CRM systems rely upon third party consultants even to just get the data loaded and the system configured.

The best crm will put you in charge of the process with built in wizards. With SalesSeek you can call us, not third parties, at any time to get best practice advice on set up.

4. Does it provide a complete picture of customers?

You don’t want marketing automatically sending inappropriate emails to customers when they’re already in conversations with your sales team. If your system isn’t integrated you’ll have to import and export data between marketing and sales systems – sounds messy. You might think integrating such systems is straightforward, given it’s such a common requirement, but in practice it’s fraught with complications and the need for continuous maintenance (trans: more cost).

SalesSeek data is consistent throughout the application, so it’s easy to take information from one area and move it, or incorporate it, with another. Whether marketing have sent outbound emails or sales have been in direct contact with potential or existing customers, the team can see exactly what’s happened and what needs to be done next. And because sales and marketing are integrated, you can assign a cost to every sales and marketing activity and easily see what areas are doing well and your ROI.

5. Is it easy to use?

Old school systems make it so difficult to make sense of information that they need a full-time data administrator. With SalesSeek, information is presented visually and is easy to use and understand. This visibility is really useful for organizing, prioritizing and sharing work between the team. You can literally see if you’re keeping all your balls in the air and making the most of opportunities. All information is at your fingertips, so slicing, dicing and reporting is quick and easy.

The Visual funnel of the best CRM

6. What about Social?

Social selling is a big opportunity for SMEs. You might not have dedicated employees for social, but every team member can be involved in marketing your business on social networks. Generally, sales people don’t have the tools to send their own email campaigns, we believe that they should. You’re more likely to reach potential customers on social networks or email, than on the phone.
Our content repository lets sales people customize articles for their contacts, using a range of marketing materials, and to present these attractively with graphics and images. Without an integrated system this would be done by marketing and content would be less tailored and less meaningful.

Most CRM systems aren’t made for SMEs, so it’s unlikely they’ll meet your needs without costing an arm and a leg. Go for a platform suited to the size of your business and make sure it integrates sales and marketing, along with the latest selling tools. It’ll save you a lot of time and money, and will be more effective in generating leads and revenue.

Image: CC BY-SA-2.0 by Véronique Debord-Lazaro