Biz Tips: How to Choose the Best CRM for a Startup: A Step-by-step Guide

Biz Tips: How to Choose the Best CRM for a Startup: A Step-by-step Guide


How to Choose the Best CRM for a Startup: A Step-by-step Guide

Rapidly growing startups and small businesses are struggling to streamline their daily operations. According to NetHunt research of 400+ companies worldwide, less than 40% of startups use CRM for its main purpose — to keep and manage leads and customer data. Instead, startups rely solely on Excel files, Spreadsheets or other document-based solutions. That may work if the startup has 4–5 leads a week, but the more leads you get, the harder it is to manage them. This negatively impacts the customer experience, ending up with late or no replies, irrelevant follow-ups, and high bounce rates.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how to choose the best CRM for your startup and how to optimize the work routine while staying on the top of the competition.

3 Major Benefits of a CRM for Startups

When starting your business, the first thing you should consider is alignment between your team: even if it’s just a team of three. The best online CRM platform should be able to manage all your business leads and clientele information, while also tracking new sales opportunities and all of your essential business data.

Solidify Client Relationships

CRM is extremely useful when it comes to dealing with customers and potential clients. It gives room for grouping all your communications with prospective clients and sends you follow-up reminders. The best part of CRM is that it gives the full history of communication between the client and the sales manager. CRM synchronizes all the customer information so that anyone from your team could see the leads, the customer, and from there, foster a long-lasting relationship that will increase customer loyalty.

The CRM can be used to maximize the lifetime value of your customer without much work on your end. Having all the customers’ contact information, you can send personalized emails about product/service updates based on the client’s preferences.

Organize Your Sales Data

Using the CRM platform in your startup helps you organize all your customer data and add notes about the needs of each client in their customer record. To get the most from CRM, try to evaluate your existing sales process and its outcome and compare it to your desired objectives. This gap between “expectation” and “reality” could be filled in with CRM.

The major benefits of the CRM for sales are:

  • Keeping records of all your previous conversations and interactions.
  • The option to customize your clients’ contacts into various logical groups that help you tailor follow-ups easily.
  • The CRM contains all the conversation details that are necessary for business owners to manage and foster good relationships with clients.

For example, when you are conducting the product demo or sending outreach emails, you can automatically schedule reminders to follow-up just before the right moment has passed. Moreover, after a sale, you can evaluate the new customer and see the opportunities for cross-selling or upselling. You can set up customer lifecycle email campaigns and educate clients on every stage of their interaction in order to help them get maximum value from your product. Act smart: guide your customers through each stage of the marketing funnel, explaining the benefits of your product/service — all while tailoring your messages according to their interest and responsiveness. It’s harder than putting all the customer records in Mailchimp and doing mass mailing, but it’s totally worth the outcome.


Accelerate Startup Growth and Sales

With the right CRM, a well-planned and thought out startup can never go wrong. The CRM helps to track down the sources of the leads delivering value amidst easily visualizing your business sales pipeline. CRM can boost sales productivity by 34%, giving your sales reps more time to sell.

CRM can positively influence your sales revenue and automate your upselling process: 6 out of 10 customers are more likely to buy based on their good customer experience with the company in the past, while conversion rates with new prospects can stay at 20%. Customer retention is the key to increase the revenue pie: the returning customers cost five times less than the new ones.

Must-have Features to Consider When Choosing the Best CRM for Startups

There are a handful of CRM platforms for startups to choose from and there are peculiarities to take into consideration when selecting the right one for your business. The first thing to note before deciding what CRM to pick is your business requirements. Sound knowledge of what exactly your business requires will help in decision making. We compiled the major factors to be considered when choosing a CRM for your startup:


Your CRM software should be able to evolve with you as your business grows. Otherwise, you’ll need to replace the CRM once you outpace its capabilities. When choosing a CRM, many startups look for “packed-with-features” solutions that they have no clue of how to use. You may think that planning ahead is great and your startup may need all these in the future, but the reality is that you’ll most likely overpay for a CRM you won’t use to the fullest.

The CRM should be flexible enough to adapt to your current business needs and its functionality must grow as your startup does.

Tracking of sales

The CRM should allow you to store contacts, create and work on proposals, collaborate more efficiently and manage relationships, leads, and sales opportunities.
Staying on the same page about customer interactions becomes vital with a rapidly growing startup team. Your sales reps can contact the same customer and while CRM stores all the interaction history, it helps reduce customer frustration and avoid information duplicating. So when your sales buddy goes on vacation, he can easily delegate his clients without explaining the background of each client.

Clients management

CRM is very useful when it comes to managing contacts and accessing their information. The CRM also helps manage the visibility of contacts and their information. i.e., a business owner can limit people that have access to view only certain contacts.

Regular Updates

A good CRM provider regularly updates its products with newly added features or improves on older features based on prior user feedback and or complaints. Technology is evolving fast and a standard CRM should be able to adjust itself to your future needs.

Reporting Capabilities

The chosen CRM should have the ability to create user-friendly, customizable performance reports. Startup owners should be able to build personalized dashboards that shed more light on what’s happening at every stage of the marketing funnel. Aside from the basic pre-made reports, you’ll need to create customized reports with metrics that are most relevant to your business. These metrics include:

  • Sales stage (customized stage of your sales cycle)
  • Type of lead
  • Source of lead ( eg. Email marketing campaign, Google ads, Facebook ads and more)
  • Sales profits, etc.

The ability to dive deeper into your analytics may cost a penny in some CRMs, so be aware when evaluating one.

Visual Pipeline

A pipeline view is basically a breakdown of every single stage in your customer acquisition pipeline. This pipeline view usually shows the number of leads in each stage and gives an option to drill down to certain leads. The CRM should give the business owner the freedom of creating custom stages with respect to their sales cycles and move leads through the funnel as their users are drawing closer to the purchase.

Email Integration

With the email integration, you won’t have to switch between your CRM and email when recapping on interactions with your customers.

84% of startups use Gmail as the primary email for their business. If you’re one of them, consider integrating a Gmail-based CRM. Your prospects info will be visible in your Gmail account, so you can write tailored emails and check all the necessary info about the customer in seconds.

The affordable Gmail-based CRMs for startups include NetHunt CRM Software, Pipedrive, Zoho, Monday, Copper CRM.


Security is a major criterion when selecting a CRM for your business. The CRM permits business owners to have a user activity audit trail that helps keep track of anyone accessing any data or making any unauthorized changes to the platform. It also helps pick up common errors that could be made by users or employees.

Narrowing Your Choice: Integrating a CRM software

When surfing the web for a decent CRM software, you’ll find it hard to choose one among hundreds of different CRM systems. That is way too many options for anyone executing any type of search. But you have to start somewhere.

Today, several directory and software selection sites make this process much easier. Here are some of the better sites to get you started: Software Advice, Capterra, G2 Crowd

Say, you have narrowed it down to just а few CRM systems that fully match your demands. The best option would be to start with а free trial and test them all one bу one. Try not to rush into implementing the first CRM that you like, but rather involve your team in the testing process. Upload some sample data or use real customer information to see which software your team likes the best. This way you’ll bе ablе to make a well-grounded unbiased decision.

We highly recommend that you have several online chats with the CRM support team, schedule а demo with them, or just have а call in case of any questions or issues.

After implementing the CRM and getting customer support all the way through integration, you have to see how it works for your company. The best option is to upload some customer data that you already have. But if you don’t have any or you are not sure if you саn entrust some confidential information to а third party, just use sample data. You саn quickly generate some sample data on the web, for instance, using

Even the most feature-packed CRMs can lose the battle to a simple and intuitive solution that your team loves. There is no perfect all-in-one CRM, despite many providers saying the contrary.
Ask each of the team members directly which software they enjoyed using and which feature they liked the most. Since your startup is bound to grow, it is essential to choose a CRM software that can scale up and down to match your existing startup needs.

Want a more detailed guide? Download the FREE comprehensive e-book on how to choose the perfect CRM.

How to Choose the Best CRM for a Startup: A Step-by-step Guide was originally published in Marketing And Growth Hacking on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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