A simple CRM software for small businesses

I’ve been thinking what a really simple CRM software for small businesses would look like. I love using a CRM for tracking sales, but most of the CRMs are complicated to use - and are used more purely as an accountability tracking software, instead of providing more insights to complete a sale.

This is what a long time user shared about his experiences with using a CRM on Reddit: Every sales coaching is about relating to the client, emotional intelligence, business empathy, and building rapport which all ultimately leads to trust. Then those same leaders turn around and hit ppl with "if it's not in the CRM, it doesn't exist". Thus, those 7pm phone calls from clients, or 6am text messages asking about details/use cases, DOES NOT EXIST since it cannot be logged in the CRM unless you take time out of your off hours to enter it or remember to enter it the next time you hit the office (which nobody does unless it's important).But those personal touches are what builds trust and accelerate rapport building. So yeah, my main grip with CRM is not the functionality of it. It's the misuse by leadership beyond it's intended purpose of providing insights to deals and trusting your team.

So, if I were to build one from first principles, what are the absolute necessities that it should have. Compared to a giant like Salesforce - what features should be removed, what should be kept and what should be added?

The must-haves features in a simple CRM software:

Let’s start what are the objects that are a must for a really simple CRM. It should definitely have contacts. Why? The purpose of a CRM is to sell your product or service to someone. That someone is a contact.

A contact belongs to a company. Could I just have contacts without a company?

It could be there, but sometimes while you are selling your services to a company  - you maybe talking to more than one person in the company - and these multiple people need to be linked in someway. So, there has to a company object.

The next important thing in a CRM are the ability to track sales - or milestones that can keep track of where a customer is in a sale.

For e.g. in Salesforce, by default they have Qualification, Meet & Present, Propose, Negotiate and Closed stages.

In Hubspot, by default they have Appointment Scheduled, to Qualified to Buy, to Presentation Scheduled, to Decision Maker Bought-In, to Contract Sent, and Closed.

In Zoho, they have Qualification -> Needs Analysis -> Value proposition -> Identifying decision makers -> Proposal price quotes -> Negotiations and reviews.

If you look at all these stages, they all fall under these two categories - either it is pending (i.e. the customer has not yet bought your product), or it is closed (i.e. the customer has bought your product, or decided to not buy). I think the reason why all these CRMs allow you to add multiple stages instead of just pending (or open) is because pending is a bit vague - i.e. a customer who just enquired about your product via your website for the first time, and a customer who has understood your product and is negotiating prices are both pending, but at totally different stages of buying from you. By having clearly defined stages you reduce the ambiguity - you know for certain where the customer stands. But, I like the simplicity of just having pending, closed-won and closed-lost as the stages. If a really simple CRM just had these three stages, and also a probability % along with each sale, then we could look at the % to see how close a customer is to a sale. For example, if I could filter and view all the sales that have a probability between 90-95%, then I know that these deals are closer to the closing stage. All the sales with a probability of 10% are still far away from being completed. I think this object could be called a Sale, and each customer can be involved in one more sales. A sale has three stages - pending, closed-won, and closed-lost and a probability %. You should be able to create multiple sales for each customer.

So, as of now we have a contact, a company, and a sale. A sale (or deal) has three stages - pending, closed-won and closed-lost with a probability %. I feel these fall under the must-have categories.

The nice-to-have features in a really simple CRM software:

I’m thinking nice-to have features are features that add value to sale. They are not really needed to understand where the sale currently is at, but they do add addition context to the sale.

Do tasks and notes fall in this category? If the purpose of a CRM is for someone to get all the information regarding a sale, they shouldn’t have to call or ask someone what the details are. They should be able to see it in the dashboard. So, I can see that tasks and notes are important. May not be as important as a contact, a company and a sale, but it does add value. They probably fall under the nice-to-have category.

What about emails. Like notes, I feel emails give extra context about a sale. And it would be good to have that info in the sale itself, instead of asking someone the status or reply to an email.

What about team mates? I feel the team should be added in the must-have’s. Sales managers should be able to quickly view what everyone in the team is working on. You also don’t want two people working on the same sale.


If the objective for someone using a CRM is to just track the status of deals, and view data on how much money is pending, how much you are looking at closing next quarter etc - then you only need the must-haves. But if you are using a CRM so that you can view all the conversations that is happening between your team and contacts, then you also need to have the nice-to have’s. 

What’s your view - do you think a really simple CRM will be useful for you. If yes, do send me an email to try out a simple CRM.