No matter what type of company you have and what product you offer, customers are the driving force of any business. In the highly-competitive world, an entrepreneur needs a special solution that would help transform business processes so as to put a customer in the centre of a company’s efforts and attention. And the solution was found – customer relationship management (CRM), specialized software for automating business procedures, operations, processes as per a company’s strategy.
The main goal of using any CRM system is to create a single ecosystem for gaining new customers and retaining existing ones. As a result, with a tailor-made CRM system, businesses can expand their bases of clients, attract new leads, establish a mutually-beneficial partnership, increase their performance and revenue. Promising, right?
CRM systems are a real trend. Nowadays, we hardly can find a prosperous, booming company not using a CRM, whatever industry it is involved in. According to the Marketsearchfuture firm report, the CRM market is expected to grow up to 35 billion by 2023.
How to Choose the Best CRM:-
Choosing a CRM for a business is a challenging task, taking into account the number of options in the SaaS market, the variety of features, and the range of price points. We want to lift the burden by pinpointing the questions you should ask to evaluate a CRM in a proper way and narrow down your search.
How Big is Your Company?
The number of employees using the software is one of the most critical factors in choosing the right CRM. The bigger your company is, the more you worry about keeping information secure and staying organized. If your workforce includes more than 10 employees, you want to cement control over access privileges to know what each user can view or edit. As well, territory management is essential, if you have multiple sales teams. Has it ever happen to your company when your sales representatives butt headed over who found a lead first? As a result, managers have to solve these frictions while the prospects wait for the conflict to stop. A CRM with robust management tools provides clarity on a deal registration process, increases partner sales, balances workload among sales reps, and eliminates confrontations. You can find powerful territory management features in Salesforce CRM and Zoho CRM.
For small companies, these issues probably aren’t as big of a concern. The implementation and setting up these issues can bring small companies nothing but adoption problems, additional costs, and efforts. In this case, simple CRM systems as Nimble or Bitrix 24 will be good options for small businesses.
Do you need a CRM for Marketing, Sales, Customer Service – or all of them?
There is a perception that CRMs are commonly used by salespeople to manage their deals, automate their processes, collect data, and find more leads. That is true. However, many of them took a step further and provided their users with an advanced one-fits-all solution to handle customer service cases and online marketing campaigns.
Salesforce is a spectacular example of such a solution. The platform offers the Sales Cloud for efficient sales automation and data collection, the Service Cloud for better-resolving customer service cases, and a wide range of robust marketing tools, such as Email Studio or Pardot, to make the campaigns more efficient.
However, if you don’t need all those marketing and customer service tools, opt for basic contact and management solution, say, Nimble or Close.io.
On-premise or Cloud-based CRM System?
CRMs with cloud-based servers seem to have gained popularity. Today, cloud CRM systems represent 87% of all solutions being used. This stratospheric success caused by numerous benefits cloud-based CRMs bring:
- With cloud CRMs, all the hardware and servers for running them are hosted by the vendor, so business owners don’t have to worry about maintenance and the additional costs that come with it. If any issue arises, just reach out to your vendor’s customer service.
- Easy access to data stored in the cloud allows your employees to use the CRM anywhere and from any device.
- Customization of the software can be deployed almost instantly.
- Cloud-based software is generally cheaper than the get-on. The only cost here is the subscription fees, which amount depends on how many users need access to the CRM.
However, as far as the data is hosted on a third-party server, you don’t have complete control over your system. Besides, when the servers are repaired or upgraded, downtimes that could clash with your work may occur. These disadvantages may be critical for some large companies so that they opt for on-premises solutions that are built for their own usage.
If you prefer not to let any third-party vendor hold and handle your sensitive data and personal customer information, an on-premise CRM system is for you, then. It is a very expensive solution as it includes a lot of initial set up costs, hiring new people to build the software, purchasing and installing the required hardware, and more.
What essential CRM Software Features do You Need?
As far as it is the CRM features that affect the price most, business owners have to analyze their goals and the problem the CRM is expected to solve within their company to decide what CRM features are essential.
- Ease of Use
According to a recent survey, 67% of company owners think that ease of use is the most important feature of CRM software. In other words, your system must be intuitive, otherwise, you won’t want to use it. How many clicks does it take to find a feature you need? Or conduct a daily task? Or manage a user error? As far as the new CRM has to be adopted by your team, you need to ensure the software is simple to understand and use.
- Customization and Flexibility
The ideal CRM has to give you the freedom to customize the system as per your business needs. After all, if a business is not able to customize its software to synch it with its individual workflow, the potential to improve performance and sales is dramatically lost.
- Mobile Access
Having a CRM system that is compatible with the mobile device platform your team uses empowers the employees to track and schedule activities and contacts, as well as share documents on-the-go. This will help to boost productivity, increase sales and conversion. However, it is important to evaluate what the software app exactly can do. Thus, some apps offer a read-only view of a sales pipeline, so that they won’t let you make up updates until you come back to a PC.
- Third-party Integrations
Integrations with third-party apps, services, extensions help expand the functionality of a CRM. As such, it is important to have a look at the software you already use to see whether it is compatible with the CRM you are considering. Let’s assume that your marketing team uses Active Campaign to send emails to leads automatically. Thus, you can integrate your Active Campaign account in the CRM (if it allows this), and merge the capabilities of both platforms.
There are two basic forms of integrations. The easiest one is allowed by CRMs with the so-called “prebuilt integration module” that you can simply download and implement.
Another form requires solid coding skills to implement. It means that with an API, you can involve either your in-house IT-staff or an out-of-house contract developer to build a custom integration for your business. This option certainly provides customization and flexibility but adds the additional cost. For instance, building a custom Salesforce integration is not always the easiest task, so if you don’t think you can tackle it by your own efforts, be sure to hit up a professional company providing Salesforce development services.
- Integrated Analytics
One of the most useful features of CRM is advanced analytics. When you start using the CRM software to create marketing campaigns, manage deals, and guide leads through the sales pipeline toward full engagement, you will see how easy it can be to measure and analyze the effectiveness of your activity. Thus you can see what strategy is working for you and where you are falling short, how your employees are performing, and which type of leads are responding.
How Much Can You Afford to Pay?
Price is often a decisive factor when it comes to evaluating CRM software, however, that analysis should take things a step further, not being a simple comparison of the upfront costs. It is essential to analyze what you will actually get at this price and what features you actually need.
Integration costs can eat up a chunk of a budget, as well as ongoing support and training. Some platforms are difficult to integrate with existing systems so that the implementing process requires professional development services. As well, you should take into account the customization costs, including the purchasing of third-party extensions, themes, and applications. Read support documentation to get an idea of setup complexity, as well as problems you might face. It is a good practice to use a free trial period to evaluate the necessity of important features to decide whether you need to pay for them.
Most of the CRM providers offer a free trial and some, such as Zoho CRM, Insightly CRM, Apptivo CRM, offer free plans with limited features and capabilities. These plans can serve as a full-time solution for small businesses.