Customers are the lifeblood of business. Customers are the backbone of business. Customers are the answer to everything.
It is indisputable that without customers, business would fail. So, establishing, building and maintaining good customer relationships means everything to a business. Over the 21st century, a paradigm shift in customer buying behaviour, social media and customer experience altered how businesses manage relationships. Companies see customer relationship management, CRM, as a way to not only organize contact information, but also look at it more holistically.
CRM developed from digital rolodexes and sales force automation (SFA), and paved way for a new comprehensive solution—CRM system.
CRM system is a software solution that provides a seamless experience across the customer lifecycle by helping business track communication, manage opportunities, analyze sales, and synchronize data across teams with the goal to maintain quality relationships with customers. An effective CRM system breaks organizational silos across sales, marketing and service, and manages customer touchpoints with your business in a single system.
Regardless of the type and size of your business, customers are the core factor for your success. And, keeping them happy is your top priority. CRM system allows you to focus on customer relationships and help you sell better by building out an efficient sales process for your business.
If you’re a small business and think that a basic tool like spreadsheet can help you organize customer data, and email to track your communication will suffice, think again. As your small business grows and you acquire more customers, managing information in isolated tools becomes a hassle. You waste time juggling between multiple tools, lose context in conversations, and lack visibility into opportunities. All because there is no central place to document all this information.
Having a CRM system improves interaction with customers, optimizes sales performance and streamlines business processes through one solution.
Still not sure if your business needs CRM system now? Here are five signs you definitely need one.
Constantly juggle between multiple tools to access business information
Spend too much time on unnecessary manual data entry
No insight into what your sales team is doing and how to prioritize deals
No proper steps to align with buyers leading to longer sales cycles
No aggregated customer data to personalize conversations
While considering a CRM system for your business, you’ll be confronted with 100+ choices in the market today. But, before you decide, a critical factor in your decision depends on how you want to deploy and access the CRM software— cloud vs. on-premise.
Though both have their advantages in meeting specific business needs, the preference for cloud CRM has risen owing to the need to access CRM data anywhere. In fact, in 2008, only 12% of businesses used cloud CRMs, whereas in 2017, this number rose to 87%!
CRM system and data are hosted and managed by the vendor, and you can access it over the internet using a web browser and/or mobile app.
CRM system and data are hosted locally on your business server and computers, and accessed through the local network.
Pay as you go model. Up front cost per user, per month on subscription basis. No software or hardware installation cost
Initial costs for server and software installations, recurring monthly
cost for license and overhead cost
Simple, quick and straightforward. Up and running in no time
Requires large amount of time for IT to implement for each user
Data is stored in the cloud and accessible on web and mobile through the internet
Not dependent on access to the internet, but data is accessible only
on installed computers in the organization’s local network
Flexibility to scale up and down. For example, adding or removing licenses and changing feature plans
Scalability is harder as well as expensive. In some CRM systems, it is
not even possible
Customizable based on the provider. Advanced cloud systems provide even large enterprises with easily and readily available customization options
Does have the ability to customize, but implementation period can
Easily integrated to other business apps, and ability to integrate using API
Limited ability to integrate, and requires assistance in addition to
Secure and reliable to store data in the cloud than on-premise, and can be restored if lost
Security lies in-house because data is hosted locally, and requires
experts to work full time to provide protection
Understanding how the CRM system works and using it to the fullest potential is important for users to adopt and work with daily. When users find the CRM to be simple and easy to use with an intuitive navigation interface, they are driven to use the system consistently.
Look for a CRM that’s easy to learn and use, and helps you focus on selling. Don’t compromise on the three U’s—usability, user interface and user experience. They affect successful CRM implementation by driving user adoption.
Bonus tip: Try before you buy. Check if the CRM software provider will offer your team a trial version to test out the usability and features before you make your decision. Some sales CRMs are even generous to give you a 30-day free trial to know the product well before you subscribe to a plan.
Find a CRM that improves the productivity of your team without having to deal with a complex system. Although all CRM software claim to do this, only a few actually have a positive effect on productivity. In addition to user adoption, evaluate the extent of features and capabilities of the CRM.
A well-connected CRM integrates with your email client, tracks customer behavior, prioritizes tasks and opportunities, automates workflows, allows reporting, and integrates with other applications for customer support, accounting and marketing. This type of CRM acts as a central repository for sales intelligence, makes information more easily accessible for teams, and increases productivity.
Bonus tip: Choose an all-in-one CRM solution. Instead of picking out apps to connect to your CRM—like phone, bulk email and tracking, custom reporting, web forms and event tracking, get a CRM software that comes with essential features already built-in to the system. Save costs with a hassle-free, fully-featured CRM.
Every business is unique. Similarly, a CRM system that fits your business needs and handles your sales process effectively is a must-have. What you need is the capability to customize the CRM to fit your process.
Things like how information is displayed, add new fields, configure sales pipeline, customize workflows and dashboards, and control who sees what are important customization options to have in your CRM. Also, look for a system that seamlessly integrates with your website and business apps to maximize your productivity. While it’s essential to find one that’s adaptable to your preferences, some systems come with a steep price for customizations. So, pick the right package.
Bonus 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 heavy initial cost and long development time. Out-of-the-box CRM systems are easy to install but not all are customizable to suit your business. Instead, choose an out-of-the-box system with customization options made available within the CRM. This is a tailored solution to match with your business needs even as it grows and changes.
Today, smartphones are a necessity than luxury. And, with sales reps no longer working just out of the office arises the need to access customer data wherever they are. So, a mobile CRM that lets your sales team do everything that they would with a desktop CRM is the right choice.
When looking for a CRM software, don’t limit yourself to simply its mobile availability. Most CRMs now have a mobile version, but its usability, experience and feature set vouch for the effectiveness on mobile. Find one that offers you continuity of experience on desktop and mobile with easy-to-navigate interface and effortless access to customer data, calendar, tasks and appointments.
Bonus tip: Pick an easy-to-use, complete mobile CRM at no additional cost. Although having all desktop CRM features inside your phone is beneficial, the app should not lose its usability. After all, information is contained within the size of your palm. So, fewer swipes and clicks enhances your experience on the go. Make sure the app is compatible for Android and iOS.
Going with right CRM vendor is also important when you choose the right CRM for your business needs. With several CRM choices in the market, consider the vendor’s reputation for reliability before you make purchase decisions.
A great overall experience with a provider who meets your business needs and establishes a level of trust during the buying process gives you the confidence to enjoy their product and service. Choose a CRM system that ships features faster, offers free trials and promotions, and strives to consistently render good customer experience.
Bonus tip: Read online reviews on credible business software platforms before you buy. Sources like G2 crowd, Capterra and FinancesOnline are trusted places to review CRMs. Positive online reviews give you an idea on the quality of the product and reliability of the vendor, and facilitates the decision making process.
Customer data is invaluable, and storing this data in CRM software makes the CRM your most valuable business resource. Choose a CRM vendor which guarantees security, allows unlimited secure access to data, and adheres to strict standards.
Cloud CRM systems are invested in protecting your data, and capable of assessing risks and preventing cyber attacks. Data is also backed up constantly and encrypted between servers and point of use. When you decide to go with a reliable CRM vendor, be assured of their data safety and security program.
Bonus tip: Ask the vendor about their data security. Learn about how your data will be stored and secured in their data centers. This information is typically found on the vendor website.
Try Freshsales CRM. With a host of capabilities from email to automations locked into one system, Freshsales meets all your business requirements and enhances the performance of your team. Plus you get free, 24x5 support over phone and email—irrespective of whether you’re a free user or a paying customer.
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