Keeping your CRM Simple
What is the simplest CRM out there today in 2023? Do you even need a CRM? If yes, how should you use it and what should you expect your CRM to help you achieve? If you’ve come up with questions, we’ve got answers.
What is a CRM?
First, to back up to the basics, what is a CRM? CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management - and it is often used as shorthand to refer to software that holds a business's customer information. That includes things as basic as your name or purchase history but can be as detailed as entire archived conversations or interactions between a company and a customer, or details like which color flip-flop you prefer.
Whether or not you were already aware of the definition of a CRM, your information is likely already in hundreds, if not thousands of CRM databases out there. Why do businesses need a CRM to store this kind of information?
Simply put - the better a business understands its customers, the better it can provide products and services that serve its consumer's wants and needs, leading to more sales and repeat purchases.
Sounds simple enough in theory, however as countless entrepreneurs and small business owners find out every day, the implementation and navigation of modern CRM software can be more than just a headache, it can be downright confusing.
State of Current CRM Software
To explain the complexity of a modern-day CRM, take one of the world’s leading CRM software, Salesforce. You may have not personally heard of Salesforce - but it is a powerhouse giant in the B2B software world, often recognized as the first SaaS solution to be built from scratch. Fast forward to now - last year in 2022, their yearly revenue was $26.5 Billion (that’s B with a capital B). That is more than the $23 billion in revenue that McDonald’s earned in 2021.
Some SaaS giants are praised for their simplicity and ease of use, like overnight teleconferencing success, Zoom. The easy-to-use nature of Zoom may have even been a contributing factor as to how they were able to grab so much market share from incumbents like Microsoft Teams and Webex. Yes, we most likely have all accidentally turned on our camera when we rolled out of bed, sleep still in our eyes - but most wouldn’t say they require any sort of training to use Zoom.
Not so for the likes of Salesforce - or other major top CRM providers. A normal amount of difficulty or complexity may call for the likes of a user guide or FAQ, but would you expect to sign up and pay for a course in order to learn how to operate this software? On the popular online learning course site, Udemy - there are currently 76 courses dedicated just to learning Salesforce. The most popular course on Udemy under the Salesforce section (yes, there is an entire section dedicated to Salesforce) is comprised of 10 hours of coursework over 30 lectures. Simple? Not so much.
The Simplest CRM Software?
Naturally, small and medium-sized business owners, startups, and entrepreneurs are frequently strapped for time - and so looking for a “simple” CRM solution is quite common. But trying to crown the simplest CRM software is a bit like determining which is the “best” fast food burger - everyone will have different criteria for choosing.
Something to note - there are various types of CRMs out there to match the different types of businesses that exist. For that reason, when it comes to choosing a CRM software, consideration for your business needs should be carefully weighed. That's why even word of mouth can't be the sole determining factor - as a very sales-focused CRM system might be the perfect tool for some, whereas you may need a more marketing-heavy tool (or vice-versa).
In addition, the following list is not advocating that any one of these CRMs can truly take the moniker as “simplest”, but rather that no one could argue that any of them isn’t simple in one way or form. Here are some suggestions of the “simplest” CRM software for you based on your needs and particular situation. (For pricing, we’ve included the base or cheapest price to get a fair comparison across tiers.)
1. Channel Talk
Focused on Getting to Know Customers
Channel Talk’s CRM - and the platform as a whole is built with the purpose of letting businesses communicate with their customers, and through that communication build relationships, which are stored in the CRM. Shopify store owners, can easily import their contacts with a click, but the contacts in your CRM aren't limited just to existing customers - but also include all those who start a chat with you using Channel Talk's live chat.
So when visitors come and ask questions through the live chat or interact with a support bot - the contact, the interaction, and the activities the person took on the site before and during the chat are simply and automatically added to the CRM database.
Searching, filtering, and segmentation are all made more powerful by the fact that customizable fields allow personalized information to be collected and stored in Channel Talk. For example, if you run an online shop selling Pet Goods, you could collect information on whether a customer has cats or dogs, their pet's food preferences - even down to their pet’s specific food allergies! Then, you can search, sort, filter, and segment based on these detailed preferences, and use this insight to target and understand your customers on a truly deeper level.
Learning how to operate and use the CRM can be learned in minutes, making it a worthy contender for the title of Simplest CRM Software. The catch? There aren’t as many integrations with outside providers as other CRMs have, meaning if you already are using many other services, it might make more sense to replace other services with Channel Talk, as opposed to connecting them all in a big web.
Price: $36 per month, $30 per month billed annually (no limit to the number of seats or users, unlimited contacts)
Great if you’re… a business or team that wants a simple-to-use all-in-one solution that combines customer chat and CRM as a way to help you build better and deeper relationships with your customers.
A CRM, Nothing More, Nothing Less
If 100% simplicity in the most plain and straightforward way of thinking is what you’re looking for - you're probably the person who will enjoy Less Annoying CRM. Not only does it have the easiest-to-understand pricing, but when it comes to the barebones what you need out of a CRM - an easy way to add, check, sort, and utilize contact information, Less Annoying CRM checks all the boxes.
It is the epitome of delivering exactly what the definition of a CRM is, which is both its strength and what will turn some people off about it. Since it really is that simple, there isn’t much to say about it, but it is really nice to see how straightforward the company is about its product. The downside? Though it has some integrations, it does lack some of the polish and increasingly more common features that other CRM systems offer for larger teams.
Price: $15 per user per month (enterprise pricing starts at 10+ users/month)
Great if you’re… a small team that only wants and needs the barebones and is hoping to use the least amount of thought and effort to get what you need out of a CRM.
Made for Salespeople by Salespeople
CRM software is often used by multiple teams in an organization, so they have to be flexible enough to hand a client from team to team. Pipedrive isn’t such a product. Self-proclaimed as “The first CRM designed by salespeople, for salespeople,” Pipedrive is truly a product that knows what it is, AND who it is for. There are many benefits that come with this internal understanding of the product and its purpose.
As software that is dedicated to improving your sales - you can expect that Pipedrive’s features are optimized to help you track sales from the lead stage, all the way to deal closing and post-sales.
Really helpful are the reminders and bevy of integrations that help to keep salespeople’s minds off of mindless repetitive work - leaving your team to have more bandwidth to handle more complicated strategy and planning. A negative that seems to be shared across reviews is a less-than-stellar support team. Users also report that certain add-on features, like chatbots and web forms, can glitch out and cause frustrations and headaches. That being said, depending on your needs, these might be worth it if they can help increase your closed deals.
Price: $15 per user per month, $12.50 per user per month billed annually
Great if you’re… a sales team that wants to track, measure, and improve your sales process.
A comfortable add-on for Monday fans
Though not necessarily known for its sales CRM, by offering it, monday.com adds another functionality to its suite of products that makes it easy enough to stay within the ecosystem. As they explain it, monday.com’s sales CRM system is built on top of their Work OS - meaning it is a great option for those already familiar with, or using monday.com (which itself has a lot to love).
For those who aren’t familiar with monday.com, it became popular due to team collaboration being made easy with various dashboards, automation, and integrations - allowing teams to “accomplish more, together.” The sales CRM puts a sheen of polish and sales-specific features to the product, which can and has been hacked together to be used as CRM by inventive users for years. One of the very attractive features is the ability to try it out for free (up to 1,000 contacts and 2 team members).
The not so good - because it is truly more of an addition to the Monday OS, some customers have experienced sales-specific features behaving wonky, and thus feeling “half-baked”.
Price: $37.5 per month, $30 per month (smallest plan of 3 seats, $10 per seat per month, $12.5 per seat per month billed annually)
Great if you’re… already a monday.com user (and a fan) - or a solopreneur who would like to get your feet wet with what a CRM is, for free.
Simplicity earned through learning
Alright all you big rollers, we saved the most expensive for last. Though it comes with a steep price tag, Keap does its best to live up to the name of “all-in-one CRM and sales & marketing automation platform.” From email & text marketing to a Keap Business Line for work calls and text, all the way to one-on-one coaching and 24/7 support, Keap is the definition of a powerful tool to help you transform your business (if you can afford it). Because of its high level of comprehensiveness - users rate most main features to be well functioning, even to the point that the learning curve can be an issue, owing to how much you can do (but also, how much you may have to learn).
In this sense, what is “simple” about Keap is that you’d ideally only need to use Keap and wouldn’t need as many other services to go along with it. Plus, even when it is a bit confusing, the community and customer support are generally highly rated, meaning you should be able to get help without too much struggling on your own.
If we are being really picky, Keap could be left off of this list based on how much there is to learn, but for those who put in the time and effort, it does tend to make their lives much simpler.
Price: $169 per month, $129 per month billed annually (includes 1500 total contacts and 2 seats)
Great if you’re… wanting one service to handle many needs (and have the time and budget for such a powerful platform).
Wrap Up: CRM, Simply Put.
There are more CRM software these days than you can shake a stick at, and more are popping up every day - however business needs aren’t getting smaller, they’re growing, so don’t expect this trend to change.
Not everyone needs a CRM system, but as businesses grow and scale, a CRM quickly becomes an essential lever and tool to grow to the next stage, and to retain customers.
For those in need of a CRM software but without the time, energy, or funds to go for an enterprise-level CRM like Salesforce, there are plenty of affordable, and simple options that will help you grow your business.
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