Small Business CRMs: Special Features and Capabilities

Small Business CRMs: Special Features and Capabilities

Here are a few special features and capabilities to consider when deciding on a CRM to use for your Small to Medium Business.

Customer Information

A good CRM should at the very least be able to hold records of all your customers. The key features to look for are:

  • Relationships: the ability to relate contacts to their companies and companies to accounts are all important features
  • Record keeping: your CRM should be able to hold pertinent contact information along with individual and company details
  • History: your CRM must be able to record all interactions on all instances of contact with the customer
  • Organization: your CRM must be able to organize all your contacts into groups (e.g. prospects, active clients, follow-ups, newsletter sign ups, etc.)
  • Others: extra features such as links to the contact social networking pages, display maps of client locations with travel instructions,

Sales and Marketing Tools

A CRM is not simply software. It is a business tool that helps you automate both sales and marketing and, importantly, speed up the buying cycle.  Look for these functions:

  • Invoicing: the ability to print and email invoices and statements
  • Account alerts: during sales, inform you if a customer is in arrears so you can make an informed decision regarding incurring more risk
  • Direct marketing: create automated email campaigns and produce mailing labels for direct marketing campaigns
  • Customer segmentation: identify customers by any number of categories, the products they buy or location, so that unique marketing and sales activities can be better targeted

Business Intelligence

At the very least, a CRM should be able to show you where your sales and marketing efforts are most effective.  Look for the following features:

  • Sales Tracking: Allow sales performance reporting
  • Targets: Manage sales targets by salesperson or team
  • Customer Segmentation: Identify groups of contacts for specialized marketing programs
  • Product reports: Provide product sales trends analysis and recommend stock reorder quantities
  • Profitability reports: Produce reports that help you strategize how to maximize your profits

Productivity Features

Of course, it would greatly help your staff CRM had features that could enhance their productivity as well. Look for the following:

  • Email: the ability to capture all email between your team and customers
  • Calendaring: daily schedules and to-do lists and  integration with staff calendars (i.e. Google Apps or Microsoft Outlook)
  • Mobility: the ability to access contact information via a tablet or mobile phone
  • Telephony: A ‘click to dial’ ability that lets staff simply select a phone number on a CRM record, and have it automatically dialed on their phone, while simultaneously recording the details of the call. Also, links to phone systems so that an incoming brings up the appropriate customer record automatically

Deployment options

A cloud-based CRM deployment will allow your staff to access the CRM from anywhere and on any device. However, cloud-based solutions require a reliable internet connection. If you are an in an area where broadband is patchy, you may wish to consider an on-premises solution instead.

Try before you buy

Use the free demos that are available from most CRM vendors. Frequently, these free trials allow you to experiment with a small set of your customer data, so you can test how well each solution works for your business.  Be on the lookout for small, add-in features that make a big difference.  Ask yourself “How does this tool help my business?”

That’s it for my tech series on Small Business CRMs. If you have questions or CRM recommendations, please feel free to leave a comment. Stay humble and hustle hard!


Written by Jaie O.- The Help 

Small Business CRMs: Ask Yourself These Questions

Small Business CRMs: Ask Yourself These Questions

18422184_10210579626580921_3838965366912108093_oWhen considering a CRM for a small business, you do not need the most expensive, feature-rich, or latest CRM. What you need is a software solution that meets your needs. Start by looking at the following broad requirements:

The Price

Price is a primary factor (if not THE main factor) when choosing a CRM. More often than not, there is more to a CRM than the upfront purchasing cost. You have to dig deeper and analyze what is included in the price. Evaluate what is included in the package. Think about:

  • How much will it cost to integrate your chosen CRM into existing resources?
  • Will this entail additional equipment?
  • Are there hosting fees?
  • How much would the training cost?
  • What are the costs of upgrades?
  • Does the vendor offer free support or will that be an added cost?
  • Are there peripherals that need to be bought with the CRM, perhaps smartphones for the whole team?

If you have an existing CRM, also consider the costs of moving your current customer (and possibly sales) information into the new CRM. This can cost as much, if not more, than the first year’s software licensing costs. Consider how much of that customer information migration you can do yourself, and how much will need to be done by a specialist.

Fit For Purpose

There is a temptation to purchase a CRM that promises to grow your business by offering a myriad of advanced sales automation and marketing features. On paper, these CRMs look wonderful. However, it is important to avoid getting a system that does things your business does not need… or that your staff is simply not ready to adopt.  It is much better to start small, with a limited set of features that match your immediate business needs.  In software terms, we call this ‘fit for purpose.’  Ask yourself:

  • Do you need a CRM  that is more integrated into existing hardware, such as your phone systems?
  • Do you need a CRM that is more social media-centric?
  • What do your employees need?
  • What are some of your important business processes that integrate well with the CRM?

Do not be mislead by a hundred features that you don’t understand, let alone use. Forget the bells and whistles. Choose a CRM that understands your business requirements and appropriately captures your needs. Choose a CRM that helps you make the informed choices and allows for excellent customer follow up. And more importantly, choose one that you and your team can easily work with.


Never forget security. After all, customers trust you with their valuable personal information whether they are aware of that or not. A secure CRM would let you know when a team member makes changes, especially on important details such as passwords. It should let you define access controls to documents and other information for each user. Customers should be able to trust that their information and their buying preferences are not just out there on the world wide web for everyone to have access to. Privacy is important not just for you and your customers but for maintaining solid and reliable business relationships.

These are the three broad features to consider when deciding on a CRM. Next week, I’ll discuss some special features and capabilities for you to consider. Remember to stay humble and hustle hard!


Written by Jaie O.- The Help

Small Business CRMs: An Introduction

Small Business CRMs: An Introduction

18403847_10210579626420917_8262808040566198763_oThis article is a tribute to all the hardworking small business owners out there. We know how hard you hustle, we do too. We’re happy that your business has taken off and your client base is starting to grow substantially. Oh wow, here comes your first client!

Clients are easy to manage when they’re a small list. But if you’re doing things right, eventually your client list will start to grow. Just like hair, it becomes unruly when not cared for properly.

We know the struggles of growing a company. That’s why we have some tech tips and tricks for you on how to manage your growing client base.

Managing your clients’ list can be a persnickety task. There are quite a few ways to go about it. You can manage your contacts list individually. These days, many sole traders and salespeople just make use of the address book on their smartphones. Others do it the old-school way of collecting business cards in cardholders or (even more old school) Rolodexes. Some make use of tech by scanning or taking a photo of the cards and storing them in EverNote or Google Keep.

These are all quick, easy, and convenient options. However, they do not go beyond simply listing names, addresses, and other pertinent contact information. You have to be able to leverage personal information into sales and marketing activities order to make your business successful. A card-box full of names just won’t hack it.

This is where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software comes into play. More than a contact list, a CRM is kind of like a personal digital assistant for sales and marketing tool. Not only does it keep a record of your clients’ personal and professional contact information, but it also stores details of each and every interaction you have with your customer, whether by phone or by other electronic correspondence. Ideally, a CRM will also guide you through the selling process, ensuring that no opportunities are missed.  

Sure, your employees can keep a document or a spreadsheet that contains all data, but they would all have to rely on memory to recall little details that make for an excellent customer service experience. These “little details” such as remembering to send a client a loyalty gift card on his/her birthday are the “little things” that make customer experience unforgettable. Sometimes, business owners also miss the opportunity to upsell or offer an upgrade because the spreadsheet method failed to note that previous conversation where you have to listen carefully for a subtle hint to learn that a current client will greatly benefit from an upgrade. That conversation could’ve gotten lost in the spreadsheet because it was a general inquiry.

With the right CRM, you can target new markets and identify new prospective clients, follow up on existing deals/projects, cross-sell, inform existing customers of new products/services, or even keep invoice trackers. You don’t have to keep juggling balls in the air and hope that none of them drop.

The key is to choose the right software for the way your business works. You don’t want to see your small team of employees trying to wrap their heads around new software instead of keeping the customers happy. They must be able to work with the software, not around it.

Next week, I will discuss the broad considerations you should decide on when choosing a CRM that would fit your Small to Medium business. In the meantime, stay humble and hustle hard.


Written by Jaie O.- The Help

Visually Yours: Part 2

Visually Yours: Part 2

Last week, we talked about 5 out of the 10 types of Visual Content Assets that anyone invested in publishing content on the internet should be creating now.

You probably have your own reasons on why you are creating content to publish on the internet. Maybe you own a small business and would like to increase your fanbase or gather more followers. Maybe you’re building a brand. Maybe you’re creating helpful tutorials or even publishing white papers and research posts. Or maybe you just want to blog about your everyday adventures. Whatever the reason, Visual Content Assets can help increase information retention and create audience engagement as opposed to using just plain text.

Here are 5 more type of Visual Content Assets that you can create to increase your audience engagement:

Call to Actions (CTAs) – Call- to – Action buttons are a call out to your readers. CTAs give your readers a slight nudge in the direction you want them to take. They’re great for promoting sales, events, and offering exclusive content. They reinforce your content and are used as a guide to influence your reader to take action after you’ve drawn them in with your awesome content. These are usually big bold texts in colors that are aligned with your brand that grab a reader’s attention. Here’s an example:


Tips, DIY, How-Tos, and Tutorials – Videos or image guides are a hit on Pinterest. If you’re a DIY blogger, hobbyist, or some sort of expert, then you probably have used this type Visual Content before. The beauty of attaching visual aids to your posts is that they set you up to be some sort of authority on the subject you’re discussing. Not only are you providing a step by step instructions on completing the project, but you are also showing evidence that the project is achievable and  can indeed be done. As long as it is couple with clear and well-written content, readers can easily follow the guide you have laid out for them. Your followers can then try the projects out for themselves and turn to you for similar projects and more advice.


Quizzes and Visual Puzzles – Quizzes are fun to take. If you want to gather information about your readership, quizzes are a good way to do so. Puzzles are also a fun way to engage your audience. These are especially great for Digital Marketers as you can always tie it up with your product, your brand or your theme.


Memes and GIFS – What makes them click? Are you kidding? These are hilarious and fun to watch! It helps you build rapport with your readers and lets you show your lighter side. You can create these using Giphy, Tumblr Creatrs, or Imgur.



Drawings and Comics – I’m addicted to these and follow a few (ok maybe more than a few) creators and artists on Instagram. Drawing and comics are very relatable, easy to absorb and to understand, and generally fun to read. Check out these amazing, fun, yet thought-provoking comics on Instagram: theawkwardyeti, barelyfunctionaladult, and chrishallbeck

It's okay to be dark inside. #BarelyFunctionalAdult

A post shared by Barely Functional Adult (@barelyfunctionaladult) on

Hopefully, these Visual Content Assets help you increase your readership and follower engagement. Do you know of any other type of Visual Content that worked well for you in the past? Care to share them with us? Stay humble and hustle hard!


Written by Jaie O. – The Help

Visually Yours: Part 1

Visually Yours: Part 1

Technology has made it very easy for us to access tools of publishing. With the press of a button or a touch on the screen, our original creations, words, images, creative imaginings instantly appear on the world wide web. We can even control, to some extent, the afterlife of our creations. We can choose to edit, revise, extend, or change these creations long after they have been sent out into the world. Let’s face it, in one way or another, all of us are publishers now. This convenience comes with a huge responsibility. And this is why we have to be very careful about what goes out on the internet for all to see.

Last week, I wrote about the rules surrounding copyright and the use of images on our self-published musings on social media. It is important to reinforce this lesson because Visual Content is king when it comes to the internet. After all, Photos are the main type of posts shared on social media with Facebook having approximately 3000 million photo uploads per day! But that’s just one type of Visual Content.

Visual Content Assets are among the most important forms of content you can publish. It is ranked as the second most important form of content second only to blogging by a very small margin. Notice that in any information you deem important enough to read, Visual Content is always present. That’s because we all know that people are likely to remember information when it is paired with an image (at 65% retention) compared to just hearing about it (at 10% retention).

If you’re looking to up your game and create amazing visual content for whatever reason (maybe to get more followers, retain customers, create a fanbase, etc.), in addition to photos or images, here are four more types of Visual Content that you should start using right now:

Videos – I’m sure you’ve seen one of those 2minute videos where they show you how to make 4 Easy Slow Cook Dinners or Rotini Pasta 4 ways. Why are these things such a hit? Well, they’re fun to watch, low commitment because they’re short, easy to remember with easy to follow instructions, and likely to go viral right away. If you can put together a video like that, you’re golden!

Inspirational Quotes – this is extremely popular and can generate tons of engagement mainly because people can easily relate to them. Another plus is that they’re very easy to create, which is why they’re a favorite tool of bloggers when they need Visual Content in a pinch.


Infographics and Graphical Data – People zone out when you explain statistics to them. People generally do that when presented with numbers. This is a huge hurdle when you’re trying to explain facts and figures. But if you make it easier for them to visualize the statistics and create an easier comparison, then you’ve won the battle. Keep in mind that a whopping 40% of people understand visual data better than data presented as just plain text.    


Screenshots – Everything we publish on the internet is archived on some server somewhere. Screenshots are great for showing archived information that used to exist. It could also be used to draw attention to a small part of a particularly long text. It can even be used to clarify text especially when coupled with a highlight or an annotation. Live capture is also a particularly great function of the screenshot and can be useful for tweets, reviews, and testimonials.

Stay tuned for five more types of Visual Content Assets that will take your published content to the next level. In the meantime, remember to stay humble and hustle hard.


Written by Jaie O.- The Help