Choosing the best CRM software for startups is crucial for a smooth communication with not only customers but also businesses. But, before we jump to the core, let’s cover the basics of what is a CRM software.
CRM software, or Customer Relationship Management Software, is designed to help businesses manage such business processes as customer data, customer interaction, automation of sales process, customer support, vendor partnerships and more.
It is a suite of applications that integrate and most are sold on the fact you only need to enter data once. The single data entry means reduced man hours and fewer data entry errors.
It is at its heart a database of customer contact details and records of the interaction with that customer with your company. A huge desk diary on your computer?
Well, a little more sophisticated than this – it helps you to analyse where your customers are in the sales funnel and offers predictive operations, based on details of past and present sales.
It also allows contact with your customer to be consistent across your company, with every touchpoint ready with the customer’s history and likely the persona profile used to define their wants and needs.
Most CRM software is offered as an on-premises software installation, mostly because of the compliance issues related to the holding of data. However, there are also web-based applications, with cloud storage that can be accessed via a secure website.
Why Does a Startup Need CRM?
To be able to provide better customer service, see cross-selling and up-selling opportunities, a small business needs a CRM.
It may feel like just a place to store customer details at first but soon it will show you patterns of where you might sell a recent customer some other opportunity – or if you are seeking to bring a product to market – whether the demand is likely to be there.
It is quite simply the best way to understand who your customer is – and when you are managing a product to market this is about 95% of your job description.
It also makes your role manageable. At the beginning it is likely you can cope with the calls and emails from your clients and fulfilling orders.
However, the addition of 10 clients, then maybe 50 clients and suddenly the role is not manageable and things start getting missed. You need something to help you prioritise your work, remind you to make calls or return messages and help you to meet deadlines quickly.
It is better to have this software in place from the beginning, as a start-up, than it is to try to implement the software once you are feeling the pressure of your workload.
What are the qualities of the best CRM software for Startups?
The best CRM software for startups will offer you a place to store all your client information and allow all professionals to update and share details with your whole team, in real-time. It will provide instant metrics, allowing visualisation of past, present and then forecast future markets.
A great CRM will act like institutional memory, providing a clear history so that any errors or missteps can be retraced and changes made.
Finally, the best CRM will integrate calendars and diaries, as well as offer automation of communication-based on customer interaction with your website, or your app or your customer service team.
For a startup, the full potential of the CRM may be somewhere in the future. A CRM can integrate all data silos from your company and then allow for a sale funnel to be mapped for a customer, fully automated, dependent on the point when a customer is interested in your product.
This personalisation of interaction can lead to huge rewards for customers, as you can set up a one-to-one conversation with customers.
The 5 Best CRM Software Available
It may come to your surprise, but Agile CRM does not come from the Agile Methodology in project management.
Agile’s CRM is a great startup software. Your appointment calendar is available online and it will automate telephone calls and follow-up emails.
Beyond this, Agile also allows you to track your deals, score leads, set up real-time alerts and you can undertake deep analytics. The best feature is the contact timeline, which visualises your customer’s journey, providing all the information you need to move them forward toward completion.
As Agile is best known for project management, there is also a drag and drop project management tool, which helps you to allocate tasks to team members. Plus, you can gamify sales if you wish – and who wouldn’t.
This CRM has all the features that a startup would need – but also has more advanced features too that can scale up with your business – including the opportunity to automate communication with individual customers.
Pipedrive was specifically designed for smaller terms, ensuring they can handle the intricacies of the sales process.
The software is designed around an activity based selling methodology – where the team members next action needing attention will be visible and under your control.
The philosophy of the company behind Pipedrive is that great people build great products – so they forefront the need to empower employees to be productive.
There is the visual sales pipeline, so you can see where potential leads are and what action should come next and all interactions with customers are recorded. The platform is easy to use and easy to customise – making it great for a start-up where complex software can slow progress.
Sugar CRM is an award-winning software – that is specifically designed for startups. The company won its award for customer service – exactly what a CRM software company should be excelling in – you could argue.
The key feature of the software is one called Hint. This feature accelerates call prep time by giving the team member all the customer contact details, social network information and history just before they are expected to contact them.
The point this CRM company prioritises is the personal knowledge of the customer.
This software has a simple user interface, which is easy to customise. Most importantly, for a startup, the platform is easy to deploy – integrating with existing IT structures – so you can get started quickly.
Hubspot is itself a startup software company, so is uniquely positioned to understand the needs of a small company hoping to scale up efficiently and effectively.
Therefore, the emphasis of this CRM is ease of use and for use on a desktop, as well as mobile devices. The aim of this CRM is to cut down unnecessary work, including features such contact management tools and prompts for professionals on effective sales pitches for particular customers.
The best feature of this CRM is that it is possible to track all deals on one dashboard – which gives a total visibility of the company’s progress.
The key fact for a startup: this is free software. And, it stays free, with no expectation that you scale-up to subscription services as your needs grow.
How big can your company get? Well, this CRM will store 1 million contacts, storage that doesn’t expire and the option of introducing all your team to the software – even if this is a thousand people.
The aim of this CRM – in a nutshell – is to allow employees to find customer information simply and quickly. It is great for startups, as it integrates with Dropbox, Office 365, G Suite, and MailChimp.
This means that a startup can use some of these standard software applications and draw information into the CRM platform. The idea is that this platform can deploy without the need of an IT department, which is out of reach of the average startup.
Nutshell aims to help you seek out the contact, customer and conversation information you need, automate your sales process, view and track your leads and report on the performance of your company.
Ultimately, Nutshell is a great startup CRM because it centralises the tools a company already uses to run the business.
CRMs have traditionally been the investment made by large companies looking to rationalise the different data silos within a large organisation.
However, the best new small companies know that customer experience is going to be key to their future and so must invest early in software that will help them manage the relationships and have an overview of their market.
The best CRM software for startups will be easy to deploy and have a dashboard that can be customised and used with little training.
You will also want your CRM in the cloud so that it can be accessed wherever your employees are working. Secure cloud-based sites now are strong enough to deal with most compliance issues.
You need the option to set up automated email campaigns, based on customer interaction with your company – as well as the ability to connect with social media – which is a major touchpoint for present and future markets.
The best CRM software for startups with ultimately visualise and enable a sales pipeline and provide the appropriate team member with all the customer details needed to move the sale forward.
This information needs to include analytics – which drives forecasts and drive actions with present customers.
There is a lot of choice on the market for startups – but realistically choice will be driven by cost and by the ease of implementation.
And if you feel like you need a more of team task management tool, check our guide to the best project management software.