Customer relationship management software has become vital for the success of a lot of today’s businesses. As the CRM market continues to grow, the amount of software that a company can use is also getting higher, making choosing the right CRM tool a problematic task.
But having the proper application isn’t enough to deploy an effective strategy. In order to use CRM to grow your business, you need to know all the best practices for using a CRM solution, as well as have a guide to the best CRM tools available on the market today.
That’s why in this article, you will be able to learn all about what CRM software is, why it’s essential for your business, the best solutions available on the market, and how you can use them for growing your small company.
What is a CRM Software?
Before deciding to purchase a CRM solution, it’s vital that you understand what customer relationship management software is all about, how it can help your company, and what features will be necessary for your specific business.
In simple terms, CRM software is a tool that helps your sales team make more sales by automatically capturing the data you have about your prospects and customers. If you dig a little deeper, CRM tools can help all areas of your company as they can integrate your sales data with other important information such as marketing and customer service data. Along with that, CRM applications can make your business run more efficiently and thus increase your revenue flow.
CRM can be thought of as a digital address book with some upgrades. It contains all customer contact information, along with a demographic profile based on their social media accounts and other sources of data. More advanced software also has a history of all the interactions between your sales representatives and the customers.
The fact that CRM can store all this data about your individual customers and your entire customer base makes it a powerful tool that enables you to spot marketing and sales trends when combined with analytics. Using it can determine which products appeal to which customers based on their previous purchases and overall profile.
Another outstanding feature of most CRM software is the fact that it can help you automate significant parts of your sales process. It can automate activities such as scheduling sales meetings and follow-up contact, and sending out prospective messages. If you have an entire sales team, you can use CRM to assign tasks to individual representatives. That way, the sales manager will know exactly what each rep is doing, how each rep’s performance is, and who is available to work on new prospects.
Consider this: CRM can help not only your sales department but other departments of your business. The most modern CRM tools are able to integrate data from your sales team with data from your customer service department, accounting, marketing, and others. CRM solutions can also help optimize your marketing strategy and inventory management by giving you the knowledge of which your most demanded products are.
Overall, it can be said that CRM solutions benefit not only your sales team but your entire business.
The Most Popular CRM Solutions Right Now
Currently, the CRM market is led by five major software development companies:
Out of all of those, only Salesforce specializes in CRM. That’s why it’s best suited for smaller businesses, as it integrates sales, marketing, AI-powered analytics, and contact management. On the other hand, SAP Digital for Customer Engagement is better-suited for enterprises. It is designed to be integrated with a resource planning software usually used at larger firms. Microsoft’s Dynamics solution is made to be combined with Office 365, which makes it an excellent fit for all companies that use that software solution. In contrast, Adobe Marketing Cloud is a marketing solution that only features some CRM capabilities as a part of a broader package.
All in all, each of these CRM solutions can be used for your company. Which one you decide to go for depends on the way your business operates and what its needs are. In most cases, smaller ventures need a more “all in one” CRM tool that is able to provide all the necessary features in a compact package.
What Features to Look For in a Small Business CRM Software?
CRM should be more than just a tool to store your contacts in. Most modern solutions offer a ton of other features that will help you boost your revenue, get more sales and do more effective marketing campaigns.
Let’s discuss everything that you need your CRM tool to do in order to be effective for your small business. Here are some of the standout features:
Lead Management and Sales
You can easily find customers if you automatically generate leads from other sources such as social media, your website, newsletter sign-ups, and inbound calls. A good CRM solution can do that for you. Additionally, CRM can guide prospects all the way across the entire sales pipeline, from lead generation to making the final sale.
Any valuable CRM tool has some built-in marketing features. Most often, they include email templates, SMS messaging, and even e-mail marketing pipelines. More advanced solutions even offer forecasts for potential sales and competition tracking.
There are some CRM tools that have built-in e-commerce functionality. However, most simply offer easy e-commerce integration. Regardless of what the platform you choose offers, it’s essential to consider this functionality if you own an online store.
Almost all CRM solutions have a built-in reporting functionality, and some more modern software even supports real-time, live dashboards. It’s vital that you check if your software choice has all of the importing and exporting features that you will need in order for your business to run smoothly.
Call Center Capabilities
If you choose to pick a cheaper option, it’s likely that you won’t have call center capabilities available. In those cases, you can opt to get a third-party application integrated with your CRM software.
However, if having a call center option is vital for your company, it’s better to get a more expensive CRM solution that already has it.
If you have a small business, managing big and small projects will be a massive part of it. That’s why it’s good to have built-in workflows that help you and your team deal with task management. It’s important to note that if you need more specific workflows or you need to have additional steps to the approval process, you have to make sure the CRM software you choose has those available.
3 Tips To Follow When Choosing CRM Software
The biggest mistake most businesses make when choosing a CRM tool is focusing on the best vendors and functionalities instead of thinking about what the company needs.
Before you begin looking for a CRM solution, it’s a good idea to find the answers to the following questions:
- What processes in our company are in need of improvement, and how can a CRM system help?
- What workflows do we lack and need to add in?
- How many people in the company will use the tool if we have it?
- Do we have any software that needs to be integrated with the new CRM tool?
- How much money can we spend on CRM?
After you go through all of these and have an idea why you need a CRM solution, you can start following the below tips so that the one you choose is the best one possible.
Request a Free Trial or a Test Drive
As a business owner, you should never fully believe the marketing tactics of a company. It’s always a good idea to test out a CRM solution before buying into it.
The best thing you can do is start with a demonstration and then ask for a free trial period. Usually, during the live demo session, a sales rep will walk you through the software and show you how you can use it. Then, if you have questions in regards to the tool, you can ask.
If you like the tool, you can then ask for a free trial that will let you see how the entire software works and the pros and cons of using it. Don’t forget to test out key features, ease of use, and its ability to be integrated with other applications.
Make Sure That Training and Customization Are Available
Even the best small business CRM solution in the world won’t be beneficial for your business if your employees are unable to use it.
When choosing a CRM tool, don’t forget to ask for a personalized training session for each member of your staff. This will help adopt the new application more efficiently and ensure that everyone knows how to use the software. Good CRM training will help everyone learn how to use the system and show them how it’s connected to other applications used in the company and how it contributes to the entire workflow of the business.
The ability to customize the system is also vital. Over time your company will likely expand, or the way it operates will evolve, which means that you will need to be able to make changes quickly and on the go.
Look for a Great User Experience
Companies often overlook the user experience and choose to focus on key functionalities, price, and so on. However, having a system that’s easy to use and makes working with it fun is crucial for its integration in the company.
If you’re not really experienced in software testing, you may be wondering how you can determine whether an application has a great user experience or not. Well, the first thing you can do is find the answers to the below-listed questions:
- Is it intuitive to use?
- How many clicks do you have to do on average per task?
- Is it enjoyable to use?
- Is the flow of actions logical?
The best thing you can do is look for the answers during the testing phase to evaluate both the system’s interface and its ease of use. Even if this step may seem a bit unnecessary, don’t skip it. If you opt to get a CRM solution that just makes your employees’ tasks more challenging and more complex, then instead of helping your business, the software will cause damage to it. You need to have your staff in mind when testing the tool, so you can ensure that they get the best small business CRM solution possible.
When you start a new business, every decision seems like a vital one.That’s totally normal. However, at some point, your company will be up and running and you will start thinking about ways to optimize your workflows and make the operations process a bit more fluid.
That’s when CRM solutions come into play. Nowadays, they play a vital role in the success of any new business. It doesn’t matter whether your venture is a start-up or a small business. It’s always helpful to find out how you can make your company operate more efficiently and thus generate more sales and higher revenue.
However, consider this: the best small business CRM tool won’t be the best one for a gigantic corporation. Don’t get caught looking for a solution that has all the top-tier functions or is reviewed to be the best one on the market. When choosing a CRM software for your company, you have to think about what your company’s needs are and how the software helps the business run better.
Additionally, another great thing to remember is that technology is evolving. The best CRM solution today likely won’t remain the best in a few months’ time.
Start off with the one that fits your company today and grow over time. Follow the advice given in this article to ensure that the solution you choose is the right one.