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Should Your Small Business Use an Online Sales Tracker?

Should Your Small Business Use an Online Sales Tracker?
Credit: arka38/Shutterstock

You started your own business, endured the early stages of figuring out the basics and maintaining side hustles, and now you want to take things to the next level. If you're like most small business owners and entrepreneurs, you probably feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume and variety of tech tools available to you. However, with an online sales tracker, you don't need to be. Here's everything you should know about the tool.

An online sales tracker can be as simple as a cloud-stored Excel spreadsheet or as complex as a full-fledged customer relationship management (CRM) system. Any online tools or apps that help small businesses track sales pipelines and manage customer information may be referred to as online sales trackers, though "CRM" is the dominant term.

Free Excel templates are available online for basic lead and sales tracking, but functionality is limited to what is already built into Excel. If you want analytics, dashboards, notifications, chat features, automated emailing and calling, approvals, and project management, you're better off adopting a lightweight SaaS CRM system.  

Editor's note: Looking for CRM software for your business? Fill out the questionnaire below to be connected with vendors that can help.

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Cloud-based CRMs vary wildly in cost. The systems most appropriate for SMB use tend to fall somewhere between $10 and $50 a month per user. Many companies offer free trials or, if you have under a certain number of users, free versions of their online sales trackers. 

Businesses of all sizes, including sole proprietorships, can use sales tracking technology. If you want to streamline lead management and monitor everything sales- and customer-related in one place (including communication), you can use online sales tracking. However, if you are a single-person operation or very small business, you should choose a CRM that aligns with small business needs.

Sales tracking is helpful for any business that wants to improve its online marketing, learn more about potential customers, improve customer service and turn leads into clients. Businesses that want to improve their online marketing efforts can make use of sales tracking systems as well, as many systems have built-in analytics and lightweight project management features.

Online sales trackers can give you insights into the efficiency of your sales force and make it easier for your salespeople to stay organized. Access to stats like the number of calls made, emails sent, sales per salesperson, and the click-thru rate on coupons and promotions can help you create an efficient sales and marketing strategy. Additionally, online sales trackers help salespeople manage current and potential clients, track communication, assign and complete tasks, build out sales pipelines, and set and meet goals.

This depends on the system you choose. Lightweight online sales trackers that are meant for small businesses offer the shortest and simplest implementation processes, while sophisticated enterprise-focused CRMs may take months to adopt. When shopping for sales tracking software, be sure to ask about the average implementation timeline.

No, there aren't any direct downsides to using an online sales tracker or CRM. However, it is entirely possible to implement a sales tracker poorly and lose out on the benefits such systems offer. Remember, an online sales tracker is only as good as the data it holds, and without clear goals in mind, you can end up spending money and time adopting a system that no one uses.

The best way to find a great online sales tracker is to do your homework. Read CRM buying guides and online product reviews, and sign up for free demos. Make sure you go into the shopping process with a clear set of features and goals in mind, and consult trusted members of your sales staff to get their input.

Mona Bushnell

Mona Bushnell is a New York City-based Staff Writer for Business.com and Business News Daily. She has a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and has previously worked as an IT Technician, a Copywriter, a Software Administrator, a Scheduling Manager and an Editorial Writer. Mona began freelance writing full-time in 2014 and joined the Business.com team in 2017.