A practical guide to choosing a CRM

A few weeks ago we created our first-ever guide, all about the world of CRM and especially dedicated to helping people struggling to choose the right tool for themselves and their team. The response was incredible, hundreds of people downloaded the guide – but it wasn't completely unexpected.

In a professional world that is in constant expansion and mutation, finding a way to streamline your work and deal with your communication exchanges has become pivotal for most businesses.

Whether they are shop owners, small businesses, entrepreneurs, recruiters or even lawyers – most people need to have an easy and effective solution not only to organize their professional and personal contacts, but also to closely follow the 'lives' of those contacts.

Gone are the days when we would leave our precious network to get moldy on a spreadsheet, when we lost phone numbers and we forgot about former colleagues. In the modern business world, your contacts are your best assets – just like in your personal life.

Download the guide here.

The (short) story of software

CRMs (customer relationship management) and ERPs (enterprise resource planning) have historically been the two main software solutions businesses have been looking at to automate their processes.

ERPs help companies run successful businesses by connecting their financial and operational systems to a central database, while CRMs help manage how customers interact with their businesses.

While they have been primarily designed for sales, CRMs have evolved to accommodate any type of contacts and workflows with the term CRM becoming overused.

It’s hard to choose in a crowded market

Thanks to extreme demand, CRMs have grown into the biggest SaaS category in the last 20 years, with the category leader, Salesforce, becoming the largest SaaS market capitalization by far.

This growth resulted in the creation of hundreds of CRMs options that are still operating on the market today. The term CRM has become a catch-all term referring to any tool with contacts at its core.

We have been thinking about what makes a great CRM for a long time now, and what we have realized is that personalization is the one thing that everyone needs, for any kind of contact-centric job or task. To make your professional (and personal) life easier, hassle-free, and overall more productive, a good CRM needs to respond to your very specific needs.

Choosing the best tool for your business is not an easy task. There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution and it always depends on a team's specific needs. We know how hard it can be to choose, so we created this mini-guide to help you pick the best CRM for you.

Sales CRM: Track opportunities and close deals

Existing CRMs like Salesforce do a great job as a source of truth for prospective and existing customers’ information, sales engagement history, opportunity tracking, and governance. They're built for sales and focus on managing leads and transactions (opportunities).  The main purpose of these tools is to help turn opportunities with leads into deals with clients. They're primarily built for SDR (Sales Development Representative) and Account Managers.

Pipedrive and Hubspot are good options to start, Salesforce is the best option to grow.

Marketing CRM: Generate Marketing Qualified Leads

Marketing CRMs are built to fuel the top of the funnel and help generate Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL). They focus on people or business entities that have expressed interest in a product or service by taking one of the predefined actions, such as visiting a website, downloading a report, or installing the free version of an app. They're built for segmenting prospects into mailing lists and nurturing leads.

The main purpose of these tools is lead generation. They're primarily built for Growth Marketing Managers. Mailchimp is a good option to start, Hubspot is a good option to grow.

Prospection tools: Generate leads through outbound efforts

Prospection tools are outbound tools that aim to generate prospects. As opposed to leads – that have shown interest in your products or services by taking desired actions – prospects simply fit your ideal customer profile before they even take the first step. A sales prospecting tool is software that helps you build a prospect list qualifying them, find contact details, engage with prospects, and book meetings.

The main purpose of these tools is prospects generation. They're primarily built for Sales reps.

Lemlist and LinkedIn Sales Navigator are good options to start, Sendinblue is a good option to grow.

Product-led CRM: Track Product-qualified leads

Traditional CRMs don’t capture information about product usage and user journeys before payment. For product-led growth companies which rely on the product itself as a primary driver of acquisition, conversion and expansion, traditional CRMs miss the shot. For these companies, the purchasing power has shifted from CIOs/Executives to End-Users, so Salespeople must take into consideration how people are already using the product and the frequency of use to determine if a sale is likely to happen.

The main purpose of these tools is to identify product-qualified leads and turn them into paying customers. The line between sales and customer success tends to blur here. These product-led CRMs are primarily built for Customer Success Managers.

Endgame is a good option to start, Vitally and Gainsight are good options to grow.

No-code CRM: Build the CRM you really need

The CRMs cited above are built around a very specific workflow, primarily for generating leads/prospects and closing them – but not all professional relationships are sales-driven relationships. No-Code CRMs are a tool for people and teams whose jobs revolve around managing contacts, such as journalists, investors, suppliers, business angels, partners, etc.

These tools are highly customizable and fit a wide variety of use cases. They're built for contact-centric teams. Airtable and Notion are very customizable yet don't offer custom integrations to communication tools, folk does.

Industry-specific CRM: A CRM built for your industry

Sales CRMs are purpose-built for sales. Other industries – from Venture Capital to PR – need tailored options. While teams can build their own version of the tool with a no-code CRM, some products exist and target these industries.

These tools won't be as customizable as No-Code CRMs but can be a good fit for very specific workflows like investing (Attio, Affinity), Press (Prezly) or Real Estate (Contactually).

Personal CRM: To keep track of your own relationships

In Personal CRM, "CRM" might be a misleading definition. These tools are built for single users, to let highly connected people keep track of their relationships. They're usually built with communication tools integration, communication tracking, reminders and contacts segmentation.

The purpose of these tools is to let users keep track of their professional and personal network of relationships. The primary targets are entrepreneurs, investors or freelancers, and in general highly connected people.Clay and Dex are good options in that regard, Brdg focuses specifically on introductions.

To find out if folk is the right CRM for you, don't hesitate to sign up for free on folk.app or send us an email with your questions at folks@folk.app.