Guide: What's the Best CRM for Your Sales Team

This is a writing sample from Scripted writer Puranjay Singh

Small businesses have very particular customer relations management (CRM) needs.

Most small businesses do not have the dedicated IT staff required to run and maintain an enterprise-grade CRM solution. Some are just starting out and need to keep costs to a minimum, while others are in a massive growth phase and need a solution that can scale with them. Below, we'll take a look at four different CRM solutions and how they fit into your particular needs.

You Are: Bootstrapped Startup

As a young, bootstrapped startup, staying lean is crucial to your success. Until you become "ramen profitable" -- or land VC funding -- you must strive to constantly keep expenses to a minimum. This usually means finding creative alternatives to expensive software and solutions. Your CRM needs are entirely different from established businesses. Your client list is small and your staff consists of just you and your co-founder. Ease of use is crucial to you since you'd much rather be coding and growth hacking than learning a new software.You Need: Microsoft Excel.As a startup founder, you are already familiar with Excel. In fact, you use it every day to track revenue, traffic and conversions. With a little improvisation, you can easily turn it into a competent CRM -- competent enough for your needs at least. Key Advantages:
- Easy to setup. Doesn't require additional IT staff or infrastructure.
- Easy to learn. Most basic functions can be picked up within a day.
- Cost-effective. You can get Office for a one-time fee.
- Availability. With Office 365, you can access your spreadsheets from anywhere.

You Are: Fast Growing, VC-Funded Startup

You've just landed a big funding round and you're looking to unlock "hockey stick" growth. You need a CRM that can scale with you and won't require a dedicated team to run. You also want a solution that is inexpensive, yet capable enough to help you compete against much bigger competitors.You Need: Workbooks.Workbooks is a more user-friendly alternative to Salesforce that doesn't sacrifice on features. Since Workbooks is a startup itself, it understands the needs of VC-funded startups perfectly. Key Advantages:
- Friendly UI. Workbooks eschews feature-fatigue in favor of a friendly, ease to use UI. This translates to a better user experience and gentler learning curve.
- Cost-effective. Workbooks offers free accounts for up to two users - perfect for startups that want to test the waters before taking the plunge.
- Flexible. Workbooks CRM can accommodate virtually any business process.

You Are: Small Lifestyle Business with Steady Growth

Your lifestyle business has witnessed steady growth for years. Now you want to take things a notch further by using a smart CRM system to automate some sales tasks. As a lifestyle business, ease of setup and use are crucial to you; you don't have the expertise or the time to invest in learning a complicated new software.You Need: Nimble.The Nimble CRM was built from the ground-up to be easy to use. It works exceptionally well for small businesses that have a large volume of social media contacts and need to automate marketing and sales tasks. Key Advantages:
- User-Friendly. Nimble boasts one of the best UI in the CRM space.
- Automation. Nimble automates a number of tasks by automatically importing your contacts list from Gmail, populating your today field and telling you who to get in touch with.
- Cost-effective. Nimble offers a simple, no-fuss $15 per user per month pricing structure.

You Are: Small Business Ready to Leap to Mid-Cap Firm

After years of hard work, your business is finally inching towards that vaunted INC 500 list. You now operate at a national scale and compete against Fortune 500 companies. Although you already have a CRM in place, you find its performance a little underwhelming given the volume of your clients and the quality of your competition. Essentially, you now need a CRM that will help you accelerate growth and win against bigger competitors. Features are a priority, but so is ease of use - you can't have an entire department dedicated to running the CRM yet. You also want something that is customizable and cost-effective in the long run as you shore up resources to go national.You Need: Salesnet.Salesnet is meant for small to medium-sized businesses that want a highly customizable solution for their particular business needs. What it might lack in user-friendliness it more than makes up in its flexibility and robustness. Key Advantages:
- Highly customizable. Salesnet can be completely customized to fit any business process.
- Easy setup. Salesnet is hosted in the cloud, which means you don't need a dedicated IT staff to implement it.
- Customer support. Salesnet provides top-notch support to help businesses transition to the platform.
Every CRM is different and every business has different needs. You may have to go through a trial and error phase before you find the CRM that fits your requirements perfectly. Use this as a starting guide, but feel free to explore other alternatives as well. Photo Credit: DRI - Discovery/Reinvention/Integration/ via Flickr.

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