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How to Choose the Right CRM

How to Choose the Right CRM

How to find the perfect fit CRM for your business? Emily McGuire, CRM & Email Marketing Consultant Principal, Flourish & Grit helps us through......

Why now?

When you find the right CRM for your business, it feels like hopping into a new car. You didn’t know what you were missing. That new car smell, the hum of a brand new engine, and the softness of clean upholstery will make you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. 

Also wondering how filthy your car has gotten in the last 18 months even though it feels like you haven’t gone anywhere, but I digress.

The problem is finding the right fit. Shopping for a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool doesn’t have the same conveniences as walking on to a car lot.

You have to find the right fit for your business. (Easier said than done, right?).

But once you’ve found that magical sweet spot, it feels like you’re finally getting a handle on the health of your business and how to keep it running like a fine-tuned machine.  Like a Mazeratti.  Or a sleek and sporty minivan with 50 cupholders and enough storage for a Christmas tree.  Whatever floats your boat!

The Cinderella-slipper CRM should:

  • Reduce repetitive tasks
  • Integrate your information in a cloud system
  • Prevent multiple access/platforms and consolidate it all in a single system

So let’s dive in!

In this blog post, we’ll help you:

  • Define your business’ needs for a CRM
  • Identify what to look for in your next CRM to meet your business needs
  • Narrow down the options for your next CRM

Define Your Business’ Needs for a CRM

Defining your business needs for a CRM starts with what business you’re in, and whether you’re selling services or a product.  

From there, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What tools do you need in an email integration, or to integrate with your current email service provider?
  • Do you have any custom tech or platforms that need special integration or custom development work?
  • What is your budget?
  • How many people do you need to get access to your email service provider?
  • How many subscribers do you have?
  • What is your list size?
  • Are there special ways to measure conversions for your business? E.g. phone calls, orders, deals registered in a certain stage, etc.

Look at your business from all angles, especially relating to things you track or perform on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  

Lastly, what outcomes are you looking to achieve?  Is it better: 

  • Sales reporting 
  • Pipeline management
  • Financial performance improvement
  • Supply-chain management 
  • Report reporting?  

Just kidding on the last one, unless you like reports just for reporting-sake.  

Every business is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a CRM.  

Take your time gathering your business requirements.  

This way you’ll make the right selection and not waste valuable time and money down the road.  

What To Look For In a CRM

Short answer:  Is it usable? Does it meet your specific needs?

Long answer: It depends.  

  1. Usability

Think of a member of your team (you know you have one) that can’t spell ‘IT’- would it be easy to use for them?  

Sure, you can find the fanciest CRM tool out there.  

But if people can’t figure it out and therefore refuse to use it, then what’s the point?

  1. Your needs 
  • Do you need a drag and drop email builder?  
  • Do you do custom coding in-house or rely on a templated tool to design beautiful emails?
  • What custom integrations need to be factored in?
  • Would the CRM integrate with your current tools?
  • Does it place nice with your website?
  • What is the reporting like?  E.g. Export functionality, integration with other systems, mobile friendly, etc. 
  • Does it create reports you need for your business?  And if so, does it require extra coding/development to create the reports you need?  
  1. Your goals

It could be the largest, most globally recognized cloud/CRM provider out there that happened to rename the Golden State Warriors’ sports arena.  

But if it’s more buck than bang, then it’s not the right fit for you, and doesn’t help you meet your goals.

Narrow Down Your Options for a CRM


You’ve gotten SUPER CLEAR about what your business needs are, and what to look for in a CRM.


I’ll give you my top three recommendations.  



Plain and simple, ActiveCampaign will get you the biggest bang for your buck.

Best of both worlds for CRM AND email building/automation.

You can segment your audience very easily.

The automations are in an actual visual map instead of a confusing list.

Their email template builder is SUPER flexible.

AND you can track website behavior of your contacts to see what they’re browsing before they buy.

They do not have a free version, but if you’re serious about email marketing for your business, I HIGHLY recommend investing in a tool like ActiveCampaign.

I use it for my own business and have migrated several clients over to it who also love it.

BONUS: They have a tiered package that offers a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) that can help you keep track of your sales pipeline if you’re a service-based business.

To learn more, click here


HubSpot offers a CRM with free tools for everyone on your team.

Every area of your business can be managed from sales to customer service, with full visibility into your sales pipeline and contact management.

Their contact records are automatically updated with data from over 20 million businesses, while giving you more tools to reach out to your customers and prospects from meeting scheduling to live chat.

To learn more, click here


If you’re selling products online, Klaviyo is incredible!

I’ve worked in top dollar CRMs and Email Service Providers that can’t do what Klaviyo does.  

Not only does it integrate with most retail and e-commerce platforms, it also analyzes trends to help uncover opportunities.  PLUS it uses various marketing tools to help you reach your customers in the way they respond to best.

Klaviyo also harvests your customers’ purchasing data and can predict when they will order next. It’s so cool!

For real, if you’re planning to sell products online (or at a brick-and-mortar store) check it out.

To learn more, click here 


Running a business is a lot of work.  

But it doesn’t have to be hard work, if you have the right tools in place.  

Investing your time and resources to find the right CRM for your business will pay off in the long run.  

Especially when you start to see the benefits of streamlined system access, smooth pipeline management, and Norm no longer calling you (not messaging you) for help converting a Word doc to PDF.  

Or removing the cat filter from his Zoom profile.  

Let him keep that cat filter.  It’s good for ALL OF US.  

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Emily is the Principal of Flourish & Grit, an email marketing agency that builds and retains customer relationships at scale. With lessons learned over a decade in tech, sending thousands of email campaigns, and earning clients over $80 million in email campaign revenue, Emily loves sharing the mistakes and strategies of email marketing done well. You’ll typically find her with a cup of coffee in hand because #momlife. When her head isn’t in her laptop, you can find her chasing her kid, reading a book, or binging trashy TV.

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