4 questions small businesses need to ask before choosing a CRM

Ben Goldstein
VP of Marketing, Nutshell
Ben Goldstein
VP of Marketing, Nutshell

To find the best CRM solution for your company, you have to understand how your business actually works.

Nutshell CEO Joe Malcoun recently appeared on the Xero Gravity podcast to explain why it’s critical for small businesses to do an inventory of their needs before choosing a CRM. Here are four questions that Joe recommends asking at the beginning of your CRM search.

1. How do you communicate?

According to Joe, your first step should be to sit down with anyone in your company who interacts with customers, partners, and other outside parties, and understand their channels for communication.

“It’s really important to step back and think about how you relate to your customers,” Joe explains. “Is it by e-mail? Is it by chat? Is it by phone call? [Does your team] go to a lot of events every year and collect names that way? How are they finding customers, and how do they turn those people into a lead and a process?”

Having this basic information is necessary to finding a CRM tool that fits your specific needs. “The way you should approach it is more about your business style and your business model, not how fast are you growing or how many people you have,” Joe adds.

Listen to Joe Malcoun on Xero Gravity episode 46: Cracking the CRM code

2. What is your sales roadmap?

Now that you know where your communication data will be coming from, you have to figure out how your sales reps are moving people through a process to become customers. If you’ve never mapped out your sales process before, Joe recommends the big picture approach.

“Sit down and try to outline your sales process, starting at a really high level,” he says. “What is the last thing that happens and what is the first thing that happens? Then, just fill in the blanks in between.”

In the end, you’ll have a roadmap for what your sales process might look like—and choosing a CRM that can support that roadmap should be a top priority.

3. How can you replicate the best habits of your sales team?

Small business CRM software can automate many of the sales activities that drive results for your team, and remove a lot of the guesswork for less-experienced sales reps. Again, Joe suggests that understanding your team will put you on the right path.

“Go talk to your most experienced, most successful salespeople, and find out the individual steps that they’re taking on a day-to-day basis to be successful,” Joe says. “Those are the steps that you want to institutionalize. Those are the things you want to be able to share with the rest of your team and replicate when a new person comes on board.”

Related: Small business guide to choosing the best CRM system for your team

4. Do you enjoy using the software?

If sales reps don’t like the CRM, they won’t use it, and you’ll wind up wasting money—so make sure you prioritize ease of use and an intuitive interface when evaluating CRM options.

“You have to enjoy the software,” Joe says. “If you don’t enjoy the way it looks and feels, and the way that you interact with it, you’re not going to use it. And then that becomes a burden that hangs over your head, because you’ve paid for this solution and you know you’re not using it.”

Once you’ve answered these four questions, you’ll be ready to find a CRM that checks all the boxes for your company.

“Take all your information and insight and map it against the products that you’re looking at,” Joe says. “Does the CRM enable you to get to the level of detail that you require? Does it enable you to measure the important metrics that you need? Understanding how you get information in, what your sales process looks like, and the types of measurements you need at the other end will help you determine the CRM product that’s best for you.”

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