The Small Business CRM Guide to Keep Customers Coming Back


As a small business owner, you’re aware of the value of customer service. While traditional brick and mortar customer service will always be important for small businesses, many small businesses are taking advantage of the extensive benefits that customer relationship management (CRM) software has to offer.

What is CRM Software?

CRM software is a “smart” database of customer information. It records and stores all customer information and relationships. It remembers the details of specific customer interaction across channels, including phone, email, social media or even your customer helpdesk.

The primary goal of your CRM software is to use customer information to improve customer experience and ultimately create customer loyalty. A Global Customer Service study showed that three out of four customers say that they spend more money with a company because of a positive customer experience. With that said, the positive ROI of CRM software is not surprising. According to Nucleus Research, CRM gives an average of $8.71 for every $1 spent. 

Overall, CRM systems allow companies to easily manage interactions with both current and prospective customers to improve customer experience. However, different types of CRM system have varying capabilities that include the following:

  • Contact Management – organize and associate information to specific customers
  • Sales Management – Organize leads and automate follow up
  • Marketing Automation – Attract new customers through email marketing or web traffic
  • Customer Service Management – Resolve customer inquiries or complaints

These capabilities can simplify management, improve customer service and give you valuable sales and customer insights. Choosing the right CRM software for your specific business can lead to overall business growth.

How to Choose the Right CRM Software?

There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing your CRM system. Different systems are developed for different business needs, so it is important to take time to assess how each system’s features align with your specific needs before committing to a solution. Business News Daily’s Choosing CRM Software: A Buyer’s Guide provides a useful checklist of questions to consider throughout the deciding process:

  • Is it built for small business?
  • How easy is it to use? Can I easily train employees?
  • How customizable is the software?
  • What features are available to help me with sales, marketing and other aspects of my business?
  • How easy is it to integrate with other solutions I already use?
  • What limitations are there to using the software?
  • What is the total cost of the software? Are there any setup or additional fees? What if I need to add more users?
  • What type of security features does it have to protect my business's and customers' data? What happens if there is an outage? How is my data backed up in the cloud, and can I access it immediately?
  • If I need help, what type of customer service do you offer? Can I reach you any time, or is there a long turnaround period?

To help you answer these questions and determine which CRM solution aligns best with your specific goals, we’ve compiled a list of the top small business CRM systems.

Best All-In-One - Salesforce

Salesforce is a well-known, top-rated cloud-based CRM solution. Salesforce is considered the “best all-in-one” solution, as it provides an extensive range of features, giving your small businesses “everything you need in CRM software.” Salesforce provides small businesses with customizable yet broad functionality.

While Salesforce was initially developed for larger businesses, the company created a small business edition designed for small businesses specifically. Thanks to this edition, users can take advantage of Salesforce’s advanced, extensive CRM tools and features at an affordable price. The features in the small business edition are easy to use and include lead generation, contact management, sales forecasting, and much more.

Best for Very Small Businesses – Insightly

If your business has less than 10 employees, Insightly may be the CRM solution for you. Insightly was designed for very small businesses specifically, yet its features are highly scalable as your business grows. Insightly CRM is affordable for an individual small business owner, while including a range of team-friendly features.

The software is easy to use and learn, and it is feature rich. It allows businesses to manage projects, track contacts, communications, sales, projects, tasks and documents in a single platform. Further, Insightly is one of the most affordable CRM solutions available.

Best Free CRM Software – Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM is a powerful, award-winning web-based CRM system that offers its solution for free. While there are a variety of other free CRM options, Zoho offers all core functionalities of CRM software and allows users to add up to 10 users at no extra cost.

Zoho CRM features include automating daily sales tasks, attracting new leads, importing contact information from external channels and managing customer accounts. Further, Zoho CRM acknowledges the importance of social media, and allows users to link the system to their social accounts to track and store customers’ social behavior. Zoho CRM has an extensive mobile app, allowing users to access data anytime and anywhere.

Choosing a business software is no longer a one size fits all approach. There are endless products that are written to solve specific problems. Chances are, many of these address your specific needs. Improving your customer relations takes time, but is proven to lead to high levels of returns.

*Free standard installation applies to new Lease subscribers only. Not valid with Purchase option. Limited-time offer.