If you want to manage your contact lists, you need more than an Excel file or a smartphone contact list. Your Excel files and your smartphone allow you to manage and organize your contact information, but it doesn’t give you more than that. In order to make use of the contact information you store, a customer relationship management (CRM) is needed. This platform allows you to get to know every site visitor better by retaining unique and further information about their relationships, preferences, and interactions.
In terms of ease of use, CRMs are way more user-friendly than spreadsheets. Using CRM is akin to having your spreadsheet evolve a brain. Today, not only does CRM gather pertinent user information by email or by phone, but it also does so by customer helpdesks and social media platforms. If you have these valuable pieces of information, it would seem like you’ve stumbled on a gold mine because with such, you get to identify your prospects better for possible conversion, upsell, or cross-selling. Indeed, having the best CRM to back up your business can tremendously change the way you do business and enhance customer contentment.
Though some people look at CRM as a sales software, with all the features and functionalities it offers, it transcended beyond that. Customer Service, marketing, advertising, and collaboration can greatly benefit from CRMs. By using data from CRM, demographics, records, and other pertinent customer information can be reused to improve offerings. It can also be used to coordinate actions emanating from different departments, hence, improving collaboration and task management. As for sales, they can also take advantage of CRM through a CS discovered action. If you choose the specific CRM software, you can set sales goals, deliver, and measure its accomplishment based on fishing what your target market are saying in various social media platforms.
CRM Pricing and software add-ons
When choosing a CRM, it is important to take note of the price and features it offers. However, don’t focus on the upfront cost alone. Rather, check if the cost is per user, what’s included in the price, and also what CRM features do you really need.
Aside from these, also check how much is the cost for their on-going support and their product upgrades. For existing software, also take a look if the software can be integrated with other third-party apps and business systems. If not, look how much it will cost you to integrate the same to third-party apps you need.
Most of the CRM companies offer a free trial version which can last as short as 14 days to 30 days. Though free, these versions are actually limited in features and number of users. Among these CRMs
- Apptivo CRM
- Base CRM
- Insightly CRM
- PipeDrive CRM
- Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning Professional
- Zoho CRM
CRM Ease of Use and Support from Vendor
For CRM software, it is an imperative that it is intuitive and easy to use. If you are a prospective CRM user, try and see how many clicks it needs for you to do and finish a basic task. Also, take note of the level of ease and difficulty of the features the said CRM is offering. Aside from being easy to use, CRM should be able to help you manage error. Example, you’re trying to finish a task on the wrong screen, or perhaps you inputted the wrong set of date, a good CRM software should be able to identify these errors and propose a better course of action. Remember that poorly designed CRM can lead to a lot of business repercussions such as ineffective marketing plan because of unchecked errors in the data entry phase.
To check whether or not your CRM is actually user-friendly, try training your teammates on how to use it. If you end by stuck in a particular phase while training other people, then that’s not a good CRM to invest in. Time is of the essence so choose a CRM that can allow you to speed things up.
Lastly, choose a CRM which has a reliable and responsive technical customer support group and an extensive knowledge base. Think about running into a bug and you have a very slow customer support team to help you address your concern, what will happen? Terrible loss for your business, we say.
Social, Mobile, and Email Features
The point here is to stick to the CRM capabilities and functionalities you will really use for your business. Choose a CRM that allows you and your team to function more efficiently rather than you having to work around it. Also, choose a CRM that will also allow you to integrate such important functionalities as email, mobile and social. Though these may be old and conventional ways to get things done, it doesn’t mean they’re useless and dead.
Automation of Marketing Functionalities
For a CRM to be considered valuable and great, it must be able to play the role of a lynchpin for an efficiently strategized and made marketing automation mechanism. It’s sad to know that not all CRM software is capable of doing this. Given such fact, it is therefore important to look for a CRM software which allows you to fully automate your marketing strategies and make your tasks more streamlined and organized.
CRM’s Third-Party Integration Feature
As said earlier, it is important to check what third-party apps and business systems you need to function well with your office CRM software. It’s good if a CRM software can easily integrate with your needed third-party apps for free, however, in case of integration for a cost, make sure to only integrate the most needed and useful apps.
Generation of Reports and Analytics
One important factor to consider when choosing a CRM software is the capacity of the same to generate real-time and accurate reports and analytics. These two things are very important in coming up with sound business decisions so it’s a must for these functionalities to be provided by a chosen office CRM.
Safety and Security of Information
Your information gold mine won’t be of value if these can be easily leaked out to external and unknown sources. Plus, if your customers find out that the information was shared by you, you instantly lose your credibility as a brand. Hence, given these, it is a must to choose a CRM software which can keep all your information safe and secure at all times.
Testing Top CRMs
Pros: Cost effective. Provides 24-hour support. Responsive and user-friendly mobile app. RingCentral and OneDrive integrations. Campaign management and new workflow tools.
Cons: Needs improvement in the integration of 3rd party apps and business systems.
Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning Professional
Pros: Seamless segregation of office workflow. Packed with advanced CRM features. Can be easily customized to the user’s preference. Allows collaboration. Provides a huge marketplace for 3rd party application. Offers a free trial version good for 30 days.
Cons: The CRM’s lack functionality on its lower tiers. Not so easy to learn. Not cost-efficient.
Pros: Offers a variety of email marketing tools and powerful gamification features. Can be highly integrated with other Zoho products and with Google G Suite. Provides excellent reporting. Advanced workflow automation functionalities. The free version allows a maximum of 10 users.
Cons: Workflow automation feature is limited to those subscribed to the software’s Professional edition.
Pros: Simple yet fully-functional user interface. The free version offers free use for 14 days. Offers webinars for training and has full-featured and highly-intuitive mobile application. Intuitive analytics and reporting features.
Cons: Limited customization capacity. Notable price increase.
Pros: Capable of task automation. Offers customized tools for ad campaign launching and for event planning. Has hiding features. Instant triggers especially for marketing campaigns
Cons: Limited and a short trial period. Not very user-friendly. The forms they use require possession of coding skills. Cannot function and integrate with social networks.
Charles Watson is the head content writer for Willow Springs Recovery of Bastrop, TX. When not catching a local Detroit Pistons game, you will find him reading updated material from his favorite author Tim Ferriss. He can be reach direct on Twitter at @charleswatson00.