CRM usage has exploded in recent times, so has online material about it. Say you are looking to wet your feet with a free solution. All you need to do is look up “free CRM” to find page after page of search results that offer a barrage of information and make all sorts of promises. As a new initiate in the world of CRM, this might—quite reasonably—overwhelm you. You might even end up believing the misconception that all of this is too complicated and you are better off without it. That would be an unfortunate outcome.
CRM is nothing to be overwhelmed by. In fact, it exists to make your life easier. Even a free CRM can bring a measurable impact to business processes and deliver immediate benefits without a significant learning curve. You just need to grasp some simple truths to evaluate your chosen product better and carry reasonable expectations. We are here to help you do just that.
Here are four simple statements that apply to great free CRM tools, along with explanations to get you up to speed.
A great free CRM will provide all core functionality in a single package.
When people think “free”, they invariably tend to imagine compromises. Maybe there are unavoidable hidden costs to something deceptively labeled free. Perhaps some core features are left out, which stops it from being of much use in a day-to-day business scenario. After all, isn’t CRM a highly sophisticated professional-grade software? How can one expect much for free?
The above scenario is a huge misconception that will trick you into settling for less than what your business deserves.
Most industry-leading modern CRM software are cloud-based and can scale very fast, very efficiently, thanks to their multi-tenant model. This has dramatically dropped the threshold of accessibility to CRM technology. Even the free ones are remarkably robust, as they technically run on the same platform as the vendors’ top-tier offerings. You do not have to sacrifice essential functionality or accept arbitrary limitations because the CRM software is free. Nowadays, it is viable to seek a free CRM solution that can provide critical sales and marketing capabilities and communication channels such as phone, email, and chat. No hidden costs. No questions asked.
You don’t need to choose between features and usability.
An oft-repeated trope in software is the supposed trade-off between features and functionality. According to it, you can either go for something feature-filled or prioritize a sleek and minimal user experience. Again, this doesn’t necessarily have to be true. Today, it is perfectly possible to pick a CRM that not only has all the features you like but is highly usable. In fact, when testing a free CRM solution, you should discern how usable it is before making it a linchpin of your operations.
What do we mean by usable? Simply put, there are five key factors that help gauge a software’s usability. It should be easy to learn, efficient, intuitive, error-free, and above all, satisfying. Particularly in the context of CRM, it should be able to automatically assemble a dense collection of relevant contextual information in an efficient, organized manner. Accounting for these factors can help ensure that you land up with a free CRM solution that causes minimum disruption to your business processes.
Even a free CRM should come with great support.
When you incorporate a CRM solution into your business, you get more than just the software. You also enter into a relationship with the vendor that provides you with the technology. Vendors who are credible players in their field bring a lot of expertise and know-how to the table. This added value not only ensures your deployment is smooth and stable but can also transform your business at a rapid pace. Therefore, when looking into a free CRM solution, you should check the degree of support the vendor provides across its user base.
A vendor that genuinely cares for their user base will offer the entire spectrum of their expertise at no additional cost, even to their free users. The vendor should have a freely available, comprehensive support knowledge base that provides all the necessary guidance to set up the software and enact best practices. They should be reachable anytime on any working day so that you can deploy at pace and minimize disruptions. This way, you get to evaluate the vendor before investing in the relationship.
Not only does this level of support reassures all users, but it also serves as a powerful hallmark that the developers are confident in the technology. It means the technology has a stable foundation and scales well without requiring much intervention. In other words, it is probable that the CRM solution is generally resilient and works equally well for all tiers of users, even the free ones. This is why the developers can afford to extend their support bandwidth to the entire user base.
The right CRM will scale with your business.
Today, you are starting up and exploring a free CRM. But as a business, your ambition would be to grow quickly. Along with this growth, your needs and the scope of ambitions are bound to increase. You do not want your present CRM solution to become a bottleneck down the line, causing a potential disruption or necessitating a prohibitive migration. This is why it is essential to plant your foundations on a software infrastructure that you know can scale well with your business.
Your CRM should let you upgrade to features that can help accommodate your business growth such as, reporting, automation, strong customization, etc. There shouldn’t be a ceiling to the number of users you can potentially add. If a CRM can expand its capabilities as and when required, then it stays out of the way and lets you focus on growing.