Customers are the lifeblood of your business. Without them, your business, or any business for that matter, will cease to exist. And how your company manages its customer base and its relationship with them determine its overall success in the business world.
That said, one of the most important tools for managing your customers is customer relationship management (CRM) software. However, with numerous sales CRM software available today, how do you choose the right one for your business?
This article enumerates five factors and tips to consider when choosing the best CRM software for your company.
The first thing you need to consider when selecting the right CRM software is your business itself. You need to identify the needs and requirements of your business as well as the daily sales and marketing processes and activities of your team.
Think about existing operational problems, pain points, and requirements that you want a CRM tool to resolve and address. Make sure to highlight the important steps as well as the types of customer interaction that your marketing and sales teams handle.
Keep in mind that CRM software can help your company gain more customers and become more successful, but only if you choose the right one that aligns with your current business goals and objectives.
To help you determine and identify your business goals and pick an effective CRM tool, you should seek the opinion of intended users from various departments and teams. In particular, you should focus more on the sales and marketing teams since they have direct connections to your customers, and thus, will be the primary users of the CRM software.
However, it’s best to ask for feedback from all potential users to help with your decision-making. For instance, if your customer support team will also use the CRM platform, they’re likely to have different feature requirements and requests from your sales agent.
Types Of CRM
In general, a CRM platform falls into three categories:
Operational CRM is the most common type of system. It is a centralized platform that leverages marketing, sales, and customer support automation to collect, store, and manage data. This is the most suitable type of CRM for most businesses, especially small- to medium-sized businesses.
Collaborative CRM connects and shares customer information and data with external and internal stakeholders. It can accommodate larger corporations with bigger budgets and more complex teams.
Analytical CRM is specifically designed for processing, examining, and analyzing customer data. It features data mining and pattern recognition technology to gain deeper insight into buyers’ behaviors. It is suitable for businesses that want to focus more on creating more accurate and targeted marketing offers.
While no CRM is a one-size-fits-all solution, operational CRM comes close and often works for most businesses. However, if you’re planning to scale from the get-go and want to create more targeted efforts, analytical CRM is a better option. Meanwhile, since collaborative CRM systems are suitable for bigger teams, you should only consider upgrading to this option once your business scales and stabilizes.
The best CRM software should be collaborative, secure, customizable, mobile-friendly, and user-friendly as a rule. However, your solution should do more than just that and have the following core features:
- Store and manage customer information
- Manage and organize leads across the sales funnel
- Manage and track campaigns and analytics
- Automate workflow, leads, and sales tasks
- Generate real-time reports on customer data and trends
- Manage social media interactions and insights
- Have a mobile app for better access to data
Make sure to review your business goals and users’ suggestions and recommendations to determine if a particular type of CRM software can accommodate your company’s needs.
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing the best CRM software today is whether it is deployed on-premise or in the cloud.
On-premise CRM means that you own the software and it is hosted in your company’s IT infrastructure. Thus, you have direct access to the servers and don’t have to worry about recurring subscription charges.
That said, on-premise CRM is often more expensive than the cloud options. It requires you to buy the necessary hardware and software to manage the platform. You also need to hire or assign in-house IT personnel to monitor your server. Due to the high upfront cost and responsibility of maintaining an on-premise CRM system, this is more suitable for larger businesses with enough budget and resources.
Cloud CRM solutions, on the other hand, are an emerging option for businesses of all sizes. However, they’re particularly suitable for small businesses and startups. With cloud CRM, you don’t need to spend on hardware and software requirements. Also, you don’t need technical expertise to maintain the software. You simply log into the platform in your internet browser and work away. All data resides on the vendor’s server, and they will be responsible for the CRM software’s upkeep and maintenance. What’s more, cloud CRM solutions offer convenient access to your data anytime from anywhere in the world.
While convenient, you’ll need a good internet connection to ensure easy access to the CRM software. Also, cloud CRM solutions may increase your security risks since you’re relying on a third party’s services in storing and maintaining your critical customer data records.
Integration is another important consideration when looking for the best CRM software. You’re not purchasing CRM software to add another tool to your business’s collection—you’re acquiring a software solution that will allow you to connect your business processes.
Although primarily designed to manage your relationship and interaction with customers, the best CRM platform should also streamline your company operations and seamlessly connect with existing tools in your business.
Common integrations with CRM include:
- Email and social media accounts
- ERP or accounting software
- Your website
- Ecommerce and billing platforms
- Word processing software
Keep in mind that these are just the bare minimum. Depending on your business, you’ll probably need to connect several software solutions, especially as your business grows and manages more customer data.
It’s no doubt that CRM software is one of the most important tools you’ll need to ensure your business’s success. So, make sure to start your CRM hunt equipped with the necessary knowledge to ensure a smart choice. Take time to research and consider the above-mentioned factors, so you can find the best software that fits your business’s requirements and needs.