At 321, we often get asked “which CRM should I use?” And, like most great questions, there’s no easy answer.

However, in this post we’ll share some of our lessons learned (often the hard way!) from our experience implementing a variety of CRM, marketing automation and sales pipeline management tools and tech stacks.

Timing is Everything

Before you get to the question of “which CRM”, you should think about “when”. Timing matters. We see many companies either invest too early, or far too late – and both of those scenarios are problematic.

If you are an early stage company, we are big fans of taking a lean approach to your growth stack, to avoid spending too much time and money – and to avoid getting it wrong, only to have to rebuild later.

Specifically, you may be too early to get too far with your tools if:

  • You haven’t worked out the kinks in your business modelor at least have a solid hypothesis you are working on (or towards). Before that, you’ll want to spend the bulk of your time on developing and validating your business model.
  • You don’t yet have a clearly defined target market and Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). The reason is that the data you collect, and the way you’ll sell and market, will change depending on the nature of your target market and customer. Thus, if you want to get it (mostly) right at the outset, you’ll want a solid “ICP” before going too far with your stack.
  • You’ve maybe done some experimenting with sales & marketing, but it’s too early to see initial results. We recommend walking before running. You don’t need full scale marketing automation to support test campaigns. You don’t need a full pipeline management system to handle your first few deals. You’ll want to have a sense of what is working, and what isn’t before investing in building out your stack.

The time to start working on your CRM/tech stack is when:

  • You have a workable business model
  • You have a clearly defined target market and ideal customer profile (ICP)
  • You have some early sales & marketing results

This is Part 1 in 321 Growth Academy’s blog series of CRM lessons from the startup trenches. Click here for Part 2 and here for Part 3!

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