When your business first started, you probably tracked customer information such as email, address, and contact number via a spreadsheet. As your business grows, you need to consider changing the way you track customer data.
Spreadsheets are difficult to update, interpret, and synchronize with your team. For this reason, valuable customer information becomes lost. This is where CRM software can help you. CRM can help you get maximum benefits from your customers and employees. There are many CRM applications in the market but how do you choose the right one for your business? In this article, you will learn how to choose the right CRM for your business. We shall cover the following topics: de
1. What is CRM?
2. Features of CRM
3. Types of CRM
4. Choosing A CRM Provider For Your Business
What is CRM?
A CRM is a tool designed to help businesses manage their relationships with prospects and customers. It is used to attract leads and convert leads into customers. A CRM doesn’t just contain the address of your customers. It empowers your team and employees to effectively build relationships and build the best customer experience from evaluation to purchase and beyond.
CRM is both the largest and fastest growing enterprise software category. In 2018, spending on CRM software reached $48.2 billion. According to Nucleus Research, the average return for CRM is $8.71 for every dollar spent.
What can CRM do for your business?
With a CRM, you don’t have to worry about customer information getting lost or ignored. You can leverage information and collaborate on sales. Aside from helping tracking customer information, a CRM will do the following for your business:
- Consolidate all your data into one easy-to-access location
With a CRM, you can centralize customer data so that information can be accessible to everyone at your company. 74% of customers said that CRM improved their access to customer data. CRM lets you look up customer email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses, websites, and social media accounts with ease.
A CRM also lets you track all interactions through email, phone calls, online chats, and customer support tickets. It will also provide you with a reference of your customer relationships, purchasing history, and how customers were able to find your business.
- Improves your selling process
Manually entering customer data can be time consuming for a sales representative. A CRM will automate the process by eliminating the repetitive admin tasks so your team spends less time typing and more on selling.
CRM can also standardize your sales process so you can have a roadmap for closing deals and reduce the length of your sales cycle. By having a sales process, you will be able to access the data you need to identify the root cause of stalled deals and take the necessary step to address the problem, and ensure that your team focuses its efforts on the activities that generate the most revenue.
Overall, the aim of CRM is to provide a better customer experience. When a sales rep rushes the sales process, it can kill the deal and damage their relationship with the buyer. Having a sales process gives an assurance that your sales team will not advance the sales until the customer is ready to move forward.
- Stay focused on customers
CRM provides access to information on customer interest and behavior. Your sales rep can pursue the right opportunities at the right time or work with your marketing team to deliver targeted and useful content to your prospects. Aside from that, CRM can help you anticipate customer’s needs before they contact you. Your customers can ensure customer satisfaction by solving their problems as soon as it arises. In a recent survey conducted by Capterra, 47% of CRM users reported a “significant impact” on customer satisfaction.
Features of CRM
To help you with choosing the right CRM, it is important that you identify the features of a CRM. By knowing the features, you will be able to choose the right CRM that your business will need.
- Contact management. A CRM will store customer data such as contact information, support interaction, demographics, and transactions in a unified location. This ensures a streamlined information retrieval process.
- Lead management. CRM software will help you with lead management throughout its entire lifecycle, right from prospecting to conversion. A CRM helps centralize customer profiles and interactions for contact management.
- Tasks and deals. A CRM helps add tasks and deals into customer information. It streamlines populating, assigning, and monitoring items in your sales pipeline. Customer information is updated real-time so you can have access to the updated information.
- Email tracking. Most CRM software have built-in email tracking or may come as an add-on. This feature gives you visibility when your email campaigns are clicked and opened. They can be integrated with popular email clients like Gmail, MailChimp, and Outlook.
- Campaign management. CRM tools can help empower your campaigns by managing them from creation to delivery. You can segment customers, leverage your targeting, and streamline your workflow. Metrics can help measure the success of your campaign using data-driven insights.
- Social media management. CRM provides insights on audience interaction on social media accounts. You can get information from comments, likes, and dislikes, among others. The information you will acquire will help in the improvement of your marketing strategies and customer experience.
- Reports and dashboards. CRM will help you accelerate reports generation in real time with accuracy. Valuable data is consolidated to uncover crucial insights about the market, trends, patterns, and behavior.
- Mobile App. A CRM solution will let you go through mobile apps on iOS and Android devices. This allows you to stay connected even if you are out of the office.
Types of CRM
While there is no one-size-fits all model, most CRMs generally fall into one or more of the following three types:
1. Operational CRM
Operational CRM is designed to streamline and simplify your organization’s main business process. It helps generate leads, convert those leads into contacts, and provide businesses with the service infrastructure needed to delight and retain customers over time.
Operational CRMs help achieve three goals—marketing automation, sales automation, and service automation. With an operational CRM, marketers can automate tedious and time-consuming responsibilities such as coordinating email campaigns, distributing content offers, and reaching out to contacts at scale. Let’s focus on each of the three goals that operational CRMs help to achieve.
The sales process can be tedious for your sales team. Sometimes they get tied up with manually entering customer data that they don’t have time for what they should really be doing anymore. Operational CRMs provide standard procedures for acquiring new customers and dealing with current customers.
Operational CRMs organize information in such a way that businesses can meet the needs of customers and ensure efficient and effective sales. This type of CRM includes various sales modules such as lead management, contact management, Quote-to-Order management, and sales forecasting.
In marketing automation, the aim is to find the best way to offer products and approach potential customers. Marketing automation can help you choose an effective channel for reaching potential customers.
CRMs can also deliver marketing analytics, track the ROI of your online ads, and provide a personal insight into individual leads. It can even provide personal insights of individual leads.
Service automation provides a framework for one-on-one correspondence between service reps and customers. It may include things such as setting up inboxes that aggregate customer emails or coordinate live chats. It makes delegating tasks to reps via ticketing systems. Service automation feature options like live chat, assistance with knowledge bases.
2. Analytical CRM
Analytical CRM relies on data gathering and analysis to help your company provide better customer service. With an analytical CRM, you can analyze data such as customer preferences, customer properties, contact data, and other information collected from customers online and offline. It will help your top management make better decisions, marketing executives better understand the effectiveness of their campaign, for salespeople to increase their sales, and support personnel to improve their quality of support and build strong customer relationships.
Analytical CRM also lets you leverage the data you have collected for better sales efforts, for more effective targeted marketing campaigns, and higher quality support networks. The three main functions of analytical system are:
- Customer Acquisition. Turning prospects into customers and upselling when possible
- Customer Retention. Keeping customers happy and coming back for more
- Managing Data. Tracking customer interaction and other information that can help improve your employees
Analytical CRM is recommended for businesses looking to leverage data in order to get a picture of how their customers operate. While it can be a pretty technical software, it isn’t difficult to use but your employees will need more work in order to figure it out.
3. Collaborative CRM
With a collaborative CRM, your company’s marketing, sales, and service departments provide customer information freely with one another. The aim of a collaborative CRM is to improve synchronicity within the business in order to help each department better understand customer needs, wants, and interests.
Collaborative management has two components namely Interaction and Channel Management. The former tracks every interaction between businesses and its customers. Interaction management allows companies to maintain a log of correspondences and create team notes for them.
With channel management, meanwhile, you use the customer information you gathered to identify and pursue the most suitable communication channel based on customer preference. Should you communicate with them via email or chat? Do you need to pursue one-on-one meetings or phone calls with prospects? Channel management will help you make the best decision on that aspect.
Collaborative CRM is designed for businesses with multiple locations to make collaboration between each business unit synchronized. It is also for companies that rely heavily on cross-department communication. It is not designed for companies that are not comfortable with customer information being shared liberally throughout the organization.
Choosing A CRM Provider For Your Business
There is no doubt that a good CRM system is essential for any growing business.
Sometimes it is no longer necessary to manage customer databases with hundreds of spreadsheets, navigate from one document or system to another to find leads or customer data, or explore sales opportunities by checking for graffiti on the stickers.
The difficulty lies not only in the fact that there are many alternative solutions and technologies. However, before making a decision, you should also consider deployment options, custom features, cost, scalability, and business value.
There are many factors to consider and consider when choosing the right CRM for your business, and you also need to address another important topic – your own needs!
In fact, it is important to carefully assess the needs of your business. Then correlate with the functions provided, your purchase budget and determine if you need all or only some of the functions provided by the CRM solution.
If this sounds like a lot of work for you, don’t worry, we’ll try to reduce the pressure required to make decisions by providing some practical advice on how to choose the right CRM system for your business.
The biggest mistake companies make when deciding to implement a CRM system is that they are busy evaluating vendors and testing different functions, rather than focusing on their own business needs and priorities.
Before you start evaluating CRM vendors, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the least efficient process in our business? What improvements do we want to make to the CRM system?
- What operating procedures and workflows are we missing and which need to be added?
- Who in our company will use the CRM? How many users do we need?
- What other software do we want to integrate with the CRM system?
- What is our budget?
After completing the initial “soul search” and understanding why you need a CRM, the next step is to narrow the scope of the required CRM. Here are 4 tips on choosing the right CRM provider:
1. Decide on your CRM implementation: cloud or internal
Both solutions have their own advantages and disadvantages. With cloud solutions (software as a service / SaaS), you don’t need servers or technicians. You just need to log into the cloud CRM in your internet browser to start using it. All information is on the provider’s server. However, you will always need to be online. If your internet connection fails, you will not be able to access your data.
By using a local solution, you can own the software and it will be physically hosted at your location. Therefore, if you want to integrate with other client applications, you can directly access the server. Plus, you don’t have to deal with recurring subscription fees. However, you will need internal IT staff and the purchase of necessary hardware and software, as well as higher upfront costs.
Choose a flexible CRM system that can grow with your business.
2. Know what functions you need
Your business is unique in terms of processes, customer base, and growth drivers. Therefore, it is not wise to promise just a set of standard, basic, or inflexible features. You need a scalable CRM solution! As your business grows, so will your CRM needs. Therefore, you need to ensure that you can easily upgrade your chosen CRM solution to the next most advanced version.
Another thing to keep in mind is that CRM software generally has many features and should appeal to a wide range of businesses. But why pay for features that are not needed or used? According to Software Advice, first-time CRM buyers tend to overestimate the features they really need. Stay away from universal solutions; instead, choose a CRM that meets your needs.
3. Make sure the system is integrated with other applications.
This is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a CRM for your business. You are not going to buy CRM as just another item in another operating system. You bought it to make your business easier!
Therefore, you need to ensure that the CRM system can be integrated with other existing applications. Now we are not just talking about Office 365 integration or Google G-Suite integration! Of course these integrations are important … but your CRM software should also easily integrate with the following devices: ERP or other accounting software, HR software, your own website and web forms to import new leads, publish Platform billing and e-commerce for transaction recording and marketing solutions.
4. Request a demo and try it for free.
Never buy a CRM system at face value! Testing is always a good idea. The best solution is to start with a personalized presentation.