Choosing a CRM system can be overwhelming. The landscape of vendors is continually expanding, therefore making choosing new software no easy task.

What features do I need? Will this software improve customer service and increase sales? How can I make sure the system we choose does what we need? These are all common considerations businesses face when searching for CRM software. In this article, CRM Software providers, PragmatiQ Solutions, reveal key points to consider when picking a CRM system.

What should I expect from a CRM?

It is essential that your expectations of what a CRM system will achieve are realistic, so having a basic understanding of what your business wants to achieve from the outset is important. It also helps if these expectations are managed across the business, so everyone is on the same page; this will aid user adoption and allow your business to get the most out of the system.

  1. Better Organisation – Say goodbye to spreadsheets and dis-organised data. Modern, cloud-based CRMs will ensure information is organised and maintain a central repository for information, whilst also being widely accessible to teams. Better organisation not only aids day-to-day processes but will also ensure smoother transitions of team members when responsibilities change.
  2. Streamlined Data Entry – Alongside better organised and accessible information, CRM systems can also improve the quality of the data inputted. Email synchronisation and automated call logging are just a couple of the features which assist this process. By keeping a record of all contacts your business encounters, less manual data entry is required, and those all-important relationships can be nurtured more effectively.
  3. Improved Access – a CRM provides access to customer data in real time to everyone involved. For companies who have sales teams across the country, widespread access is essential. CRM systems also allow interactions to be recorded, allowing everyone who has access to see the sales cycle from the start. This is helpful if sales processes are particularly long and require multiple interactions with several team members before the sale is closed.
  4. Automation – Managing customer data effectively over time will allow your business to automate marketing and lead nurturing. Businesses can use the data collected to deliver more relevant and targeted messages to prospects.

Choosing the right CRM

Knowing what you want a CRM system to achieve and what improvements you want to make is the first step to choosing the right CRM. The following questions will help you identify key components of the right software and you should keep referring to them throughout your selection process:

  1. Why do we need one?

Looking at the reasons why you need one is critical. This can help you narrow your search but will also identify areas that might need improving on that a CRM won’t just solve. For example, did the CRM search start because sales reps failed to maintain client data? If that’s the case, user training might need to be considered, but also an intuitive user interface would help overcome this problem.

  1. Who will be using it?

For a lot of organisations searching for their first CRM, will currently store data in excel spreadsheets and have outgrown this method. The prospective users of the CRM are only a small team; therefore, an expensive and complex platform might not be the answer, and something simpler might meet all the company needs. However, companies with sales and marketing teams that pass data between them may require something more robust, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales.

  1. What features do we need?

The previous two questions will help identify the most important features of a CRM, however some key features you might want to consider are:

  • Contact management
  • Pipeline management
  • Lead management
  • Email synchronisation
  • Reporting & Dashboards (Power BI)
  • Sales management
  1. How much will it cost?

The cost of a CRM will vary and be highly dependent on your requirements. Some suppliers will charge an upfront fee, others are on a subscription model, however implementation and other add-ons will all total up. Having a list of the features you want will help fit a CRM into your existing budget, so ensuring you consider the previous step is important.

Requesting a product demo from the supplier is a good time to ask any questions about the capabilities of the software and establish both the strengths and weaknesses, before you commit to anything.

You’re set to go!

The right CRM systems, implemented correctly into organisations can make a real difference to all areas of the business, ultimately increasing bottom-line profitability in the long-term. Analytics and additional integrations can help extend the value of a CRM beyond initial expectations—and infinitely past the paper records of an earlier era.