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13 Is CRM a Culture or a Software?

I’m frequently asked for my opinion on the best CRM tool for small business owners. My answer, while perhaps not the one you want to hear, is the same I give for many resources. The best CRM tool is the one you and your staff will actually adopt and adapt to achieve better sales results and automation. (Properly applied, 3 x 5 notecards may make the most sense for some firms.)

Here’s a list of some of the better known CRM options:
Salesforce.com
SageCRM.com
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
NetSuite
SugarCRM
Zoho
ACT
– really more of contact manager but the right answer for some

Now the question is, which one is right for you. The answer may be held somewhere in first taking a good hard look at how systematically you approach sales training, lead generation, lead conversion, marketing automation, customer follow-up and intentional customer service. If none of these are part of your company’s culture today don’t expect a piece of out of the box/web software to magically bring them to you. Each CRM solution has little quirks and features that may make it the right one for you depending upon your industry or business structure, but that’s just the details.

CRM starts with a strategic approach to marketing, a strategic approach to selling and a strategic approach to maximizing customer relationships. Nail those things and pretty much any of the major CRM tools can be customized to make it happen. Too many people waste lots of time and money trying to apply technology to fix a problem caused by a lack of business strategy.

One final point on this one. Get help from the vendor you choose to make sure that you get proper training, integration and customization of the CRM tool you choose. CRM software/service takes work to fuse with your sales culture.