Customer relationship management (CRM) software is designed to record and manage relationships with prospects and customers. But what began as relatively straightforward contact management software has grown into a sophisticated tool that can benefit an entire organization.
For example, if you choose the cheapest CRM package you can find, the software might be missing some essential functionality.
But, on the other hand, you don’t need a sledgehammer to crack a nut! So, here are some critical things to consider when selecting a top CRM solution for your business.
Understand the Needs of Your Business
The first step to identifying the best CRM software for your business is to document the company’s needs.
So, look at how your sales processes work and consider how they might operate in the future, too.
Then consider what functionality could be used to streamline and automate those processes. And talk to stakeholders like the sales and marketing teams to understand what functions would make them more efficient.
Set a Budget
The price you pay for a CRM solution will vary depending on the complexity of the software, the number of users you need, and the deployment method.
But there are CRM packages to suit all budgets. And many cloud-based solutions offer free entry-level use of the software. However, it is best to look at the long-term costs of a CRM package in addition to the immediate price.
How much will the software cost when you add more users, for example? And what will be the cost of rolling out the software to multiple locations? So, it would be best to set a budget for using the software now and look into the cost of scaling up the software to meet future needs.
You might want to look at Pipedrive for your business.
Investigate Software Functionality
So, it is advisable to check that the functionality your business needs exists in any CRM package you consider. And, it would be advisable also to consider what functionality your company may need in the future.
Invest in a flexible, scalable CRM solution now, and the package will be able to grow with your business and provide a much better return on investment in the long term.
Take a look at KEAP. They have several plans, and it’s what I use for my business
Consider Integration Options
A well-implemented CRM system becomes a critical management tool for all departments in a business. The software should become the single source of information about customers and prospects.
But, to achieve that goal, a CRM system will need to draw data from other systems. For example, a customer’s account details will be held in the accounting system. And sales order history might be another third-party application.
So, one of the crucial features to look for in a CRM package is a range of data integration options. And these integration features need to be flexible enough to not restrict your choices of other systems in the future.
If you have a team, take a look at Monday.com.
Look for Cloud-Based Solutions
Cloud-based CRM solutions are available for small and large companies. Cloud systems also have a whole host of advantages over locally installed systems.
Firstly, cloud-based systems are usually more scalable and flexible than local systems. And, cloud-based software can be accessed by people working at home or salespeople on the road.
What’s more, CRM systems sold as a cloud solution are easier to administer and generally more cost-effective for small businesses.
So, most organizations should look at cloud-based CRM software solutions rather than client-based systems for maximum functionality at a reasonable price.
Put Agile CRM on your shortlist.
Ease of Use
Getting user buy-in is essential for a successful CRM implementation. So, ease of use should be high up on your list of requirements.
For example, screens should be easy to use and software navigation intuitive. And information should be displayed in easy-to-understand dashboards.
There should also be good end-user documentation and a comprehensive help system. If the system is challenging to use, you will have difficulties getting everyone to use it.
And that may lead some people to keep their own customer records, defeating the purpose of a centralized CRM system.
If you use Gmail, you might like Streak CRM.
Prioritize the Customer Experience
It can be easy to think of a CRM solution only regarding time savings and improvements to internal processes.
However, the primary objective of CRM should be to improve the customer experience. Because, if prospect and customer needs are met, sales and customer satisfaction will increase.
So, it is best to put the customer’s needs before those of the staff in many respects. Of course, making life easier for your team will also be on the agenda.
But that will almost certainly be achieved in tandem with the improved customer experience a sound CRM system will bring.
Understand the Implementation Process
Any CRM system will need configuring and populating with data when it is first installed. But what it takes to get a system up and running will vary between different packages.
And, if you fail to devote sufficient time to the implementation, you will not reap all the available benefits of the system.
So, you must understand what an implementation entails, how long it will take, and the cost before selecting a package.
The software vendor will advise you of the implementation timescale and cost. However, it is best to pose the same questions to customers who have implemented the system to complete the picture.
Read Reviews and Take up References
When looking for the best CRM software for your business, impartial reviews and references will help you make your selection.
For large-scale implementations, your software vendor will likely provide you with several reference sites. But, for a smaller scale, entry-level system, you will probably have to rely on online reviews.
Either way, it is advisable to seek out third-party opinions of any software package you are considering buying.
Of course, a software vendor will not put you in touch with a disgruntled customer. Even so, most businesses that act as reference sites will give you a reasonably unbiased opinion of the software they use.
Take a look at BOAST for managing reviews.
Check Out Your Supplier
Finally, the CRM software you buy is only one part of the equation. The other important consideration is the support and consultancy services you will receive from the software vendor.
So, it is advisable to follow up references and read reviews in this respect, too. And, it is worth checking for how long the vendor has sold and supported the solution.
A credit check will also be helpful to ensure that the company will be around to provide support for your implementation in the future.
Regardless of the size of your business, it is best not to be hasty about selecting a CRM system. So, define your business requirements and compare the functionality available in a software solution to those needs.
Consider also the ease of use of the software, its integration options, and its scalability. And, don’t forget to ask about implementation, follow up references, and do your homework on the software vendor, too.
Lori Ballen is a real estate agent in Las Vegas. She’s a digital marketing specialist, speaker, and marketing coach and loves to share her “Ballen Method” to generate website traffic and leads online. Lori’s specialties are SEO content writing (ranking on the search engines), social media strategies, and affiliate marketing. Need a website? Contact Lori’s brothers Jeff and Paul Helvin at Ballen Brands.