By Morgan Nimmons on Jan 27, 2016 2:00:00 PM
Choosing a customer relationship management (CRM) system can be intimidating to first-time users. Determinant on the size of your business, certain CRM software might be more suitable. Salesforce and Sage CRM are top rated CRM systems for small businesses (less than 50 employees). Mid-sized businesses (51 to 1,000 employees) typically select CRM systems like InforCRM and Microsoft Dynamics and larger companies (greater than 1,000 employees) often use Salesforce.
CRM systems have progressed in recent years with new added features and capabilities so even companies who are already operating CRM software, but are interested in a change should explore their options. Research is the most important task when selecting the desired CRM software, but the question is: “Where do you start?”
Think about these eight key concerns when browsing for CRM software:
Why do you need a CRM system and is it necessary for your business?
When deciding whether to implement the use of a CRM system, companies should think about why they need one in the first place. What is your company’s current method of entering and organizing contact data and why isn’t this process working? What issues are you having with your current data entry procedures that you believe CRM software can solve? Has your company been around long enough to have accumulated enough contacts to put in a CRM system? Other factors that companies should consider when possibly opting for a CRM system is the type of business they have. If your business supports numerous processes such as keeping records and organizing events, the use of one or two specialty systems might be more up your alley.
Integration and Compatibility
Typically, CRM software have pre-built integration business software or options to integrate the apps you already use. Research if there is already a pre-built system in the CRM software you are considering and make sure it can sync with the apps you currently operate. Think of things that are vital for you to integrate like email and calendars. Bear in mind, integration may require downloading or purchasing additional add-ons in order to support synchronization with other applications which makes price a factor.
Cloud vs on-premise
Companies have the choice of selecting a CRM system that is either cloud-based or on-premise. Cloud CRM is hosted through either a CRM provider or by external IT experts who control the software servers and maintenance. For an on-premise CRM system, servers reside in-house within the company and will have direct control over decisions made in the software such as updates and client information. Each solutions has its pros and cons and choosing which one is best for your business depends on a number of factors such as the type of business you operate, company size, budget, and IT experience.
Popular CRM software such as Salesforce CRM, SageCRM and InforCRM start at around $25/month with three to four pricing editions. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is higher in price but offers numerous tools and integration with its popular software such as Office 365 and Skype for Business. Deciding between cloud and on-premise can also be an issue in price along with additional add-ons and services. Depending on the size of your business opting for a low monthly fee with a cloud-based CRM software might be an ideal place to start.
Learning and adapting to a new CRM system is essential for success. Before you buy, companies ought to take advantage of the free trials that CRM software offer. Search various community forums on each CRM software company’s website or on other sites and browse questions that users have asked that may apply to your business in addition to asking your own questions (some forums require signing up for an account). If these forums and resources don’t provide the information that you need, contact the CRM software companies directly. Inquire if they offer additional training for existing users.
CRM companies typically provide case studies that will demonstrate an inside look at how other businesses have used their software. Examine what types of industries typically use each CRM system that you are exploring in order to know which is the best fit for your organization. It is also a good idea to venture away from CRM software companies’ websites and search for user reviews and blogs that analyze each company’s reputation.
Who will be using the software?
Choosing the perfect CRM software for your business will also depend on who will be utilizing the software on a regular basis. Sales, marketing, customer service and support teams can equally experience the benefits of using CRM software. Sales will be able to leverage insight into their customers and opportunities and campaigns that are being generated by Marketing. In addition depending on your businesses, your CRM system could be leveraged by customer service and support teams who can manage and maintain issues like return of goods or trouble tickets in order to give clients a greater customer service experience.
CRM software won’t do the work for you
Keep in mind that the idea of utilizing a CRM software is not so that it can do everything for you. It is to provide another option for your business to manage contacts, provide detailed information on those contacts, analyze data and build stronger relationships with prospects and customers. A CRM system is an organization, marketing, sales, customer service and support, analytic and database tool that can improve current business strategies and deliver results.