I keep coming back to this topic because every day, in a group somewhere, someone asks, “What is the best CRM?” as if there is one answer to that question. The myth that there is one “best” product is more persistent than the weeds in my garden.

There are a few reasons why this is just so wrong. The first is one of my favourite topics: Recognising that organisations manage relationships with their customers in many ways, with different focus areas. This means that customer relationship management needs are very diverse across marketing, sales, customer services, and so on. Not to mention specific needs that link to the operations of your industry – a course-creating consulting business with a small team is different from a growing manufacturing business. So we need to look at the links to operations, as well as the differences in conversations that these businesses need to have with their customers.

You might ask, wouldn’t the best one be the one that covers EVERYTHING? And that might be true if you need it all. But we’ve all had a Swiss Army knife with a tool we never use (and maybe don’t even know what it’s for). It might not matter if it was a small part of the package and tucked away. But why would you pay for a whole range of functions that you will never use?

If you do think you might use all of those tools on the knife in the future, some CRM software has different license types that you can sign up for only when you need them, and that can be a great forward-looking plan. You will be paying for that insurance – the sort of software that can be extended in that way might start with a free version but can get pricey quickly. If you want something that extends in every direction but allows you to start small, have a look at Hubspot.

The other thing going too big is derived from the Spiderman quote “With great power comes great responsibility”. From a software perspective, I say “With great capability comes great complexity”. If something can do just about anything for you, it is most likely that you will need the skills and knowledge to make the most of it. A product like Salesforce can do pretty much anything for you, but you will need to invest in the skills and knowledge to shape that complexity to your advantage

You might now be thinking, “OK, but there might be a best product for my size of business or industry”? And it is true that software is often developed with a specific focus to meet your industry’s needs. This might be true in many situations, but are you operating exactly like everyone else? There are so many moving parts for each business’s technology footprint. Are you using the same website platform? And the same finance system? Unless you are all cookie-cutter identical, you might find there are important links from that the “industry standard” product won’t work for you in your environment.

Contrary to that myth – there is no best CRM software for everyone. You should even be careful to base your choice on what works for others – unless you have thought through what you need. Paying a lot for a Swiss Army knife you don’t need, or with complexity you don’t have the resources to handle, might get you more functions but not necessarily more value. Especially if it won’t work with everything else you have in your business.

(By the way if you do need integrated software that will meet a variety of needs in your growing organisation, my examples of Hubspot and Salesforce are great products to consider. My point is only that they are not the perfect choice for everyone!)

Did you believe in the myth of “one CRM to rule them all”? Do you need help navigating these challenges? Please reach out and ask for help – book a call, or download my guide to avoid the 5 most common CRM mistakes