April 19, 2019 Last updated April 17th, 2019 2,549 Reads share

How to Choose the Right CRM

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There comes a time when managing your customer database via multiple spreadsheets and disparate systems is no longer an option. If this sounds familiar, it is time to start looking for a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software to support your business. This can be a complex and lengthy search for many businesses, so within this blog post, you will find the key things to consider when choosing the right CRM…

What is CRM? 

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and is software, which is designed to manage customer data, track engagements, monitor sales processes and deliver actionable insights to organizations. In the past, CRM has got a bad name and there are many misconceptions about the software within businesses, however, the business benefits outweigh the negatives. Essentially, it all comes down to improving profitability and nurturing customer relationships.

Understand why your business needs a CRM system 

When searching for the right software, it is essential you know what business challenges you want to solve, doing this will pave the way for a successful implementation. This is critical to figure out in the early stages of the process, as leaving these points too late could complicate the search. Also, as all business processes are unique, it makes sense to invest in a CRM which is customized to your business needs.  

Once the requirements of the business have been highlighted, the business will be better prepared to select the most appropriate software. 

Some challenges you may face may be: 

  • Long sales cycle
  • Customers need time to decide on your offer
  • Customers regularly interact with your employees on different channels
  • Data is getting out of control
  • You have limited visibility on your business performance

Not only is figuring these points out critical to choosing the right software, but it is also needed to help measure long-term performance. 

CRM Software Features 

Within the market, the basic features of CRM software are pretty like-for-like. What is important, is based on the challenges you want to solve, that the features within your CRM support the goals you want to achieve.  

Below are some CRM features you might want to look out for:  

  • Contact Management Organise your customer data and place them in a centralized database. Also access smart search, automation including instant field entry, association with relevant data, real-time updates and customer segmentation
  • Pipeline Management – Gain greater visibility on your sales pipeline. This allows you to see the value of deals, where they are in the sales stage and who’s handling which deal, as well as the probability of closing rates, customization, multiple pipelines 
  • Automation – Some of the basic automation you need includes tools to track customer interactions, schedule email follow-ups, upcoming activities, and sync records 
  • Reporting & Dashboards (such as Microsoft’s Power BI) – Generate custom reports, access more graphical options to visualize data, sales forecasting and more 
  • Email Sync – Being able to access your emails and have this sync with the system is a feature to look out for within your CRM 

These features will not only make your day job easier, but they will also support your business processes to streamline operations and improve those all-important customer interactions.  

Mobile CRM 

With the rise in remote working, for some businesses, not all the workforce operates from their office desks. Therefore, it is essential that you consider this when choosing CRM software. Software Advice reports revealed that 48% of user access to CRM solutions are from a mobile device and 45% of people access from the tablet, proving mobile access should not be overlooked. Another recent study stated that employees who have mobile access can close deals faster and achieve greater sales when compared to those who do not have access.  

A few things that should be considered are:  

  • Device compatibility  
  • Access to the CRM (app or web page)  
  • Possible imitations with functionality on different platforms
  • Offline access
  • Automatic sync 

 Even if this point isn’t as relevant to you now, it might be in a few years. CRM software is a long-term investment, so you want to ensure it is future-proof in a few years’ time.   

User Adoption 

The implementation of new IT software is often met with apprehension and resistance within businesses and to ensure maximum success of your CRM, user adoption is key. Buy-in is essential from everyone in the team, therefore it is worth checking with potential software providers if they offer CRM training to support and train users at different levels.   

Setting those expectations and ensuring teams are aligned early in the process will ensure the transition runs smoothly and your business gets the most out of the CRM software in the long-term. 

Getting everyone on board within your organization is also critical to ensure a smooth transition. CRM ambassadors within your team can be a great way to increase user adoption. This person will effectively be a ‘superuser’ within a department and lead the rest of the team by example. This person will be the go-to person for other team members and will be the source of help for any questions or support during the roll-out of the platform.  

Remember not to leave your ambassadors in the dark and provide them with a training plan so they’re able to do their role effectively.  

How much does a CRM cost?  

Pricing will be largely dependent on specific requirements, so it is best to speak to suppliers on a one-to-one basis. Some will charge an upfront fee and others will offer a subscription model, however, implementation will incur extra charges, along with add-ons and other things. 

Finding out exactly what you will get with your CRM package early on is important, such as support, features, training, etc. Product demos are a great way to learn about the software first-hand, so it is worth asking about this when you’re searching for software.  

In time, CRM systems that are used properly will produce a huge ROI and businesses will reap the rewards, however, this doesn’t just happen, users must adopt the software and it must fit with business processes in order to work effectively. 

Final thoughts… 

Choosing the correct CRM for your business is a complex process, however, if done well, can provide huge business benefits. Following each of the above steps your business will be on the path to CRM success, however, do not rush these phases as putting in the research early in the process can be instrumental in the growth of your company.  

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Jessica Compton

Jessica Compton

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