As a business, there are many advantages of investing in a CRM system. It allows you to follow up with quality leads, engages prospects in an efficient manner and saves time by automating many of these tedious processes and this invariably results in shorter sales cycles and improved win rates. Moreover, with a system in place, you can identify customer buying patterns and identify potential upsell opportunities. CRM also integrates with accounting software’s as well as other solutions and this end to end automation is one of the key reasons why every business should invest in a CRM.

However, many startups these days look at the initial cost of setting up a CRM system and that price tag frightens most of them. Having said that, most startups resort to Excel spreadsheets, mass business cards, shared email folders, calendars etc. to store customer data as it is a much cheaper option. All these tools do work but they lack the powerful enablers that comes with a CRM solution and in the long run, it makes it tedious to manage large customer base which stunts meaningful business growth. Here are a few options that you could begin with if you have a zero budget but would love to deploy a CRM solution.

Compile a mandatory wish list and then seek for an online demo and CRM provider consultation

Startups should understand how the various departments within the organisation currently generate, store and retrieve data and identify the pain points of each and every one of those approaches. Another very important factor that startups must take into account is that the driving force of this implementation should be the users themselves i.e. Sales, Marketing and Customer Service and not the IT Department. IT should only play a consultative role and let the users define the requirements and wish list. End of day, it is these users that would be using the system and this system is meant to automate many of their day to day activities. Once all the inputs have been collected, tabulate a check-list of measurable, weighted and prioritised requirements for your software selection which will also act as a benchmark for future analysis of the software’s success.

Once this is done, Have a CRM system walkthrough to give you a head start covering all the modules, features and functions. Also, ask questions related to your specific requirements and if those requirements are standard features available in the system. If they are not, identify the customisation costs with the support agent. Alternatively, you could also explore possible work-arounds in the existing system to address your requirements. We are all used to doing things in a certain way and never be too rigid with this. Ideally, if you were to digitally transform your organisation, then you have got to be open to new ways of doing things through the system.

Look for Affordable Upgrades

A business typically spends around $150 per user per month and this price varies depending on the modules and features that they go for. When estimating the cost of having a CRM system in place, it is important not to be over ambitious and go for the top tier package which would enlist mostly nice to have features. This would invariably blow your budgets, tighten monthly cash flow and have a detrimental effect in the medium to long term. On the other hand, it would be wise to start small and grow your business along with the system. Make incremental changes instead of leaps and digitally transform your organisation in a more effective and proven way.

Check for the cost of upgrade plans to see which one’s are the most affordable CRMs in the market. By doing this analysis, it allows you to continue using the system after the trial period in a manner where you do not feel the financial pinch since this had already been accounted for at the beginning of this engagement.

Consider a cloud-based solution

For many businesses, a cloud-based solution or Software as a Service (SaaS) CRM solution gives them speedy access to more powerful, sophisticated technology, and negates their need to buy support-intensive technologies. Since a SaaS CRM provider already has the solution up-and-running, implementing a cloud based CRM software is much more efficient with shorter implementation time and most often requires a much smaller budget.

Select The Right Features that are aligned to your business goals

Startups usually require support to automate their sales and marketing tasks, to help you do opportunity tracking, social media integration, mobile capabilities and Google Apps integration would definitely be features that you should be looking for.

While considering which CRM provider to work with, bear in mind to select those that offer a wide array of features for free, even on the pre-configuration level. Some of these features like billing, inventory tracking and project management capabilities would surely add value to the business as it provides a holistic platform in a single system.

A sufficient amount of time for user adoption

People resist change. It is a common instinct in the human nature. Reasons can be fear of the unknown, of more work, of unwanted changes in daily tasks and even possibly the thought that the management is now monitoring everything that they do and don’t. So, involve the end-users who will be using the system. Clearly demonstrate to those involved how the new system will benefit them. Ask for user feedback. Be sure to listen to the feedback and incorporate suggestions when appropriate. Most importantly, get the user buy-in.

In order for you to do that, opt for CRM providers offering free trial for up to one year so that you can really spend time exploring the features and literally see it adding value to your business. This one year trial period also allows your whole team to gracefully adopt the new system and somewhere along the way, they would see the tremendous benefit that it brings to their day to day work.

We hope that the above blog did bring some value to the startup community. Thank you for reading this blog of ours. Till we meet again with a new blog post, here’s us wishing all of you a productive week ahead!

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