CRM a Must for Business
CRM = Customer Relationship Management. That the customers are the Backbone of every Business is an given. Yet how many Businesses use a proper CRM tool to make sure that they are managing the relationships the way they should.
Most of the Businesses have some sort of a tool that they use, back in the day we used to have what was a Rolodex, a Visiting card sized rotary stand on the Table where we would keep the visiting card of the contact and then either at the back of the card or on small strips of paper record all the information that we wanted to.
Some Businesses had a Ledger where every interaction with a customer was recorded. These were the tools that served us well at that time, however with the chaninging time a lot of companies moved away from the Ledgers and Rolodexes but never adopted a more Modern Tool and got lost somewhere in between.
CRM tools are a big business and naturally come with a cost too, but only when they are developed for big corporations who would like to have these deployed on-site ir on their own servers, but for vast majority of small to medium Businesses out there, a cloud solution on SAAS model (Software as a Service) is good enough. Here are my List of Tools which work very well for a vast majority of Industries and users.
Free doesn’t have to mean bad. There are free solutions out there which work very well and offer you excellent options. for all our Businesses we start with Hubspot, which happens to be my free CRM of choice and one which I have recommended to over 50 Businesses.
Amongst the Free one’s this is a tool that we love to use, the Sign up process is pretty straight forward. If you use Gmail or Gsuite it allows you to sign up and subsequentkly sign in using Sign in with Google. If you use an IMAP Service or self hosted email or Microsoft Exchange then you need to sign up using your email address.
Setting it up is pretty straight forward and if you spend sometime with the system you would realize that even the basic free version is highly customisable. The User Interface is visually appealing and intuitive and there is a lot you can do with it. First thing that OI recommend everyone who is signing up is to configure your emails in the system, Once again for Gmail/Gsuite it is pretty straight forward, Microsoft exchnage and IMAP can also be done in no time.
The Free version lets you create upto 1 Million Customer records and unlimited usees. They also offer a very generous Marketing Stack for free. In my opinion it is one of the most generous offerings from any CRM.
Add to this the fact that after you have integrated your email all incoming emails start creating customer records and you have the ability to email from within the Platform and these emails are tracked as well which means you get to know if these have been opened and read or not, something which can help you decide your next course of action.
You could Google Hubspot or visit it here
Zoho is another CRM company which has a Free tier, but their free tier is pretty basic and limited. First and foremost they only give you 3 Users and 5000 Customer records, add to this that the CRM comes with a steep learning curve, more so than the Hubspot one. The User Interface looks clunky and Outdated. We have used it on behalf of one of our clients but did not feelm very comfortable with it. Would I recommend it. NO go with Hubspot.
Want to still give it a try. Click here
Agile is a slightly more polished version of Zoho and is free for upto 10 users but in the free version it allows you only 1000 Contacts. The User Interface is decent and with a bit of learning curve you can navigate your way through the system. However they do not offer email Integration like Hubspot does. although they do mention under the sales pitch that 2 way email integration is available in free plan, but under the details section it doesnt say so.
On Pricing overview it says 50,000 Contact and Companies but if you fo the detailed pricing view it says 1000 Contacts and companies.
They do offer a good marketing plan with ability to send 5 emails a month to your 1000 customers i.e. a total of 5000 emails.
They are not a bad platform, I did sign up at one time for Agile CRM but then found better solutions and have not returned to them since.
Access AGILE CRM here
Another Interesting one here is Freshworks, though a relative new comer to the scene they have done extremely well in the CRM space. They also offer a free plan with unlimted users and contacts. We have used them and foundthem to be good but the offerings of Hubspot are far better under the free plan.
Under Paid tools there are a Plethora of Choices including the most well known solution called Salesforce. If you are not interested in the host of choices offered by Salesforce then there are simpler ones as well which do the trick. For all Sales people out there one of the best ones that I have ever used is called Salesflare.
With an ability to automatically create contacts from your emails once the email has been connected. It works like a charm. It also pulls all the information from Social Media and buils a complete 360 degree profile for your contacts.
Pipedrive is another great Tool which we have used and tested and if you are running more complex workflows it would be ideal.
You need to figure out what you need from a CRM Tool. For us we definitely need an Option to integrate our email and makesure that all interactions are recorded with our customers and balance it with a Free tool (Hubspot) and Paid tool Salesflare.
CRM streamlines your entire operation
With all the data recorded in the CRM tool including all your interactions whether over phone or email, it becomes easy for you to figure out who your best customers are.
By Setting up the deal stages as per your Business you know exactly at what stage each Customer is and when a slight push would help in closure of a deal. By setting up automation you can trigger actions which can further enhance your Business.
Visualize a Scenario, Once a lead becomes a Customer you may wish to push the contact details to your marketing tool so that they can receive your Newletter or updates on regular basis which can help you get more sales from the same customers, true you could do so manually and a customer or two may slip through the crack or you could automate it and be a 100% sure that it would always happen.
You may define a workflow which updates a Senior manager automatically when a high value deal is created or is moving through the stages so that the right resources can be made available to the Sales Team.
CRM brings about Transperency (unless due to high churn rate you may want to avoid it) and this can not only empower your teams by giving them proper processes but also by letting them know what part each one plays during the customer journey.