Editor’s note: While Michael Fauscette is a well-known expert in the software, tech, and digital space, he has a well-rounded resume that includes professional speaking, blogging, photography, and writing. He is a technology industry analyst with over 20 years of experience and is responsible for helping software and services buyers use the needed insights and data in the G2 Crowd marketplace.
We had a great opportunity to talk with Michael Fauscette and find out a lot of interesting facts about business developments and CRM selection.
In your opinion, what is the most difficult in selecting a CRM?
Michael: First let’s agree on what we’re including in CRM for this discussion. There are a lot of definitions and the term is sometimes used to refer to sales tools, marketing automation and customer service. For the purpose of simplicity let’s just focus on sales. There are a few things I’d say are difficult for companies evaluating CRM solutions. The first is simply cutting through the noise since the shear number of solutions that are available can be a bit overwhelming. The second thing would be matching your needs to the available solutions to find the best fit for your individual situation. The highest rated CRM solution may or may not be the best solution for your business challenges.
What do you recommend to pay attention to while choosing a CRM for business?
Michael: This is related to the last question. The first step is to really understand what you need in a solution. Clearly define your issues, as well as your business needs and requirements. I believe that the most effective way to capture those requirements is to apply an agile methodology and capture role based user stories that represent your requirements. Those user stories form the basis of your evaluation of the available potential solutions.
What features are the most important in CRM for any business?
Michael: I could give you a list of features or at least insist that a cloud-based solution is a must but honestly, the most important features in the CRM you choose are the ones that match your user stories and thus, solve your issues and meet your needs. Each business is unique and the specific context of your use of the system makes the “most important” a contextual answer.
What CRMs are the best for small businesses in 2021? Could you please recommend some of them?
Michael: There are some very good CRM options for small businesses. Individual business requirements should drive the selection process of course but in general Hubspot Sales Hub, ActiveCampaign, Salesforce Essentials (even though they are the leader in enterprise they have a scaled down version that is popular with small businesses), Freshworks CRM, Zoho CRM and Pipedrive all offer a lot of value for the cost and have a rich set of features.
Michael, could you please recommend to our readers the most effective methods and means to improve business performance?
Michael: Embracing digital technologies in the context of creating value for your customers, improving the experience of both customers and employees and creating a competitive advantage in your markets is the overarching message for businesses coming out of the past year and a half of the pandemic. From a tactical perspective though, I’d say that adopting an agile mindset and methodology across all your business functions is the path to increased business performance.
How can G2 help business owners in CRM selection?
Michael: As you’re trying to improve your business performance by adopting digital technologies it’s important to use all the assets at your disposal to find the best fit solutions. One of the most trusted sources of information is users of the solutions that are in similar roles, similar industries and with similar business issues and needs. As the largest global marketplace for software and services, and with over 1.4M detailed user reviews of software, G2 can provide the information from people “like you” that can help inform and accelerate your selection process.