Free, Bespoke or somewhere in the middle, which CRM option is the best for your business?

I have been having a lot of conversations with business owners recently about how now is the perfect time to implement CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems into your business.


There are normally three clear camps when I start discussing CRM with people who are starting on the fact-finding path towards CRM.


Camp 1 is the I need a value proposition (Free).

Camp 2 is the I need a bespoke system as my business is unique (bring in the developers).

And in camp 3 we have the I want something that I can configure and keep up to date without too much hassle (my ideal clients).


I`m sure you will know which camp you fall into right now. The question I are you open to changing your mind if a better solution comes along?


which CRM option is the best for your business

Is free CRM as free as it sounds?

Free CRM solutions have their place and can be perfect for some businesses, however, some key things need to be taken into account when you decide this is the way to go.


In many cases the free solution in the entry-level product that a company offers, this may be that you can upgrade for new features or that you have to purchase additional storage or you may only have limited back up`s. Likewise, check costs for training and support as these can cost extra.


Check this in advance, a good CRM will help your business to grow, think about what you may need your system to do in 3- or 5-years’ time, will the free solution be able to support these needs?


If you need to start with a free solution but are looking to move to a paid solution later down the road then check T&Cs regards data export, getting your data out of a seemingly free solution can be costly.


The main benefit with a Free CRM solution is the cost, making it a great option for start-up and small businesses needing a simple CRM.


When is a bespoke build the right option?

If you have complex business needs, or simply want to build a CRM solution to add a valuable asset to your existing business, then great but again there are some things to consider.


Developers cost a premium (at least good developers do) so it is likely the project will cost thousands, budget is not always a driving factor but, when you are looking at developing a solution from scratch you need to know what type of coding will be used, what level of documentation you will receive on completion and what level of support you can expect.


Even if you decide to build a CRM using your internal IT team, these things need to be done to ensure you have a plan should someone leave the organization or move departments.


And remember technology changes so without an ongoing plan and continued plans to spend a new bespoke solution may become quickly outdated, so plan for this.


When to choose Bespoke builds is clear, if you have a large budget and skilled contacts this can be a great way to create something unique that you can truly control.


Sitting comfortably in the middle.

Using a templated CRM system that can then be configured around your individual business needs is an appealing offering, you get the best of both worlds. But in the spirit of this blog, let us look at the risks as we have done so far with the other options.


Templated CRM systems do have a cost attached in almost all cases this is a per user per month model with an initial contract period. Like free solutions you need to check if additional features will cost extra, your data storage and back up options. You will also incur a cost for training, support and set up.


Choose a templated CRM system when you want control over your CRM to build at a realistic cost and, when you want a CRM system that can be changed and adapted as and when your business changes.



So, there you have it, three options to choose from, each with its challenges and benefits, once you have identified which option is best for your needs both right now and in the long term you can begin to look for a provider.


Identifying this is the first part of the CRM journey, good luck 😊

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