Once upon a time, before mobile and Google, before Salesforce and Hubspot, business people scribbled names, addresses and phone numbers onto index cards in a little rotating file. The Rolodex as it was known, was an office desk staple. They made you feel connected and worldly, and the more jammed your Rolodex got with contacts, the more important you felt.

Of course, the 1980’s brought us Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems that can do the job much better than a Rolodex.

We’re always pleased when our clients announce they are investing in CRM. For agencies they help give us a better view on how customers interact right through the sales funnel. The benefits can be transformative to a business, especially in companies where dispersed teams are the norm and the focus is on lean and agile processes.

But where do you start? This is the lament of many small business owners trying to navigate the world of CRM software. The market is flooded with options, all with different features and benefits such as automation and data visualisation.

Small businesses generally need a low cost option which can be implemented within their organisation quickly and easily (and without an IT team’s support).

The trick is choosing a CRM that’s right for your business. Some of the enterprise platforms tend to dictate your processes i.e. how you prospect and integrate leads into the system. What most businesses want is flexibility to customise their CRM to match their business processes.

The trick is choosing a CRM that’s right for your business.

With so many options available, we asked some of our clients to share their recommendations and we also share our pick of the best low cost options in market.


Adam Taylor, Managing Director of Note It, a tech start-up from the Hunter Valley, uses Hubspot. “I was introduced to Hubspot when we started to define the marketing direction for Note It. It’s an easy out-of-the box solution which is integrated with a Content Management System (CMS), social and email marketing platform. It took relatively little training to get up to speed and Hubspot’s support is second to none. For a start-up like us, the platform easily helps us nurture leads and everything from scheduling to email prospecting is centralised and can be automated.”

Insightly is another easy to use solution that lets you easily design your sales workflow. The platform integrates marketing, sales and a project management tool and comes with a heap of out of the box integrations to apps your business may be currently using. Ranging from US$30-$100 per month, the platform is a great option.

Unlike the Rolodex which can be stolen or lost, a CRM ensures you contact database is secure. The other added benefit of course is that they are cloud based. Salesforce was born in the cloud and has helped define the industry due to its guaranteed security, availability and performance.

Unlike the Rolodex which can be stolen or lost, a CRM ensures you contact database is secure.

One of the key differentiators of Salesforce is the ability to rapidly deploy and personalise applications. Using customisable modules, businesses can really tailor operational processes and apply automation to service delivery. This enables your team more time to be following up leads and actually selling rather than focussing on mundane and repetitive tasks such as admin and sending documents. It can also take risk and human error out of the picture to ensure that better business outcomes.

For businesses looking for a bigger all in one solution, Zoho offers a huge ecosystem of business solutions from Point of Sale (POS) to digital marketing, with a solid CRM at its core. Zoho CRM feels like a lightweight product but comes with a surprising number of high end features and customisation options for a small budget.

The lead management capability comes with comprehensive reporting and advanced gamification features to cater for all kinds of users. It’s integration with Google also makes it a natural choice for businesses using G Suite for email and meeting scheduling.

The entry level, standard plan starts at under $20 per user, per month.


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