With so many options available today in the CRM (customer relationship management) software market, it’s essential to identify clear criteria to right help you choose CRM software that best suits your business needs.
CRM is important because it helps businesses manage customer data and interaction. A “‘CRM application is a better way to manage so that you can be more organized and do more with less’” … providing “an organized, comprehensive view of a company’s customers and prospects, and employees’ interactions with them.” (Source: Inc.)
The following steps will help small business owners discover and adopt an optimal CRM solution:
1. Select up to five CRM vendors.
A well planned CRM strategy supported by the right technology can deliver powerful results. But first ask yourself, what goals do you want to achieve through CRM? Next, write them down. For instance, do you want to know what customers generate the most revenue? Keep better track of sales opportunities? Or perhaps identify potential high value clients?
2. Choose evaluation criteria.
Here are just a few important criteria every CRM evaluation should address:
What is the annual cost of the CRM software? First you need to figure out how many people in your business will use the CRM application and then confirm the subscription fee (if applicable).
How long does the CRM software take to implement? What good is a CRM tool, if you have to wait a long time to use it? Be sure to ask a potential CRM vendor how long it takes to get up and running. And don’t forget to factor in the time it takes to get your team onboard and actively using it.
How important is mobility to your team? CRM software that only works when you’re sitting at your desk is useless if you need it in the field. Mobility is a key-driver for CRM selection, so make sure the experience is seamless from desktop to mobile. Look for a system that is easy to access from anywhere, anytime, even offline.
Does it integrate with the tools you already use? CRM isn’t likely the only software your company uses. Select a CRM tool that easily integrates with other apps, making it a flexible partner. Consider: Can you attach or create invoices, proposals and sales quotes? What email marketing tools are integrated? Does it offer document storage?
Does it provide the reports that management needs? The data you can glean from a CRM system is only as good as the data entered. Think about what metrics you need to see – and make sure the CRM software you choose will readily provide you with those insights.
How well does it automate? Make sure the CRM system the you choose can automate certain tasks (i.e., call logging, task reminders, calendar and alerts, email, workflow, etc.)
Will the CRM software grow with you? You need a CRM solution that is simple to implement and use, yet intelligent and powerful enough to benefit your bottom line and scale with you. Consider the following attributes of a scalable CRM system:
a) Permissions & Roles: Look for a CRM tool that allows you to assign visibility to individuals, teams, superiors, divisions, etc.
b) Geo-location: Modern CRM’s offer geo-location functionality, which allows you to visualize your contacts, leads, and deals on a map and reach them with one-touch driving directions.
c) Cost to Grow: Think about how a CRM will scale up as your business grows. You will need a long-term partner.