CRM for small business

CRM Best Practices for Small Business Teams

CRMs shouldn’t be viewed as a four-letter word.

Oftentimes, companies and business teams view CRMs (contact relationship management solution) as cumbersome and more effort than they’re worth. Business teams spend more time inputting data and transferring information into their contact management solution than they do actually connecting with their network to build better relationships.

This is why we’re staging a full customer relationship management CRM system intervention. We want to stop the stigma surrounding CRMs and show you just how simple they can make your job and your life. That’s right — you can stop banging your head against your computer because we’re going to change the way you view CRMs with these insider best practices.

Trust us, Nimble knows.

The CRM Basics

You may be asking yourself, “what the heck is a CRM solution?” It’s okay — it’s an extremely valid question. Many business people aren’t aware of the key benefits the right CRM system provides, or how to use one efficiently. When leveraged correctly, a CRM can benefit everyone within a company — not just the sales teams.

crm best practices for small business teams

What is a CRM?

A CRM is a tool used for contact relationship management that helps optimize relationships with potential customers, as well as existing customers. CRM (or cloud based CRM) software is one of the most effective tools business teams can use to nurture mutually beneficial connections with key prospects to turn relationships into revenue. CRMs are also ideal for marketing automation, sales management, and customer service solutions.

For those of you who have implemented a CRM into your internal processes already, this is not news. Many teams already know how invaluable a CRM system is to relationship management and unifying siloed company databases. And yet, somehow there are still so many businesses who have yet to adopt a CRM solution or a cloud-based CRM.

CRMs are perfect for individuals and teams managing their contact information and sales pipelines within spreadsheets, email, on social media, or on scattered sticky notes. After transitioning to a CRM, teams are able to focus on selling more, quickly connecting with more prospects, and optimizing internal processes.

This could be partially due to cost and/or lack of resources, or the lack of support from senior management buy-in. With the right insight regarding ROI and key benefits that can assist the entire company with their cross-selling goals, it should be relatively painless to get management on board.

In fact, investing in CRM software is a top priority for IT in 2018 as businesses focus more on customer retention and customer satisfaction, according to recent findings.

How Do You Implement a CRM Solution?

There are four elements that go into a successful CRM solution integration.

Choosing a Winner

The market for CRMs is dense and vast. There is a plethora of CRM solutions for Small Business to choose from. Check out a few different options to get a good sense of what features are available and how they apply to your needs. Additionally, read up on reviews to get a grasp on how easy the various systems are to use.

Don’t know where to start? Check out what your competitors are using. This is a great (and oftentimes overlooked) resource for honing in on the right CRM solution for your business model. Your competitors probably have similar needs and requirements. This step can offer valuable insight regarding tools they’ve reviewed, as well as pitfalls to avoid as you proceed.

Most Small Business CRM solutions offer a free trial, so you can take them for a test drive before committing to “the one.”

CRM Project Management

Enabling your team to possess strong project management capabilities while unifying all of your team’s contact records and conversation histories can help keep all participants informed of their role in a given deals pipeline and outstanding to-do’s.

Small Business CRM best practices

Effective project management calls for an effective leader. The team should identify someone to be in charge of this task and spearhead the CRM integration during the CRM implementation process. Some of the main tools a project manager uses to help keep the ship on track are:

  1. Calendar – Keep track of important meetings and milestones for all team members, including the final launch of the customer relationship management CRM.
  2. Work Plan – Typically, this refers to what will be built or configured, what customer support will be provided by the CRM company, as well as a rough integration timeline and cost estimate.
  3. Budget spreadsheet – A breakdown of vendor costs, software fees, and other costs per month (additional storage, contacts, etc.) during implementation
  4. Task lists – A list of outstanding to-do’s broken out by department or team member, such as reviewing the CRM solution’s functionality, making analytics-driven decisions, testing new features, and any other day-to-days.

CRM Data Migration

This is the perfect opportunity to determine which contacts are necessary to add within your CRM solution. Most CRM companies do not recommend adding your entire database of contacts to your contact management solution, as it will take up valuable storage space and contact allotments on potentially outdated or irrelevant connections.

Pinpointing which contacts should be uploaded into your new CRM can help to ensure that you don’t waste time wading through a sea of unnecessary contacts and begin your experience with clean, well-organized contact cards.

More often than not, CRM beginners will import all of their contacts from Gmail, Twitter, and the like. This includes outdated, irrelevant, and personal contacts. If this is the route you choose to take, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed when browsing the contacts section of your CRM and quickly realize the list is in desperate need of auditing.

This can be quite an incredibly time-consuming process to audit these massive lists and select the data that may not be important to you or your company.

Save yourself this annoying headache by preemptively creating a list of contacts within an Excel file in order to build an organized list of important connections. This list can then easily be uploaded into your customer relationship management CRM for migration. For example, Nimble allows you to simply import CSV files into your account using the CSV Import Wizard. This process could save you a lot of time, and help to create a simple start to your CRM.

You can also create lists within Twitter and import them into your Nimble account or create lists within Google contacts and import them using our PieSync integration.

CRM Training and Support

Most people need a little bit of help figuring out all of the features and conveniences a CRM solution has to offer. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions! You never know what hacks you might discover along the way.

Most CRM solution companies offer support sessions and training resources to equip you and your team with the information you need to optimize your contact relationship management strategy and sales process.

Here at Nimble CRM, we pride ourselves on offering exemplary 1:1 customer care. Our Customer Success Team is available Monday – Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM PT to ensure that you have the best support possible. We also offer a variety of ways to get in touch with our team, including a real-time customer service chat box and daily Q&A style webinars. We treat every customer interaction as an opportunity to help our Nimble network be the best it can be.

Best CRM Solution Practices for Business Teams

We’ve compiled some CRM best practices for beginners and business teams who are newly implementing their CRM or cloud-based CRM solution.  

Specify the Right Account Administrator

When a team account is created within a CRM solution, the team member who initiated the account will typically become the administrator by default. Be sure to select selecting an appropriate administrator to set up your contact relationship management CRM account before jumping in head first. Keep in mind that for most CRMs, the administrator will be the point of contact that will receive bills and financial information, create licenses, select users and their authorization level.

You can learn more about Nimble-specific administrator responsibilities here.

If you or another teammate have accidentally been assigned as the account administrator for your contact relationship manager CRM, it’s typically an easy fix to switch roles.

Tag Contacts Before You Import Them

After importing new contacts into your contact relationship management CRM, they can easily blend in with your pre-existing contacts. Tagging your contacts as soon as they’re imported into your CRM a great practice to maintain. It helps to segment contacts and classify where they are coming from, who they work for, where they’ve worked, what industry they work in, and why they are being added into your CRM. You can then use these segmented lists to assist in marketing automation, such a group messaging and targeted marketing campaigns.

When adding contacts to your team account, each team member can tag contacts with their name in order to locate individuals that are relevant to them.

Avoid Creating Duplicate Contacts Within Your CRM Solution

If you’re like the rest of the working world, your contacts are often times listed within more than one social platform or email account inbox. Importing various lists from all of your accounts will inevitably create duplicates within your contact relationship management CRM. Some CRMs, such as Nimble, automatically merge your contacts based on their email address; there are also specific options you can select during the CRM implementation process to avoid importing redundant contact and company records.

When importing your contact lists into your CRM solution, you can sometimes merge contacts based on email first, then by name if there is no email match. You can then merge on a name if there is no match by domain URL or email address to avoid repetitive contacts.

crm best practices for small business teams

Use the Correct Email Address

When setting up your CRM solution, it’s important to provide an accurate email address to ensure that you are receiving important information and updates that could affect your CRM strategy. All promotions, marketing, product updates, and educational resources will typically be sent to the email address that your contact relationship management CRM account is registered under.

Using an accurate email address comes in handy when you are interested in exporting your contacts or your deals from your CRM solution account; for example, Nimble will automatically send requested contact exports to the email address registered to the account.

When selecting an email address to use for your contact relationship management CRM account registration, be conscious that all the data exports and important outreach will be received in that location.


Was that so bad? CRMs are meant to make your job (and arguably your life) more simple, not overcomplicated. When these best practices are implemented, your CRM solution will allow you to have more time to focus on customer interaction, optimize your marketing automation, unify your team’s contact information, improve your sales management workflow, and even help your customer service processes.

Still don’t believe me? Find out for yourself by signing up for a free trial of Nimble today. What do you have to lose?