Alexa Steps to choose the right CRM System for your SMB

How to Choose the Right CRM Software for Your Business?

CRM | by Patricia Jones
How to Choose the Right CRM Software for Your Business

Fostering a healthy customer relationship is at the heart of every business. Doing it right can bring you sustainability and increase your brand recall. Companies nowadays invest in CRM software to seamlessly communicate with customers, thus building a better conversational experience.

However, choosing the right CRM software often seems overwhelming. Here, we will be talking about three different types of CRM systems and how to choose the right product that streamlines customer management for your business.

Customer Relationship Management is a Business Imperative in Recent Times

Customer interactions determine business success to a great extent. More than 80% of customers prefer conversational experiences while interacting with brands. In fact, customer journeys nowadays depend on their interactive experience across various channels.

Operational CRM Systems

Operational CRM takes care of the buyers’ journeys at every touchpoint. It comes with a variety of tools that help businesses gain better visibility of customer journeys. Starting from the first level interaction at the brand’s website to the entire lead management process, operational CRM keeps a tab on the customers’ journey through the sales pipeline and tracks their behaviors throughout.

A good operational CRM tool comes with automation features for marketing, sales, and services. These three segments are otherwise handled by the employees. Automating these three primary roles frees up a whole lot of time for the employees, and they can invest in tasks that require human intervention. It helps businesses scale up by providing superb customer service.

Features of an Operational CRM

Contact Management: Keeping a track of leads is absolutely hassle-free when it’s automated. With an operational CRM, you can manage the details of your leads from a central platform. The automation feature captures the details as soon as a prospect interacts with your brand. Thus, it’s easier for the team to carry the conversation from any level. It also ensures that no contacts slip off the funnel.

Keeping track of leads’ behavior: Operation CRM system can keep a track of the leads’ behavior across their journey. As a result, you can easily decide the scoring capability of any particular lead. You can segregate a high-priority lead, a prospective customer, and the leads spending more time on your website. This way, you will know which leads to nurture by personal touch or automation.

Sales automation: With sales automation features, the sales team of a company is assigned tasks based on customer actions and deal value.

Marketing Automation: It helps in effective marketing to your leads. When you already have the contact details of your prospective leads, you can easily add them to your email funnels and update them with new information. Also, it helps differentiate a warm lead from the cold ones and marketing accordingly.

Collaborative CRM Systems

Collaborative CRMs are named after the work it does. It’s meant for collaboration across teams. This tool helps share customer information across departments, vendors, suppliers, and internal and external stakeholders.

While operational and analytical CRM can perform the job of a collaborative system, many companies still want to invest in collaborative CRM systems separately. The reason is, collaborative CRM is exclusive to customer service that works for improving customer satisfaction, retention, and acquisition.

Features of a Collaborative CRM

Interaction tracking: keeping track of every interaction is the primary role of collaborative CRM systems like ConvergeHub. It gives access to customer interactions to every customer-facing team, right from sales to community management. It includes

  • Feedback from the support team on each and every deal
  • Community conversation regarding new products
  • Notes from the sales team to carry out the further interactions

A collaborative CRM eliminates silos and provides access to information for every team.

Managing customer relationships: Keeping track of customer interactions across every channel helps in the seamless management of customer relationships. When a new customer arrives, a collaborative CRM helps track their preferences, needs, and goals. It keeps all members of the customer-facing team on the same page, thus enabling them to deliver a more personalized experience.

Document management: Collaborative CRMs take care of your documents. They provide a central platform to store all your documents. It keeps things organized and provides access to every stakeholder so that you don’t need to hunt down the important documents in your local folders.

Analytical CRM Systems

Analytical CRMs like ConvergeHub empower you with customer data to develop various crucial business insights. It is featured with multiple digital tools that collect a huge volume of data, analyze it and translate it into business insight. With Analytical CRM, you get data from every level of the customer journey. Thus, it’s easier to see and decipher the behavioral trends of the customers, according to which brands can develop their marketing strategies. It helps them decide which leads will translate into customers or subscribers. Analytical CRM gives you every possible information about the average deal cycle, monthly recurring revenue, customer retention rates, and more.

Features of an Analytical CRM

Data mining: As the name suggests, Analytical CRM works as a data hub. It stores and organizes crucial data in one single database that is easily accessible. It applies statistical analysis to identify behavioral patterns and sales trends in your data and segregates customers accordingly. The purpose is to track the right audience at the right time.

Upsell and cross-sell opportunities: Brands get an insight into customer behavior from their previous purchase trends. It clearly shows you how to target your leads- upsell or cross-sell.

Constructing buyer persona: Analytical CRM not only captures data and extracts the pieces required for constructing buyer persona. It helps you understand your customers’ needs and preferences and accordingly craft marketing campaigns. It helps brands deliver personalized experiences, which further makes a difference to your bottomline.

According to a recent study, 93% of the brands using ConvergeHub have exceeded the lead and revenue goals by creating a buyer persona. 87% of the brands have seen an increase in customer retention rate by using the analytical features of the tool.

Sales forecasting: Most importantly, analytical CRM helps evaluate past sales trends, thus making a great prediction about the future. It can predict a rise and a dip, based on data. Thus, companies are able to decide on their inventory and staffing, and revenue on a seasonal basis.

Analytical CRM, to say the least, can help companies keep a track of every touchpoint so that it becomes easier to figure out where the best customers come from. Also, you know which of your marketing efforts are creating the best impact and which are not.

Steps to Choose the Right CRM Software for your Business

Investing in the right CRM solution will help maximize your profits, cut your operating costs, and boost IT efficiencies, but with many options available, what selection criteria should you use to make the right decision for your company? Knowing that not all CRM solutions are equal, it becomes a matter of serious thought to choose the right one.

Understand the CRM Concept

There’s no point of investing in a CRM if you and your people have a vague understanding of this software tool. Remember once you are equipped with all the necessary information, it can be easy for you to test the knowledge base of the vendors. Let’s say, you can ask your vendor for a few functionalities and see if they can explain them in simple terms. If the vendor fails to provide a convincing explanation on the functionality of their CRM application- do not buy it.

Know Your Purpose

Before you dive in, it’s important to understand why your business requires a CRM. A well planned CRM strategy coupled with the right tools can prove to be very powerful – only if you know what precise goals you want to achieve through it.

  • Do you want to produce powerful sales and business insights that will make your business more profitable?
  • Do you want to scale your operation to make it more productive?
  • Do you want to centralize your business and make it more organized?
  • Do you want an organized history of your contacts, leads, accounts and deals?

Installation Timeframe

How soon do you want or need to have your CRM up and running? Remember there’s no point of investing in a CRM that you have to wait nearly a year to use? Do ask the CRM vendor how long they expect the implementation to take.

Your job isn’t done when the CRM is working; it’s only complete when your team is actually using it. So do take into account factors such as busy seasons and other company events that may get in the way of a timely implementation and adoption.

Encourage user adoption rate

With so much money invested in CRM, it’s important to address an alarming concern that can hinder your CRM strategy– a low adoption rate. Look for a CRM solution that encourages user adoption. In the words of a CRM strategist – ‘’Find a CRM partner who minimizes friction so your team can easily use it.’’

Two factors to ensure higher user adoption:

Zero Input

Too much time should not be put into feeding the data into the CRM. Remember you do not want to turn your top salespeople into typists. Henceforth, try and choose a CRM that has easy and quick data import/export features.

Easy UX

No one wants to work with a confusing CRM with too many unnecessary fields. CRMs help produce profits, not by virtue of their existence, but because they smoothen the sales cycle. They track the tasks and data relevant to closing deals. Consequently, look for the CRM with a great UX that helps you customize the software according to your business requirement.

Mobility

A CRM that works when you’re sitting at your desk might not necessarily work in the field, or on a plane. Worried? Well, mobility is a key-driver in overall CRM value to make sure the experience is seamless from desktop to mobile. As a result, try and look for the solution that meets your team’s needs, irrespective of their geographical location.

Questions that are worth considering:

  • Is the experience in desktop and mobile smooth?
  • Does the CRM offer mobile applications for Android and Windows?
  • Does the CRM automatically sync to ensure information is up to date all the time?

Integration with other tools

What are the key tools or programs you need the CRM to work with? Select a CRM that integrates with the tools your company already uses. This will help you manage your entire business from a single interface, without having to juggle with multiple browsers.

Factors to consider:

  • What email/FAX marketing tools does the CRM integrate with?
  • Does it have an online meeting and video conferencing feature like GoToMeeting?
  • Does it offer integrations with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?
  • What about document storage like Box?

Is the CRM user-friendly

Most often CRM selection is made without input from the people who use them. Do not follow the same strategy. Understand while the involvement of the executives and IT leaders is important, end user adoption holds greater significance. A detailed understanding of how the people work; their personal pain points, concerns, objectives, fears and suggested improvement areas can help in choosing the CRM application with the right fit.

Note: Many companies involve a fraction of users to give their inputs in the CRM selection process. Doing this ensures that the company has a better understanding of what the users think is important, and later when the selection is made, there is a team of end users who can help accelerate adoption among their peers.

Consider information system linkages that will meet the compliance requirements

HIPAA is important for health care industries. Similarly, Graham Leach Bliley is applicable for financial services and Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) requirements for public companies. Remember each regulatory body mandates specific ways in which data can be handled.

Does it fit your budget

Traditionally-delivered on-premise software: It requires users to own and maintain the technology infrastructure viz. servers, storage, disaster recovery and networking capabilities, plus personnel. On-premise CRM solution involves an initial cost along with an annual maintenance fee.

Cloud-based SaaS software: Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software distribution model in which the applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider. The application is made available to customers over a network, (typically the Internet). While there is no infrastructure cost, the software cost is applicable on a monthly subscription basis.

Note: earlier, the smaller, cash-constrained companies used the cloud while the larger companies with IT resources used on-premise. However, gradually, this division has blurred. Increasingly, large companies are employing cloud-based applications due to the several benefits that it poses such as shift of labor costs and hardware requirements to the vendor.

Features of an Effective CRM Solution

Several considerations come into play when you are selecting a CRM Solution for your company. Here’s a look at the key features that you must consider while choosing one.

Reports/Key Insights

Think about what metrics you as the business owner/manager need to see – and make sure the CRM you choose will readily provide you with those insights.

Deal Acquisition Report
It will include the number of deals registered over a period of time.

Deals by expected close date
It will tell you the total number of deals in the pipeline and how much of that amount your business can realistically expect to bring in.

Sales Funnel Analysis
It will tell you where your team stands at all points in your sales pipeline and what your business has to lose or gain.

Easy import/export of Data

Data import and export is a common activity that takes place while using the CRM. Since data is a key business asset, it cannot be overlooked.

Here are 2 basic queries you need to consider:

  • How well does the CRM document the import/export process?
  • Can users import/export the data by themselves or will they require the IT department?

Customization

Your business is unique. Make sure the CRM you choose can adapt to your line of business. For example, the sales cycle of a real estate agent is different from the sales cycle of a service based company. Consequently, look for a CRM that allows you to customize your reports, drop downs and add custom fields, so it makes sense for your business.

Growth & Scalability

Looking for a CRM solution now, in all probability you would not like to go through the same task again in a year. Isn’t it?

Hence, considering this fact, it should be your #1 priority to select a CRM solution that can scale you’re your enterprise. In the words of a CRM strategist – ‘’Irrespective of the nature and size of your business, you have customers to manage, sales to track, marketing to execute and teams to coordinate. Thus, business entrepreneurs should always opt for a CRM solution that is simple to use, intelligent and powerful to benefit the bottom line and most importantly grows with the enterprise.’’

Example – With time, your team will grow and most likely you’ll want to assign different permission sets to different users. In such a scenario, you will benefit only if you have CRM solution that enables you manage sharing of information at different levels.Using role based permissions feature, you can easily create hierarchy and set data security rules on who can access what information, (depending on your business’s evolving need).

Automation

Make sure the CRM system you choose is able to reduce redundancy by automating certain tasks.

Key automation features to look out for:

DRIP Automation
ConvergeHub Cloud CRM solution offers DRIP marketing manager which is a powerful tool to schedule your campaign. Using Converge, you just need to set the trigger for the date and set a span for the campaign to run. The rest will be taken care of by Converge DRIP marketing automation.

Task Reminders
You’re busy and you need help staying on top of everything and so you have decided to invest in a CRM right? Find a CRM that allows you to take a quick look at your day’s activities.

Precisely, you should be able to

  • Schedule, reschedule, organize, add and edit your tasks from a single screen interface of the CRM
  • See forecasts on sales deals
  • Check tasks and projects based on their due dates.
  • Share your calendar with colleagues and acquaintances.
  • Get intimation about upcoming events/meetings.

The Final Takeaway

When you’re selecting a CRM, you’re not only selecting a product, you’re selecting a partner. With this thought in mind, you cannot afford to ignore but answer these questions before making the final plunge:

  • How would you rate your interactions with the CRM vendor?
  • What are their customer service and support options?

Most CRM vendors can try to hard sell, only to neglect you once you actually become their customer. Be sure to select the right vendor who shows you the true light to CRM success.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to grow?
Join our weekly newsletter packed with sales tips.

Enjoy this article? Don't forget to share.