Choosing the Right CRM Software for Your Business





Recently, Small Biz in :15 On Location traveled to Austin, Texas, for ZohoDay 2022 and talked with several business leaders about what to look for in a CRM Platform.

Our expert guests were:

  • Felena Hanson, founder of Hera Hub Co-working Space and Accelerator for Women,
  • Corey Reid, Senior Director of Marketing for Counter Culture Coffee & Specialty Roaster, and
  • Akshay Bhama of Global Supply Acquisition, and Akhil Pippala Associate Project Manager for India-based car sharing service ZoomCar.

What is a CRM System?

If you are a small business owner new to the term CRM system, it can be useful to know what one is. Cloud-based software designer Salesforce offers us a nice definition of what a CRM is:

“Customer relationship management (CRM) is a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. The goal is simple: Improve business relationships to grow your business. A CRM system helps companies stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability.”

When businesspeople discuss CRM, they usually mean a CRM system.

Felena Hanson on How to Choose the Right CRM System

During the talk with Small Biz Trends, Felena Hanson discusses what small businesses need to think about when choosing and beginning to use a CRM system, especially if they haven’t automated their marketing efforts yet.



Felena said she had gotten this question fromthousands of businesses.” She said to do the following when choosing the right CRM system:

  1. Understand how you receive the data: She indicated that there are platforms out there that are a little more visual and some people want a bit more of a visual dashboard. There are some platforms that are very simple to set up and then there are some that are more complex. So, it really depends on your business and how you operate.
  2. Consider the cost: She added that cost is always a factor with small businesses, so really understanding what the true costs are is critical. There are some CRMs on the market that appear to be inexpensive initially, but the setup process of that system and getting it integrated with your other systems ends up being thousands of dollars. “A lot of small business owners don’t realize that,” she says.
  3. Pay someone to set your CRM system up: Many small business owners buy a CRM and they don’t set it up correctly. They don’t integrate it into their business and, therefore, they’re limping along and never really activate the platform. “Hire somebody who knows what they’re doing to set it up correctly,” she says. Then, understand your business and how it weaves into other parts of your system. Because no software stands alone, right?

If you’d like to learn more about choosing the right CRM system, be sure to check out: How to Choose the Right CRM System

Why Choose One Small Business CRM over Another?

Felena also discussed aspects that would make her choose one CRM System over another. She said that usability of the CRM is critical, along with the simplicity of accessing the platform. She said, “We have a team and if my team, I have six coworking locations and if all six locations are not utilizing that platform to its fullest, it’s completely moot.”    

The usability of it, the simplicity of accessing that platform, the reports that come out of the platform and how you use those reports are all factors.



She also advises going back to the people that have already raised their hand—maybe it was a couple of years ago but go back to those people and remind them you exist. And that’s what a good CRM can do if it’s used properly, and everything is documented.

Corey Reid on Why Choosing the Right CRM software for a Small Business is Important

Next, Corey Reid discusses how to choose the right CRM software for your business that addresses your specific needs.

He said,

For Counter Culture, we have a distributed salesforce going after some of the best coffee shops and restaurants in the country.

So, from a reporting perspective, it’s not super flat, right? There are sales and account managers, there are regional managers, and there’s a director of wholesale. And so, we need to be able to really quickly understand trends in specific areas as well as nationally. You know, what types of accounts are we winning?

What is our business look like from…say, a food service to a local coffee shop and things like that? So those are you know, it’s very specific to that kind of national focus that we have. But then for our regional teams to really be able to dig in and understand the data, understand what does a win percentage look like when someone comes in as a cold lead versus when do they come in as a warm lead?

Other key points Corey made were the mistakes that SME businesses make, like thinking they need something that they really don’t need.



Corey said that before a business owner starts thinking seriously about buying CRM software, they should try to understand what it does or what it’s part of it. Also, do they really understand what they need?

He stated that’s the first thing because you’re going to get sold on everything and you’re going to say, “Oh my gosh, well, that would be great, or that would be great, or that would be great.”

And so, at the end of the day, ask yourself, “What are you trying to do?” I can speak to Counter Culture, right? What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to understand our business, understand what are our teams are doing — and then being able from a high level, understand what those stages look like.

Find What Works for Your Small Business (and what doesn’t)

Corey said,



You don’t necessarily need a bunch of bells and whistles, or you don’t need to basically connect to, say, some lead generation tool where you can buy a list of 100,000, right?

That’s not important for us because, with 100,000 coffee shops, there’s going to be a small amount of those that are actually going to go buy from us. So, you know, that’s just like one in a list of a million things that we don’t need.

What we need is data integrity. We need to be able to make changes quickly. We also need to be able to onboard, you know, a growing team very fast as well. So, it can’t be something that you have to have an extreme amount of technical knowledge to be able to utilize.

What is Data Integrity in Terms of CRMs?

Finishing out the discussion, Corey went over what is meant by data integrity when it comes to CRMs without being too technical.

Corey went on to say,

There are two things. One is, having the correct processes in place for the team to make sure that they’re inputting data correctly and then also understanding the reporting functionality as well.

So, for, Counter Culture, for instance, we’ve got a lot of different lines of business. We sell wholesale, we sell grocery and we sell direct to consumer, making sure that when we’re trying to understand what’s happening or how are those all coming into the system.

And then we’re making sure that we’re not conflating variables because of, say, we see a huge amount of coffee pounds going through. Oh, wait, that’s a grocery, that’s not a wholesale, right? And so, we need to be making getting the best data in so that we can make the most data-informed choices possible.

The Major Criteria to Consider When Choosing a CRM Platform

Tune in to see the rest of the episode where Akshay Bhama and Akhil Pippala explain the major criteria to consider when choosing a CRM platform for your business.

And remember, when purchasing CRM software focus on your business’s specific needs and avoid spending money on features you may never use. Thanks again to our small business experts!



Please feel free to let us know if you enjoyed our video: Choosing CRM Software for Your Business and found what our four guests shared with us helpful. Feel free leave a comment and let us know what topics you’d like to see covered in future episodes.

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Holly Chavez Holly Chavez is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, where she writes engaging content about anything from starting your own upcycled art business to cryptocurrency scams to avoid. She is a former entrepreneur and industrial engineer who translates her decades of working in the logistics and manufacturing industry to actionable business tips and tricks.

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