Spotlight on Small Businesses: How a CRM Solution Helps You Grow

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Running a small business comes with many challenges.

When you don’t have the personnel resources of a large corporation, the only way you can grow is by helping your existing team maximize their time and effort.

That’s where CRM solutions make a significant difference.

Keep reading to discover how a CRM platform can help you overcome small business challenges, provide a better customer experience, and help you reach those business goals.

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1. What are CRM solutions?

The term CRM stands for customer relationship management software.

At its core, a CRM solution helps you manage relationships between your business and your customers.

CRM software typically comes with features that help you keep track of all customer interactions, notes, and data.

The customer data you track with a CRM is available to multiple team members to streamline the customer journey from marketing to sales and service.

Creating a centralized source of information about customers empowers your team to personalize the customer experience and build stronger relationships.

Not to mention, many CRM solution providers also include automation features that help small teams get more done.

Some CRM tools focus on a single area, such as marketing, sales, or service, while others offer all-in-one software that has functionality for all of your business departments.

1.1. Marketing CRM features

Screenshot of sales funnel and lead generation page.

Screenshot of's sales funnel and lead generation page

Marketing-focused CRM solutions provide tools that help you market your products to new and existing customers.

Common features include:

  • Email templates
  • Campaign builders
  • Social media integrations
  • Marketing analytics dashboards
  • Lead generation and lead scoring
  • Sales CRM integration (if it’s not an all-in-one solution)

1.2. Sales CRM features

Screenshot of HubSpot Sales CRM’s Deals page

Screenshot of HubSpot's Sales CRM’s Deals page

A sales CRM features tools that assist your sales team as they acquire new clients and manage sales pipelines.

Common features include:

  • Contact management
  • Sales tracking
  • Deal and pipeline monitoring
  • Inbound and outbound call tracking
  • Meeting scheduling tools
  • Task management

1.3. Service CRM features

HubSpot Service Hub CRM’s customer chat feature

HubSpot Service Hub CRM’s customer chat feature

A service CRM system helps you retain existing customers and encourage new customers during the onboarding period.

Common features include:

  • Live customer support chat
  • Customer service ticketing
  • Voice calling and recording
  • Surveys

2. Typical small business practices

Small businesses don’t have the resources of large corporations, so they tend to manage clients and customers using free tools.

Unfortunately, free software solutions are limited and can often be time-consuming for team members.

2.1. Marketing

Email and website content are the top two channels used by small business marketing teams.

Small businesses can use several free email marketing services, and some even offer drag-and-drop building tools for newsletters and other marketing emails.

Screenshot of email builder

Screenshot of's email builder

However, these services typically place limits on marketing campaigns, email automation, and A/B testing at the free level.

So, managing the email marketing channel requires a lot of hands-on work.

As for content management, small businesses are usually limited to building a website with blog content and videos at the free level.

They might not be taking advantage of lead generation tools such as landing pages, targeted sign-up forms, and A/B testing.

2.2. Sales

Too many small business sales teams rely on free tools like Google Drive and Excel sheets to keep track of contact information, opportunities, and sales activities.

Screenshot of sales pipeline managed on Google Sheets

Screenshot of sales pipeline managed on Google Sheets

While a Google sheet might be enough to get a single-person operation off the ground, it can cause workflow issues once you start expanding.

Relying on manual data entry for pipeline management takes up your sales team’s valuable time and leaves your data vulnerable to missing or incorrect information.

2.3. Service

Lastly, customer support at small businesses is usually limited to email. If you’re lucky, you have one or more people whose sole responsibility is responding to customer emails.

However, relying only on one-to-one support channels can result in service rep burnout, long response times, and poor customer experiences.

Screenshot of a Clinique customer service email response.

Screenshot of a Clinique customer service email response.

Unfortunately, a study by Microsoft found that 58% of all customers (and 63% of U.S. consumers) will stop doing business with a company because of poor customer service.

In the same report, customers listed the ability to resolve issues in one interaction, getting in touch with knowledgeable agents, and self-service information as essential qualities of good customer service.

3. The biggest barriers for small businesses

Scaling and lack of automation are two of the biggest challenges small business owners face.

Without the right tools to support you, these issues can lead to bad customer experiences and a stagnating business.

Let’s look at each one a bit closer.

3.1. Scaling

As you grow your small business, you may find what worked for you in the beginning starts to fall apart as you gain more clients.

For instance, your sales spreadsheet worked when you had one person handling all deals, but now you have more employees.

Your team doesn’t have a centralized source of customer information, and you’re seeing more dropoff in your sales funnel.

3.2. Lack of Automation

People are one of the most valuable resources businesses have, but each person on your team can only do so much.

Most small businesses struggle with bandwidth. In other words, there are too many things to do and not enough people with the time to complete every task. CRM automation builder page's CRM automation builder page

Without automation, your employees spend too much time on manual data entry and other repetitive tasks instead of meaningful customer interactions that help you grow.

4. How to pick the right CRM solution for your business

Once you’ve reached the point where client volume and employee bandwidth limit your business growth, it might be time to invest in a CRM platform that can support you.

There’s only one problem.

How do you find the right one for your business?

4.1. Which type of tool to use

There are dozens (if not hundreds) of CRM providers out there, and it can feel overwhelming to narrow it down to one.

The key is to start by understanding your customer life cycle and identifying pain points in the customer journey.

In other words, add tools to support the areas where your business struggles.

Let’s say you own a small SaaS company, and you do a great job of bringing in new leads and closing deals, but you’re missing contract renewal goals.

You could benefit from service-oriented features in that example, but you might not need to spend a lot on marketing tools or sales management software.

Here’s a closer look at which type of CRM to consider based on your pain points and business needs.

4.1.1. When to use a marketing CRM

A marketing CRM is best for small businesses that struggle to keep potential clients and users engaged with their brand.

Look for features that help you build a website and create email newsletters to educate your audience on your products and services.

4.1.2. When to use a sales CRM

Businesses that struggle to bring in new leads and close more sales opportunities would benefit from a sales CRM.

You can take advantage of lead generation features like sales funnels and landing pages, plus follow-up reminders and forecasting tools with a sales CRM.

Once a lead enters your pipeline, lead management tools such as outbound email tracking, call recording, and meeting scheduling help your sales reps stay on top of deals in the funnel and provide a personalized experience.

4.1.3. When to use a service CRM

As mentioned earlier, a service CRM works best for small businesses that struggle with onboarding, retention, and customer satisfaction.

With the right tools, you can create customer service tickets and offer channels like live chat to improve your customer service experiences.

Service CRM tools also help you gather valuable customer feedback through surveys to help you improve your service workflow and product quality.

4.2. All-in-one vs. Standalone CRM tools

Another decision to make when choosing a CRM is whether you should use standalone tools (like the ones described above) or an all-in-one solution that includes features for marketing, sales, and service.

All-in-one CRM solutions are best for businesses that want to improve in several places along the customer journey.

Graphic of HubSpot CRM Hubs

Graphic of HubSpot CRM Hubs

If you have the resources to invest in an all-in-one solution, they’re easier to manage, and you can sync all contact data in one place.

Furthermore, choosing an all-in-one solution can be better for long-term growth since you won’t have to add new products or switch software constantly.

However, if you decide that a standalone option is the right path for you, make sure the provider you choose integrates with any existing technology you already have.

This way, you can share data easily between platforms.

4.3. Other factors to consider

As you continue to narrow down your CRM provider options, consider these factors to help you narrow down your provider list:

  • Cost — Small businesses have tight budgets. Many CRMs have tiered pricing that increases based on customer volume or added features. Think about where you want your business to grow and see how that might affect your CRM price in the future.
  • Capacity — Consider how many employees you have. Do you have enough people to get use out of an all-in-one service, or would it be better to look at standalone options?
  • Ease of use — A good CRM will save you time, not take forever to learn. Look for software that’s user-friendly and offers add-on features or integrations to your existing tools.
  • Extra features — Most all-in-one solutions come with additional features like project management tools or app builders. Consider which features you’d actually use and avoid paying for features you don’t need.

5. The best all-in-one small business CRM solutions

If you’ve decided that an all-in-one small business CRM is the right step for you, we’ve gathered some of the top providers here.

Let’s dive in.

5.1. is an intuitive all-in-one CRM tool for online businesses looking to grow their presence and manage revenue streams.

Screenshot of’s funnel tab

Screenshot of’s funnel tab's CRM features:

  • Email builder
  • Marketing workflow automation
  • Website builder
  • Online course and webinar management
  • Blogging tools
  • Affiliate program manager

This is the best all-in-one CRM for blogs, online courses, and digital classes.

5.2. HubSpot

HubSpot is an all-in-one CRM solution that comes with marketing, sales, service, operations, and content management hubs.

You can build the CRM that works for you by choosing the most relevant Hubs (which act as standalone CRMs), so you get the features you need without paying for those you don’t.

Screenshot of HubSpot’s service CRM

Screenshot of HubSpot’s service CRM

HubSpot's CRM features:

  • Contact, deal, task, and opportunity management
  • Sales funnel with customizable deal stages
  • Sales, marketing, and service analytics
  • Workflow automation
  • Meeting scheduling
  • Canned responses

This is the best all-in-one CRM for small businesses looking to scale.

5.3. Zoho

Zoho CRM offers marketing and customer management tools and features that help remote teams collaborate and stay organized.

Screenshot of Zoho’s SalesInbox

Screenshot of Zoho’s SalesInbox

Zoho's CRM features:

  • Secure business email
  • Omnichannel customer service support
  • Business analytics
  • Meeting and webinar solution
  • Project management tool for agile teams
  • Cliq chat messaging

This is the best all-in-one CRM for fully remote businesses.

6. Conclusion

Starting a business and scaling for growth are two different challenges, and you’ll need to adapt your strategy and tools as you grow.

CRM solutions are an excellent tool to help you centralize customer data and empower your team to build relationships that create loyal return customers.

If you only need help in one area, then a standalone option might be the best CRM software for you.

Otherwise, if you can afford it, there are several all-in-one CRM platforms to help you simplify business processes and provide the best source for centralized customer information.

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