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by Llinos Neale

If, like me, you love to see everything organised to the nth degree and all that organised information in one place and then you are probably very interested in a CRM. CRM is a customer relationship manager. It manages all the data you hold for a customer, turns that data into information that helps you track leads into sales, generates reports, contact customers and so much more. There are so many different types and designs. The number of CRMs has grown exponentially in the last few years. There seems to be a new one sprouting up every few days with a new spin or focus to try and strive for that elusive USP.

  •  CRM is the fastest growing software market today. It was a $14 billion industry in 2010 and is expected to reach $80 billion by 2025. That is nearly a 600% increase. (Source: Grand View Research)
  • 91% of businesses with 10 or more employees now use CRM software. (Source: CRM Magazine)

So, CRM sounds like a pretty good idea, right?!

Remember essentially what CRMs do is give you more time to work your magic. It is not the CRM that runs your business, It’s you. Making sure you have the time, space and freedom to be creative with your business is the best outcome of implementing the use of a CRM.

I know you are hoping that this post is going to just tell you which one is the best but unfortunately only you are going to know what’s going to fit you best. Treat this like clothes shopping, unless you try them on yourself, you are never going to know if it fits you just as well as it fits someone else. The best thing I can do is prepare you for the selection process and give you some pointers on where to start!

When you start thinking about getting a CRM, ask yourself the following question: –

What problem do you need it to solve?

Is it Sales? Is communication within the team regarding customers low? Do you want to keep all customer documents in one place? Have you forgotten what each customer owes you!? Identifying the specific problem you want to solve is going to help you choose the right one and refine your search.

Step 1: Make a list!

Make a list of priorities and essential tools you want it to have and use this when you speak to the CRM company.

Make sure you identify those deal-breakers early. There is nothing worse than falling in love with a system and then realising that one of the things on your list is just too important to be worked around.

Sign up to our mailing list to receive a handy editable checklist and comparison spreadsheet for you to use here.

Step 2: Shop around

A good starting point is to look at some articles. This can do some of the legwork for you and compile some pros, cons and basic info that you may not find out unless you contact the companies directly otherwise. Be careful as these are not always up to date so check the date of the article and the date of the reviews

CRM.org has up to date articles like “best CRM for startups” “best free CRM” “best CRM for sales” this is a great way to narrow the search and see more than what just comes up first on google

Here is a list of CRMs to check out:

Step 3: Get ready to do some demos!

Considering CRM’s can help you sell more efficiently it is no surprise that they can sell to you efficiently! Hence why every CRM wants you to book a demo, call or get a tailored quote! They want to open a dialogue with you because it is how they can sell their platform to you. If you are anything like me then you: –

  • Do not have enough time to chat to salespeople all-day
  • Hate being sold to and just want the facts and figures!

There doesn’t seem to be any way around this though as CRMs tend to put minimal detail on their sites to encourage those calls. So, the best advice I can give you is to have your checklist handy and make sure that you ask every question you have on that list during the call or demo.


Step 4: Make and Keep NOTES!

Notes are going to be a life-saver for you. All these systems are trying to do the same thing, so are going to have minor differences and you are going to be looking at a lot. Try and keep detailed notes whilst on the call with them while you are going through the questions you have.


Step 5: Compare + BUY!

So you have your front runners! Use the comparison spreadsheet to pit them against each other and see who comes out on top.

If you want a quick comparison Capterra has a comparison tool you can use instead for reviews.

I particularly like the customer reviews on Capterra.  

When you’ve got your top choice ready to go make sure that you ask them the best way to get set up. Lots of the companies offer training for your team and some offer a data transfer so you can just log in and go!

Hopefully, you’re fully prepared and kitted out with what you need to wade into this organised world that lies ahead of you. Remember this is going to do great things for your business so it should be fun finding yours! GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY SHOPPING!

Glossary (for the technophobe!)

Integration – This is when the CRM can integrate an app you currently use into it. For example, your CRM might link up to Mailchimp so you can access it through the CRM and use it from there. It helps Apps talk to each other.

API – Application Programming Interface, this comes up a lot. I have found there are two main types of CRM.

·        A CRM that has created an event booking system, accounting software, booking system

·        and then there’s an API CRM, which can be slightly cheaper, takes all the usual apps people use like Mailchimp, Eventbrite, Xero and shows you all their info in one place with easy links between them with some more functions.

Back end and front end – a back end is the bit you see that customers won’t be able to see and a front end comes with some CRM’s and means there’s a way for your customer to log in and see their data and sometimes update it themselves.

UI– User interface, this is what you or your customers are going to see when you look at the system.

Have you considered…?

Zapier allows end-users to integrate the web applications they use what this means is it could do everything you want a CRM to do without the CRM, for example, Zapier can integrate with excel or google sheets so if someone emails you, you could immediately populate a spreadsheet. Giving you that automation but without the hassle of moving all your data into a CRM and away from current systems

About the Author

Llinos is the Community Manager at Welsh ICE. Llinos is that level of super organised that’s not quite hit annoying yet and loves streamlining business practices through finding the best most efficient way to do things. Before working at ICE Llinos worked as Operations Manager of a Charity, Supervisor in a real ale pub, volunteer coordinator for a music festival and in customer service for an insurance company. She’s passionate about the Welsh language and about helping people reach their full potential. She loves to while away the hours playing the ukulele or researching Eurovison facts…because that’s totally normal.

Llinos Neale