CRM, or Customer Relationship Management systems are a big part of the small business environment. While it’s commonly seen as a necessity in retail industries primarily and closely related to point-of-sale devices, CRM systems provide as much – or more – value for non-retail small business as well.

Understanding when to invest in a CRM is a critical first step for small businesses. In general, most business owners implement a CRM well after the point where it becomes instrumental for smooth growth. It’s usually after the business experiences growing pains in the form of lost sales or poor communication with clients that a solution is sought out.

What Features are Important for Your First CRM

As a small business owner strikes out on the search for their first CRM, it seems overwhelming. Dozens of solutions are available and boast to be the best. Look for a system that contains valuable tools for your business such as these.

Cost Effective


Most small businesses aren’t flush with cash. A first CRM has to be low cost and offer a wide range of features for the money. There are several small business CRMS on the market that offer low monthly fees or operate on a freemium system. That is, core features are free with paid add-ons available for a la carte.

HubSpot CRM is a relatively basic offering that operates on that freemium model. And as the business grows, the Professional plan is just $400 per month for up to five users with premium features.

A System that Grows with Your Business

What a business needs initially will probably be different than its requirements in a year, three years, or five years. Since changing CRMs is a growing pain you can do without, choosing a system that will grow with the business is ideal. That means more add-on features and most importantly, the ability to add more users.

Insightly CRM isn’t the least expensive option but is one that offers growth potential. Charges are determined on a per-user basis, allowing you to add members to your subscription. Plus, it offers extremely comprehensive reporting and integration to several apps you already use.

Integrated Communication

Any app worth mentioning includes messaging and email features in its repertoire, which is critical. If communications with customers and between staff are viewable by anyone on the CRM, it’s an added bonus.

Salesforce helps businesses keep customers and employees in the loop. Not only are emails and messages integrated but phone and video calls can be tracked also.

Access to Historical Information

CRMProperly understanding customer trends, purchases, and communications can’t be overstated to help a small business grow. Two familiar names hit the nail on the head with ease of access to historical information: Insightly and HubSpot. Expect to pay extra for historical data with HubSpot’s program, while Insightly’s user fee structure includes it.

Easy to Launch

One of the most important features for any small business when choosing a system is that it doesn’t disrupt productivity, however, that’s measured. It’s imperative that any CRM will have a nearly seamless, almost painless transition. It will never be perfect.

Agile CRM is just that: agile. It’s extremely simple to design and implement a CRM for your needs. Once it is designed how you’d like it, importing information is a breeze. Once you start using Agile CRM, you barely skip a step aside from the usual learning curve.