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CRM for Small Businesses

But, enterprise-scale CRM systems can be quite intimidating for smaller businesses. They come with hefty price tags and complex implementations, requiring more financial and IT resources than smaller companies can spare. Additionally, their massive features sets often provide more functionality than a small business needs.

Until recently, only larger organizations have been able to reap the benefits of customer relationship management. But, several vendors have emerged with “lite” or small business CRM solutions, to satisfy the needs of the small- to mid-sized market and give smaller companies the same competitive edge.

What is Small Business CRM? Small business CRM, or “CRM lite”, provides basic contact management capabilities, without all the complex functions that only larger organizations require. They are designed to support limited groups of simultaneous users (usually 100 or less) over LANs, rather than large user bases spread out over distributed, multi-server networks. Some of the more advanced capabilities that come standard with enterprise-scale CRM packages are usually offered as separately-purchased add-on options.

Many small business customer relationship management applications are available as hosted or on-demand solutions. This approach makes CRM more affordable, allowing smaller businesses with tighter budgets to avoid up-front fees and pay only for the services and features they use. Additionally, hosted CRM eliminates long, complicated implementations, so smaller businesses can roll-out their solution quickly, with minimal impact on IT resources.

Key Benefits for Your Company
Small business CRM packages provide the same benefits as their enterprise-scale counterparts. They can enhance the productivity of your sales, marketing, and customer service staff; reduce the costs associated with attracting, retaining, and supporting customers; increase revenues by enabling you to plan and execute more effective sales and marketing strategies; and allow you to deliver high-quality, world-class customer service, so you can improve satisfaction and loyalty.

Small business CRM solutions are also more budget-friendly than large-scale systems. They offer smaller license “bundles”, and allow you to pick-and-choose only the advanced features you want. So, you won’t waste money on unused licenses, or capabilities you’ll never use.

Additionally, unlike large organizations, many smaller companies lack structured, documented sales, marketing, and support processes. Small business customer relationship management solutions can help formalize and streamline procedures, so customer-facing operations can be improved across the board.

And in smaller companies, where staff members are often required to perform tasks and activities beyond their traditional roles, CRM solutions can make employees more organized, and help them perform more efficiently.

Does My Company Need Small Business CRM?
Companies of all sizes can derive value from a CRM solution. Whether you have a sales force of one, or one thousand, or you manage one hundred or one hundred thousand clients, CRM technologies can help you dramatically improve the way you run your sales, marketing, and service departments.

But, not all companies need the power and complexity of enterprise-scale systems. Consider a small business CRM solution if your company manages less than 500 customers and/or has less than 50 staff members supporting customer-facing operations. Small business customer relationship management is also ideal for companies with minimal complexity in their procedures, where the efficiency and productivity of each individual is more important than coordinating intricate processes across departments.

Common Small Business CRM Features
Small business CRM packages are primarily contact management solutions that allow sales, marketing, and service personnel to keep track of their prospects and customers, and more effectively manage related activities.

Most of them come with some standard reporting capabilities, so management can monitor activities across multiple staff members. Other, more advanced functionality – such as help desk automation, marketing campaign execution and management, sales forecasting, order processing and tracking, and advanced analytics, are usually available as add-on options.

What to Look for When Choosing an Small Business CRM Solution
While most small-business CRM solutions will offer similar features and functionality, there are some key factors to consider when making a purchase.

  • Ease of administration. Select a solution that is easy to install, integrate, and test, so you don’t have to devote your limited IT resources to a long, cumbersome deployment. Or, consider choosing a hosted solution that will get you up-and-running quickly, with minimal burden on IT staff.
  • Flexible integration. While you may be a small business now, things could change down the road. Choose a solution that can grow with you, and adapt as your user base expands and your CRM needs evolve.
  • Customization. A solution that is intuitive and easy to maintain will eliminate the need for you to waste time and money on training and administration.