Thanks to the power of social media, customers are better connected, better informed, and their opinions carry more weight than any other time in history. Whether a forum on diabetes, a travel site offering the latest hotel reviews, or the pros and cons of the latest iPad, companies of all sizes can now leverage the latest technologies to listen in firsthand to what customers are saying about their products, goods, and services. Indeed, it’s true that we’re living in the “age of the customer.”
Keeping your customers happy is half the battle of any successful business strategy. If customers are happy, then revenue flows and life is good. Managing that customer relationship is important and for that reason you need the right tools.
Since business today is customer driven through and through, you need to choose carefully the kind of tools you use to track those relationships. This is where CRMs come into play. Customer relationship management (CRM) is defined as “an approach to managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. It often involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support.”
There are a whole bunch of CRM platforms on the market today; in fact, chances are that you’ve heard of some of the top ones, like Salesforce. What we want to do here is to spend a few minutes covering the top 7 CRMs that are most suitable for the small business player. Read on for the best CRM solutions that can help keep your customers happy and your small business thriving.
The product launched in 2005 as a web-based word processor, and additional products were incorporated and distributed as software as a service, including its CRM solution in 2006. Zoho CRM for small business is a complete platform with mobile capability and social CRM available to help turn your company into a customer-focused organization. Zoho offers all kinds of customizable features such as integrated email, visitor tracking, email campaigns, and project management so you can focus on making sales and growing your business as effectively as possible. Zoho offers a generous free basic account for up to 10 users, which is ideal for new startups. You can scale up with additional plans ranging from $12 per user per month up to $50.
Nimble identifies itself as web and SaaS-based platform that provides small businesses with high-end CRM systems combined with social media. This social CRM feature is what drives the real value of Nimble. With Nimble, you can access much of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter via Nimble, and the platform also offers integration with Google Contacts, Quickbooks, MailChimp, Hootsuite, and a number of other third party products. Nimble pricing, like its name, is simple and easy, offering one unified Business Plan for $15 per user per month. This also comes with a 14 day free trial and doesn’t require a credit card.
Insightly offers a unique integration of both CRM & project management into one easy to use platform, which it claims is used by over 400,000 small businesses worldwide. This integration is a powerful feature that offers small businesses the ability to stay on top of customer relations while tracking project performance against milestones over time. Insightly offers integrations with Google, Evernote, MailChimp, Quickbooks, and Office 365. Different pricing plans are available depending on the size and needs of your business. The freeware version is for 2 users and the Basic Plan is $12 per user per month.
One noticeable feature about Sage CRM is the classic browser based navigation, which may appeal to more traditional users who want to quickly get comfortable with the software. Sage offers a range of features from basic sales, marketing, and customer support automation that helps businesses close more deals faster with the best ROI. Sage CRM offers a unique feature in its e-marketing campaigns called “waves”. These are a way of grouping activities within a campaign, normally in chronological order, which helps keep precise track of everything. Sage pricing is simple with one price plan, which at $39 per user per month, makes it among the most affordable CRM products on the market.
SugarCRM is a California-based software company that produces the web application Sugar, a customer relationship management (CRM) system that is available in both open-source and commercial open-source applications. This simple, yet powerful CRM provides a useful way to integrate sales, marketing, and employee tracking functionalities under one roof. The base plan offers a robust set of features – sales automation and forecasting, lead management, unlimited customizations, call-center automation, reporting, and unlimited online support. SugarCRM pricing is competitive: Sugar Professional is $40 per user/month, Sugar Enterprise is $65, while the Ultimate plan costs $150 per user/month.
Capsule is a CMR solution that seeks to make customer relationship management as simple as possible. Capsule does so by offering 6 key options for running your business – managing relationships, organizing emails, managing the sales pipeline, saving contact histories, arranging and performing task management and completing customization. From a small business standpoint, Capsule has a lot going for it – the application is easy to use, competitively priced, and integrates well with Google Apps and other 3rd party applications such as MailChimp for large bulk emails. Like its platform, Capsule’s pricing is easy to – a freeware version is available for up to 2 users and a professional version is only $12/month, per user.