Questions to ask when choosing a CRM for your small business

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So, you’ve finally made this decision. You, your team, and your business needs a customer relationship management system, simply known as a CRM. This is an important step which, in the future, you’ll be glad you’ve made. But which CRM for small business to choose? Do you need a niche one or standard one would make it? Will you choose by the reputation or the price? Will it actually help your team or it’ll be just another chore for them? Here are some core questions you should ask yourself and the CRM vendors while choosing a system for your business.

Cloud or on-premise?
This is one of the most striking differences in modern CRM systems. Cloud-based (or web-based) CRM systems are a prevailing breed today. You don’t have to host anything and all updates are applied immediately, adding the cutting-edge features to your system. At the same time, you need to buy the CRM software and install it on your own servers and make sure that you have the necessary infrastructure to support it. Also, you’ll have to update it manually, which puts all of the responsibility on you, instead of the software vendors. In this sense, a cloud-based small business CRM is a much more fitting solution for a small business. Considering the fees, it’s not that big a difference, yet you’re not bound to a single CRM and can make a switch any time you like.

Which subscription model is right for me?
Most CRM systems operate using the subscription-based model, meaning that to continue using the system, you need to pay a monthly fee. It’s usually on a per-user basis, meaning that if you need to add another new user, you’ll have to pay for him additionally. Also, most vendors split the functionality between pricing plans, so if you want some particular feature but it’s only available in the top tier plans, you’ll have to pay more. But they are exceptions and different models. In some cases, pricing is designed not per user but per team, selling the subscription for teams of 5, 10, 20 and more users, so when you need more people to the team you have a leeway.

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What kind of a trial period it has?
What’s great about the cloud-based software is that it’s almost always try-before-you-buy. While a CRM might not always have a free plan, it most definitely has a trial period for you to test out its functionality. But does the trial period has any sort of limitations? Can all of your teammates enable trial and check the CRM in their real workflow? Is every feature included in the trial or some are only for the paying users? And, eventually, how long is the trial period? A week is OK, but it’s better to have a possibility to test it out for a month.

Does it have a mobile app?
It’s a rare case for a CRM system today to not have a mobile app (though, not an unheard of). It’s great when a CRM has an iOS app, but are all your teammates use iPhones? If “yes”, then it’s OK. But if at least a part of your employees are the Android users you’re not going to isolate them to the desktop environment, are you? It’s always best to take into consideration which platforms the system supports to avoid such problems if not at the moment, then in future.

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Does it integrate well with my other services?
A CRM won’t be the only tool you use and you have to make sure that it works perfectly with your other services. For example, if you’re in the retail business and need integration with your point of sale software, give Salesforce1 a try – it’s not the easiest software to handle, but it does the job. If you need a CRM for the inbox to tightly work with emails, check out NetHunt CRM. It’s a Gmail CRM which is among the most effective email tools for organizing inbox and managing customer data.

Will it fit my use cases?
Last question, but not the least, is will this CRM be actually useful for you? Can it be effectively used in your industry? For example, do you need a sales-oriented CRM system, or the one particularly designed for the real estate use cases? Or you might prefer a CRM which can be customized to fit real estate even if it wasn’t explicitly designed to do so? Or will it help you in organizing Gmail or Outlook where you work the most? Check the company for how-to’s and tutorials to see what exactly this CRM can do. Or, what’s even better, contact their support for help or a live demo.

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