If you're one of those small agencies I wrote about the other day, then you may have gotten thru life until now without a CRM. It's not hard to do it because you're likely not juggling tons of customers at the same time. And even if you have a lot of them, they may be easy to manage.
I know small teams that have a handful of recurring contracts with clients—that don't need much CRM support—with a handful of new projects and doing some light marketing or customer development at the same time.
But it seems like, out of the blue, these agencies will end up seeing prospects fall thru the cracks. Trust me, I've been there. Someone tells me they want a quote on coaching and months go by. In the end, I know I never circled back, and that's on me.
So what's the best CRM for small teams?
Three reasons to use a CRM
I find that small teams need a CRM for three things:
They need a systematic approach to working with leads or prospects.
The other day I told you about proposal software. Well, who do you send proposals to? You guessed it: leads. A CRM can track the steps and process that gets you from initial form intake all the way to proposal and past it (to closure and cash).
They need to know the history of conversations and connections. When I first implemented a CRM that tapped into my regular email, I was astounded to find that some people had tried to connect via contact forms, emails and even comments. And they were slipping thru. Converting from a conversation-based approach (like email) to a person-based approach helps get the right perspective.
They can help you determine where to focus. Let's be honest, not all leads are equal. To help you focus on the leads with the most potential, CRMs give you the tools to categorize, tag and score your prospects.With lead scoring features, you can rank your prospects by their behavior and interest.
Your CRM options
There are a lot of options for you, and several posts that people have already written about lists of CRMs and their features. Here are a few of them:
I put those there in case you want more data and research than you'll get from my opinions below.
I use and highly recommend ConvertKit – even though it doesn't look like a typical CRM. It's email marketing software, but gives away a free plan for up to 500 contacts, and you can do more than just tag those customers, you can add custom fields (like a CRM) and then email them. It's my favorite of the free options.
I used to use AgileCRM, but not the free level. As you add more marketing automation, it moves up to $9/user/month. But the free version supports 50,000 contacts, supports lead scoring, and all sorts of deal milestones to help you manage your process.
A lot of folks talk about and like insightly. Again, like AgileCRM, it has more features in the paid plans, but you can manage up to 2500 contacts for up to 2 users for free. It also lets you add at least 2 different custom fields to your records.
HubSpot CRM puts no limits on your users or your contacts. But if you're using it for sales, like most people would, you'll also need HubSpot Sales. The good news is that it's free too. You'll wonder, what's the catch? When you decide you want to turn on the marketing aspects of the platform, the pricing jumps up, based on how many contacts you have—and could cost you anywhere from $200/month to 10 times that.
It is email system, marketing automation, and CRM all wrapped up into one—at price points way under HubSpot. For up to 5,000 contacts, the price for a small team is $115/month (its pricing is based on contacts, not users). It's pricier than the rest, but does more than the rest. I use it today.
Starting at $12/user, this system is particularly well-suited to small teams that manage and track deals thru the… wait for it… pipeline. I've used it with 3 and 4-person sales teams and found it to do the job quite well. I really like it.
If you dig Trello, then this may be a great way for a small team to manage its CRM needs. It's $19/user but like many others in the paid class, has no limits on leads – which is nice. That pricing is for a team of 5 or less, which should work fine for a small team.
What are you using?
If you're starting the process and want to talk about how I do my lead scoring, hit me up. Also, I would love to know if you're using a CRM and what you're using, if your team has one in place. Let me know!