Why use a free CRM system?
There is a growing number of free downloads for Customer Relationship Management systems. So, why should you use one of these rather than one of the other solutions available?
The obvious answer is because it’s free.
You need to consider the hidden costs – mainly your time. If you don’t have the experience in setting up a CRM system to work for you, would you be better working with a specialist partner who has the experience to get the system up and running much faster, allowing you to continue with what you do best – running your business?
I have looked at many free systems over the years and sometimes it has only been a matter of months before I am informed that they are no longer available. How would you feel if this was the system you had invested all your time in and entrusted your data to?
Free software rarely comes with any maintenance or support so if Windows, Office or some other critical software is updated it may mean your CRM will no longer work correctly.
If you are looking for a CRM solution consider the following before deciding that free is best:
How long has the application been around?
What software updates are available?
Is it limited in the number of contact records or number of users supported or will you have the upheaval of having to change systems when your business grows?
Can it be customised to meet your requirements, a simple "out of the box" solution is unlikely to meet your business needs.
How easy is it to find consultants/trainers if you need them?
Can you easily get your data out of the system when you want to move?
How easy is it to backup and recover your data? Small businesses tend not to have servers and backup systems, but you need to be able to backup to offline storage and recover/rebuild your database quickly if the worst happens.
Will it integrate with other systems you need/use?
Most of all you should look for hidden costs - the basic free package can soon start increasing in price when you add on various extras that you realise you need.