11 Factors to Consider When Choosing a CRM Solution

Choosing a CRM for your business is not easy.

One look at this supergraphic can make your head spin. There are over 1000 CRM solutions available, and this can make things difficult for you.

How do you choose the right one? 

You need to have a list of requirements in place before you begin, according to the nature of your business, and understand what challenges you are looking to solve with the CRM.

But first, let’s understand why your business needs a CRM solution.

Why does your business need a CRM solution?

Whether you’re running a business that’s just starting out or an established one, you will need a CRM solution to perform the following tasks:

  • Capture leads easily
  • Auto-populate lead details with social media information
  • Manage contacts in a centralized location quickly, and get the full context, whether it’s a sales or a marketing lead
  • Engage with customers easily with built-in tools such as chat, phone, or email 
  • Manage deals in a visual pipeline and move them to closure
  • Optimize sales process and forecast sales with analytics

Before you start searching for a CRM solution, you need to have clearly-defined business objectives.

Business objectives to consider

Owing to the sheer number of CRM solutions in the market, you need to select the one that suits your business.  

Not all CRM solutions are built equally. 

For example, if you manage sales in a small-to-medium sized business (SMB), then your business objectives are: 

  • Increase sales 
  • Track and improve sales productivity 
  • Improve customer retention 

And, if you’re a part of a large enterprise organization, these could be the business objective you could have in place: 

  • Shortening long sales cycles
  • Cross/upsell additional solutions to increase deal size
  • Retaining customers after the contract period expires
  • Increasing the accuracy of sales forecasts
  • Increasing the time that a sales rep has to sell

Once you have this information, you can begin evaluating different CRM solutions in the market.

Factors to consider when choosing a CRM solution

Here are 11 factors for you to go over that can make it easier for you when choosing a CRM solution for your business:

1. Cloud or On-Premise?

Before choosing the right CRM solution for your business, a critical factor in your decision depends on how you choose to deploy and use the software, cloud or on-premise. 

While both have their own set of advantages (and disadvantages) in meeting business-specific requirements, preference towards cloud software has grown exponentially and continues to, as well. 

94% of businesses use at least one cloud solution in their company. 

But, let’s take a look at the differences between the two types of CRM solutions.

Cloud CRM

CRM systems and data are hosted and managed by the vendor, and you can access it over the internet using a web browser or mobile app.

Here are some advantages to using a cloud-based solution:

  • More affordable
  • Easy to deploy
  • Easy to use and access at any time or anywhere
  • Maintenance-free because you don’t host it locally
  • You get frequent updates

On-Premise CRM

CRM systems and data are hosted locally on your business server and computers and accessed through the local network.

Here are some advantages to using on-premise software: 

  • You control the application from end-to-end after purchase. This means that the customization, configuration, or even updates are managed from your end
  • The application is hosted on your network
  • With on-premise applications, you won’t have to rely on the Internet to keep it running

On the other hand, there are some disadvantages to using an on-premise CRM solution: 

  • On-premise software comes with a high-cost of ownership
  • It takes longer to implement
  • You need to spend a lot of time and resources just to maintain the solution. In some cases, you need to have a developer in-house just for its maintenance

Freshsales is a cloud-based CRM solution with high-security features, continuous updates, and easy implementation. 

2. Is it really a “SMARKETING” solution?

These days, it has become a commonplace occurrence for the sales and marketing teams to work with completely different tools that lead to data silos and fragmentation. Neither team gets context into the other and cannot provide personalized experiences for the customer or have contextual conversations with them because of this scattered view. 

And since sales and marketing are continuously merging to form one aligned stack, you need to look for a solution that gives you a combined sales and marketing automation software within one interface. 

Freshsales Suite combines the power of a sales and marketing automation software to provide an all-in-one solution. It acts as a single source of truth by capturing all sales and marketing interactions, customer information, and more in one place to prevent siloed data. 

Learn more about Freshsales Suite’s unified solution, here ->

3. Does AI augment your sales and marketing process?

Artificial intelligence (AI) can help your teams work faster and smarter, and it’s important to look out for this functionality in a CRM solution. With AI, you can automate lead generation tasks, lead qualification, and get suggestions on engaging with your prospects. 

For sales teams, AI can help you differentiate between prospects that are likely to convert and unlikely ones, rank contacts based on numerical scores, get insights into whether a deal is likely to close (ahead of time), and get notified about deals that are at risk. 

On the other hand, AI can help marketing teams engage with prospects through automated chat conversations and even qualify them. So, make this an important factor when choosing a CRM solution for your business.

Freshsales comes built-in with Freddy, an advanced AI engine. Freddy learns from existing CRM data to provide actionable insights, helps forecast revenue, detects if a contact is out-of-office, and tells you if a contact is a good fit for your business. 

Learn more about Freddy AI, here ->

4. Is the CRM easy to use?

One of the biggest challenges for businesses trying to embrace CRM is user adoption. The expectations from a CRM are changing, and since there’s a rise in the number of millennials in the workplace, choosing a CRM that caters to them is very important.

Many solutions in the market are complex to learn and even harder to use, and most of them require IT support for the setup. Your CRM software should be intuitive and straightforward to use, so salespeople can quickly adapt to the system. 

You need to choose a CRM that talks their language and communicates the way they do. 

The CRM should also be quick to configure, and any form of data should be easily importable and exportable without the help of consultants and endless hours of training. You must choose a CRM which is flexible enough to sync with your existing sales process. 

Tip: To make sure the implementation process is quick and easy, many CRMs come with a free trial for three or four weeks. In this period, you’ll be able to understand if the CRM system meets your requirements.

Easily set up Freshsales without the need of developers. There’s no steep learning curve either, so you can start selling almost immediately. It’s that simple. In fact, 93% of users on G2 find Freshsales easy to use.

Plus, you get a free trial of 21 days (no credit card information required) to evaluate the product. 

5. Is the CRM customizable?

Every business is unique. A CRM software that fits your unique business needs and seamlessly handles your sales process is important. What you need is the capability to customize the CRM to fit your process.

Things like how information is laid out, adding new fields, configuring the sales pipeline, customizing automation and reports, and controlling who sees what information are crucial elements of your CRM. You also need to look for a solution that seamlessly integrates with your website and business applications. 

While it is essential to find one that fits your preferences, some solutions come with a hefty price tag attached to them for customizations. 

Customization is an important feature to look for when you choose a CRM, yes. But customization should not be a mandatory factor to make the system work. 

Tip: Find your best fit between custom and out-of-the-box CRM systems. Rarely will you find a custom CRM for your business without high initial costs and long development time. The latter CRM systems are easy to install, but not all of them are customizable. So you should choose an out-of-the-box system with customization options available within the CRM.

Freshsales is a highly customizable CRM solution that you can make your own with functionalities such as custom modules, fields, views, and more!

6. How easily can you capture and engage buyers?

Capturing prospects is essential, but what’s more impactful is how you do it and how much time you spend doing it. Choosing a CRM that makes this process easy is important.  Many CRM solutions come with capturing features such as web forms to ensure that the prospect enters your system without losing information. 

Aside from capturing prospects, it is also vital to engage with them as soon as they enter your system. Look for a CRM system that provides live chat software, a built-in phone, or even the ability to send automatic welcome emails. 

Freshsales Suite comes with webforms, so you can set up new ones or configure existing ones to capture prospects effortlessly. That’s not all. Freshsales Suite also automatically enriches prospect information from available social media information to ensure you get the most context before reaching out to them via a built-in phone, live-chat software, or email. 

Learn more about webforms, phone, chat, and email in Freshsales Suite ->

7. Will the CRM grow with you?

Whether your business is small or large, you need a CRM that grows as you grow. As your business requirements increase, you’d require a lot more from your CRM system, and it’s just not feasible to transfer data to a new program and convince your sales team to use it because they’d already be used to your current solution. 

Choose a CRM solution that is scalable and grows along with your company. 

Tip: Most CRM systems come with different plans that cater to different business sizes. So when your business grows, it’s easy to upgrade to higher plans and retain data.

Freshsales suite has the right plan for every business type and requirement. Require a plan with only marketing features? You’re sorted. Do you prefer a plan with only sales functionalities or a mix of both? We’ve got you covered. 

Learn more about Freshsales pricing ->

8. Will the CRM work wherever you are?

According to a 2020 Forrester Report, 30% of decision-makers prefer having a mobile application for their CRM. 

Many sales reps, especially in the real estate sector or field sales, are always on the move and tend to spend more time on their mobile devices or tablets. It is crucial to choose a CRM software that can be accessed on the move. Most CRM systems come with iOS and Android mobile versions, which can be downloaded for free. 

The key here is to ensure that the mobile version of the CRM is as powerful as the desktop version, so you don’t miss out on any functionalities.

Tip: Some of the primary functions you need to look for in the mobile version of a CRM are: access to the customer database, appointments, deal pipelines, note-taking, real-time notifications, and continuous synchronization of data. 

Freshsales offers a robust mobile application that helps your salespeople connect with prospects, retrieve documents, record or take notes, schedule meetings, book Uber cabs, and more. 

Learn more about Freshsales CRM for mobile ->

9. How secure is the CRM?

The most crucial information stored in your CRM is customer data. So it is important to choose a CRM solution that puts security at the forefront and adheres to strict security standards. Since many CRM solutions these days are hosted on the cloud, they work hard to protect your data and also have the ability to assess risks and prevent possible cyber attacks. Your data is backed up regularly and strongly encrypted. When you narrow it down and select a CRM for your company, you can be assured that your information is safe and secure.

Tip: Ask the vendor about their data security settings and principles. Learn about how your data will be stored and secured in their data centers. This information is typically found on the vendor website. 

Freshsales provides AES 256-bit encryption, a virtual private cloud, malware, spam protection, and GDPR if your business is in the European Union. 

You can learn more about Freshsales’ security features and GDPR here ->

10. Do you get responsive 24-hour support?

According to 35% of decision-makers, one of the most important factors for a CRM solution is customer support. 

It is common to encounter glitches along the course of using a CRM. And when you do, your CRM vendor needs to have a good customer service team that is quick to respond and provide help. One way to be sure about this is to evaluate their support during your evaluation period. If the customer service is not instant and requires a long waiting time or offers “better quality” support for extra money, you should not go ahead with their CRM solution.

Tip: Apart from providing user manuals, some vendors conduct free webinars, product demos, and specific other programs so you can learn about their CRM solution. Enrolling in one of these programs to learn about their CRM software can be to your advantage.

Freshsales offers 24/5 free support over the phone, email, and chat regardless of the plan you choose. If you’d like to solve issues independently, you get access to detailed and in-depth knowledge-base articles.

You simply don’t have to pay extra for support at all.

11. Is the CRM affordable?

Around 39% of people surveyed for a Forrester report cited expensive upfront costs to be a significant challenge with their current CRM system. 

The budget does play a significant role in any business decision. So while investing in a CRM software for your business, you need to calculate long-term costs and analyze the benefits obtained from the money spent. 

You can be sure to ask the vendor upfront what additional benefits you get along with the pricing package. You can also do your research to see if the pricing involves extra costs for training, implementation, customization, and support to estimate how much return-on-investment (ROI) you get from the CRM solution.

Tip: Find out if the CRM seamlessly integrates with your other applications without substantial architectural changes. It is better to be sure so that you don’t end up incurring add-on costs. 

Freshsales is highly affordable, with a plan suitable for just about every type of business. The best part is, Freshsales users attain ROI in 7 months, according to G2’s Grid report.

If you’re in the process of choosing a CRM solution for business, look no further than Freshsales. Freshsales comes with great functionalities, customization options, good support, security, and affordability. What’s more, it allows you to scale between different plans depending on your business requirements. So, when you switch to a different plan, your data remains intact.