The wide range of online CRM services that are currently available in the market may seem a bit overwhelming seeing as most vendors will advertise their software as the very best for your business. Nobody knows better than you, however, what works best for your company, so when you’re on the hunt for the best CRM software you should keep in mind that it’s important you listen to yourself not the vendor.
Here are some useful information that gives you an overall picture of what’s out there.
Get to know each product with free trial
A good course of action is to sign up for at least a few free trial plans from the vendors that are popular. With that method you will have the opportunity to test the important elements and you will get a good overview of the capabilities of each app. The best thing to do is to try services that currently have the highest results in our SmartScore and Custmer Satisfaction Rating in the CRM software category and to discover the best CRM software for your company: PipelineDeals, Salesforce, Zoho CRM, Pipedrive, Insightly reviews, Freshservice, Active Campaign, Teamgate, RelateIQ and TeamDesk. For information on leading apps, read our article on the top 10 CRM software.
CRM is welcomed wherever there are customers, but that’s still too generalized and straightforward to say. Instead, we are going to mention few businesses that can benefit significantly:
- Businesses with sales teams. Every sales team needs a good CRM to identify trends in customer behavior, or to use it with up-selling and cross-selling. At the same time, CRM software reveals which care the leads most likely to close sales, and helps the team keep an eye on them.
- Businesses that do marketing. To be more precise – any type of marketing. The sales information provided by the CRM records is invaluable to marketing teams, which use it to funnel their campaigns, and to include as many customers as possible without unreasonable expenses.
- Businesses that lack efficiency. If you’re running short on conversions, a CRM is more than likely to bail you out. CRM solutions save plenty of time and automate a vast number of critical processes allowing you to focus on more important tasks. For instance, you can use customer records and prospect notes to cut the time you’re investing into generating leads.
CRM Software For Enterprises
Best customer relationship management systems happen to be enterprises’ most valuable assets, regardless of the industry they’re in. Unlike small and medium businesses focused on gaining more customers, large companies need a system that will maintain all of their current relationships and partnerships, making each of their customers feel as if he was the most important client the company has. At the same time, these systems provide a comprehensive overview of customers’ status and behavior, and track every interaction in order to reveal trends and opportunities. CRM tools are particularly recommended for online retail businesses, as they keep the sales pipeline updated with information, and store customer records in cloud.
What are Examples of CRM Software?
- Insightly: A well-organised contact manager that drills down to particular tasks, and helps executives streamline customer communication. It is very flexible and well-integrated.
- Infusionsoft: Infusionsoft is a web-based solution that coordinates all the tasks most business owners would prefer not to manage on their own, allowing users grow sales, help organized, and save them time when dealing with various business issues.
- Salesforce CRM: A great addition to Salesforce’s productivity kit which tracks and records cyberspace interactions for a more productive business.
- Nimble: A powerful contact management tool which collects and summarizes information from popular social media channels.
- PipelineDeals: A popular application that eases complex CRM processes, but doesn’t require special efforts to learn and understand.
- Zoho CRM: The leading member of Zoho’s productivity family which can suit the needs of businesses from all scales and industries.
Check out our article on the top 15 CRM solutions to get info on popular products in this category.
Types of CRM Software
Depending on their role, and dimension in which they can manage and maintain customer relationships, CRM systems are classified in three separate groups:
- Operational CRM – Also known as basic CRM, operational CRM aims to integrate the three essential parts of every business: sales, marketing, and support. What these tools do is to provide an operational dashboard where every prospect is ‘evaluated’ for each of the three functions,in order to summarize his status and to develop a strategy for him. The subcategories of operational CRM are: Sales force automation (analyzing prospect cycles from leads to customers); Marketing automation (automating marketing processes to create and execute multi-channel campaigns with fine segments); and Service automation (handling customer service, and integrating advanced types of support).
- Analytical CRM – Unlike operational CRM which gathers data, analytical CRM has the role to analyse that data and to draw some important conclusions for drafting reports and making better decisions. This type of CRM uses powerful techniques, such as data mining, pattern recognition, correlation, etc.
- Collaborative CRM – Last, but not least, collaborative CRM incorporates external stakeholders (vendors, for instance) and shares valuable customer information with them. The rationale is obviously to improve communication, and to gather information that can be used for targeting prospects and making promotional offers.
Key Features of CRM Software
CRM solutions share common features that help you perform basic relationship management processes, but they also vary in some features that address specific industries, business size, or specializations. These are the key features every CRM should posses:
- Contact manager – Organizes your contacts (customers and suppliers) by categories for easy sorting or retrieval. For some small businesses with a tight budget, this feature is all they need to conduct a CRM program, such as, email campaigns or categorizing their customers based on their records. This feature may be a stand-alone module or integrated with other modules.
- Sales automation/marketing – It’s the main component of a CRM software. This feature automates the sales process from prospecting to customer inquiry and sending out replies to order taking. At its core, this module should help you to follow leads, such as, customer inquiries, past sales, or web visits. A good sales automation feature also have web forms that let you capture leads from landing pages, invite web visitors, or collect feedback. This module is sometimes referred to as marketing automation.
- Sales tracking – Some vendors include this feature in sales automation or as a separate module. This feature helps you measure sales analytics. How much you’ve sold? Where? Who? Sales forecasting. Sales rep performance. These are some of the basic functions of the module. The CRM software should have at least a basic set of report templates and a dashboard to help you create sales reports or see an overview of your sales performance.
- Communication channels – This feature is usually integrated with other modules. Many CRM software boast of multiple-channels to communicate with customers, including: email, phone, IM or live chat, social, and forums. Although having more channels means a wider reach, it doesn’t make sense to get a live chat or phone feature if you don’t have someone to handle it, or a social network function if your online social presence isn’t developed. Often, an email channel alone sits well with customers provided you respond within 24 hours.
Benefits from CRM Software
We operate in an ultra-competitive market, which is why adopting powerful CRMs is more vital than ever before. If you’re still blowing hot and cold on the idea to purchase yours, these are the benefits you are missing on:
- Efficiency and Productivity. A well-implemented CRM is more than likely to straighten your operational inefficiencies, mostly because of its data discovery capacity, and the powerful integrations with your current software infrastructure.
- Data Availability. Data is your most invaluable and strategic asset, and the CRM is your best bet to gather that data in one place where it will also be analysed. The idea is not merely to see data, but to understand what it is about, and CRMs make that happen with plenty homegrown/ integrated analytic tools.
- Improved Accountability. When your relationship with customers is not going well, that indicates that none of the rest is. That’s where CRMs are the handiest – they streamline customer communication, and make your business more trustworthy and accountable. What they do is to help employees understand their duties, but foremost to understand their mistakes.
- Better Collaboration. Spreadsheets are not that functional, and we all know it. Still, we’re falling short on certain functionalities we should provide right because we don’t have the right tool to do it. CRMs, on the other hand, are cloud-based, which is enough of a guarantee that customer information will be accessible to everyone in every department.
- Streamlined Communication with Customers. When implementing a CRM, don’t only think about what it is supposed to do for you. Walk in your customers shoes, and try to see whether the tool can identify their needs and therefore lead to more sales. CRMs are one of the few systems that are proved boosters of customer retention, right because they are tracking the company’s relationship with each customer individually.
Aside from the basic features, many CRM software today have these latest features which can boost your marketing and sales. Here are a few of the latest trends that are worth investing in:
- Social CRM – It can be sold as an add-on, a separate module, or integrated with the basic plan. This feature leverages the opportunities social networks present to building personalized customer relationship. You can track social mentions of your brand or get alerts when people talk about you in their social networks. This ability lets you create leads or arrest an impending negative issue about your business. At the least, look for CRM software that integrates with any of the three popular social networks: Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
- Mobile CRM – The mobile app is designed for your use, not the customers’. You can access the CRM software through a smartphone or tablet. This feature is helpful when you’re often on the go but want to keep tab of your CRM program. Most top CRM solutions have a mobile app for iOS or Android or both, which are sold as an add-on, while some vendors feature a mobile web-based version (you need to open a browser to log in to the system). Some of the basic features to check in the mobile app include: synchronization of data; uptime; and, for Android app, compatibility with different Android phones like HTC, Samsung, and LG. Some CRM mobile apps also use gps for location-based marketing.
- Business Intelligence – This feature leverages the tons of customer data you have gathered in sales automation. This module goes beyond creating leads and sales—the sales automation already does this—business intelligence aims to improve the overall performance and efficiency. For instance, it allows you to create “what if” scenarios prior to launching a product, or rank sales reports based on specific criteria (e.g., by location, customer’s age, season, etc.) to check the strongest and weakest aspects of your business.
Aside from assessing the components and deployment, it’s also important to consider the following issues that may be critical to your business:
- Data Security. SaaS CRM means your data is in the hands of the vendor. This setup may appear risky at first, but depending on the vendor’s reputation and infrastructure, your data may be more secure in the hands of experts than relying on your internal team. Do a background check on the vendor to lessen the risk of data security breach. Otherwise, a multinational company may opt to invest in an in-house data security infrastructure and staff and run an on-premise CRM because they have the resources.
- Integration. Many CRM solutions emphasize integration with popular productivity and business apps because most companies are already using these applications to, among others, create documents, engage customers, or manage their calendars. Check if the CRM software can be integrated to your existing applications, or if you can export/import files to and from the CRM software.
- Scalability. It’s important that the vendor allows scalability of features and payment terms. This is especially helpful for businesses with seasonal needs, growing or contracting sales.
- Vendor’s Support and Credibility. As with any purchases, make sure you buy from a reputable vendor. A popular vendor doesn’t necessarily mean reputable; conversely, a newcomer may be more reliable. Check forums or social mentions, or better yet, ask past and existing users for feedback. A good vendor should provide consistent support because you will encounter glitches along the way.
It bears repeating that, as you browse through the various CRM solutions, remember to listen closely to what you need and you’re likely to get the right CRM software for your business.