Guest blog post: 4 Tips to Avoid Overpaying for a Small Business CRM

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January 10, 2017

If you're looking to sync contact data, generally it is between an email provider and contact management or customer relationship management (CRM) software. You likely already have an email provider, but if you don't have a CRM yet, where do you start and how do you get the best value for what you need?

Andrew Friedenthal, a market research associate at Software Advice, recently analyzed 200 in-depth conversations with small businesses regarding trends around purchasing a CRM. Here's a summary (in my own words) of the key take aways:

  • The majority of buyers are still looking to automate sales tasks (Salesforce automation)
  • As CRM providers continue to increase, even non-traditional businesses are turning to CRMs
  • Many small businesses expect to pay $70-75 per user per month, which is more than most small businesses need

While the first two are interesting, the third one really catches my attention - many small businesses are expecting to pay around $70-$75 per user/per month.

That is certainly possible to do, especially for businesses that go with Salesforce as the default CRM:

But with so many CRM options on the market, with many offering free plans and paid plans well below $70 per user, WHY are small businesses expecting to pay so much?

Is it because the features they need are available only in something as robust as Salesforce?

That doesn't seem to be the case according to Friedenthal's research. The first point mentions Salesforce automation, which they further boil down into these key features, as the top requested features for a CRM:

1) Contact management (88 percent 2) Tracking interactions (80 percent) 3) Scheduling/setting reminders (75 percent)

These 3 basic features are available in just about any CRM.

Additionally, many CRMs offer other commonly requested features such as:

4) Email marketing (32 percent) 5) Sales pipeline/funnel monitoring (31 percent) 6) Reporting/analytics (28 percent) 7) Integration with other platforms (20 percent)

So if features are readily available in many CRMs, why are small businesses overpaying for CRM software?

Further commentary from Friedenthal:

".... the market for CRM and Lead Generation software tools are more competitive, and thus many of our buyers might be overestimating how much they need to pay for a system on a monthly basis."

Right now, searching for CRM on SoftwareAdvice, returns 416 results. Whittling that down can be overwhelming. Many small businesses may chose to go with the first result even though it requires a lot more money.

So if you're a small business trying to quickly figure out which CRM fits your business best, here's some tips to avoid overpaying:

  • In many cases sites like Capterra, Business News Daily, and even now a site dedicated to analyzing the top 10 CRMs each quarter have done research for you and limited choices of 'good' CRMs to 10 or less. Use that as a starting point to review features, look and feel, and rule out options that are missing specifics important to your business.
  • Check the integrations page on the CRM website for key tools and apps you already use and want to connect to make your workflows easier. Or start with the tools you already use and see what CRMs they integrate with.
  • Sign up for the trial version of the CRM (if available) and play around for 5 minutes to get a good feel for the tool. Add some contacts or do a sync. Create a few tasks and notes. You can often tell in just a couple of minutes whether it will work for you or your business. Watch a demo or send in a support request inquiring more about items you don't have time to check out fully (or chat with a sales rep).
  • Pick 2-3 CRMs and really delve in with a full sync or import and/or dedicating a couple of days of your workflow to it before you bring your team in.

With so many options on the market, there's likely to be a CRM that's a near perfect fit for you and your business. And it's likely to be much more affordable than you think.

About Lynette Kontny

Lynette Kontny is COO at Highrise, a simple CRM for organizing your communication, your team, and your business. Lynette loves writing, editing, loosely organizing stuff, and doing things to make Highrise better. And beach days and exploring Chicago with her husband and daughter.