Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a sales tool that organizes data, streamlines workflows, and manages your lead and lead pipeline. To help you choose, implement and use the right one, this article provides a high-level overview of the entire topic, guiding you to detailed articles on the core concepts of CRM software. Use this article as a guide to becoming a CRM power user for you and your team.
How does CRM software work?
With CRM software, you can manage contact details, set up sales pipelines for lead training, and coordinate lead generation campaigns. The data your CRM collects allows you to create detailed reports and create dashboards that continuously track your sales progress.
You can also automate processes such as data entry, customer engagement, and sales forecasting, giving you and your employees more time to focus on generating revenue and building meaningful relationships.
Also Read: What Is CRM? – A Comprehensive Guide On CRM
Types of CRM Software
There are four main types of CRM software to choose from:
- Analytical CRM
- Operational CRM
- Collaborative CRM
- Marketing CRM
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Analytical CRM turns data into actionable insights with advanced prediction and artificial intelligence. This is useful for large enterprises that need rigorous data for planning and performance management, or any company that wants to better understand customer trends.
Operational CRM simplifies front and back office duties by automating menial tasks such as data entry and scheduling. This is best suited for sales, marketing, service, and administrators who want to streamline their workflows to focus on revenue-generating activities.
Collaborative CRM facilitates communication and collaboration by collecting, organizing, and sharing data. It is ideal for environments where multiple departments often interact with the same customers and rely on the same data to make decisions.
Marketing CRM generates and nurtures online leads with advanced social media, email, and landing page marketing tools. It is recommended for sales and marketing teams who want to level up their inbound efforts with effective messaging.
To choose the right type of CRM software, think about your business’s current pain points and overall goals.
For example, if your company could do better by eliminating interdepartmental silence, collaborative CRM would be the logical choice, and marketing CRM would be fine if you want to improve your acquisition and lead generation strategies.
Of course, there is a possibility that your business could benefit from the qualities of more than one type of CRM. In this case, choose a CRM with a combination of core features that adequately meet your company’s most important needs.
We will go into more detail about choosing the right CRM software for your business later in this article.
Best CRM Software and their Average Costs
The CRM software market is overflowing with many options, but the best ones include a solid set of core features to help companies efficiently organize contact information, map sales processes, and automate tasks. (We’ll take a closer look at CRM features later in this article.)
The best CRMs are also reasonably priced and generally easy to implement and use. Most CRMs offer a range of pricing based on features and are either free or around $50 per user per month. With average costs and core features in mind, check out the top five CRM software options here.
List of Best CRM Software
- Hubspot CRM
- Pipedrive CRM
- Freshsales CRM
- Salesforce CRM
- Zoho CRM
- HubSpot CRM: Best for companies looking for a feature-rich free CRM that scales with paid premium upgrades (free starting price).
- Pipedrive: Best for teams who prefer to manage and control their sales process with customizable visual pipelines (starting at $12.50).
- Freshsales: Best for companies looking to use AI to predict sales and identify viable leads (Free starting price).
- Salesforce Essentials: Best for small businesses looking for advanced features at a fraction of the cost of the original Salesforce CRM (starting at $25).
- Zoho CRM: Best for companies that rely heavily on social media to generate and nurture leads (Free starting price)
All five of these CRMs include a free trial and/or a free-for-life platform. Most CRM programs offer users the opportunity to try out their software for free – whether it’s a demo, a trial, or a stripped-down version of the main platform.
SMBs can find free or low-cost CRMs with core features, with the option to pay for premium upgrades as they scale. Meanwhile, enterprise-grade CRMs are loaded with features and often require companies to request a quote first.
In addition, some industry-specific CRM programs, such as those for real estate and finance, tend to be more expensive due to the niche features and advanced data encryption that compliance may require.
Benefits of CRM Software
In addition to giving companies the ability to store essential data and streamline tasks, CRM software has many additional benefits that will enable sales, marketing, and customer service teams to develop and maintain meaningful customer relationships.
CRMs also help business owners and other executives make informed decisions that will improve their bottom line.
Implementing CRM software can improve your business in the following ways:
- Tracking CRM metrics, customer interactions, and other relevant data give sales, marketing, and customer success teams the ability to gauge what resonates with customers to deliver a more personalized user experience.
- Viable Lead Generation: Tools such as lead scoring, social media integration, and chat widgets help sales and marketing professionals attract and nurture leads who are most likely to turn into full-fledged customers.
- Build Efficient Processes: From automating tasks to integrating third-party applications, managers and reps can streamline their workflow to spend more time on activities that proactively drive business growth.
- Better data organization and segmentation: A centralized CRM database allows sales and marketing reps to sort contact information in a more accessible way, making it easier to develop segments for targeted campaigns and correspondence.
- Keep a close eye on the team and individual progress: Sales managers can use CRM metrics to track team and individual milestones, empowering them to offer more meaningful one-on-one feedback and redirect appointments accordingly.
- Develop more accurate forecasts: Business owners and team leaders can use internal and external data, as well as advanced tools (such as artificial intelligence) to accurately predict revenue and quotas.
Please note that the above is not an exhaustive list of the main benefits of CRM.
As we have already mentioned, when choosing the best type of CRM software for your business, it is important to look at your company’s specific pain points.
The right CRM will be able to meet the unique needs of your employees and your customers.
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Best Features of CRM Software
The features of CRM software are one of the most important criteria to consider when evaluating your choice of CRM because you need something that provides you and your employees with the resources you need to be successful.
When evaluating CRM options for your team or business, take a close look at the various tools and features each software offers to see how they will contribute to your company’s goals and overall mission.
The best features of CRM software fall into these three categories:
- Core CRM Features: Standard features that all CRMs should have; some of them include contact management, lead management, CRM reporting, and customization.
- Advanced CRM Features: Designed to handle huge amounts of customer and sales data; these features include lead scoring, sales forecasting, and AI automation.
- CRM Marketing Features: targeted at marketers who need to generate and nurture leads; some of these features include email marketing and social media integration.
- Industry-specific CRM Features: Most CRM industry options come bundled with industry-specific sales and marketing tools that are not found in generic options.
Please note that advanced CRM features and/or industry-specific features tend to cost more and tend to be most useful for large and enterprise companies with large customer bases that process large amounts of data on a regular basis.
The core features of CRM as well as the marketing features of CRM should be suitable for businesses of all sizes.
How to Choose the Right CRM for You
The CRM software you choose will greatly influence the success of your CRM implementation.
While it can be tempting to go for the cheapest or most feature-packed option, choosing the right CRM for your team or company requires careful planning.
Otherwise, you risk dumping money into a tool that your team can’t use effectively.
Here are six steps you can take to choose the right CRM software for your business:
- Define your goals and needs: evaluate your smart goals to see what your company can do better, and then see what CRM tools and features your employees will need to successfully make those improvements.
- Think about who will use CRM: who will rely on CRM software the most in their daily activities? Talk to these people and gather some feedback from them to get a clearer idea of what CRM features to look for.
- Make a List of Must-Have CRM Features: Armed with the information you gathered from the previous two steps, you can now create a list of core and industry-specific CRM features that you want to have in your ideal CRM software.
- Create a budget: Your budget should cover the total number of seats allocated, the range of features, and potential future upgrades. Other costs associated with training, hiring, application integration, and/or data migration may be included in your budget.
- Pick the Top Five CRM Options: Start with a broad search for CRM software options that match your desired features and budget, then narrow it down to the top five options that tick the most boxes for your business.
- Try CRM Before You Buy It: Hands-on experience with CRM software will help you make an informed decision. Luckily, most CRMs include a way to try out their software for free with no obligation if that doesn’t work.
Expect the CRM selection process to take several weeks, as you’ll want to make sure the software you choose is the best fit for your business.
A helpful choice to check out our top CRM statistics, including how merchants and businesses use CRM software. Once you have a software vendor, it’s time to implement CRM in your team or company.
How to Implement CRM for Maximum Efficiency
CRM implementation is the process of installing CRM software for a team or business.
Developing a robust CRM implementation strategy will result in high user adoption rates, increased employee efficiency, and increased revenue.
For maximum efficiency, follow this nine-point CRM implementation process:
- Choose the right CRM: Choose the CRM that fits your budget and best suits your company’s needs; This step is discussed in more detail in the previous section.
- Coordinate the CRM Implementation Team: Assemble a core group that will encourage employees to buy the software, monitor post-implementation progress, and ultimately become CRM power users that others can rely on for help.
- Create a CRM Implementation Plan: Describe the steps your business needs to take to successfully implement CRM, including your goals, budget, key players (implementation team), and projected timelines.
- CRM Customization: Customize the software to suit your company’s unique needs – such as customizing user permissions, creating automated workflows, and customizing the CRM layout.
- Migrate data to CRM: Migrate your data to the new software and then make sure everything was properly imported from the previous source (be it a spreadsheet or another CRM).
- CRM integration with 3rd party tools: Extend CRM functionality by adding frequently used applications to further streamline your workflow with native integrations, 3rd party connectors, and/or API integrations.
- Test the CRM: Once you’ve imported your data and configured the CRM to your specifications, it’s time to run the software in a controlled environment to detect any bugs that may need to be ironed out before the official launch.
- Deploy CRM and Train Your Team: Once CRM is up and running, take the proper steps to acclimate your intended end-users by training your team on CRM implementation.
- Post-implementation progress monitoring: Ensure high adoption rates by continuing to promote the benefits of CRM software by offering regular training and encouraging users to provide feedback.
This nine-point plan will require a significant investment of resources, money, and time.
However, this is your company’s best chance to provide a CRM that is well received and used effectively, which in turn will increase growth, sales, and productivity.
Take a look at our CRM Implementation Guide for a detailed explanation of each step in the nine-point process we outlined above.
This should help you successfully implement your CRM software so that it is widely adopted and used.
Bottom Line: CRM Software
Whether you are a small business or a large enterprise, CRM software is a dynamic sales software tool that can go a long way in helping your employees become more organized and efficient—provided you have a clear understanding of what your company needs to succeed.
Choosing the right CRM software and executing an effective implementation strategy will result in increased productivity, growth, and revenue for your business.
We recommend you to go through this book to understand the CRM software and how it works – Salesforce for Beginners: A step-by-step guide to creating, managing, and automating sales and marketing processes.
CRM Software – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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