• Tristan

CRMs: Which one is right for you?

How to determine which CRM is right for your business

When speaking with my clients about which CRM they should go for, I always start by defining the CRM as the brain of the business. It’s a stored memory bank of all their customers and the interactions you have with them. It’s your main tool for driving engagements with prospective and existing customers. It’s the centralised system for tracking, monitoring and learning from your sales and marketing campaigns and processes.

The importance of choosing the right CRM and building effective processes and tools around it cannot be overlooked when you are looking to scale a business. Not only is the right CRM vital, but so is getting buy-in from all internal stakeholders to use it correctly. A centralised brain missing inputs is about as useful as Trump in the White House (you’ll get by, but it’s detrimental to everyone in the long run).

When I speak to my newer clients about which CRM might be right for them, there are a few factors that need considering. Below I list a few of the main points to think about:

Sales or marketing focus?

Most B2B businesses will have some sort of sales function, and this is a core consideration when choosing your CRM system, and rules out some options straight away.

You’ll need a CRM with either built-in calling functionality, or the ability to work with 3rd party calling software. If you have a team making lots of outbound calls, research whether the CRM links up with systems like close.io or Reply.io.

It’s also important to consider the Pipeline Management System in the CRM, for sales-focused businesses, this is a core way of tracking and closing opportunities. In my humble opinion Pipedrive have nailed their pipeline system, with super-easy to identify triggers on deals that need attention.

For eCommerce businesses, it’s likely you’ll be marketing focused, and will need a CRM that integrates neatly with your site to pull in customer demographic and behavioural info, then you’ll need the ability to market to them automatically across the customers lifetime. ActiveCampaign is a great option for sites built in Wordpress, or eCommerce sites built in WooCommerce, Shopify or Square.

If you find yourself somewhere in between the sales and marketing realms, options like HubSpot, FreshSales or Salesforce are worth considering. They are, what I'd classify as, all-in-one CRM systems that offer a large array of in-build sales & marketing tools as add-ons.

Functionality vs. Pricing

Budget is always a consideration with these core, potentially expensive systems. As it is such a well-used software it is one that’s worth being relatively liberal with your budget to get the functionality and process you needs to be engage and close prospects and re-engage customers.

Budget for CRM is often a function of your business’ size, or fundraising stage.

If spending high £100’s seems out of reach, FreshSales is a great option as it includes many core CRM and automation functions within its lower pricing bracket, and is paid per user (meaning you can get more functionality for you £ if you have a smaller team).

Furthermore, functionality is (of course!) key to how you go about choosing the right CRM for your business. If one of your key channels to market is email marketing, make sure the CRM has the best email marketing functionality (or integrates with a tool that does).


As a CRM and Sales Automation consultant, of course I’m going to have automation capability in the list of considerations. No doubt, it is worth considering, as it saves your team time and improves the data accuracy in your CRM.

Workflows are a CRM’s core way of automating processes (eg: when X happens update/do Y). Some CRMs restrict access to Workflows in their lower packages, whilst other CRMs revoke access entirely (in HubSpot you have to be on the £600/m Pro package).

Integrate with existing infrastructure

If you already have ingrained processes and a large team, who’ll regularly interact with the CRM, this one will be a major consideration – unless you don’t mind re-designing your sales and marketing processes to fit around the new CRM! If your organisation currently uses Gmail and other Google products it's definitely worth checking out Copper.

Research if the tools you use integrate directly with the CRM, or if there is a workaround integration with the likes of Zapier or Integromat. Obviously, this will impact on the total cost of your CRM processes, so remember to keep this in mind when committing to one (Zapier Tasks quickly build up).

To round off…

Of course, there are more considerations, way more. But as a starting point I’ve identified these ones as absolutely key.

So, make sure you don’t have Trump as your business’ brain. Think through these points and give me a bell for any free advice.

[For disclosure I’m a Partner at some of the CRMs mentioned within this post, so some of the links will credit me with a small referral fee if you end up signing up.]

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