The Top 5 CRM Features SMBs Don’t Need

By: on January 26, 2018

Customer relationship management (CRM) software comes with a lot of features, and not every business is going to need all of the tools that are part of a large CRM suite. In fact, chances are that you’re only looking for one CRM feature.

According to Gartner1, this is as true for a small to midsize business (SMB) like your own as it is for a large enterprise business: over 80 percent of Gartner’s client calls regarding CRM focus “on a specific requirement for one department.”

Stop wasting money on software features you don’t need!

throwing money away

It’s like throwing money out the window

This article will discuss the following:

  • Advanced features of CRM most SMBs shouldn’t waste their money on
  • Simpler features or solutions that SMBs should focus on instead

1. Channel Management

Channel management tools track goods and services from the seller through to the ultimate consumer. If a company works with a distribution partner, for example, these tools will help track their products every step along the line until they get to the customer.

Smaller businesses, though, have far fewer partners and outside vendors than larger businesses do. They may not even have any at all! Thus, channel management functionality is something they can likely skip.

What Should I Use Instead?


As an SMB, you should worry less about tracking your limited goods and services and focus more on maintaining the valuable contact information of your customers, clients and partners/vendors.

That’s why you should be sure that you have some kind of contact management system to consolidate all of your critical customer data into one searchable, accessible database.

Contact record in ProsperWorks

2. Help Desk Automation

Help desk automation tools store customer complaint information in a searchable database, track interactions and automate the issue resolution process using an issue tracking system. This is done through the creation of electronic trouble tickets which are used to track the issue from complaint through resolution.

Interestingly, “help desk” can refer to two different aspects of a business: customer service teams focused on external customers (consumers or businesses that have purchased goods or services from your company), and IT teams that serve internal customers (employees).

In either case, SMBs are less likely to need help desk automation as a part of their CRM suite. In a smaller business, there’ll be fewer external customer issues, and so less automation is needed to track them. SMBs will also have far fewer employees faced with internal issues.

What Should I Use Instead?


Though ostensibly similar to help desk software, customer service software has wider functionality that’s more useful to your SMB. Help desk software tends to be geared towards complex IT issues, while customer service software can help you respond to customer needs ranging from delivery problems to product warranties and appointment scheduling.

These tools will use a trouble ticketing system to help customer service representatives document, route, track, resolve and report on customer issues.

A trouble ticket as seen in Freshdesk

3. Call Center Automation

Call center automation is a tool used by, well, call centers—centralized business units staffed by support agents who assist customers over the phone or via any other number of communication channels, such as email, instant messaging, SMS text, social media and live chat. These tools are also used by the managers and supervisors who oversee these call centers.

SMBs, however, are not likely to have call centers. Given the smaller number of calls they take on average, they typically won’t need a dedicated unit to field those calls.

What Should I Use Instead?


Smaller businesses have a major advantage over enterprise-level businesses when it comes to their relationships with customers. Your SMB can legitimately foster a sense of community between your organization and its patrons, but a call center isn’t going to help you do that.

Instead, consider investing in social CRM software, which will integrate your CRM platform with social media monitoring and response tools, allowing you to use social media to create a stronger bond with your customers.

These tools will allow you to do everything from prospecting (using paid ads or relevant content to attract new customers or business partners) and recruiting new employees to announcing new products or sales and publicly responding to customer satisfaction issues.

Digimind Social’s social media mentions report page

4. Field Service Management

Field service management tools are used by companies that provide services outside of their own business location, including everything from delivery of products to maid service and landscapers. These tools help companies schedule and track those outside operations. They can provide schedules and routes, as well as information about customers and necessary supplies and parts.

Managers can also use these tools to schedule outside agents and resources, track customer history and manage work orders.

SMBs, though, unless they are specifically operating in a field service industry, aren’t going to find these tools particularly useful. If you aren’t making regular deliveries or sending out drivers to customers’ houses, then you won’t have much need for field service software, let alone field service tools integrated as a part of your CRM.

What Should I Use Instead?


Rather than worrying about sending people out to your customer’s homes, focus on reaching out to those customers via email, over the phone or through whatever their preferred communication network may be.

Sales force automation (SFA) tools will help you keep track of those preferences and use them to take advantage of the most likely opportunities to turn prospects and leads into customers and clients.

SFA software will help you manage your sales representatives and their activities, a vital step if your company is going to grow. At the individual level, the software helps sales teams manage accounts, leads, opportunities and customer interactions, while on a managerial level it will help you to create more accurate forecasts and gain better insight into potential opportunities.

Sales lead timeline in HubSpot

5. Marketing Automation

Large-scale marketing automation systems provide businesses with an exhaustive list of features and functions: lead generation and management, social media management and analytics, mobile marketing, marketing resource management, content marketing and marketing analytics—to name just a few.

For SMBs with a limited marketing budget, most of these features are simply overkill. Marketing is certainly crucial to a business’ success, but you’ll go nowhere sinking so much of your limited time, money and resources into marketing while your business is still young and growing.

What Should I Use Instead?


Focus on the most popular and important form of marketing for SMBs like yours—email marketing. By implementing email marketing tools, rather than a much larger marketing automation suite, you’ll spend less money and be able to focus on the techniques that will give you the best results.

Email marketing tools are used by SMBs to run and automate common email marketing tasks, like creating auto-responses and sending/tracking email campaigns.

You can also use the software to measure the engagement and impact of each email marketing campaign (so that you’ll know what works in order to repeat it in the future) and to help you find better ways of segmenting your customers and audience.

Campaign Monitor‘s email automation page

Recap & Next Steps

It’s a wiser investment of your time and money to focus in on the specific CRM tools that will actually help your business. Start small, with a limited tool-set, rather than diving into a large suite with features you’ll never use

Here’s a quick recap of the features you don’t need and what you should be opting for instead:

crm feature alternatives

Now that you know which CRM features are largely unnecessary for SMBs, and what to look for instead, you may want to find out more about which CRM vendors offer which features. Here’s a couple things you can do in order to learn more:

  • Read user reviews of CRM software to see how other SMBs have used these systems and which features they found most useful.
  • Email me at for more information. I’m happy to help you figure out what your own CRM software needs might be and to connect you to one of our expert software advisors for a free, no-obligation consultation!

1: “Competitive Landscape: Do Pure CRM SaaS Suite Vendors Need to Exist?” (available to Gartner clients)

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