Why ‘Free CRM’ Isn’t Really Free

How free is your free CRM?

Sure, you’ve got free-will, but using it to choose free CRM software may not be the best business decision you’ll ever make.

“Why?” I hear you say, “What’s wrong with free CRM software?”

If you value your business, if you value your clients, and if you value the integral security of your data, free CRM software might not do anything to increase that value. In fact, it might just have the opposite effect – Ouch!

But let’s start at the beginning.

Perhaps you want to choose a new, first-time CRM for your business. Or, perhaps you’re planning on migrating from an existing sales software and you’ve decided you’d like to save some money in the process.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to save money. But saving money on one of the most valuable components of your whole sales process – your CRM software – could be your downfall. It’s like buying cheap tires for your car when you really need them, they might just let you down. Disastrously.

What are the issues with a free CRM?

One of the big problems with free CRM software is that it might promise the sun, moon and stars, but you soon realise that the really helpful features – and usually the essential features – cost a little or even a lot extra.

Also, with free CRM software you can find yourself and your business, relying on software where even the security of your data might be at risk; you have no control over the look and feel of the interface; the integrations which you need to manage your customers’ experience don’t exist, or are too expensive; and customer support is non-existent. Hardly ideal for running a successful business.

Without backup and support to help you onboard your new free CRM system, you might just lose the enthusiasm of your sales team before they even get to use the new tools. Losing the confidence and participation of your sales team at this early stage can prove very costly in the long run through lost sales opportunities.

You get what you pay for

Free CRM software

A free CRM system may sound like a great way to save money, but trust us, it’s not.

As we told you earlier, CRM is vital for the careful nurturing of your leads and customers. It’s also a vital component of how your sales teams interact and communicate with those customers. Plus, it offers you great insights and analysis of where your business is getting stuck, sales team performance levels, and future sales predictions.

Can you really trust an inferior product with so much responsibility? We didn’t think so.

What you get with a FREE CRM:

  • No reliability
  • Lack of mobility
  • Limited features and integrations
  • Non-existent customer service and support
  • Poor ease-of-use
  • Concerns about data security
  • Poor contacts management
  • Limited if any customisation
  • Secret pricing
  • No scalability

What you get with a Paid-For CRM:

Reliability – If technology is not your thing, it’s best to leave all the background stuff to the professionals. The best sales CRM software providers will keep your software up-and-running at all times, invisibly, and in the background. You don’t need programming skills, or any advanced knowledge to enjoy the benefits of a great CRM. What’s more, should any technological issue arise you can be sure that your interests are being served by a highly qualified, and dedicated technical support team.

Mobility – This is one of the great qualities of a paid-for CRM, the ability to go anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection, and take your complete office with you. Carry all the information you need in your pocket, ready to access when you need it, where you need it. Many free CRM packages don’t offer this functionality, and if they do it can be patchy at best. Be aware.

Features and integrations – You’re probably not going to get a champagne cooler as standard in a regular family car, in the same way, free CRM software probably won’t offer you everything you need to guide your customers effortlessly through your sales pipeline. Sometimes, with a free CRM all you’re really getting is the basics, and sometimes nothing more than a glorified address book.

Customer service and support – This is that one feature of a paid-for CRM that you need to sit up and really take notice of. With free sales software if you encounter a problem – technical, or just to get some answers – we’ve got news for you; you’re On Your Own!

When you choose a paid-for sales CRM – especially a quality CRM like Teamgate – you have the peace-of-mind of knowing that you’re never alone. The Teamgate customer experience team are on hand to help you through any issues or concerns you might have. You’re not alone.

Ease of use – An easy to learn and use CRM is bound to engage your sales teams a lot easier, and a lot quicker. Onboarding your salespeople to a new CRM is vital, the quicker that can happen, the better it is for everyone – especially your profits. Plus, navigating around your CRM dashboard is so easy and offers you instant insights into the health of your sales process at any given point in time.

Data security – Quality CRM providers have the sensitivity and security of your data as a core priority. With a trusted CRM you can have the personal peace-of-mind knowing that your data is constantly backed up, and stored in multiple high-security remote data centres. Plus, any downtime – should it occur – will be kept to an absolute minimum to reduce any inconvenience to your business.

Contacts management – When it comes to managing your contacts the system you use should be neat, organised, functional, searchable, and easy to interact with. Free CRMs don’t offer this kind of functionality. In fact, most free CRM software is little more than a basic address book. A quality CRM should allow you to easily manage your contacts database and all the information that goes with it, from one central location, and without fuss. Your contacts are the people you deal with on a day-to-day basis and are the main component of your sales process, they should be treated with that respect.

Customisation – Being able to customise various fields in your CRM can greatly help the way you organise your whole sales process. Each stage of the sales process can be broken down into further segments which suit your needs. Your contacts can be assigned various ‘tags’ making them easier to search, or easier to group into categories. The more customisation available with a quality CRM, the easier it will be for sales teams to organise their sales data even better; files can be hidden, or shared among various sales team members creating greater continuity in the sales process.

Secret pricing – With ‘free’ CRM software the costs are usually hidden. While the basic software may be free, the tools, features and other add-ons you really need for functionality come with hidden pricing. With quality CRM software, you should know what you’re paying for from the outset. Many of the best paid-for CRMs come with multiple price plans, designed to suit various sized businesses, and varying budgets.

Scalability – One of the big questions for a small business or startup when choosing a CRM, is whether the CRM is fully scalable? A CRM that needs to be replaced, or is no longer functional after the business has reached a certain size, is a waste of time, and money. A quality CRM like Teamgate comes in a variety of formats and price-ranges, each one designed to take a growing business to the next level. The CRM is constantly evolving, with a continuous supply of new features and integrations, designed to make your CRM as sophisticated or as simple as you need it to be, now and in the years to come.

They’re right, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch

Free is always tempting. But in the back of our mind, we know that we should be cautious. That’s especially true when choosing free CRM software.

The purpose of a CRM is to help your sales team, and your sales process to flow as smoothly as it was designed to do. Anything that upsets that flow of sales is bad for your business health.

A free CRM could be very bad for your business health, and the bad news is that there’s no easy cure.

The fact is simple, if you want quality you have to pay. If you want support, and the features to grow your business you have to pay. If you want the power of insights and analysis to help your business forecasting, you have to pay. If you want to nurture your customers with every interaction, you have to pay.

But think of it as money wisely invested in your growth. Take your time, find the CRM that’s right for you, ask a lot of questions, and most of all don’t rush into any hasty decisions. Free CRM software might sound like a bargain, but you can be sure it’ll cost you dearly in the long run.

As they say, choose in haste, worry at leisure.


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Abe Dearmer

Abe has a vast experience running multiple SaaS companies and is an expert on all things Sales, Marketing and SEO.

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