The Best CRM for You

For a lean, expertise-drive B2B business, consider using a lightweight cloud spreadsheets as your CRM

“What’s the best CRM for B2B SaaS?”, someone asked me recently.

I get a question like this once or twice a week – what CRM should my business choose? 

When my job-job was to create marketing solutions using enterprise CRM, I took the product evangelist’s perspective – CRM is the technology heart of any business. I had seen organizations process tens of millions of dollars by leveraging CRM software. I’d seen it connect large teams of marketing, sales, and support. I was certain that every organization, even tiny consultancies, could use it.

The new class of templates-led organizational software that I wrote about last week is a sign of how much has changed. 

CRM is still important but it’s less than one-size-fits-all than ever before.

A few questions to consider for your B2B, expertise-based business when thinking about CRM:

  • Do you sell high (>100k) or low-cost(<10k) solutions?
  • What size is your audience?
  • How large is your internal team?
  • Is customer-acquisition mostly marketing-driven or mostly sales-driven?

    Very rarely would I propose a first-generation cloud CRM product like Avectra or Salesforce. Especially the latter – it’s for big orgs. If paying a CRM implementation consultancy 100k+ to customize your CRM sounds bizarre to you, then Salesforce is not for you.

With a few exceptions, though, that doesn’t represent most of you. I address small-team entrepreneurs who move the needle using expertise.

If that’s you, you should look at Pipedrive, Hubspot, Zoho, and hybrid tools like Monday (Project Management & CRM software) or Mailchimp (Email marketing and CRM).

But even the lean hybrid solutions start to look like overkill. And they just don’t get used. So for years now, people have turned back to spreadsheets, where a single Google/Microsoft Sheet functions as your de facto CRM for a given project. And then 6 months later, another sheet becomes your new de facto CRM for who knows what kind of project or process.

This leads us to one of the business truths of our age – if a large group of businesses uses spreadsheets to do the same type of thing, there’s a business opportunity.

When I was writing marketing copy, I can’t tell you how many times I’d ask – “Are you sick of using spreadsheets to do ______“?

It’s a fair, relevant question, as is the converse question:

If your prospective customer base isn’t using spreadsheets to do what your solution does, then is there really a need for your solution?

In other words, the business pain your prospective customers are experience has to be present enough that they’re turning to spreadsheets to solve it.

Even with 10’s of thousands of brilliant software products and innovative consulting processes on the market, millions of businesses still use spreadsheets to do some things. I certainly do.

Here’s the problem though as it relates to CRM. If you provide specialized B2B solutions you have ~6,000 prospects. And they should be in your CRM. And you can’t manage 6,000 data objects in a spreadsheet.

SmartSheet was one of the first to see the problem of over-reliance on spreadsheets. They provide a template library that includes a lightweight CRM implementation of their product.

But Notion and especially Airtable do this best. You might pay a professional to create their CRM implementations they label, “templates”. In fact, if I had to answer this question in one word instead of 500, it might be, “Airtable”.

But that would be followed by an at least 500-word conversation 🙂

Kind regards,