I am interested in the B-B customer journey among Small Business Owners as it relates to shopping for CRM solutions for their small businesses/ companies.

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I am interested in the B-B customer journey among Small Business Owners as it relates to shopping for CRM solutions for their small businesses/ companies.

Through researching the customer journey for small businesses as it relates to what prompts them to start looking, how they find potential vendors, and how they ultimately select a vendor, we put together a picture of the customer process. What follows is an overview of their journey, specifically as it relates to cash flow concerns, customizing capabilities, ease of use, and technology.

WHAT PROMPTS A SMALL BUSINESS TO LOOK FOR A CRM SOLUTION?

Many small businesses begin to seek out a customer relationship management system to track “leads, prospects, clients, and champions” to grow their business. When a small business becomes overwhelmed by handling customer relationships on their own, they begin to search for alternatives. There are numerous tasks that a CRM software can provide that can free up hours of time for the small business. Such tasks include the ability to “segment and treat customers with personalized and timely communications that increase your share-of-walled and loyalty”. Further, a CRM software can (and should), “integrate with your existing administrative, marketing, and web platforms, and allow you to get as close as possible to a 360-degree view of your customers while quantifying revenue”.

CRM showcases conducted for small businesses at Technology Evaluation Centers (TEC) that demonstrate the advantages for a small business to obtain CRM software help pique the interest of the decision maker. TEC events will go through solutions for cash flow concerns, program features and functions, ease of use, and security. Additionally, some events will even create graphs that showcase cost comparisons of several customer relationship vendors, to help ease the search process for small businesses.

WHAT PROMPTS A SMALL BUSINESS TO LOOK FOR A CRM SOLUTION?

In finding a potential CRM partner, small businesses “take into consideration their unique software requirements in comparison to larger businesses”. The number one common challenge small businesses face when finding a potential partner is cash flow. To meet the needs of small businesses, many CRM vendors “offer software-as-a-service (SaaS)/cloud CRM platforms, eliminating the upfront licensing and set-up fees for small businesses”.

Additionally, a small business has to determine which features and functions of the potential vendors best matches the needs of the business. Questions to consider include:
“Do we need marketing automation?”
“How do we manage the sales?”
What can we do to maximize our customer satisfaction?”
Ease of use/workflow are also important in finding a potential vendor, as a small business has to be able to effectively utilize the software on their own, without the need for an extensive IT staff. Security protection also needs to be included in the offer, and should include “data loss protection (DLP), disaster recovery (DR), and 99% and plus uptime

In the search for a CRM vendor, small business decision makers are looking to simplify their IT infrastructure. For example, if a business chooses a CRM that can build employee smartphone apps for specific tasks (such as checking a vehicle condition), it can eliminate the need for endless paperwork, and save time. Further, a small business is driven to a CRM platform that will provide flexibility when the business begins to grow — they need a scalable and extensible CRM platform, with extra apps and features you can bolt on to provide the extra tools you need as you grow”.

WHAT ULTIMATELY LEADS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER TO SELECT A CRM VENDOR?

Chad Ghastin, a customer experience expert, recommends that small business owners meet with multiple technology solution providers before making a purchase, so you can weigh the pros and cons of everything available. Amy Larrimore, managing partner of the Empire Builders Group, noted that small business owners differ in their search for a CRM solution from larger companies as they don’t require “the same level of sophistication”. She states that there needs to be more education for small business owners prior to vendor selection to avoid CRM systems “being sold to small businesses who don’t understand what they are buying”.

Before making a final decision, small businesses look to see if crucial questions regarding their business needs can be addressed by the presented CRM solutions. Do they have a robust contact management system?" :Do they have an automated way to boost sales (i.e. lead generation, prospect nurturing, email marketing, order tracking)?" "Will they help your business deliver seamless and proficient customer support?"

Further, selection will ultimately be affected based on the vendor’s capabilities to meet the needs of the small business as it specifically relates to them, rather than solely generate needs that are noted above. Is the software able to customize to the business needs, and can it transform as the company grows? Is it compatible with the business’ current technology and software? Additionally, if a solution provided requires fewer configurations than others, and only requires a small technical staff to manage the system for a more user-friendly experience, they’re ultimately going to be more appealing to the small business, as it relates to their small staff and IT abilities.

As a reference, the following CRM solutions are considered the top five choices, as reported by Finances Online. HubSpot, Pipedrive, Freshsales, Insightly, and Zoho CRM.

SUMMARY

As a recap, the customer journey for small business owners looking for a CRM solution begins with deciding why there is a need for the software, and identifying what specific details their company needs (such as lead generation, is it cost effective and can it be integrated with current technology). Once the needs are outlined, the small business owner will ultimately choose a vendor based on their capabilities to provide unique solutions for the company that can grow alongside them.
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