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CRM software helps businesses manage and coordinate their interactions with customers. The acronym stands for “customer relationship management,” after all.
Ideally, it also has significant roles with regard to automating the sales process. That is, quality CRM software handles all sales-related data, including storing and analyzing that data.
Moreover, virtually every business needs comprehensive and user-friendly CRM software.
Need to Buy a CRM System? Check out Its Features First
The tools that were once exclusive to multi-million-dollar enterprises are now available to startups and SMEs. This can only be a good thing. However, the proliferation of low-cost CRM software has brought with it a good deal of confusion. Therefore, before you splurge, make sure the CRM software you choose has the features you are looking for.
10 Main Features of the Best CRM Software
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1. What Type of CRM Technology Do You Need?
Here are the leading technologies to consider:
Is It an on-Premises CRM?
Just as the name implies, an on-premises CRM means the software resides in your company’s servers. Therefore, the onus of administration, including overall control, security, and maintenance, will be on you and your team.
With an on-premises CRM, you subscribe to a monthly, quarterly, or annual plan. For the most part, on-premises CRM software appeals to large corporations.
Is It a Cloud-Based CRM?
Cloud-based CRM software is housed online on a remote network. Sales reps access it from anywhere and at any time, provided they have access to the Internet. If you choose this alternative, a third party will take care of maintenance.
For this reason, cloud-based CRMs are the most sought-after versions nowadays. Additionally, these are quick and relatively easy to deploy. For companies of any size, a cloud-based CRM tool is an ideal choice.
Is It an Open-Source CRM?
The source codes of open-source CRMs are publicly available. This encourages additions and customizations that enhance the tool’s usefulness.
However, because of the complexities associated with open-source CRM tools, only those enterprises whose teams have the necessary skills should use them. Moreover, the costs of deploying them can increase overall expenses. Examples of open-source CRM software are OroCRM, SuiteCRM, and SugarCRM.
2. Is It Easy to Use?
At its core, CRM software is meant to consolidate data about clients and present it in a single database for easy access and management. However, this doesn’t mean that every CRM tool is user-friendly enough to allow access on the fly.
Therefore, shop for CRM software that is straightforward to use. You might be impressed about one particular tool that comes with automation capabilities. Or you might think that their email marketing software is unmatched. However, let its ease of use be your main decision point. If it isn’t user-friendly, your company will likely end up abandoning the software altogether.
3. Is It Customizable?
All businesses operate differently. And this automatically means their critical performance indicators vary.
Therefore, it is essential to choose software that you can customize to suit your company’s needs. A customizable CRM will inspire collaboration and productivity.
4. Does It Allow Integration with Other Applications?
Additionally, it is critical to choose CRM software that allows numerous integrations. This is essential, so that you can use the software in tandem with your other applications. If you can convert it into an all-in-one software solution, complete with everything you need for seamless working, it is worth buying.
5. Is It Suitable for Your Platform?
Before you purchase any CRM software, ensure that it is compatible with your platform. For example, there are those that only work with Windows PCs and those that agree only with MAC.
What’s more, you’ll have different experiences depending on whether you choose a web or a desktop version, mostly in terms of reliability and ease of access.
Lastly, especially if your CRM software is meant for a large team, ensure that it’s accessible on mobile devices.
6. What Is the Manufacturer’s Reputation?
This almost goes without saying, but also be sure to take into consideration the reputation of the company that designed the software. In an era defined by a massive influx of low-cost software, copycats, and unknown brands, you must be sure that you are buying from a reputable company.
However, in this industry, biggest is not always best. Provided a particular CRM tool meets your needs and the company has a good reputation, all the others will come second. However, don’t forget to consider the stability of the software as well.
7. Can You Get the Trial or Demo Version?
You can’t be sure that a given CRM software is your best fit if you don’t get a feel for it. Just as you would try on a pair of shoes before buying them, so should you test a CRM tool.
A trial version will let you feel its features, including the interface and navigation. Moreover, you’ll have a better understanding of the user experience. You’ll know whether it would be a great buy. Testing the demo version is the best way to tell if a particular CRM tool will work best for you.
8. Who Owns the Data?
As it turns out, the most sought-after CRM tools today are cloud-based. For many enterprises, the convenience of software hosted in a cloud environment is superior to that of traditional models.
However, given that one has to subscribe to unlock the platform’s full capabilities, questions around who is responsible for stored data often arise. In a subscription model, it is essential to know what you own and what you are renting.
Especially, insist that the vendor explain to you what could happen if you should stop renewing your subscription.
9. Will You Be Able to Get the Support You Need?
You will eventually need assistance one way or another. Therefore, choose a vendor that has a standby live chat desk, a working telephone line, and teams that provide prompt social media and email responsiveness.
What’s more, a good CRM software company will often issue useful articles, provide FAQs, and host community boards and forums. These tools can provide solutions to frequent problems. Remember, with a CRM manufacturer who values its clients, you will be confident of getting timely help when things inevitably go south.
10. What Does It Cost?
It’s obviously true that your choice of CRM software shouldn’t be principally based on how much it costs. However, some are subscription-based, others are offered for one-time purchase, and still others are free of charge. Therefore, cost will need to be a part of your decision-making process.
It’s important to note, moreover, that some come with hidden charges. These can include IT costs for set-up, installation, maintenance, or upgrade. Additional costs could come in the form of training expenses and the like.
If you’re looking for smart CRM software that will serve your organization well, look to these tips to find the solution that works best for you.