Access to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software was limited to small businesses before 10 years or so. Big business, having remarkable resources of capital, technical knowledge and in-house infrastructure only could implement those solutions at that time. All the CRM software available were licensed products (now called on-premise solutions) which were very costly to purchase; and slow to implement. One more significant limiting factor was the high maintenance fee and costly upgrades associated with these traditional systems.
Changes in technology changed every thing. Now, in case of CRM software, being small offers businesses more benefits than ever. Small business means limited number of employees, less monthly software usage fee, enhanced Sales Force Automation (SFA), and better informed and integrated employees.
Web-based CRM softwares (called on-demand solutions) have turned out to be very popular in last 5 years or so. The success of these on-demand solutions can be readily noticed by today?s buzz about Software-as-a-Service (SaaS); many say it is the technology for the future and the technology to overcome recession. Web based CRM solutions have managed to offer a wide range of advantages to small businesses. The First advantage is the freedom from spreadsheets. Data has become digitalized, more accessible, convertible, sharable, updatable and analyzable.
Other advantages for small businesses include no capital requirement for software purchase, no/low investment for implementation, no time lag for implementation, no update costs, no maintenance costs, need of minimum technical knowledge, global accessibility, centralized remote databases managed by proper hands, improved enterprise data security, better communication, automation of key business processes, real-time reports and analyses, sales and marketing management, the list continues.
One can find a variety of reasons for this small business CRM popularity. The major contributor is the high-speed internet (broadband connections), which really made data access and transfer very swift. Second is the spread of internet, today net is available from virtually anywhere on a variety of devices from PCs to mobile phones to PDAs. The development of potent web-scripting languages like ASP, AJAX and Java, and improvement in database driven applications also contributed significantly. Other key factors involve the evolution of websites from a reference place to business and customer interacting place, and invention of free/low-cost open-source solutions. The limitations of traditional CRM softwares also helped.
Before going to choose a web based CRM for your small business, you should consider many things. First thing is the data security. Enquire and carefully readout the data security, data security and data sharing declarations of the vendors. Know how your data is treated, how much it is protected and how often back-up is available. For most small businesses data integration with existing business applications may not be an issue, but double check this by utilizing the free trail that most vendors offer. Many small business CRM vendors have multi-tier pricing plans, so make sure that you choose right plan or vendor.