Today’s businesses must provide added value to stay ahead of the curve.
Besides making the best products and services accessible, enterprises must invest in business tools, including customer relationship management (CRM) software, to attract and keep clients.
A CRM platform does more than manage customer relationships. It helps businesses understand their audience and enhances their marketing and sales efforts while providing stellar industry-disrupting services.
Whether you’re a start-up business owner looking for the best CRM software or an existing enterprise looking to switch to a new system, let this guide help you pick the right tool.
Why Enterprises Need CRM
Because of increased digitalization, businesses can gather large volumes of market data across various sources.
And they can leverage these data sets through different enterprise solutions, including CRM, to better understand market behavior and preferences.
CRM systems have different functionalities, ranging from industry-specific to general business capabilities.
But there’s one overarching theme for all these solutions: they automate companies’ lead generation and customer relationship processes.
Generating and identifying high-quality leads is one of the most time-consuming business procedures. So are sending personalized marketing messages, keeping tabs on customer interactions, and tracking marketing performance.
For these reasons and more, every business must have a CRM solution that handles all these tasks efficiently, boosting sales and revenue opportunities.
But there are so many products today, which is unsurprising since the CRM market is one of the fastest-growing software product and service sectors worldwide.
Experts predict accumulated growth of 14.23% from 2023 to 2030, pushing projected earnings from USD$53 billion in 2021 to USD$176.8 billion by 2030.
Choosing the solution that fits your business can be challenging. Taking the following steps can help you arrive at an informed decision.
Review Your Current Systems To Identify Your Needs
CRM is essential in efficiently performing marketing, sales, and customer service delivery. As such, this CRM tool must make access to different types of customer data fast and easy. It must be flexible to meet your company’s specific needs.
The first step involves evaluating your current lead, marketing, and customer relationship management systems to discover your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for immediate improvement.
Most CRM tools help businesses with the following work processes:
- Capturing and tracking leads
- Managing lead, prospect, and client contacts
- Automating marketing campaigns
- Boosting digital marketing efforts in a few or several channels
- Sales automation
- Marketing and sales performance analytics
- Predicting consumer and market movements
Hence, take a comprehensive approach when identifying your needs— brainstorming as a group and asking for input from everyone involved in the marketing, sales, and customer service processes.
Also, ask your accounting or finance department heads to share their insights, especially when considering software integration.
Additionally, it’s important to study your other business software tools (e.g., accounting, project management, or time tracking software) to ensure there’s no duplication and that your CRM system integrates smoothly with the rest of the company’s platforms.
List Your Must-Have CRM Features
After identifying your needs and aligning them with your priority goals, it’s time to list the non-negotiable and nice-to-have features.
This is imperative, as it can be tempting to go for either the cheapest or most advanced CRM solution, which may be too much for your needs.
CRM software products vary widely. Some are niche or industry-specific, while others are sales or marketing-oriented. For instance, there are three primary CRM classifications:
Operational CRM software includes systems that help automate marketing, sales, and customer service solutions. Its main objective is to enhance customer acquisition and retention.
Analytical CRM platforms take automation a step further by processing client data to help analyze client interactions, evaluate marketing and sales strategies, and determine your business strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.
Collaborative CRM tools are typically used in larger enterprises to streamline inter-department processes that involve several stakeholders from the marketing, sales, and customer service departments.
As mentioned, some CRM systems may include one or all these main functions in one software. Software developers also accept customization projects, which allow businesses to use a bespoke tool that fits their needs while allowing scalability.
Regardless of your choice, picking a tool that prioritizes user and customer experience is always a good idea. You may have the best CRM solution, but if your staff can’t use it properly, your investment will go to waste.
Set A Realistic Budget
Estimates reveal that CRM systems cost USD$12 up to USD$200 per month per user, depending on the product features. Typically, tools with more functionalities are pricier than their simpler counterparts.
Other factors likewise impact CRM costs, including business size, the number of customer data or touch points, reporting and analytics capabilities, integration, and training fees.
The cost of ownership and other hidden ownership costs can also increase the cost.
Shop Around And Compare
A small business may be tempted to take the cheapest CRM option, though this may not be the best move.
Choose the most cost-effective solution by picking the one that addresses your needs the most, with the most affordable prices.
To get the most bang for your buck, shop around to determine the most reliable providers with the most trusted products or services.
Read unbiased and trusted reviews online and make a short list. Compare the features and prices, including post-sales support.
Note that most CRM platforms may be available as traditional software businesses have to install and manage independently or from software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers.
Choosing the former requires a one-off cost, while the latter requires businesses to pay a monthly or yearly subscription to access CRM features.
Some companies may enjoy free add-ons and discounts for longer subscriptions, and your company can consider it if you’re confident about the provider’s product and service.
Choose Providers Offering Free Trials
Experience is the best indicator of a product’s effectiveness, as some would say. And this adage is most relevant when choosing a CRM tool or any business software.
Like a brand-new car, it’s best to take your new CRM system during its free trial period, which may vary in duration. Doing so allows you and your staff to explore the platform and see if it can deliver on its promises.
Free trials are also useful in understanding how the provider handles the training or how they respond when the system breaks down.
Choosing the best CRM solution depends on several considerations, as discussed above. In addition, each CRM option presents specific advantages and disadvantages for the individual business concerned and is thus worth exploring.
Simply put, there’s no universal CRM solution suitable for every business. Finding the perfect tool depends on a specific business’s niche, goals, plans, needs, current performance, and budget.