July 1, 2024

Does Your Small Business Need a CRM?

The prospect of selecting a CRM for your small business can be intimidating, and rightfully so.

Customer relationship management systems often seem like complex tools reserved for organizations with complex processes and large sales pipelines. You know, the big leagues.

But research shows 65% of businesses start using CRM software within the first 5 years of operations. And you certainly don’t want to fall behind the competition or fail to equip Sales with the tools they need to win more deals.

To help you understand whether you need a CRM system we explain everything you need to know about customer relationship management tools, how to choose one, and CRM alternatives for small businesses.

What is a CRM system and how do companies use it?

Customer relationship management software is a decades-old tool that companies rely on to manage information about current and prospective customers.

Though CRM platforms are used primarily by sales teams, they power teams throughout the organization including marketing, customer service, accounting, and more.

Source: depositphotos.com

Most businesses (large enterprises in particular), use CRM solutions together in conjunction with a suite of other tools such as marketing automation software and customer support systems.

A CRM platform is meant to act as the single source of truth when it comes to customer data, customer interactions, sales planning, and sales performance. Its primary functions include:

  • Contact management

CRMs store key information about customers, leads, and prospects, including their contact details, communication history, business information, and more. 

  • Lead management

Companies use CRM software to find and qualify leads using lead-scoring methodologies as well as to track their actions throughout the sales cycle.

  • Automation

Many CRM tools can perform determined actions based on triggers or events. A common example is sales reps being notified when a lead performs an action on your website.

Another example is sales and marketing people automating follow-up emails after a prospect call. And so on.

  • Sales management

A CRM system also helps visualize and optimize your company’s sales funnel.

  • Analytics and reporting

CRMs provide statistics that help you see the big picture of your business performance. Basic reporting reflects the number of incoming leads, conversion rates, sales rep performance, or time to closing deals.

  • Sales forecasting

CRM systems also enable you to create sales forecasts based on past and current sales data.

Does every business need a CRM solution?

If you’re successfully running a one-person operation with a handful of clients a year, you may not get a lot of use out of a CRM platform.

But for growing organizations, CRM becomes very helpful very quickly.

Here are a few of the benefits a CRM system can bring to a business:

1. Increased sales performance

Using a CRM system to automate recurring tasks such as follow-up emails or the entry of multiple records frees up sales reps’ time and allows them to focus on sales meetings and finding new leads.

2. Better relationships with customers

CRMs can help you get a better understanding of customer behavior so you can personalize your product or service.

3. Increased productivity 

Having all customer data in one place reduces the time it takes to search and locate information across systems. It also helps collect data in a standardized manner that’s easy for everyone to use.

4. Better communication between sales and marketing

A CRM tool can help marketing and sales align on things like sales goals and the quality of generated leads, as well as reduce some of the duplicate work between departments.

5. Make decisions with the right data

You can use CRM analytics to inform sales and business decisions such as which accounts to target, how to invest your sales budget, and so on.

Why CRM adoption can be difficult in small companies

Even though CRMs can bring numerous benefits to a business, the process of selecting, setting up, and adopting a CRM system can be challenging for small businesses.

Small businesses work on tight budgets

Investing in a CRM (or any other new system for that matter) can be a challenging decision - among others, the return on investment can be difficult to measure, and adoption is not guaranteed.

There is a fear of complexity

A CRM system can only help your business if your people use it. If the CRM solution you choose has a steep learning curve or is very complex, people may feel discouraged from using it, or it may be difficult to switch to a new one in the future.

The status quo is tough to disrupt

Small businesses have their internal setups or may even use in-house applications. Integration with a CRM can require changes to those processes, making CRM adoption slow and difficult. 

There may be security concerns

Companies dealing with sensitive customer data (for example in the financial or healthcare sector), can have compliance concerns or may need to put in place additional security measures.

How to select a CRM system for a small business

The path to adopting a CRM system can have many roadblocks, but there are ways you can make the process easier.

Here is what to keep in mind when picking a CRM solution.

1. Decide who will use it

Before selecting a CRM system, you need to determine who will be using it.

Knowing whether you need features like marketing automation or customer service will help you narrow down your options to CRMs with a focus on sales functionalities.

2. Your budget

Once you determine your use cases, you can start searching for CRMs that fit your available budget.

Many CRM solutions offer tiered pricing plans so you can start basic and upgrade later if you need to. Make sure to check how costs might build up over the next 3 to 5 years because switching CRM systems is a tedious process.

3. Focus on ease of use 

This is particularly important if you haven’t used CRM software before. Sales reps can quickly ditch the system if, instead of saving time, it creates more work or adds complexity to their current methods.

Remember that the primary goal of a CRM tool is to support sales and marketing work and it should greatly simplify tasks like creating new records or updating lead information.

4. Integrations

Even if you don’t use many other systems in your business, make sure the CRM solution you choose can integrate with other platforms that can become important for you down the line: e-commerce platforms, content management systems (CMS), marketing automation, accounting software, etc.

5. Plan for scalability  

If you intend for your business to grow (and you probably do), keep in mind that your CRM needs may also evolve. 

If your business is growing fast, select a CRM system that can accommodate the needs of a medium or large organization to avoid having to switch systems just months after you’ve selected one.

6. Data security

Since you’ll use a CRM system to store many types of customer information, make sure it complies with all regulations relevant to your industry or sector - whether that’s GDPR in the European Union, HIPAA in the USA, or others.

Using Consolto as a CRM system

While we can safely say that not every business needs a CRM, all businesses can benefit from having their customer information centralized in one place.

If you’re not sure a CRM tool is the right choice for your small business right now, consider a simple yet powerful alternative for storing, managing, and accessing customer information. 

Consolto is a real-time customer engagement solution that integrates seamlessly with your website. It enables you to chat, video-call, share files, and gather lead data right as prospects are visiting your website.

All your customer interactions, including chats, video recordings, audio files, contact details, and website browsing history are then saved in Consolto’s Rich Communication Center.

You can read more about the benefits of centralized customer data and how to increase your sales efficiency with Consolto here.

So how can you do you manage customer relationships using Consolto’s Rich Communication Center?

The Consolto Leads Center

Consolto enables you to save and access customer information and communications in a single, unified view.

This way, all your teams get easy access to the same complete and updated information in one platform, reducing the need to search for data in several different places.

The Conversations Center

Use live chat to speak with customers in real-time, provide support, and answer any questions.

The chat center also stores text and voice messages, images, and files shared between you and your customers so everyone, from support to sales, can see the accurate picture of customer communications.

Lead qualification with Consolto

Website browsing information, chats, and form submissions from potential customers are collected in the unified customer timeline so marketing can make lead qualification decisions in near real time.

The Consolto Appointment Center

Consolto makes it easy to schedule sales calls and conduct product demos with live video or screen sharing.

Consolto Analytics

In Consolto’s Rich Communication Center, you can view conversation reports as well as statistics for each team member, just as you would in a CRM.

Why choose Consolto over a classic CRM solution

There are several benefits to using Consolto instead of a standard CRM system.

1. Cost savings

Consolto helps you reduce your technology investment thanks to our all-in-one solution for customer communication, appointment scheduling, and customer relationship management.

2. Accurate customer profiles

CRM systems can store a variety of customer information, from contact data to profile data, marketing campaign data, support information, and more. 

However, Consolto is the only platform that allows you to save such data and conduct live conversations with your customers from a single place, allowing you to make better-informed decisions in real time. 

3. Increase conversion rates

Consolto’s live chat and video-conferencing features enable your customers to initiate conversations with your sales reps straight from your website.

The faster prospects learn the answers to their questions, the higher the chances they become paying customers.


Budget constraints and the advanced capabilities of CRM software today can make it challenging for small businesses to decide on a CRM solution. 

But any organization can benefit from centralizing, organizing, accessing, and automating customer interactions in a single platform.

Consolto provides many of the essential features of a CRM, enabling sales, marketing, and customer support teams to view, manage, and act on accurate, centralized customer information.

If you would like to give Consolto a try, get started with a free trial here.

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