Which CRM System to Implement When Thinking Long Term?
Discover the best long-term CRM software systems to help startups scale to large businesses.
Which CRM has a long-term perspective? For many small and large businesses, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is more about using it as a technology to solve pressing needs than a long-term business strategy.
You must think long-term to enjoy lasting CRM success when choosing a CRM system to implement. There are so many CRM systems in the market. Some are scalable and suitable for long-term CRM implementation, while others do not scale as effectively.
If you think short-term when implementing a CRM system, you may end up spending more in the future to update your existing CRM system or having to switch your customer data as your CRM needs grow.
This article will show you why you need to consider implementing long-term CRM systems to achieve long-term CRM success.
Let’s get started.
Short Term vs. Long Term CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Considerations
When implementing your CRM software, you can choose between short-term and long-term CRM considerations.
Whether you think short-term or long-term, they both have their advantages and disadvantages, although the supposed advantages of short-term CRM considerations may prove less potent in the long run.
Short Term CRM Considerations
Small and medium-sized businesses are usually the chief adopters of the short-term CRM implementation strategy. The reason why is not so secret.
Here are some short-term decision-making and selection criteria that make these businesses choose short-term CRM considerations.
1. Cost or Price
One of the core reasons why businesses adopt short-term CRM considerations is price. Implementing CRM when thinking short-term is usually cheaper than when thinking long-term. However, while the immediate costs are less expensive, the future costs can prove more expensive.
For example, businesses adopting short-term CRM systems will pay an affordable monthly subscription fee and generate small implementation costs to enjoy limited CRM capabilities.
As businesses’ customer data grows, they need to switch to a larger customer relationship management software plan.
Since there was no long-term thinking when implementing CRM systems, there is no guarantee the software chosen is scalable. In such a scenario, you will spend more trying to move to a better CRM.
2. Immediate Needs
Many organizations focus on their immediate needs instead of the full picture when implementing a CRM system. For example, an organization may implement CRM to help its sales team manage its sales pipeline.
This short-term CRM consideration may seem like the best option for now, but what happens when they need CRM services for other functions like lead and contact management and employee tracking.
3. Using Existing Vendors
Choosing a suitable CRM system in the market can be daunting, thanks to many available options.
Many organizations use existing vendors and do not pay much attention to what CRM solutions are best for them. For example, many organizations use Microsoft Dynamics as their default CRM because they use other products from Microsoft.
4. Choosing Small Business CRM Solutions
Many small businesses select small business CRM solutions when implementing their CRM strategy. The reason is simple; a small business-focused solution tends to be more affordable even if limited in functionalities than an enterprise CRM software solution.
Some use these CRM solutions as a short-term bridge to handle their immediate needs; as their businesses grow, they replace them with more robust solutions.
Long Term CRM Considerations
Large organizations and enterprises are usually the chief adopters of the long-term CRM implementation strategy. Here are some long-term decision-making and selection criteria that make these organizations choose short-term CRM considerations.
1. Looking Beyond Immediate Needs
The most effective way to implement a CRM system is to think long-term and view the bigger picture beyond your immediate needs. Think about CRM features beyond the ones you need to solve your immediate needs.
When implementing a CRM system, consider all the possible features you may need in the short-term and long-term for your business processes, such as lead management, customer service automation, relationship management, sales force automation, and marketing automation.
Ensure your CRM illuminates your customer touch point within several departments and teams in the organization.
2. Pick the Best CRM Software
Many organizations tend to pick CRM software based on vendor alignment rather than choosing the best CRM software.
Choosing by vendor alignment means using the CRM software solution from the same company such as Salesforce, Microsoft, and Oracle that offers other business software solutions you use. For example, Microsoft users may choose Microsoft Dynamics CRM because they already use other Microsoft products.
When thinking about the best CRM system to implement long term, the best practice is to choose the best CRM software available.
3. Integration with Other Business Solutions
Ensure the CRM software solutions you want to implement can integrate with other business systems. Integration with other business solutions is easier and more available when you choose a cloud-based CRM software system.
You have to check if the CRM offers open API endpoints so you can integrate other SaaS solutions. Microsoft products do not integrate well with other software tools, not in the Microsoft ecosystem. Avoid using its products, except you are sticking with the outdated single vendor strategy.
Scalability is one of the key factors to look out for when choosing a CRM solution for the long term. You do not want to use a solution that does not allow you to scale your current CRM capabilities or does not support exporting your CRM database to other platforms.
Choose a CRM solution that easily lets you scale to large customer databases for effective sales processes and to improve customer experience. The scalability of the CRM software is essential for scaling to large teams and multiple offices.
Best Long-Term CRM Systems to Implement
Thinking long-term when implementing a CRM system is essential. With so many CRM software in the market, not all of them fall under the best long-term CRM systems. What are the right CRM software tools to implement?
Best CRM Software for Integrations
HubSpot CRM is one of the best cloud-based CRM software used by top organizations such as Atlassian, DoorDash, InVision, Purple Innovation, Wistia, and VMWare.
- Holistic CRM Solution: HubSpot CRM is more than a sales, marketing, or service tool for sales teams. Users enjoy various CRM functionalities such as contact management, automated data capture, task management, marketing automation integration, and reporting.
- Comprehensive Dashboards: This all-in-one CRM software provides comprehensive dashboards for daily tracking of your customer relationship management CRM. Project managers use this customer information to get a long-term view of their sales strategies.
- Scalability: Although HubSpot CRM starts as a free CRM software, users can easily scale their CRM process as they grow to enjoy premium CRM capabilities such as sales analytics and sales automation for managing your growing team.
- API Endpoints: HubSpot CRM offers hundreds of API endpoints, making it easy for users to integrate the sales-focused CRM with other software tools.
- Free CRM plan for small businesses with small CRM needs that supports unlimited users and up to 1 million contacts
- Evolving CRM capabilities to match CRM growth trends such as Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Excellent customer support through its live chat tool
- Supports a wide range of third-party integrations and other HubSpot software solutions
- 14-day free trial
- Although its premium plans are quite expensive for a small business, they are generally more affordable compared to other CRM tools that are scalable.
- No customer service teams support and limited functionalities such as limited bulk actions for free users.
HubSpot CRM offers four pricing plans: the free plan, the starter plan, the professional plan, and the enterprise plan.
- The Free Plan offers basic CRM features such as reporting, contact management, third-party integrations, and custom support fields.
- The Starter Plan is suitable for businesses that want to organize their sales processes.
- The Professional Plan is best for managing your growing team.
- The Enterprise Plan is ideal for organizations that want to customize HubSpot’s CRM services to match their business needs.
Try out HubSpot CRM’s 14-day free trial to get started.
Customizable CRM Software to Help SMEs Maximize Sales Performance
Salesforce Sales Cloud is one of the best sales CRM software tools for improving customer relationships used by global companies such as PayPal, IBM, Armstrong Steel, Honeywell, McAfee, Snowflake, and Jet IT.
- Comprehensive CRM Solution: Salesforce Sales Cloud is a leading sales CRM that offers a full suite of software products covering your workflow automation and CRM needs. Your sales reps experience sales growth thanks to its robust sales forecasting and sales automation features.
- Customization: This CRM software helps SMEs to customize their CRM to fit their sales process. Your sales teams can customize every element of their sales operations and streamline their sales pipeline to drive more sales.
- Salesforce Ecosystem: The Salesforce ecosystem has one of the biggest collections of sales apps in the CRM industry, with over 6,900 apps. Users enjoy third-party integrations with their favorite software tools, including email integration with Gmail and Outlook.
- API Endpoints: Salesforce Sales Cloud has thousands of API endpoints that your sales team can use to automate and integrate your sales operations fully. You can build your own Salesforce app without learning to code!
- Sales Pipeline Management: This CRM software gives you a visual representation of your sales pipeline and sales performance so you can manage deals effectively.
- A large Salesforce ecosystem gives you access to all the apps and partners you need for your business processes.
- You can easily scale your CRM functionalities at any point as your business grows, although it will come with additional license fees and professional services fees.
- You can use Salesforce’s mobile apps to carry out your day-to-day business processes.
- Expensive to use for SMEs, especially when you want to add more CRM functionalities
- High training and implementation costs
Salesforce Sales Cloud has no free plan and has four premium plans: essentials, professional, enterprise, and unlimited plans.
- The Essentials Plan is suitable for small businesses needing access to basic CRM services.
- The Professional Plan is ideal for small-to-medium-sized sales teams.
- The Enterprise Plan is best for medium-sized businesses and large organizations who want access to fully customizable Sales CRM services.
- The Ultimate Plan is suitable for large enterprises looking to scale their sales growth.
Try Salesforce’s 14-day free trial to get started.
Best CRM Tool for Sales Teams and Dealmakers
Pipedrive is one of the best sales CRM software tools used by the sales teams of over 100,000 companies across 176 countries, such as BAKERpedia, Financial Lifeguard, and Nirmal Web Studio, to manage deals.
- Lead Management: Pipedrive helps your sales teams close more deals with its lead generation tools, such as Lead Booster. This innovative tool helps you capture and manage leads throughout the sales cycle.
- Visual Sales Pipelines: This sales CRM provides clear data visualizations of your sales process. You will experience better business development when you make better and faster decisions.
- Simple CRM Implementation: Any team can easily set up and use Pipedrive. Implementing Pipedrive as your sales CRM is easy without needing a dedicated IT staff for assistance.
- Customization: Pipedrive helps optimize your workflow and improve your processes as you grow. You can use its simple drag-and-drop editor to create customizable fields and pipelines.
- Easy onboarding
- Integrates with over 300 out-of-the-box integrations
- 14-day free trial
- Revenue and sales forecasting to enable you to make better business decisions
- 24/7 customer support through live chat or email
- Limited reporting and analytics features
- No dedicated feature for marketing campaigns
Pipedrive CRM offers four pricing plans: the essential plan, the advanced plan, the professional plan, and the enterprise plan.
- The Essential Plan is suitable for small sales teams with simple sales processes.
- The Advanced Plan is ideal for small to medium teams looking to scale quickly.
- The Professional Plan is best for teams looking to improve sales performance and revenue.
- The Enterprise Plan is great for large teams with extensive CRM customization needs.
Try Pipedrive’s 14-day free trial to get started.
Best CRM Software that Doubles as a Project Management Software
Monday.com CRM is one of the best CRM software tools trusted by over 125,000+ companies such as Hulu, Uber, Adobe, Unilever, Zippo, Abbott, Frontier, Alexion, and Genpact.
- Customization: Monday.com CRM helps organizations build their dream CRM hub thanks to its simple drag-and-drop editor and pre-designed templates. You can use this highly-customizable CRM software to customize your workflow or sales pipeline.
- Project Management: Although primarily a project management software, Monday.com CRM offers key timesaving and organizational features to help you organize your sales operations and build customer relationships.
- API Endpoints: Monday.com CRM offers an open API and integrates with your favorite apps such as Gmail, Excel, Mailchimp, Outlook, Salesforce, and DocuSign.
- 24/7 customer support through phone and email
- Unlimited boards
- Easy to transfer your CRM data into spreadsheets or to other CRM software tools
- Free plan and 14-day free trial
- Pre-designed CRM and sales workflow templates
- Unable to track project goals
- Limited automations
Monday.com CRM offers five pricing plans: the free CRM plan, the basic CRM plan, the standard CRM plan, the pro-CRM plan, and the enterprise CRM plan.
- The Free CRM Plan is best for individuals with very minimal CRM needs.
- The Basic CRM Plan is ideal for small teams needing basic CRM functionalities.
- The Standard CRM Plan is great for small to medium-sized teams who want to automate and streamline their sales processes.
- The Pro CRM Plan is best for medium-sized to large teams who want to scale and better manage their entire sales cycle.
- The Enterprise Plan is ideal for large teams managing a complex sales cycle.
Try Monday.com CRM’s 14-day free trial to get started.
Affordable CRM System for Small to Mid-sized Businesses
EngageBay is the best sales CRM trusted by over 46,000 customers globally to build strong customer relationships.
- Holistic CRM Solution: EngageBay is an all-in-one sales CRM software tool that helps your sales team manage contacts, nurture leads, automate tasks and appointment scheduling, make calls, and provide customized reports.
- 360-Degree Prospect View: Users enjoy a 360-degree contact view to track every aspect of customer interactions. With this information, you can create personalized sales strategies and filter your customers based on key indexes such as demography.
- Native Integration: EngageBay is a holistic software solution with dedicated hubs for marketing, sales, support, and social media. However, you can integrate your favorite software tools with EngageBay.
- Offers phone and email support
- Offers SMS marketing
- Provides a free onboarding session
- Free migration service
- Affordable and flexible pricing plans
- Limited landing page templates
- Limited mobile application
EngageBay offers four pricing plans: the free plan, the basic plan, the growth plan, and the pro plan.
- The Free Plan is best for individual users and small businesses with no CRM experience and little CRM needs.
- The Basic Plan is best for small-scale businesses.
- The Growth Plan is suitable for medium-sized businesses.
- The Pro Plan is ideal for large-scale financial enterprises.
Try EngageBay’s free plan to get started.
6. NetSuite CRM
Best CRM Software for Large and Fast-Growing Businesses
NetSuite CRM, from software giant Oracle, is one of the top ERP software systems used by over 31,000 businesses in 217 countries, such as Baker, Kiva, Shaw Industries Manufacturing, and TopDown Consulting.
- Enterprise Resource Planning: In addition to the enterprise-level customer relationship management CRM tool, you get other enterprise resource planning (ERP) modules such as accounting software, HR software, inventory management software, and financial management tools.
- Native Integrations: NetSuite CRM offers add-on modules that cover everything you need instead of supporting integrations with third-party integrations. These native integrations support a central data storage source for your organization only accessible to authorized users.
- Robust Customer Lifecycle: This enterprise-level CRM software helps businesses and organizations track, manage, and support their customer life cycle from lead generation to the fulfillment and remarketing phase.
- Sales Pipeline Management: NetSuite CRM tracks and manages your sales pipeline effectively to help you increase sales and build customer loyalty. You get advanced sales forecasts and deal and document management features.
- It provides a unified platform with all the tools you need for effective customer interactions.
- Offers a cloud-based customer portal for updating customer profiles and monitoring customer tickets
- You can use this highly customizable platform to build your CRM system to your specifications.
- No free plan or trial
- You have to call a NetSuite CRM rep to get a quote
- Expensive for small businesses
NetSuite CRM has no free plan, nor does it offer a free trial. However, they offer free product tours. There is no pricing information on NetSuite CRM’s website; you have to request a pricing quote based on your business size and the number of additional modules you want to add to your package.
Request NetSuite CRM’s free product tour today.
CRMs That Do Not Scale Too Well (Making You Switch as You Grow)
Best CRM Software for Communications
Freshsales is one of the best CRM tools for small businesses trusted by businesses worldwide, such as Dyson, PharmEasy, Blue Nile, Cadence Health, Klarna, and MTR.
Why Is Freshsales Not a Good Fit for Long-term CRM Implementation?
- Designed for Small Teams: Freshsales is a great sales CRM tool for small businesses but does not leave much room for these businesses to scale. Since Freshsales is not designed for large data tasks, users can experience such lags when handling massive tasks.
- Data Migration Challenges: There is the potential for data loss or mixups when migrating from one system to another.
- No Pricing Discount: Freshsales does not offer pricing discounts on its plans, which may not be suitable for large organizations needing enterprise-grade CRM features.
User-Friendly CRM Software for Small Businesses
Keap is a simple and user-friendly CRM tool thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs use globally.
Why Is Keap Not a Good Fit for Long-term CRM Implementation?
- Designed for Small Teams: Keap CRM features focuses on providing solutions for small businesses but do not provide the advanced CRM features and rich customizations that large teams need.
- Data Migration: Although this CRM application offers free migration to some CRM software such as HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, AWeber, and Ontraport, the free data migration process limits you to migrating only one landing page and ten items on your contacts.
- Not Suitable for Large Teams: Keap CRM is not suitable for large teams with more than 25,000 contacts who want to send above 250 promotional texts per month.
3. Zoho CRM
Best Small Business CRM Software for Remote and Hybrid Teams
Zoho CRM is one of the best small business CRM tools trusted by 250,000 businesses worldwide, such as Suzuki, Tassal, Purolite, Hotstar, and Abu Dhabi Aviation.
Why Is Zoho CRM Not a Good Fit for Long-term CRM Implementation?
- Designed for Small Teams: Zoho CRM is a good CRM for small businesses but not a good solution for teams with high-growth solutions. Most of its features are built for small businesses, and its enterprise-grade features are not as comprehensive as some CRM tools offer.
- Poor Customer Support: The customer support provided by Zoho CRM is poor for most of its plans, especially its free plan. You can only access its priority support when you purchase its enterprise plan.
- Imports: Importing contacts from emails, spreadsheets, or web browsers is not always a smooth process.
Best Small Business CRM software for Social Media and Marketing Integration
Nimble is a top CRM tool used by thousands of teams worldwide, such as GoDaddy, CrossFit, Upwork, Coldwell Banker, Flexjobs, and Tableau.
Why Is Nimble Not a Good Fit for Long-term CRM Implementation?
- Designed for Small Businesses: Nimble is a great asset for small businesses with low-growth expectations. However, it is not the best fit for you if you are a startup or small business looking to scale into a large business.
- Integration: Integrating with third-party apps is not a smooth experience with Nimble. The third-party integration options are limited and may not cover your favorite tools. Nimble CRM does not work well with emails.
Having a long-term perspective when choosing your CRM software is essential. Your sales and marketing teams are not the only ones to benefit from your long-term CRM perspective; other departments and teams in your business, such as customer support, will benefit.
Here are some reasons businesses need a long-term perspective on their CRM system.
Greater Return on Investment: When you adopt a long-term perspective when choosing your CRM software, although it may prove costly, in the long term, you will enjoy a greater Return on Investment (ROI) than if you had adopted a cheaper and short-term perspective.
Long-term Improvement in Sales: Your sales team and organization will experience long-term improvement in sales. The reason is that a long-term perspective on your CRM software will help you choose CRM solutions that integrate complex customer information easily and automate many data entry processes. Your sales reps will get more valuable productivity time to focus on closing deals.
Better Customer Retention: Having a long-term perspective on your CRM software helps improve customer relationships, leading to better customer retention. A long-term CRM software that helps you scale from a startup to a large business helps you better manage your workflows and record customer interactions from all possible sales and marketing channels.
Saves Costs: Another long-term effect of adopting scalable CRM software is that it helps your organization save costs in the long run. You must select the right CRM software solution for your business to enjoy this benefit.
The absence of a long-term perspective on your CRM software results in high costs for your business. Although you can switch from the wrong CRM to the right one as your business grows, some high costs are associated with this move.
Loss of Customer Data: One of the costs of switching from the wrong CRM to the right one as your business grows is the potential for losing some of your customer data. Because many CRMs are not scalable and support the effective transfer of customer data from one system to another. Choosing the wrong CRM and then switching later to the right CRM as you grow can lead to the loss of valuable data.
Higher Costs: When switching from the wrong CRM to the right one, you must bear CRM implementation costs and other hidden costs apart from paying the required fees for the right CRM. Depending on the CRM software of choice, you may need a dedicated IT staff to effectively transfer your data from the old CRM to the new one.
What CRM Software is Best for Scaling From Startup to Large Business?
As a startup or small business, your current business size and sales operations may not be so large for you to consider using an enterprise CRM software tool.
However, a startup or small business with high growth ambitions must have a long-term perspective when choosing CRM software. Choose a CRM that helps you scale from a small business to a large one.
With so many CRM software in the market, here are the best CRM software for scaling from startup to large business.
- If you are looking for a holistic CRM solution that starts as a free CRM and helps you scale your business as you grow, HubSpot is the right choice.
- If you are looking for a comprehensive CRM solution that helps SMEs maximize their sales performance and easily customize their CRM to fit their current sales process and leaves room for expansion in the future, consider using Salesforce.
- If you need a sales CRM that helps you close more deals and customize and improve your workflow as your business grows with a simple CRM implementation process, Pipedrive is your best bet.
- If you are searching for a highly-customizable CRM with robust project management capabilities that helps you scale as you grow, consider using Monday.com CRM.
- If you need an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform that offers enterprise-level customer relationship management CRM for your fast-growing business, NetSuite CRM is the right choice.