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Choosing the right CRM (customer/client relationship management) tool isn’t about choosing the ‘best’ CRM: it’s about choosing the right CRM for YOU. After all, everyone who uses a CRM tool has their favorites and the reasons vary as much as the weather in Ohio (or… really anywhere these days). There are some great ways to help you figure out which CRM is right for you, though!

How to choose the right CRM for you and your business

1 | Know what you’re looking for in a CRM

After all, if you don’t know what you want from a CRM, you’ll have a hard time comparing them. Once you dive in, it’s easy to get swayed by each shiny new feature of the various CRMs. So here’s what you can do to combat Shiny Syndrome:

Make a list of what you already KNOW you need

Review your business tasks and think about what could be improved. Do you need a more streamlined system? Are your contracts a hot mess? Maybe you start each proposal or quote from scratch and it takes FOREVER. Whatever it is, start a running list over the next few days. This is your starting point.

Modify that list as you find features you do and DON’T like while trialing CRMs

As you start testing out CRM tools, you’ll probably find some features that you didn’t know you wanted. That’s awesome! Sometimes those are the little things that could make a big difference in your business. Make note of them and keep track of which CRMs have those features.

You’ll probably also run into some things that make you want to rip your hair out. This is also important because if there are too many of these things, you’re going to hate using your new CRM and you’ll be wasting your money on your subscription. Make note of these cons so that you can keep an eye out for them in other CRMs you trial.

Trying to decide on a CRM for your business? For starters, you need to know what you need the CRM to do.Click to Tweet

2 | Don’t take anyone’s word for it

Speaking of trials… don’t take my word (or anyone else’s) as to the ‘best’ CRM! I trialed a few different CRMs before settling on Dubsado and while there are definitely some things about Dubsado that make me want to hit my head against the wall, there are also some features that I LOVE and couldn’t do without. All of the other CRMs I tried had more of the cons than the pros and that was how I made my decision.

However, some of those things I hated might be things that someone else likes. That’s the beauty of it: one person’s “perfect” CRM may be someone else’s nightmare. That’s why you should make sure to trial CRMs that peak your interest until you find the right one for YOU. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Trial run all of the CRMs you’re considering so you get a first-hand experience

I’m not going to spend too much time on this since it’s pretty straightforward. Any CRM tool worth their salt is going to offer a trial period. It could be 14 days, 17 days (real cute, 17hats!), all the way up to 30 days or even a non-time-limited trial (yes, there’s at least one CRM that offers that. *cough*Dubsado*cough*). They’re typically no-credit-card-required types of deals and shouldn’t require any obligation. So sign up, take it for a test drive, and then return it (aka unsubscribe from their obnoxious marketing emails) if it’s not the right fit. Easy peasy!

Talk to others who are using the CRMs you’re considering

Folks who are in the thick of it will have some great insights into the best practices of a particular CRM. You may get some tips that will help you hit the ground running or you may realize right off the bat that it isn’t the right fit for you. Either way, you’ll have some outside insights to help you get going.

Talk to those who’ve transferred to or from the CRMs you’re considering as well

Another great research tool is to talk to some folks who’ve switched to or from one of your potential new CRMs. In the Dubsado Facebook group, there are a lot of inquiries from folks who are currently using programs like 17hats, Honeybook, Sprout Studio, or any number of other CRMs and members of the group who have used those programs will chime in to answer their questions. If the CRM you’re considering doesn’t have a dedicated Facebook group, try posting in another community of business owners and see what kind of response you get. You might get exactly the answer you need!

Take reviews with a grain of salt

I’ll preface this by saying that I’ve written a couple of comparison reviews for CRMs. Take ALL reviews with a grain of salt. Yes, this includes mine. I will wholeheartedly admit that I’m a wee bit biased towards Dubsado, though I try to write my reviews from an objective perspective (hey, if something truly is a better fit for me, I am open to switching). Pretty much any review is going to have at least a little bit of bias, though, so again, don’t take anyone’s word for it. Get a feel for the features through reviews… and then try the CRMs out for yourself.

When choosing a CRM for your business, you shouldn’t take anyone’s word for it – not even mine! Do some digging while making your decision.Click to Tweet

3 | Get to know the CRM

Again, trial run all the CRMs you’re considering. You’ll likely get a quick idea of which are and aren’t a good fit, as well as which ones you need to play with more. Don’t be afraid to use the entire trial and let it lapse, either! You don’t want to be making a snap decision, especially since it gets more and more tricky to switch to a new CRM the bigger your business gets. So how do you really get to know the CRM?

Talk to their customer support

Let’s be real: it could be the greatest program on the face of the planet, but if their customer support sucks, it’s not worth much. Because if something breaks, it’s going to be excruciatingly painful to get bad customer support to fix it. And something is GOING to break, even with the best program.

Try to find a question that isn’t answered by their help section

Kick the CRM tires like they’re going out of style. You’re looking for a reason to say No, just like you would on a used car lot. The easier something is to eliminate from your Maybe list, the quicker you can move on. Once you find something that isn’t answered by the CRM’s help section, take it to their customer support team.

See how responsive their support is and what their tone is

When customer support responds, make a mental rating. How quickly did they respond? What kind of tone did they use and is it the kind of tone you would use? (For example, I love that Dubsado’s team will sometimes respond with GIFs and emojis, but if you hate GIFs and emojis, that’s not going to float your boat!) Were they able to answer your question or did they direct you to an unhelpful resource?

Again, if customer support doesn’t meet your standards, you’re going to struggle any time a problem comes up. Keep that in mind when choosing your CRM.

Consider your budget while in trials

Know what you can afford and take that into consideration when making your decision. Most of the time, if it’s outside your monthly business budget, you probably shouldn’t even consider it. There are occasions when it may be worth testing it out to see if it could be instrumental in growing your business, but be careful with that. Overall, just make sure to have your budget in the back of your mind while you’re trialing CRMs.

Look at their upcoming features list

More and more SAAS (software as a service) products like CRMs are sharing a public ‘roadmap’ of upcoming features. Keep in mind that these are often, as Captain Barbossa would say, more like “guidelines” than actual rules. That is to say, there isn’t always a date assigned to the upcoming features since coding problems crop up more often than programmers like to admit, but it at least gives you a better idea of whether they have some of your Must Have features on the horizon.

Side note: If they don’t have a public ‘roadmap,’ this is a great question for customer support!

If you’re struggling to find an adequate question to present to customer support, this could be your ticket. If they don’t have a list of upcoming features, ask customer support where that list is. If they say it doesn’t exist, fine, whatever. If they say it doesn’t exist, but that’s a great idea and we’ll present it to the team, bonus points!

If you’re picking a new CRM, whether you’re a freelancer, small business owner, or entrepreneur, you need to take some test drives. Kick the tires before you make a decision!Click to Tweet

When deciding on which CRM is right for you, don’t just use the CRM your business BFF is using. Make sure you choose the one that fits YOU best right now. Know that this might change in the future, too – and that’s okay! But if you do your research, kick some CRM tires, and make sure that they have stellar customer support that actually LISTENS to their customers and makes changes based on your feedback… you’ll probably be in good hands for a long time.


Leave a comment about CRMs! Here are some ideas:

  • What CRMs have you tested out? Which one did you settle on and why?

  • What would be something you’d suggest that anyone considering a new CRM keep in mind?

  • What CRM feature could you not live without?

How to Choose the Right CRM for You
The Creative Entrepreneurs L.A.B.