Business – Finding a CRM System for a small business

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Well, one of my newest hats in the business experiment has been marketing.  If you’ve ready any of my previous posts, I’m sure you’ve figured out, it’s a work in progress.  Ha ha ha.  Short story if you’re new to my stuff, is that I’m engineer trying to run a business.  I have a partner, the problem is, he’s an engineer too.  So, I’m doing my best to learn how to market all this hard work I’ve done.  Now that there are two of us, it’s getting more and more important that we are on the same page.  We each have some email lists, and we “try” to keep eachother in the loop of what we’re doing, but it can be challenging.  So I’m thinking it might be time to start looking at a CRM system we can use.  The trick is finding a CRM system for a small business that gives us what we need, without too much fluff or too much cost.

Now, why on earth would I want another system to add to my workload?  Because marketing is the heart of our business.  If we can’t get the word out about how good our stuff is, well, then our business is doomed.  So it’s time to focusing the effort it deserves.  Now, I’ve got an access database of contacts that email on a semi-regular basis, and I have some opt-in contacts on MailChimp.  My partner, Mike, has the list from our manufacturing conference, as well his previous contacts.  So the challenge is how do we merge all this stuff together, and still maintain some segregation?

It seems like CRM is the answer.  But which one?  I’ve started doing some preliminary research, but then I realized, I first better figure out what I need to do with it.  The web based CRM programs can be free, $12/month/user (or more)…  so what is it worth…  and can the free version do what we need without limiting us.  So, what do I need it to do:

  1.  Import all of my current contacts.
    1. We need to keep them grouped by module/focus
    2. Consultant vs. prospect (customer vs. 2nd customer)
    3.  where we found them, etc.  conference/e-course/purchased list/colleague or customer.
    4. Prospect vs. partner
    5. Need to pull them in from excel, access & Mailchimp
    6. Need to keep track of our interactions with our contacts
      1. When is the last time they were emailed.

i.      What did we email them about?  E-course, specific product? Certification, etc.

  1. Have they ever responded to us
  2. Need to keep track of our customers
    1. Pretty easy right now, since we only have 1…  but that will change J
    2. What have they bought, what can we probably sell them
    3. Email Campaigns
      1. Integration with MailChimp

i.      Since I’m already using this, and have formats setup, this would be nice to have feature

  1. Built in features of its own to send professional emails to our contacts
  2. Metrics for those campaigns, including opens/clicks/responses etc.

i.      Mailchimp has this, but it would be nice to have everything in a single location.

  1. Needs to be on-line/accessable so both of us can enter in our data
  2. Reminders/tasks – options
    1. Nice to have a task list to email customers every 2 weeks

Now, those are the things I can think of off the top of my head.  My friend Jer put me on this path and originally suggested SugarCRM.  While it’s nice, it’s more expensive and probably more functionality than a 2 man show needs.  So, here’s my initial list that I’m going to inspect.  I’ll give you the pro’s and cons once I start playing with each one.  In the meantime, let me know if there’s anything else I should be factoring into my choice.  Especially, if I have any marketing guru’s out there J

  • SugarCRM
  • Xero
  • Capsule
  • FreeCRM
  • Any others you’d recommend???

As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to any feedback or ideas.


As always, thanks for reading and don't forget to check out our SAP Service Management Products at my other company JaveLLin Solutions,

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