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SuiteCRM is a free and open-source CRM software that offers highly actionable insights that users can use to make critical business decisions, build their business strategies, and take critical actions....
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Benefits of a CRM Software Solution:
- Manage all “people” interactions, not just customers. Even though CRM software enhances your customer relations, it can also improve all your business interactions. So you can store all the handy information and updates, whether it’s with other businesses, investors, or suppliers.
- Complete tracking of all customer interactions. Every meeting, phone call, email, or presentation is tracked.
- Increases sales and provides sales forecasting. CRM systems target increasing sales by quickly pointing out strong customers for more interaction and better relations. And at the same time, it nails the weak customers that can use work and improve. It also gives you sales forecasting, predicting openings for sales.
- It is also integrated into Customer Service, Marketing, and Accounting. CRM Software gives overall productivity a boost in your business. Quick access to valuable customer info means issues can be handled faster and avoid repeating tasks, improving customer service. It can also help marketing because you’d have insight into customer preferences and integrate that into your marketing strategy. As for Accounting, keeping track of all legal documents and contracts improves the dept. Workflow and will keep them up-to-date when following up with customers.
- Strengthens Data Security. Centralizing all critical data into one CRM system means you’ll no longer have essential contracts on separate computers or sales notes in messy notebooks. In addition, you can control access to data by securing it to only specific employees on CRM software.
CRM Software Features and Functionality:
- 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 an essential feature for a business might be a nice-to-have for another. So, I believe that every business owner/manager should prioritize their business on their own.
Now that we have that clear, let’s dive into our list of CRM software features.
Essential CRM Software Features
Contact Management is the most basic CRM feature there. 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 every step of the way by gathering the crucially essential customer data. And you can optimize your campaigns and marketing better when introducing new products.
Using this data, you can also personalize your communications with your customers. This will strengthen the relationships you have with them. In addition, personalized communications make customers feel valued and increase customer satisfaction. For example, 39% of marketers report seeing a significant increase in conversion rates after implementing personalization in their customer interactions.
A CRM solution will back up all your contacts’ data so you never lose them. Businesses faced this significant risk before online CRMs came into the world.
The contact information should also be easily searchable. This means that when you suddenly need to find specific 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 can segment your prospects 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 – 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 prioritize and focus on the most valuable leads, 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 complex and costly, so your CRM must help you identify and prioritize your highest-quality leads first.
Multi-channel lead management enables your business to manage leads 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 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 thousand? A Million? Things can get complicated quickly, and managing communications with your customers becomes a real problem.
With interaction tracking, your CRM will log every communication between you, your staff members, and 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. For example, 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 what they were offered, the result of this interaction, and how things should move forward.
You can’t have a complex sales process without your CRM’s robust interaction tracking functionality. Interaction tracking improves accountability since managers can see how agents and customers communicate.
Reports and Analytics
Analytics were once reserved for high-end tools, but they became an essential CRM functionality with time. It paints you with the full picture of how your business is doing. For example, it shows you how profitable you are, your conversion rates, the demographics of your leads and customers, and more.
By analyzing these, you will modify and tweak your marketing campaigns and sales process for the highest chances of success. In addition, 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 from them.
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 whole picture.
Generating accurate reports in real-time will give your business a definite advantage by identifying 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. As a result, social media marketing has quickly become a crucial part of digital marketing because you need to market to the people 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 email marketing using it rather than switching between systems. It should log emails sent from the solution, and some of them will allow you to add some notes.
Email marketing functionality in CRM solutions also helps you be more successful with your email campaigns since you can access all your customer information in one place. 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 increasingly important daily. A pipeline view is a breakdown of the stages in your sales pipeline that outlines how many leads are in every step and clearly shows each of your essential leads.
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 use the information to identify what problems are causing this.
A pipeline view allows you to see the complete picture of your sales pipeline, track specific leads, and see how they’re doing in your sales pipeline. In addition, some CRMs with robust sales pipeline functionality will alert you when action needs to be taken or required by a lead.
You will also use the sales pipeline view 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 see what sales reps need assistance with and their issues or weaknesses to ensure they don’t happen with the rest of the team or 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 growing increasingly. People are increasingly using social media every day, and it’s creeping into every part of our lives.
The average person spends more than two hours daily on social media platforms, and more than 1.13 billion users are active on Facebook daily.
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 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 track mentions of your brands to see what your customers say about you. It will also let your team respond to customers from a single platform, even when they contact your business through different social media platforms. Thus 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. Integrating your CRM with a marketing automation solution lets you combine the data from your two pipeline views – making managing your entire process much more comfortable.
This integration will help you better understand your sales and marketing cycles and take the necessary steps to streamline your team’s workflow and align them for a more productive and profitable business.
By combining the sales and marketing efforts, you can optimize your marketing budget while increasing the sales revenue simultaneously. 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 can use a more powerful tool for your marketing campaigns since your CRM is probably not as feature-rich as those for marketing campaigns. This will enable you to save on your marketing budget and get better results.
Mobile access means your salespeople don’t need to be in the office to work, which is both for them and you. Did you know that businesses that allow their employees to work remotely are more appealing to talents and 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 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 of working hours. They expect you to reply whenever they send a 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, communicate with customers, and access all the information they need, just as with the desktop versions. In addition, the majority of CRM solutions also have mobile-responsive sites now.
Flexibility and Customization
Flexibility and Customization is not precisely 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. Unfortunately, no CRM 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 give you power over who sees what data and 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 perform compared to this forecasting.
By combining forecasting and analytics in a CRM, you will 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 into where improvements can be made.
Some CRM solutions will even benchmark your performance against your competition. This helps you learn where you stand and how the market leaders act.
Quote 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 decisions.
Quote management is significant for large businesses with complicated, multi-stage sales processes or businesses selling customized products. Quote Management – sometimes called proposal management – can help prevent order mistakes. It also ensures 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 sent to the customer as their final receipt.
Quote 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 offers it as optional – you might be forced to switch CRMs. So, if scalability is in your mind, quote management should be one of the features you should look for.
What is the Best CRM Software for Startups?
- HubSpot CRM
- Salesforce CRM
- Zoho CRM
- Agile CRM
What is the Best CRM Software for Small Businesses?
How to Choose the Right CRM Software for Your Business?
Choosing just the right CRM software business to use its full potential is crucial, and this task is not as easy as it might seem.
You must answer some questions to find out which of them fits your needs:
1- Is it built for your business size?
Systems built for small businesses differ from those built for large companies – even if the provider claims it works for all business sizes. If it does, it won’t be as efficient and smooth as one built with your business size in mind.
2- How Steep is the Learning Curve?
Change takes time, and it is the same here. There will be an implementation period, and you need to minimize this period as much as possible.
Sometimes, the learning curve will be too steep for employees, and you will need an outside consultant to teach your employees to use the new program. and this will not only save time but also money.
Do not underestimate the importance of ease of implementation, or you may be paying quite the price.
3- How Customizable is the system?
As I’ve said before, there is no exact one-fits-all CRM solution. Customization is key to getting the most out of your CRM System. During the selection process, aim for one that you can customize according to the unique needs of your business.
4- How Easy is integrating with the other solutions and systems you already use?
The CRM system you choose should be able to play well with others if you want the task of streamlining your data to be as comfortable as possible. So, when selecting a solution, the CRM you choose must be able to interface with other applications that you already have and use in your business.
5- What are the solutions’ limitations?
Perfect doesn’t exist in our world, and it’s no different for software. Each solution will have its limitations. Sometimes, the provider is honest enough to mention those limitations on their websites; sometimes, you must dig a little to discover them yourself. So make sure while researching to choose the right CRM to look for those limitations and consider them.
6- What are the features that will indeed make a positive impact on my business?
This means you have to choose a CRM solution with all the essential features that will help your team push the business forward and the additional features that might be necessary for you or a nice bonus. In either case, you must check for them.
These additional features may include Social Media Monitoring, Project Management, and collaboration tools.
7- What is the “total cost“ of the software?
This means the package cost with the features you need plus any setup, additional, or hidden fees that we tend to forget to exist – even though we really shouldn’t.
8- Does it have the reporting features that my business needs?
The reporting capabilities of any CRM software are one of its most essential functionalities. It can give you all the details needed about your business, but it also helps you surpass your competition in some key areas.
When going through the process of selecting the right CRM for your business, consider the system’s ability to generate customizable reports. The ability to customize reports based on your unique data will prove more valuable than you think. In addition, those customizable reports can show you how well you are honestly doing and whether you are on track.
9- Is there a product Demo or a free trial available?
You don’t want to commit before you genuinely test the product yourself. Check the product thoroughly to know if it’s the one for your business before committing to using it.
10- What type of security features does it have?
How secure will be my customer’s data? How is my data backed up? What happens if there is an outage? Who else can access this data? How private is my information?
You should know the answer to those questions before paying for your choice and putting your valuable customer data into it.
11- What about Customer Support?
Not all customer support is created equal. You will find that some solutions offer customer support via phone, mail, or live chat. Some only offer it via mail and count on their self-guided articles or videos.
Also, some customer support teams are more experienced or helpful than others. Make sure to check the reviews of other customers about the support to see if it fits your needs.
Choosing the right CRM solution for your business may seem more laborious than you thought, but it will also pay off, in the long run, to pick well.