Having worked with hundreds of small business owners over the years, I've seen many successful CRM implementations, and also many unsuccessful ones. The ground truth is always the same: the best CRM for you is going to be the CRM that you and your team actually want to use.
With that in mind, here are the most common mistakes I see business owners make when choosing a CRM:
When they don’t consult with their team.
A CRM is only as useful as the data you put into it, so if your team finds the CRM hard to use, don’t want to use it, or enter in data haphazardly, a CRM will never be beneficial.
The most successful CRM implementations I’ve seen have always had team buy-in from the start. Everyone tries out the CRM together: sales teams, office admins, managers. This way, everyone knows how they should be working together in the CRM, and if a CRM doesn’t meet everyone’s needs, it’s not the best CRM for your business.
When they prioritize features over ease-of-use.
Features are important, but the reality is that the “smarter” a feature is, the harder and more expensive it is to use (both in financial cost and time spent learning it). Multi-view reporting, advanced forecasting, automated follow-ups all sound great, and for many enterprise companies, they are necessary. But small businesses don’t have enterprise needs.
Don’t fall into the trap of “aspirational features”: the trap where you buy a tool that has all the features you’d love to use one day, instead of buying a tool that has all the features you need to use today. A CRM with all the features that you can actually use right now is so much more valuable than a CRM that is bulked up with all the features you’ve paid for but will never use.
When they don’t read reviews before purchasing.
This one seems like a no-brainer but the easiest way to see if a CRM would work for you would be to read reviews from current customers. You can test out a CRM as much as you want during a trial, but it’s likely you’ve missed something that a long-term user already knows about.
At the end of the day, finding the right CRM can be stressful because software is just inherently (at least a little!) annoying. I’ve chatted with small businesses who have gone through (and fully implemented) three or four CRMs before finding the best one for them. It may sound tedious, but they did eventually find the right one, and avoiding these mistakes have paid them back tenfold to have a system they finally enjoy.