All-out Handbook on The Best CRM for Startups
Startups are driven by the idea of creating the next 'big thing'. Something that will change the world for the better. Something that will make a shift in the users' minds.
But it takes more than sheer ambition and a huge idea to build a successful startup. Leading the startup to success also involves overcoming hurdles, juggling non-linear tasks, and much more. That's why founders consider using the best CRM for startups to stay agile and ensure better coordination.
In this guide, you will learn how your startup may benefit from a robust CRM solution. You'll also grasp how to pick the most suitable CRM software for your business. But that's not all. We've also reviewed the top 10 CRM tools that are particularly applicable for a scalable business.
Benefits & Challenges of Using CRM for Startups
Launching a startup is not always easy. Abdo Riani, a Forbe's senior contributor, lists at least five key challenges of starting a new business:
- Limited resources
- Lack of experience in managing processes and teams
- The idea itself
- Bringing the right talents to the team
- Attracting customers
The Embroker's statistical digest proves the ideas expressed by Abdo Riani. The data collected from various sources suggest that only half of startups survive. Nearly 14% of newly established businesses fail to communicate effectively with their customers and flop because of it.
How do you like that – losing all the plans and startup preparations because there is no contact with customers?
Luckily, there is an effective solution that works like a charm – CRM for startup companies.
Merits of CRM Tools for Entrepreneurs
The mission of a CRM system is to help businesses thrive by building stronger and deeper relationships with their customers. But, of course, there is much more in a CRM than that.
Better Customer Data Management
In the customer-oriented business world, effective customer data management is the cornerstone of healthy relationships with leads.
The best CRM system for startups allows switching from hard-to-manage spreadsheets to a more advanced system that enables getting more insights into your audience and the best ways to reach them.
The lack of organization and proper planning is one of the hurdles every startup can struggle with. Even though the primary goal of CRM is to optimize the company's communication with leads, it is still apt to improve the organization of workflows.
A CRM offers a centralized place for arranging communication with leads, so the team doesn't have to switch between different apps or communication channels. Moreover, there is always an option of creating tickets for sales or support reps so that each lead request gets a qualified response.
Additionally, the best CRM for business development also features reminders, smart calendars, dashboards, visualized reports, and more, so every piece of information is easily accessible.
Even though startups might not have dozens of people on board to work for the sake of the company's development, better collaboration, even between a handful of staff members, can make a dramatic difference in the way your team interacts with customers.
With a CRM, every team member will have access to real-time information about the customer, assigned tasks, etc. This will facilitate the issue resolution process and increase customer satisfaction rates.
Smart Use of Limited Resources
As you are launching a startup, you might not have all the money in the world to invest in the promotion of your idea. You may be restricted by the number of employees as well.
CRM solutions will enable you to maximize the potential of available resources. First, they usually have fixed and predictable fees, so you will always know how much you will pay.
Second, your staff will deal with their day-to-day tasks much more easily thanks to workflow automation. In this way, they will do less monotonous work and have more time to focus on value-added activities.
Challenges You May Face When Using CRM for Startups
Despite the major perks of using a CRM, startups may find it quite challenging to make this solution fit their tech environment.
One of the issues can be associated with the fee. While there are cheap CRM for startups, more sophisticated tools can cost a fortune.
But that's not where the problem ends. Many off-the-rack CRM platforms are packed with a specific set of features, and there is no way you can add or remove the predefined functionality. In some cases, you might lack some tools (like custom reporting, social media management, and integrations). Or, on the contrary, redundant tools will make the use of your CRM nearly unbearable.
Moreover, the CRM implementation process can be somewhat cumbersome. Many tools require advanced customization, which involves experience in deploying the particular CRM tool. As a result, you will need to outsource this service to a third-party service provider like Ergonized. Our CRM experts specialize in a wide range of CRM solutions, so we will help you smoothly integrate the new software into your environment.
How to Choose the Best CRM for Entrepreneurs and Startups
CRM software comes in different shapes and sizes. So, we will show you how to find the one that will meet your startup's objectives and help you scale your business faster than ever.
Sought-After CRM Features for Startups
Picking the best CRM for small companies and startups can be daunting because there are so many options out there. However, there are some common features inherent to almost all CRM tools.
|Customer Database||The customer database stores information about every lead in the centralized repository. It may include customer names, contact information, purchase history, interests, and other information that might be relevant to the company.|
|Interaction Tracking||With this feature, every startup can track its interaction with customers. This involves communication through multiple channels (emails, calls, social media, live meetings, etc.), but the information is synced in one place. It can also contain staff comments and recommendations.|
|Workflow Automation||The CRM will reduce the employees' time required for performing certain activities and decrease the number of human errors by automating monotonous day-to-day activities. You can automatically send newsletters or reminders about the upcoming meeting, automate the reporting process, and much more.|
|Reporting & Analytics||Most CRMs deliver great reporting tools that visualize statistical data in a more easy-to-read manner. You may track sales activity or the engagement level as well as some real-time metrics via the dashboard.|
|Integrations||It's hard to find a CRM that will cover all business processes, so you may want it seamlessly integrated with other instruments in your stack like ERP, SCM, or project management software like Trello, Jira, or marketplaces.|
But the use of a CRM is not limited to these features only. You may find more advanced CRMs that have:
- Social media management - to communicate with customers via social media channels
- Marketing management - to control email or event marketing and nurture leads
- Sales forecasting - to see more sales opportunities and have a better understanding of future revenue
- Custom reporting - to be able to check the metrics that might be irrelevant for other companies but are essential for your particular business
- Multiple pipeline management - to easily manage multiple phases of the sales process
- Marketing campaign management - to control advertising campaigns your startup can run on Facebook, Google Ads, and other platforms
- Power dialer - to let your sales reps create lists of phone numbers so that they can reach them much faster in just one click
- Lead generation - to bring more leads into your business through custom websites and other instruments
- Help desk - to provide a support team with the tools for managing customers' requests (may contain knowledge management tools, chatbots, and self-service solutions).
CRM Deployment and Purchasing Options for Startups
A broad majority of CRM tools are cloud-based SaaS solutions. It means that the software is hosted remotely on the vendor's side rather than on the user's servers.
This deployment method has significant benefits over traditional on-site implementation:
- Cost-effectiveness - you do not have to purchase servers and other hardware, pay the bills for the electricity, etc. You pay a fixed fee (usually per user), which is advantageous for a startup with a small team
- Simple implementation - a browser and an Internet connection are all you need to be up and running with the cloud-based CRM (some might require configuration and customization though)
- Easy maintenance - in fact, the CRM's vendor will be responsible for the maintenance of the app (updates, bug fixes, new feature releases, etc.)
- A responsive app that works anywhere - most cloud-based CRMs have both in-browser and responsive mobile versions to ensure a seamless working experience, no matter where you are
You may also come across custom CRMs, which are mainly deployed on-premise and are designed for a particular organization. But this solution might not be the best match for a startup as it is rather costly. However, you can switch from the ready-made CRM to a custom CRM for better performance when your business scales.
There is an overwhelming number of pricing methods when it comes to purchasing options.
|A single set of features, a single fee for all users.||The more services and features you use, the more you pay.||Different packages of features come at various price points.|
|A fixed fee for every single user.||Every extra feature or add-on will increase the fee.||No fees for a certain number of users, contacts, or deals, are granted monthly.|
CRM Implementation Steps
Even the best CRM for small teams and startups won't communicate with your customers on your behalf. So, you've got to be certain you smoothly integrate it into the team's workflows.
- Assess how your team gets the job done without a CRM. Pinpoint all the processes that could be migrated to a CRM tool.
- Layout a CRM implementation timeline that includes the essential points and the deadline. Here are a few examples:
- Collecting all the customer-related data from multiple courses (spreadsheets, a legacy CRM, other apps, etc.)
- Migrating the data to the CRM
- Customizing the CRM (roles, customer forms, dashboard, pipeline stages, templates.)
- Integrating the software you are already using with the chosen CRM.
- Some CRM solutions might be hard to configure at the outset, so you may need to find a reliable expert for smoothly implementing the new tool. Ergonized is always ready to set up even the most sophisticated CRM and make it flawlessly fit into your team's working routine.
- Train your staff if needed. This will ensure all the CRM features bring maximum value to your startup.
- Issue general guidelines for filling in this or that form, logging activities, etc.
Overview of 10 Best CRM Tools for Startups
Salesforce is the most comprehensive CRM solution for the needs of a startup at both the initial stage and the enterprise level.
Salesforce offers the Essentials plan designed especially for startups and small businesses. It entails sales and customer support software in one tool. It's easy to set up and will enable tracking customer information, responding to clients faster and easier across various channels, keeping the customer data accurate, getting a better idea of the state of business through custom reports, and syncing apps you already use.
The monthly fee is $25 per user (if billed annually). There is also a free trial, so you can check whether Salesforce Essentials is the right choice for your startup. To get wider functionality and better customization opportunities Ergonized CRM consultants recommend paying attention to Salesforce Enterprise.
Why it's for you
If you are looking for the best sales CRM for startups, Salesforce is just what you need.
Zoho CRM is a robust solution for converting more leads and building healthy relationships with customers.
Zoho has won a reputation as a reliable CRM solution for any business size, including startups. Just like almost any CRM, Zoho’s range of features depends on the package you choose.
The free plan allows you to add three users. Your team will be able to manage leads, and deals, set advanced filters, customize the page, create workflow rules for automation, generate standard reports, and manage social media. More advanced plans include AI marketing tools, custom dashboards and reports, chatbots, schedules, and multiple pipelines.
Why it's for you
Zoho CRM will support your startup’s desire to streamline communication with your customers by giving you access to basic CRM features for free.
EngageBay is a great solution for startups that covers all facets of customer communication in one tool.
It features marketing, sales, and support instruments to ensure your team can tackle the daily communicative tasks with ease. EngageBay allows you to manage contacts, get a 360° view of your customers, manage email campaigns and carry A/B testing, schedule appointments, create a landing page for generating new leads, and much more.
Another pleasant bonus – EngageBay is free for 15 users, making it the best free CRM for startups. You get the essential capabilities to grow your business free of charge.
Why it's for you
If you are looking for a free CRM for startups that would include all the tools for scaling your business, EngageBay is a bargain.
HubSpot is an all-in-one platform for managing customer communication, marketing, sales, customer service, content, and operations.
If you are looking solely for a CRM solution, the whole package of HubSpot modules can be overwhelming for your team. But you can start with the free tools, which are just right to help your startup grow. You will be offered a contact management tool, see what every contact is doing on your website page, manage deals, track tasks and activities, integrate the CRM with popular marketplaces, create forms for collecting customer details, and much more.
If you think you are ready to invest in a CRM system, you can go with a single HubSpot Hub (marketing, sales, customer service, CMS, or operations) solution.
There are also ready-made or custom bundles that allow you to integrate multiple hubs into one app.
Why it's for you
HubSpot is a sound solution for startups that do not accept failures and are ready to turn their business into something more powerful.
OneHash CRM is a scalable app for small businesses and startups looking for an affordable solution for managing communication with their customers.
When you choose OneHash, you can start with the CRM app and then advance its features to a complete business management system. The CRM software will help you manage leads and deals from one platform, use filters to group leads, and configure reports to view the business aspects that matter to you.
You can get lifetime access to all OneClick apps (CRM, HCM for managing staff, project, desk, and ERP) for unlimited users for $397 (billed only once). Or you can settle on a monthly payment - of $99 for unlimited users.
Why it's for you
If you would like to invest in a CRM app once and get more than just a customer relationship management tool, the OneHash seems like a good call.
Close is a startup-friendly CRM solution that can help turn leads into customers more quickly and easily.
This sales CRM for startups is designed for remote sales teams to reach more people and sell more in less time by automating workflows. Close enables you to create custom pipelines, and reach leads via phone, emails, SMS, and video calls. Set up powerful email sequences that drive revenue, coach your sales to close the deals faster with an in-built coaching system, and track the KPI of every sales rep, all with one Close app.
Close is not a free CRM app, but it's still affordable for startups who plan to add three users ($29 per month per user).
Why it's for you
Close is a good starter CRM for sales teams who would like to boost revenue by implementing an easy-to-use CRM solution.
Pipedrive is a decent CRM solution for startups that allows streamlining workflows and increasing sales by optimizing communication with leads.
It syncs sales software and email marketing software and integrates 250+ apps to maximize your team's effort. With this app, you can track deals, manage contacts, send emails, and track your performance through visualized metrics.
Pipedrive is not free, but its Essential plan is only $14.29 per month. You can also upgrade it with add-ons to get the functionality your team might lack.
Why it's for you
If you would like to sell more and get better control over the sales processes in your startup, the Pipedrive CRM is a nice choice.
Agile CRM can become a great CRM platform for startups due to its full-featured free plan.
With Agile CRM, your team will seamlessly manage contacts, deals, and tasks. It also allows appointment scheduling, email campaign tracking, 2-way telephony, lead scoring, web engagement tracking, basic reports, and more. You can create custom fields and set custom deal milestones.
A free plan allows adding ten users to start with. Note that it has sales, marketing, service, and extras tools to help you build trusting relationships with your leads.
Why it's for you
Agile CRM is a user-friendly CRM platform that can deliver scalable services based on your needs.
Sugar CRM is an all-in-one sales, marketing, and support CRM platform that can give you a complete view of each interaction with every customer.
With Sugar CRM, you'll get a complete and accurate view of every customer in your database with an ability to predict the efficiency of future interactions. It also syncs customer data from multiple touchpoints and generates reports to let you make more informed decisions. With marketing tools, you'll capture more leads and help your customers get assistance from your qualified team via customer care modules.
Sugar CRM doesn't offer a free solution. The cheapest plan starts at $52 per month per user and is meant to include the tools for rapid startup growth.
Why it's for you
If you have a small team but would like to scale with a CRM that covers every aspect of communication with your customers, the Sugar CRM is certainly a wise choice.
Bitrix24 is a well-rounded CRM solution that makes managing leads, deals, and contacts easier while enhancing collaboration within the company.
With Bitrix24, you can manage leads and contacts, filter them according to your needs, issue quotes and invoices, accept online payments, set rules and triggers, and much more. There are also powerful instruments for better communication like chats and video calls, online meetings, custom email templates, and calendar reminders. Your team will also benefit from the tasks and projects module that allows for organizing and tracking tasks through a user-friendly dashboard.
There is a free plan to meet the needs of your startup. But once you expand your business, you can switch to a more suitable package that can meet your company’s new needs.
Why it's for you
With Bitrix24, you get all you need to make a statement in your industry and build lasting relationships with your customers.
Wrapping It Up
The right CRM will empower your startup and help you overcome the hurdles of communicating with your customers.
If you are still struggling to pick the best CRM for a startup or aren’t sure whether you'll be able to implement one on your own, the Ergonized CRM deployment company is always at your service. We'll evaluate your business model and suggest the most beneficial CRM apps to help you skyrocket your revenue and forge stronger bonds with your customers. Would you like us to put a CRM to work for your startup?
Just reach out to us to arrange an introduction call to learn how we can help.