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Q&A: What Are the Most Important CRM Features for Small Businesses?

a picture of Andrew Friedenthal CRM market analyst

Is your small business overestimating its CRM needs? What are the most important CRM features for first-time users?

Recently Andrew Friedenthal, CRM market analyst for the technology comparison company Software Advice, released a new report which examined 200 in-depth conversations with SMBs over the last year to identify the top trends among CRM buyers.

Some of the key findings were that CRM systems are now offering more features and functionalities than ever before. Businesses with specific needs such as manufacturing or real estate are turning to CRM software, many times from pen and paper.

We had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Friedenthal to learn a little more about what his research uncovered.

Photo via @AJFriedenthal

NUTSHELL: Why are first-time SMB buyers overestimating their CRM software needs?

Andrew Friedenthal: Since these buyers are generally unfamiliar with CRM software in the first place, when they hear about the variety of functions potentially available to them they get very excited. However, they may have a tendency to get over-excited.

Most SMBs are—at first—just looking for contact management and the ability to track interactions, and those other features, though they sound nice, can end up not getting used for quite some time, if ever.

What are the top three features SMBs are requesting within their CRM software?

The top feature they are requesting is the basic bread-and-butter of CRM software—contact management. An accessible, constantly updated contact database software system of customer/client/contact information is vital to a growing company.

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Related to this are two other key features: tracking interactions (so that there is more than just basic contact information attached to each person) and greater automation (so that reminders are automatically set/attached to particular actions to ensure that the correct follow-up action is taken in the future).

Is basic CRM functionality ideal for first-time user SMBs?

Absolutely. First-time SMB users should focus on the contact management side of CRM, getting in place a database of information that can be accessed by people across the company. Once they have that set, they should look into expanding their CRM functionality into areas that will be of benefit to them, like analytics/reporting or email marketing, but it’s best to get the basics under wraps first.

What is driving manufacturing businesses towards CRM?

As the CRM market matures, it is also beginning to diversify. Whereas specialized manufacturing businesses may not have been well-served by first-generation, sales-focused CRM systems, newer software options are much more focused on the needs of these specific business segments.

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In what ways can SMBs benefit from intuitive and automated CRM for small business?

Since most SMBs are first-time CRM users, the easier and more intuitive the system is to use, the better. A CRM system is there to ease workflow and automate an already extant sales process, not to confuse people further. More complex systems are better for bigger businesses, particularly those with IT departments.

Related: 9 reasons why sales reps quit their CRMs

If you’re interested in learning more about these key findings, as well as some critical takeaways and next steps regarding CRM for small business solutions, check out the full report from Andrew Friedenthal, the CRM market analyst for the contact management consultancy Software Advice.


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