How We Chose the Best CRM SoftwareCRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and choosing the right software program for your business is essential to being able to organize, track and manage your customer contacts. Though many people think of CRM as a tool that is strictly for use by a sales department, the truth is that a good CRM program can be extremely beneficial to any department that has a lot of clients with whom follow up makes a difference. CRM is certainly valuable for sales, but also for departments that generate quotes or invoices, marketing departments, project management teams — really anybody that wants to make sure that they have all of their client information easily at hand and available to make sure that they are regularly keeping in touch with the people most important to their business’ success and operations. If you’ve tried to identify the best CRM software on your own, then you are well aware of how many choices are currently on the market. Choosing which ones provide the best functionality is a challenge, but after much analysis we identified the three features that we believe are most important and provide the greatest value, including:
Customization OptionsWhether you’re purchasing CRM software for a brand new business or upgrading your software for a long-established business, you already have a process in mind or in place. Your organization tailors its sales and customer relationship process based on your unique product, goals, training and industry, and you don’t want your CRM software to force you to change it. It is hard enough to introduce something new to an existing team, so you want to make sure that the program that you purchase allows your staff to retain the elements of their routine that they are most comfortable with, and that work. Choosing a CRM program that is customizable means it can be tailored to your needs. Not only does this make it easier and faster for your staff to adapt to, but also means that it is more likely to be able to integrate into the rest of your business operations and to provide you with the business analytics that you have already established as most meaningful to your success. Further, having a CRM that is customizable allows you to maintain the process that differentiates you from the competition. If you purchase a program that forces you to follow the exact same capabilities and priorities as everybody else, you eliminate creativity, and are likely to lose your competitive advantage.
Automation ToolsJust as computers have taken the sales process out of file folders, tab systems, tickle files and manual data entry, automating Customer Relationship Management software has eliminated most of the mindless, time-consuming and redundant aspects of prospecting. Salespeople and administrative staff are able to update contacts one time and have that single entry appear in all pertinent files. Calendar entries can be set to repeat and provide notifications, and leads and competitor information can be entered by support staff and automatically appear in client files. By eliminating the need to do these tasks, your organization’s sales professionals will be free to apply their talent to what they do best: selling your product, and that same automation will also facilitate far greater ease and less work for every other department that supports the sales effort.
IntegrationSales and customer relationship management involves so much more than making calls and recording conversations. The professionals that use CRM software are constantly using countless other third-party programs to help them do their jobs: emails need to be sent, spreadsheets created, and letters and memos need to be composed in word processing software. Having access to all of these third-party tools at the touch of a button makes the process much more efficient, and can eliminate redundancies. By selecting a CRM program that has built in integration capability, you empower your team to leverage additional resources.
We think Freshworks CRM is a great choice for most visitors.
- Intuitive user interface
- Built-in phone with automatic recording
- Email and click tracking
What Is CRM Software?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and CRM software is an integral tool that allows your company’s sales team, marketing department, customer service staff and others to keep track of all of the people and organizations with whom they interact. Though at its most basic a CRM program is a database, new technologies have made CRM software into a way to do far more than store and retrieve information. Today’s CRM software helps improve productivity and business relationships. A robust CRM software program will empower your staff: it gives your promotional teams the ability to capture more leads, nurture them and convert them to increased revenues and gives your customer service teams the tools to be able to respond to customer inquiries and complaints quickly and effectively.
The various individuals that interact with a CRM system use it to store customer prospect information. Different departments within an organization use this information differently: marketing may use it to target campaigns while the sales department uses it to pursue sales opportunities and customer services uses it to address support issues. CRM software allows each of these disparate groups to access and add to the same information in order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the contact’s relationship and history with the company.
Benefits of CRM Software
A good CRM software can help your organization in a number of ways. It can increase the productivity and success of your sales department, improve customer satisfaction and retention, improve organizational efficiency and provide highly accurate data to be used for forecasting and internal reports. Most important of all, a Customer Relationship program that is shared across your organization will help your stakeholders to communicate more effectively with one another. By unifying access to information, you can cut down dramatically on misunderstandings and miscommunications, eliminate inefficiencies, and boost your ability to achieve your organizational goals.
When you introduce a CRM tool, you make three significant differences in your company’s operations:
- You cut down on paperwork. Once you’ve entered information into a CRM once, you don’t have to write it down again. You can add to the important information that a customer record holds, including leads, engagements, sales and more. An advanced CRM system will be able to take the information in the contact manager and apply it to order forms, calendars, emails, reports, invoices and more.
- You can track your internal processes in real time. Having a CRM system eliminates the problem of tasks falling through the cracks. It will reinforce and regiment your follow-up, making sure that leads are not neglected, orders are processed, campaigns are activated, and follow-up calls are made.
- Immediate access to data and reports. A CRM replaces the need for inputting data into spreadsheets and trying to organize it into something meaningful. With the push of a button you can access complete information about sales and revenues, staff performance and more to help give greater insights.
What to Look For In CRM Software
Whether you’re investing in your company’s first CRM or you’ve outgrown the one that you have, it’s important that you choose one that suits your organization’s needs rather than just investing in the one that seems to have the best reviews, the lowest price, or the most bells and whistles. Though you obviously want to keep the company’s business objectives and budget in mind, a CRM needs to be a solution for the people who are working with it. That means that a good place to start is with the team or teams that will be using it. Ask them to identify their key functions and what their wish list is. What tools do they use most and what is frustrating the most, not only in their own work but in their interactions with other departments? Features mean nothing if the staff doesn’t need it — or worse, will object to using it. Most CRM software will likely check the boxes that your staff needs, but some will do it better than others, so that’s where to start looking at reviews.
Another key to choosing a program that will work for you rather than against you is whether a package will integrate and sync with whatever you are currently using, whether that is an existing but outdated CRM system or any of the popular third-party business productivity applications. A program that wins high marks for this ability will likely save you a lot of heartache and undue stress.
You should investigate whether a package will be customizable and scalable enough for your needs, whether it is simple enough for your staff to get up and running quickly, and of course, whether it fits your budget. Finally, it makes good sense to choose a package that provides you with a test run, whether through a live demo or a free trial. By allowing some of your stakeholders to test the system, you’ll get a good sense of whether it is going to meet your needs.
We think HubSpot CRM is a good option for visitors looking for CRM software.
- Detailed reports and 3rd-party integrations
- Free option
- Easy to use
The Cost of CRM Software
There are hundreds of CRM software packages from which to choose, and each one has a different price or pricing structure, and some are even free! Just looking at the twenty that we have identified here as the best of 2022 demonstrates the wide range of fees, with some charging per individual user and some charging per team, and monthly charges ranging from $0 to $99 and up.
The better way to think about pricing is to understand what factors are likely to add cost. Armed with this knowledge you will be able to judge the value that each one program provides.
These features are:
- Number of users — Many programs charge per user fees, and some offer tiers that not only allow for increasing numbers of users but also may add beneficial features.
- Amount of storage — Many of the free or lower-priced programs only come with minimal amounts of storage, then move up to unlimited storage as subscription fees increase.
- Customization — Though some packages offer flexibility and customization at the outset, others provide increased customization as you move into more expensive tiers.
- Number of Records — Lower priced or free versions often come with lower numbers of available records and contacts within the program, and these numbers move up dramatically as you pay more per user.
- Analytics — Though all programs offer reporting, they often become more detailed and more customizable as they become more expensive.
- Integration — Though most packages offer migration and integration, the packages that provide integration with greater efficiency are generally more expensive.
- Support — Most packages offer support, but for most of the free or lower priced packages the support is limited.