It’s this simple: If your business deals with customers, you need a CRM software. CRM software is crucial in today’s super-connected, hyper-fast world where you need to handle lots of customers and communications daily.
A CRM can be the key to success with its offerings. However, choosing the right one for your business is easier said than done.
But don’t worry. I’m here to help you navigate this jungle of technology and business terms before you’re sucked into the vortex. I’m going to be helping you understand the most crucial CRM features you should look for in 2019.
CRM functionality and CRM features are what makes a CRM software what it is. Customer relationship management must be able to handle your contacts and tasks. It should also record your communications, give you analytics and insights, and more.
So Let’s See CRM Software Features and Functionality in 2019:
- Contact Management
- Lead Management
- Interaction Tracking
- Reports and Analytics
- Email Marketing
- Sales Pipeline View
- Social Media integration
- Marketing Automation Integration
- Mobile CRM
- Flexibility and Customization
- Sales Forecasting
- Quotes Management
These are not arranged in any particular order. Why – you might ask? Because experience has shown me that what is an essential feature for a business might be a nice-to-have for another. So, I believe that every individual business owner/manager should do the prioritization for their particular business on their own.
Now that we have that clear let’s jump right in!
Essential CRM Software features in 2019
Contact Management is the most basic CRM feature there is. The whole concept of a CRM tool is to help you better connect with customers. CRMs allow you to track your contacts and segment them into smaller groups that are easier to manage.
Contact management helps you in every step of the way by gathering the crucially essential customer data. And you will be able to optimize your campaigns and marketing better when introducing new products.
Using this data, you will also be able to personalize your communications with your customers. This will strengthen the relationships you have with them. Personalized communications make customers feel valued and increase customer satisfaction. 39% of marketers report seeing a significant uplift in their conversion rates after implementing personalization in their interactions with customers.
A CRM solution will also backup all your contacts data, so you never lose them. This is a significant risk that businesses faced before online CRMs came to the world.
The contact information should also be easily searchable. This means that when you suddenly need to find a specific piece of information about a particular customer, you don’t need to endlessly scroll through sheets or flip through documents to find it. Instead, you can type in the name and get their profile with all the information you have on them in seconds.
Lead management is another primary feature that all CRMs have. With lead management, the solution will record information on your prospects and potential customers in a single database to help you find opportunities for conversion.
You will be able to categorize your prospects and segment them into small groups so your sales team can save time and effort by pitching the right pitch to each opportunity.
Lead Management is the key to finding high-quality leads – meaning the solution will find and score the best possible customers. This scoring is done based on many demographic and psychographic factors. This will help your sales team with prioritization and enable them to focus on the most valuable leads first – increasing their chances of success.
How important is lead management? Teams that don’t use CRM fail to convert 79% of their leads, according to Pardot. Leads are not cheap, and high-quality leads are hard and costly to find, which is why your CRM must help you with identifying and prioritizing your highest-quality leads first.
Multi-Channel Lead management enables your business to manage leads coming in from different channels – such as various marketing campaigns on several mediums. Web-to-lead forms are a great lead management feature that automatically routes online inquiries on your website to the right salesperson.
If you have one customer, you will have absolutely no problem remembering who they are and the history of your communications with them every time they call you. If you have 10, you may drop a few details now and then, but if you have 100, you will need to write things down.
What if you have a couple of thousands? A Million? Now you see, things can get complicated quickly, and managing the communications with your customers becomes a real problem.
With interaction tracking, your CRM will log every communication between you and your staff members with your customers. This is crucial for task delegation as well as for the growth of your team.
Why? Because now you and your whole team will have access to this data whenever you need it, meaning that when a new sales agent comes on board, your customer doesn’t have to tell the whole story from the start, because your new team members will be able to continue the conversation where the last team member left off.
According to Capterra, 94% of CRM solutions have interaction tracking, but the robustness of the functionality itself can differ significantly between the solutions. A basic CRM will only record the emails and the timing of the calls.
However, a more robust CRM will enable you to add contextual notes to every communication. This can include the discussion topic of the call, what problem they had or offer they were offered, what were the result of this interaction, and how things should move forward in the future.
You can’t have a complex sales process without a robust interaction tracking functionality in your CRM. Interaction tracking also improves accountability since managers can see how communications go-between agents and customers.
Reports and Analytics
Analytics were once reserved for the high-end tools only, but with time, it became an essential CRM functionality. It paints you with the full picture of how your business is doing. It shows you how profitable you are, what are your conversion rates, the demographics of your leads and customers, and more.
By being able to analyze all of these, you will be able to modify and tweak your marketing campaigns and sales process for the highest chances of success. Some robust CRM features will give you custom reporting. You can use custom reporting to create your reports that you can glance at to get precisely what you want out of it.
Some CRM solutions will also let you export these reports so you can maybe discuss them with your partners or send them to investors so they can see the full picture.
Being able to generate accurate reports in real-time will give your business a definite advantage by being able to identify any changes, patterns, or trends occurring in the market as they are happening so you can take advantage of them before your competition can.
Reports and analytics also allow you to identify any issues before they turn into problems quickly. There is no need to feel the impact of a mistake when you can quickly see the dip in your analytics and make the changes to get the curve back up.
There is no doubt that ever since Mark Zuckerberg released Facebook to the world, Social Media has changed the world. Social Media marketing has quickly become a crucial part of digital marketing because you need to market to the people where they are, and everyone is on social media.
But that doesn’t mean email marketing is no longer critical. On the contrary, those who can do email marketing right are seeing the highest ROIs (return on investment). Email is still more effective than Facebook, and Twitter combined according to Mckinsey, and according to HubSpot, email marketing still has double the ROI of cold calling.
A CRM solution should allow you to do your email marketing using it rather than having to switch between systems to do it. It should log emails sent from the solution, and some of them will allow you to add some notes as well.
Email marketing functionality in CRM solutions also helps you be more successful with your email campaigns since you will have access to all your customer information in one place, and it will also make your sales team more productive overall.
Thankfully, most CRM systems today can integrate smoothly with popular email providers like Gmail and Outlook.
Sales Pipeline View
A pipeline view is an outstanding CRM feature that is becoming more and more important every day. A pipeline view is a breakdown of the stages in your sales pipeline that outlines how many leads are in every step and shows you clearly where each of your important leads are.
A sales pipeline view is essential because it shows you the weakest points in your sales pipeline clearly. You can see where your leads are dropping off and can use the information to identify what problems are causing this.
A pipeline view doesn’t only allow you to see the full picture of your sales pipeline, but it also allows you to track specific leads and see how they’re doing in your sales pipeline. Some CRMs with robust sales pipeline functionality will even alert you when action needs to be taken or required by a lead.
Using the sales pipeline view, you will also be able to pinpoint your top-performing sales agents using your revenue and close rate numbers. You can then get into the details of their sales process and use the information to improve the performance of the rest of the team.
Similarly, you will be able to see what sales reps need assistance and what their issues or weaknesses are so you can make sure they don’t happen with the rest of the team or with future sales reps.
Social Media Integration
To sell to people, you need to go to them. In our time, this means on Social Media, where everyone is, and it’s even growing more and more. People are using social media more and more every day, and it’s creeping into every part of our lives.
Quick fact: the average person spends more than two hours every day on social media platforms, and more than 1.13 billion users are active on Facebook every day.
This is also true in the world of sales and CRM. Social sellers are currently gaining more success than they’ve ever could, and it’s not only because reaching prospects is easy, but also because Social Media allows you to build stronger relationships with your prospects.
A CRM with social media integration will be able to track customer interactions on social media and even automatically create contacts from social media interactions. It can also enrich the data you already have on your contacts.
The solution should also be able to track mentions of your brands so you can see what your customers are saying about you. It will also let your team respond to customers from a single platform even when the customers are contacting your business through the different social media platforms. Making your team more productive and keeping your brand image consistent.
Marketing Automation Integration
The goal of any business is to grow, and you can’t grow unless you start implementing automation right. This is why marketing automation integration is an important feature to have. By integrating your CRM with a marketing automation solution, you will be able to combine the data from your two pipeline views – making managing your entire process much more comfortable as a result.
This integration will help you gain a better understanding of your sales and marketing cycles and will enable you to take the necessary steps to streamline the workflow of both your teams and align them better for a more productive team and more profitable business.
By combining the sales and marketing efforts, you will be able to optimize your marketing budget while increasing the sales revenue at the same time. This also means that the flow of your customers from the lead generation stage to the closing stage will become much more fluid, enabling you to convert more high-quality leads in less time.
Marketing automation integration also means you will be able to use a more powerful tool for your marketing campaigns since your CRM is probably not as feature-rich as those tools when it comes to marketing campaigns. This will enable you to save on your marketing budget and get better results. You can learn more about the differences between CRM and Marketing Automation here.
If you’re looking for a marketing automation solution, check out the best HubSpot Alternatives for Marketing automation here.
Mobile access means your salespeople don’t need to be in the office to work, and this both for them and for you. Did you know that businesses that allow their employees to work remotely are not only more appealing to talents, but are also more successful in hiring the best talents since you don’t need to hire just from your city or even your country?
It also means your sales reps can work while on the go and still be just as productive or even more.
But the most critical reason your CRM of choice must have mobile compatibility? your customers expect answers outside working hours. They expect you to reply whenever they send the question, and the business that will win them is the one who responds first.
Most CRM solutions now offer iOS and Android applications that your employees can use to interact and communicate with customers as well as access all the information they need just as with the desktop versions. The majority of CRM solutions also have mobile-responsive sites now.
Flexibility and Customization
Flexibility and Customization is not precisely a CRM feature, but a flexible and customizable CRM can help you much. A customizable CRM can be adjusted to suit your business’s needs and workflow instead of you having to adapt to it.
Every business has unique needs that should be met and specific challenges to overcome. There is no CRM in the world that can fit this formula 100%, but a customizable CRM can be tinkered with until it becomes exactly that.
A flexible CRM will give you full control of its interface with its data. It should also provide you with power over who sees what data and how, and over how your team can interact with the CRM.
Sales forecasting functionality in a CRM will allow you to visualize opportunities at all stages of your sales process. It will then show you how well you are performing in comparison to this forecasting.
By combining forecasting and analytics in a CRM, you will be able to see the track your business is on and benchmark it against the track your business should be on. This allows you to identify any missed opportunities instantly.
It also allows you to quickly and swiftly pinpoint any flaws or issues you have in your sales pipeline so you can work on them. And it gives you insights on where improvements can be made.
Some CRM solutions will even benchmark your performance against your competition. This helps you learn where you stand in the market and see how the market leaders are doing.
Quotes management makes managing complex sales transactions easier for your sales reps. CRMs can be used to give your customers the details on what they’re buying, helping drive their purchase decision.
Quotes management is significant for large businesses that have complicated, multi-stage sales processes, or for businesses that sell customized products. Quote management – sometimes also referred to as proposal management – can help prevent mistakes in the orders. It also makes sure that the customers know exactly how much they are paying beforehand.
The solution usually converts the final quote from the proposal. Then, it forms a receipt that is then sent to the customer as their final receipt.
Quotes management may seem like an unnecessary feature for your small business now. However, once your business starts growing, you will find it more and more critical. If your CRM doesn’t have it – or even offer it as optional – you might be forced to switch CRMs. If scalability is in your mind, quotes management should be on the list of features you should be looking for.
That’s it for me. Now it’s back to you. What are the most crucial CRM functionalities and features to you? Set your priorities before you start looking at options so you can make the right decision quickly. Tell us in the comments; what is the most important feature you are looking for in a CRM. Do you think any more features should have been on this list!