Brian Halligan, my co-founder at HubSpot has a written a thoughtful piece today on the issue of CRM in startups: “Why CRM Initiatives At Small Business and Startups”. This is on our Small Business 2.0 internet marketing blog, which I also write for regularly. Its an excellent read and highly relevant for readers of OnStartups.com
Some thoughts on the article (and the issue):
- I totally agree that the issue with most startups is not counting customers (which most CRM systems are good at), but creating customers. If you have only a limited number of customers, there’s only a handful of ways that you can slice and dice this data to make it interesting.
- Venture-backed startups (i.e. those with investors) have a special kind of problem in that the CRM system is often used to generate pipeline reports for the investors (they like to see how the “sales funnel” is looking). But, the CRM system really doesn’t tell them anything about how the awareness and visibility of the company is growing. Most of the interesting stuff is happening on the startup’s website, and likely never makes it into the CRM system.
- Startups in the early stage are often having much deeper conversations with their early customers. It’s not transactional and high volume yet. As such, classic CRM systems that don’t help capture that “conversation” don’t quite feel right.
What are your thoughts? Are you using a CRM system today? What’s your experience been?