Many companies today use a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to boost their sales team's performance. In fact, about 91% of businesses with 11 employees or more use CRM platforms!
The truth is, a CRM platform is an exceptional avenue for growing your business and boosting the bottom line. But how can you tell which platform is right for your company? Let's talk about why CRM software is so useful, and 15 key factors to keep in mind during your search.
Why Do You Need CRM Software?
The fact is, CRM software offers a simplified, streamlined approach to managing customer interactions, providing relevant and timely support, and building trust among your consumer base. It provides the ability to organize your sales process in a way that aligns with other departments, like marketing, IT, customer support, and store support (if you have multiple brick-and-mortar outlets).
Three of the biggest benefits that come with using a CRM platform include:
- Process optimization — through automation. When your CRM enables sales reps to focus on the human and strategic elements of their job, instead of handling mindless, routine tasks, your entire sales process will improve dramatically. You'll be able to standardize your workflows and get everyone (sales, marketing, customer support) on the same page.
- A centralized database of customer information. A good CRM platform gives sales reps visibility into any previous interactions with the prospect/customer, as well as other relevant data that can help the rep close the sale.
- Analysis and actionable insights. CRM software also enables you to analyze your sales team's performance (as a group and individually), track trends in prospect/customer behavior, and identify "bottlenecks" in your overall sales process. CRM-driven insights are great for segmenting customers into target demographics and managing your promotional campaigns.
15 Factors to Consider
Now that we've talked about just a few of the reasons why you should invest in CRM software, let's get down to the nitty-gritty: Which CRM platform should you choose? Here are 15 major factors you should take into account when making your decision:
Obviously, if your sales reps have trouble using the CRM platform, then it's going to create more friction instead of streamlining your sales process. Make sure the CRM system under consideration is intuitive, user-friendly, and doesn't come with a steep learning curve. After all, your sales agents shouldn't have to be IT experts to get the job done!
A close ally of usability, simplicity is key in terms of your sales team's performance on the "front line." Some CRMs have all the power and technical framework that their users need, but quickly become an eyesore with poorly organized layouts, visual clutter, and slow load times. In many cases, a CRM with fewer features and greater simplicity is better than a more powerful CRM with a frustrating user interface.
3. Easy Integration
A good CRM platform should easily integrate with your website, email, and phone system. If you think integration isn't important, just think for a moment about email marketing — which, on average, yields an ROI of $38 for every $1 spent. If your email marketing platform doesn't integrate well with your CRM, then your sales team could lose a lot of valuable time back-tracking to find key prospect information. And what if your team primarily communicates with each other via email?
The bottom line: integration is a big deal when it comes to choosing the right CRM platform.
4. Revenue Tracking
If you can't measure it, you can't improve it. A good CRM will have robust revenue tracking capabilities so that you know which revenue streams are strong, which ones could be improved, and which accounts your sales team should focus on next. HubSpot and Salesforce are both excellent choices when it comes to CRM platforms that are built around tangible data points, like revenue metrics. (At OverGo Studio, we prefer HubSpot.)
5. Lead Tracking and Management
A CRM's lead-tracking feature helps you to focus on high-value prospects — the ones who are more likely to buy from your company. Some aspects of lead tracking and management include:
- Identifying leads
- Qualifying and scoring them
- Moving leads down the sales funnel
CRM lead management capabilities are especially helpful when it comes to the "hand-off" of a qualified lead from marketing to sales. A standardized, streamlined workflow can help prevent friction between those two departments, and enable your sales reps to prioritize and convert high-scoring leads. At the same time, with all the insights compiled from your database of converted leads, your marketing team will be able to refine the brand message to target "lookalike audiences." It's a win-win for both departments!
6. Efficient Security
Since a high-powered CRM platform will contain a wealth of customer data, it's important to make sure that its security protocols can stand up to scrutiny. Any data breach could prove disastrous to your brand — and at the very least, it will undermine your company's credibility in the eyes of your consumer base. The best CRMs on the market have stringent security measures in place to prevent such an occurrence.
7. Role-Specific Capabilities
A sales rep doesn't need access to all the information that a sales manager does, and the same could be said for a sales manager compared to a customer support manager. A robust CRM will offer segmentation options based on the specific duties of each role within the organization. It should also allow for specificity in terms of your industry, whether that's finance, retail, IT, or another sector.
For example, quote and/or proposal management may be a key role-specific feature for your sales team. If your company is in the field of B2C insurance, then a fairly basic quote management system may be all that's needed. However, if you're managing a B2B organization that regularly deals with contracts and proposals, then you'll want any "give and take" in that process to be well-documented in a centralized location. The point is, you want your CRM to fit the specific needs of your sales agents and your industry.
8. Contact and Interaction Management
Your CRM should be able to store key information about your leads and prospects, including their names, addresses (email and/or physical), phone numbers, social media accounts, etc. Of course, any interaction with a potential customer should also be clearly documented and organized for quick and easy retrieval in the future.
With that in mind, you need to ask yourself questions such as:
- Does the layout of this CRM software seem easy to use and logical?
- Does it have the functionality we need in terms of contact and interaction management?
- How many times will the average prospect change hands during their buyer's journey? Will the next rep in line be able to quickly retrieve all the necessary information needed to move the lead down the funnel or close the sale?
9. Ability to Simplify
It's nice to have a CRM with a ton of features. But there comes a point when features become "clutter." If your team doesn't need them and isn't going to use them, then they may end up as distractions instead of solutions. For that reason, best-in-class CRM platforms offer you the ability to customize your experience — even if that means eliminating features from your workflow and interface.
10. Data Integration with Your Marketing Channels
This is a big one in terms of your marketing budget. When your CRM can integrate the data coming from your various marketing channels (e.g., which leads are coming from Google Ads, organic search, social media, etc.), then you gain more visibility into the actual cost per lead for each channel. With those insights in hand, you'll be in a better position to allocate your marketing budget moving forward. For example, if a ton of your high-value leads is coming from PPC, then you'll know where to "double down" on ad spend the next time around.
11. Effective Automation
A best-in-class CRM shouldn't just make your sales team's job easier: it should actually take away some of their more repetitive, mundane work. For instance, a CRM platform that's integrated with (or contains) an email marketing system should be able to automatically send the appropriate email sequence to a customer that places an order with your e-commerce store. Another example: a CRM platform with a built-in appointment calendar may send reminder emails to your sales reps about upcoming meetings.
Of course, the types of workflow automation that will be most beneficial for your business may vary. But by setting up action triggers in your CRM platform, you'll be able to save your sales team from a lot of unnecessary work, and enable them to focus on tasks that require "the human touch." Keep in mind that some automation features may come built-in, while others may be available as an upgrade to your subscription plan, depending on the platform you use.
12. Capacity for Multiple Users
Whether you're running a smaller operation or an enterprise-level organization, this is a big consideration. An effective CRM platform should have the capacity to handle multiple users within your company across several roles and levels of access.
Of course, you'll likely have to pay for each user on your account, to a greater or lesser extent. Some CRMs have different tiers of subscription plans and include support for a set number of users depending on the tier selected. Other systems offer a base rate for a set number of users, and then require payment for each additional user beyond that limit.
For example, HubSpot's list price for 50 paid users is $6,000 per month, with an extra fee of $120/month for each additional user. In comparison, Salesforce's list price is $7,500 per month per 50 users, with anywhere from $25-$150/month per additional user.
13. High-Quality Reporting
Robust reporting features are key to your sales and marketing strategy moving forward. Detailed reports can provide valuable insight into how your customers view your products and services (think customer satisfaction surveys, as one example); in which areas your sales reps are high performers; and which marketing channels are most effective in terms of reach and customer engagement. Make sure your CRM has the reporting capabilities that you need for an in-depth analysis of your business.
14. Forecasting Features
Forecasting is an important feature in terms of inventory management (if you're in retail or a related industry), and optimal staffing. If you have a relatively accurate idea of what the demand for your product will be over the next three, six, or 12 months, then you'll be able to ensure that there's a sufficient supply on-hand — and that there are the right number of sales reps to handle the volume of consumer traffic.
In addition, strong forecasting capabilities may even help you decide whether to penetrate new markets. The bottom line is that a powerful forecasting feature can help you to make well-informed decisions for your sales team and business moving forward.
15. Document Management & Storage
Finally, document management and storage is a big factor for any business — but especially for companies that require signed contracts and other key documents for their business transactions. You want to make sure that your CRM will keep your business documents safe, well-organized, and centrally located for easy retrieval. In addition, a centralized document storage database will enable team members from different departments to collaborate in an orderly manner (i.e., they'll know exactly where to find the key information they need to move a prospect along the sales pipeline or support an existing customer).
Finding the Right CRM Platform for Your Business
We've certainly covered a lot of ground in the above information! Hopefully, the 15 factors discussed above, taken as a whole, will give you a well-rounded idea of what the perfect CRM platform will look like for your business.
Of course, you may have many more questions about why to invest in a CRM platform, and how to handle the selection process. If so, reach out to our friendly team of sales and marketing experts at OverGo Studio today. We can help you find the perfect CRM platform — and then use it to the full!