When is the right time to adopt a CRM?

If you’ve decided that a CRM system is probably in your company’s future, the next logical question is when. Many companies start small, storing their leads in an email tool, and their list of customers in a spreadsheet. This works fine for a while, but at a certain point, things start to break.

  • It becomes tough to manage your data in a “flat” structure like a spreadsheet as it grows (e.g., visualizing the relationships between contacts, companies, sales opportunities, etc.)
  • Jumping between the different places your data lives becomes cumbersome and slows your team down (e.g., login to the email tool to find your contacts’ email addresses, your accounting tool to see the revenue they are associated with, a spreadsheet to find out what state they are located in, etc.)
  • An employee leaving results in a loss of data (e.g., a sales rep leaves, drops all of the deals he was working on, leaving you no way to pick things up where he left off)

In short, the answer for most companies is pretty simple. While you may be able to get by for a while without a CRM system, adopting one sooner is often better than waiting until you feel the pain of an ad hoc solution you’ve outgrown.

But how much does a CRM cost? CRMs range in price; there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. A few important things to keep in mind:

  • Many CRMs charge per-user fees. In other words, one user would cost $50, two users $100, and so on.
  • Some CRMs charge for additional data. This could come in a few different forms. Some CRMs charge on a per-record basis: you pay for each additional set of 1,000 (or 10,000, etc.) people in your database. Others charge for data storage in size. For example, you could store up to 5 gigabytes of data for free, then pay for each additional gigabyte.
  • Still, others charge for functionality. Pay $50/user/month for contact, company, and deal management; pay an additional $50 for the “Enterprise” product that includes lead scoring and reporting.

While the factors of CRM pricing can be complex, the good news is that the barriers to adopting CRM are lower than they ever have been before. A big part of the reason we made HubSpot CRM 100% free was so that people wouldn’t have to “take the plunge” on a long-term agreement with per-license fees, just in order to find out if you need a CRM. Keep your whole team using what they’re used to, and move a couple of reps.


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