Can Your Small Business Survive Without CRM? Think Again!

small business crm

So you’re curious to know more about small business CRM, Let’s say you’ve gotten your business off the ground and you’re actually doing quite well.

Congratulations are certainly in order, for this is no easy feat. You’ve tasted all this success and yet you haven’t even invested in customer relationship management software, also called CRM software.

Right now, you’re managing your customers the good, old-fashioned way. You communicate via phone and email and make notes on who needs following up. Sometimes you even use sticky notes.

Your sales and marketing teams sort of do their own things since they’re not exactly in alignment. If you need analytics, you can produce them yourself, drawing up a report written from scratch.

It may take hours, sometimes days, but you get it done nonetheless.

If going without a CRM database has worked for you so far, that’s probably only because you haven’t experienced much growth within your company.

Once you start building your customer base, keeping up with each and every customer without a digital system in place will drive you crazy.

Your daily tasks will become impossible. You’ll either need to hire on several more staff members or accept that you need CRM for small businesses.

It’s better you do the latter.

Why Some Companies Think They Can Survive Without CRM

That said, sometimes misinformed companies do truly believe they can go without CRM. There are several reasons they may think like this. Let’s talk about these reasons in more depth now.

The Past Informs the Future

If something you’re doing in business works, then why would you stop doing it? It goes back to the old proverb of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Like we mentioned in the intro, foregoing CRM software for small businesses may have served your company well until this point.

You figure you can continue the hot streak at no detriment to your long-term success and bottom line.

That’s unfortunately rarely the case. With time, as a company grows, so too does its customer base. To accommodate more customers, you absolutely need a CRM for small businesses.

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Going without it can be troublesome in several ways. As we discussed, your company may hire extra staff to deal with these new customers.

That’s more money that now goes towards payroll that small businesses might not necessarily have to spare.

Doing most customer management work manually also increases the chances of your employees making mistakes.

If a customer or potential customer falls through the cracks, they can be lost forever. That means less business for the company. This hurts the bottom line.

They Feel It’s a Waste of Money

As a small business owner, every last cent counts, right? Definitely. You don’t want to spend money unnecessarily.

Combined with the point above, if a company’s current system is working, then it ain’t broke and there’s no need to fix it.

The bottom will drop out eventually, and your business will have to scramble to fix its errors.

The money you spend to do so could be twice, sometimes thrice the cost of a CRM solution subscription in the first place.

They Don’t Understand CRM or How to Use It

Perhaps an employee at your business has tried CRM software before. They had no idea what they were doing and thus deduced the software was useless.

In reality, it’s more likely this person failed to take the time to properly learn their CRM.

CRM can have a bit of a learning curve, especially if you’ve never handled similar software before. If a small business owner or sales rep doesn’t know that, they could think it’s just too hard to use the software and thus skip over it entirely.

They Think It’s Redundant

Another reason your company might not use CRM has to do with redundancy. If you’ve already purchased several other pieces of software, you might think adding CRM is too much.

Surely these other tools and software can fill in the gaps, right?


CRM software can create analytics based on the information you feed it, allow employees to share files, do email tracking, provide instant message access to employees, predict sales opportunities, take care of lead gen and lead management, and more.

If anything, a good CRM system can make other software redundant, not the other way around.

Their Expectations Are Especially Low

Let’s say in your small business, one key stakeholder used CRM and had a bad experience. Why would you think things would be different this time around?

Other employees who aren’t acquainted with the software tend to believe the stakeholder. Before you know it, morale becomes especially low before the software even gets installed.

There’s a psychological concept known as the self-fulfilling prophecy. When you really, truly believe something will happen, good or bad, it usually does. We indirectly influence the result with our thoughts.

If your small business goes into things thinking CRM solution won’t help, then it probably won’t.

10 Stats That Prove You Need a CRM System

  • 1. CRM Will Only Become More Prevalent in the Years to Come
  • 2. Customer Retention Increases with the Software
  • 3. Most Companies Use It
  • 4. Companies Realize CRM’s Impact
  • 5. CRM Can Help in Many Areas of Business
  • 6. It’s Part of Many a Five-Year Plan
  • 7. Your Sales Team Can Largely Benefit
  • 8. Cloud-Based CRM Grows in Leaps and Bounds
  • 9. Mobile CRM Use Skyrockets, Increases Sales
  • 10. CRM Software Accommodates for User Concerns

Still, think you’re okay without a small business CRM system? We implore you to think again. The following 10 stats prove the effectiveness of this software and may just change your mind.

1. CRM Will Only Become More Prevalent in the Years to Come

CRM won’t go away if you ignore it hard enough. In fact, it’s only going to become more prevalent.

A 2017 Marketing Research Report from Grand View Research predicts that, once 2025 arrives, companies will have achieved significant revenue from CRM software (somewhere in the ballpark of $80 billion).

Image courtesy of SuperOffice

2. Customer Retention Increases with the Software

2015 data from Capterra found that most companies using CRM solutions had better customer retention rates. Almost half of the respondents, 47 percent, said customers not only stuck around but were happier, too.

Don’t you want the same for your business?

3. Most Companies Use It

Think you’re far from alone by not using CRM? Data says otherwise. A report from 2015 discovered that most small businesses use CRM software.

To be considered a small business, these companies have 11 employees or more. Of those businesses surveyed, 91 percent had a CRM system in place.

Is your company even smaller? Software use rates persist. Of those businesses with 10 employees or less, 50 percent used CRM.

4. Companies Realize CRM’s Impact

In a year-end 2016 sales report, LinkedIn shared that most companies that use CRM believe it makes a big difference in their businesses.

When asked to rate how impactful CRM can be, 64.2 percent of those surveyed called CRM solution usage “impactful” and even “very impactful.”

5. CRM Can Help in Many Areas of Business

In the years since CRM has come onto the scene, companies have accommodated for it by increasing their spending. Back in 2014, most companies (47 percent) said they’d boost their customer service software spending budget, says Software

Now, several years later in 2019, spending budgets have surely increased. This is because CRM software can aide employees in many areas, as this graph from SuperOffice illustrates:

Image courtesy of SuperOffice

6. It’s Part of Many a Five-Year Plan

What are your long-term goals for your company? Another Capterra report mentions how, as part of a five-year plan, most companies (65 percent) will add CRM solution to their arsenal. Why not you?

Image courtesy of Capterra

7. Your Sales Team Can Largely Benefit

Everyone wants an efficient sales team for their company, but how do you go about getting one? Adding CRM solution seems to help, says Nutshell.

It’s possible to increase the accuracy of sales forecasting (42 percent), the productivity of your sales team (34 percent), and overall sales (29 percent) with this software. Sounds good to us!

8. Cloud-Based CRM Grows in Leaps and Bounds

CRM software is nothing new, but cloud-based usage is. SuperOffice states that, back in 2008, cloud-based CRM usage hit just 12 percent. As of 2018, usage spiked to 87 percent.

Image courtesy of SuperOffice

9. Mobile CRM Use Skyrockets, Increases Sales

Not only do you need CRM solution for the office, but it should have a mobile reach as well.

When employees can access customer data and other relevant info on their smartphones and tablets, they can prioritize customer satisfaction around the clock.  

Image courtesy of Algoworks

The above piece of an infographic from software company Algoworks shows the importance of mobile CRM. Up to 65 percent of sales teams with access to mobile CRM have reached sales goals.

Compare that to those who don’t use mobile CRM. Only 22 percent of salespeople could achieve those goals.

10. CRM Software Accommodates for User Concerns

This piece of Capterra’s infographic shows the principal concerns of those thinking of buying CRM software.

Image courtesy of Capterra

Most companies, 24 percent, care about the software’s functionality. Another good chunk, 20 percent, want software that’s easy to use.

Price was another big determining factor at 14 percent. Next, there’s company reputation (nine percent), support features (eight percent), implementation training (another eight percent), software popularity (six percent), and the recommendations and reviews of other users (six percent).

There’s no doubt that, for CRM solution to sell, it must accommodate all these concerns. That means if you thought this software was too hard to use in the past, it’s worth trying again.

Tips for Choosing the Right CRM Software

  • Ensure the Software Has Small Business Capabilities
  • Get GDPR Compliant
  • Make Sure You Can Use It
  • Consider Pricing
  • Accommodate for Implementation/Training
  • Ask about User Maximums and Minimums
  • Take It for a Test Drive

We hope the above stats have convinced you that your small business needs a CRM system in place. Now comes the difficult part, choosing which one to use.

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How do you find the best CRM for small businesses? Follow these tips.

Ensure the Software Has Small Business Capabilities

If your company has 11 or 15 employees, you don’t need a huge CRM system that can accommodate businesses with 30 or more people.

Not only would one of these systems waste your time, but your money as well.

You want to make sure the software you choose works for small businesses like yours. As you browse vendors, pay special attention to information about their respective software.

Look at reviews and testimonials as well. Are these customers from bigger, Fortune 500 companies or smaller ones like yours? Is it a mix?

You can also just ask the vendor outright if their solution fits small businesses.

Get GDPR Compliant

About a year ago, the European Union introduced the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. You can read more about the topic on our blog here.

While it mostly affects those in the EU, if you have clients or customers there, then you’re affected as well.

Most new CRM software has GDPR features built right in. These ensure your compliancy so you don’t get hit with a fine and accidentally ruin your company’s reputation.

Features like bulk updates, subscription management, and consent management will help you prioritize your customer’s privacy and personal data the way they’d prefer.

Make Sure You Can Use It

If you can’t figure out your small business CRM software, you’re not likely to use it. You could discontinue your subscription after a year and go back to the old ways of doing things.

As we’ve said several times over, that just won’t work. You need software that’s usable, even if it requires a bit of training to figure it out (more on this shortly). By the way, when we say usable, we mean the whole thing.

If you only understand certain features, then you’re not getting the full scope of your CRM solution. That’s only hurting you and your business in the end.

Consider Pricing

Of course, we couldn’t talk about buying something new for your business without mentioning cost. Yes, the best CRM software can be expensive.

It’s also a must-have for your business, so instead of thinking of creative ways to get around using CRM, plan on how you can afford it.

Request some quotes and then compare them. Some companies may charge you monthly and others annually, so keep that in mind. Budget where you have to.

For instance, you could possibly discontinue the use of some other software you have because CRM will replace it.

Accommodate for Implementation/Training

Once you buy the best small business CRM system for your business, you don’t want to be left on your own. Will the vendor help with setup and implementation? Some will and some won’t.

That’s up to you to do your homework and choose an awesome CRM provider with great support services.

Do know that implementation can take a while depending on your office setup. Ideally, it’d be good to get you set up in a few hours, but sometimes it may take a day or longer.

That’s time you’re losing. You also have to expect to lose time training your employees on how to use the software.

Both losses are essentially unavoidable. Don’t try to skimp on either process, as you’ll ultimately regret it.

Ask about User Maximums and Minimums

Admittedly, a user maximum probably isn’t much of an issue for small businesses like yours. Still, you want to ask about it anyway. User maximums restrict how many people can use the software.

If your company has 50 employees, then a user max might come into play.

What you should concern yourself more with are user minimums. You have to have a certain amount of people in your office for some vendors to install CRM software for small businesses.

If you have at least 10 people on your payroll, then you should be in the clear. It never hurts to double-check before you part with your hard-earned money, though.

Take It for a Test Drive

You wouldn’t buy a car without driving it first, right? Just like you wouldn’t put down money on a house you haven’t seen in person.

Small business CRM software is a major investment. Okay, maybe it’s not on par with a new house or vehicle, but it’s a big deal nonetheless.

If the vendor you’re thinking of working with offers a free trial, then, by all means, take advantage of it!

These trials may last seven days. Some even extend for a whole month. During this time, try as many features of the software as you can, even those you might not use often.

This benefits you in two ways. First, you get a feel for the software and how easily you can navigate it. Also, you get to decide through firsthand experience if you want to work with this vendor or not.

Reviews and testimonials are very useful as well. Be sure to augment what you’ve read with real-time usage of the product via your free trial.


If you’re a company going without a CRM solution and succeeding, know that you will hit a wall sooner than later.

Customers will fall through the cracks, sales numbers will slip, and your company will lose money.

Before it gets to that point, why not buy a CRM system for your small business? Revenue should increase,c as will customer satisfaction and retention.

Also, at this point, you’re kind of in the minority if you go without this software.

By following the tips we presented above, you can find the best CRM software for small businesses to take your small business to the next level.

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Nicole Malczan

Nicole Malczan is a freelance writer who specializes in writing about marketing and small business. She's passionate about sharing affordable solutions that leverage small businesses with the big fish.

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