It’s not easy to start, run and grow a small business. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, from 1994-2019, about two-thirds of new businesses survived at least two years, roughly half made it to the five-year mark, and only about one-third were still in business after ten years.
Small businesses—which are often bootstrapped by their owners—confront many challenges, even in the best of times. Chief among them is balancing the need to attract, retain and keep up with customers with the requirements to control costs and maintain positive cash flow. Of course, this becomes even trickier in periods of economic uncertainty, such as what we face today.
Many small businesses want to move beyond spreadsheets, contact managers, and email to manage pipelines and sales so they can do a better job of attracting, engaging, and retaining customers. But this isn’t always easy to do—especially when budgets are tight and expertise is scarce.
According to SMB Group research, small businesses struggle just to figure out which solution will work best is often the biggest hurdle—and are also challenged by integration issues and perennial “lack of” problems—lack of time, money, and expertise. As a result, small businesses often stick with a tangle of disjointed tools to manage these functions.
Bigin Helps Small Businesses Address “Lack of” Challenges with New Functionality
Zoho introduced its built-for small business CRM solution, Bigin, in 2020. Designed and priced specifically for small businesses (with 25 or fewer users), Zoho created Bigin to get small businesses up and running with an affordable, pipeline-centric solution: Zoho says that most small businesses can use guided tools to onboard and set up Bigin in 30 minutes.
When Bigin initially launched, the focus was to provide critical lead-management automation tools, such as pipeline management, built-in telephony, and workflow automation to reduce the time needed to perform manual tasks. Since then, Bigin’s customer base has grown to serve over 20,000 small businesses.
Last week, Zoho announced some major new enhancements to Bigin to add more of the essentials that small businesses need, and to make it easier for developers to build additional functionality to zero in on more diverse user needs.
The latest version includes the new Team Pipelines, designed to help small business employees—who often wear many hats—take care of their customers across different operations (such as sales, marketing, and service) using a connected set of pipelines and sub-pipelines within one Bigin account. Small businesses can now automatically move customer data across various pipelines, helping them to create a more holistic customer experience. For instance, a small business can set up a process so that once a deal gets closed, it automatically gets pushed to create a connected record in the customer onboarding pipeline. This reduces redundant data entry and enables teams to get a more unified view of each customer.
Bigin Toppings helps small businesses integrate additional Zoho and third-party tools to meet requirements for functionality that extend beyond Bigin’s capabilities. For example, small businesses that deal with email overload can use the Email-In topping, which provides different email aliases, to automatically route each customer email to the correct customer records in each pipeline. Another example is the File Cabinet topping, which automates the process of file collection so that customers can store documents in one place and manage them through unique, secure links. Some toppings are free, and others are typically priced at $5 per organization (not user!) per month and are available in the Bigin marketplace.
Zoho has added new mobile capabilities to Bigin as well. Users can now users access all of Bigin’s features on their phones and tablets. Bigin also sports a new Dynamic Display, enabling users to build to tailor the look, style, and visibility of records in their pipelines.
Finally, Zoho has opened up the Bigin platform. It launched a new development center so developers and partners can more easily build custom solutions to integrate with Bigin, and then sell them on the Bigin marketplace.
The Price Is Right
As with most Zoho products, Zoho offers a free edition of Bigin. As you might expect, this freebie is somewhat limited, supporting up to 500 records, a single pipeline, and three workflows.
However, most small businesses will not get sticker shock when they look to move up to a paid service. Bigin Express is $7/user/month with an annual subscription and provides much more than the free edition. Express supports up to 50,000 records, three pipelines, mass emails and analytics, no-code web forms, and ten instant workflows, customizable dashboards. It also offers integration with Zoho Books/Invoice, Zoho Meeting, and integration with Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, Zoom Meeting, Mailchimp, and Twitter out-of-the-box.
Bigin Premier supports up to 100,000 customer records and 10 pipelines and adds advanced workflows based on date and time triggers, advanced automation, multiple currency support, and more records, pipelines, workflows, and custom fields. The annual subscription is $12/user/month.
Bigin offers small businesses most of the core functionality that users need, in a single integrated solution—without overwhelming them with complexity that that many won’t need or use. To help small businesses solve more specific requirements, Zoho has opened up the Bigin platform so developers can build the long tail of functionality that addresses more specific requirements that often differ from business to business.
Of course, Bigin lacks the more sophisticated bells and whistles that enterprise CRM solutions offer. (Note: Zoho has a full-blown CRM solution for those bigger companies too.)
But Zoho designed Bigin for small businesses that want to manage customer operations in a more streamlined and holistic manner, but need an easy-to-use, integrated, and affordable solution–and it’s hitting the mark with this accessible and connected approach.
This post was sponsored by Zoho.
© SMB Group 2023