Find out more about CRM Software
What is CRM Software?
CRM Software (or Customer Relationship Management Software) is a software category that includes applications which help businesses build strong relationships with their customers, boost conversations, and improve revenue rates based on customer data coming from multiple interaction channels (phone calls, website visits, social interactions, and so on). Companies use them to process and analyze customer information, make use of disconnected data to depict opportunities, create sales funnels, and carry out loyalty campaigns. The biggest benefit of CRM software is that it allows you to categorize customers according to their expectations, and devote attention to prospective buyers. The highest performing solution in this category is HubSpot CRM.
Top 13 Most Popular CRM Software
Best CRM Software
How To Choose The Best CRM Software
The wide range of online CRM platforms that are currently available in the market may seem a bit overwhelming seeing as most CRM software providers will advertise their software as the very best for your business. Nobody knows better than you, however, what works best for your company, so when you’re on the hunt for the best CRM software you should keep in mind that it’s important you listen to yourself not the vendor.
Here is some useful information that gives you an overall picture of what is CRM software and a good view of what’s out there.
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A good course of action is to sign up for at least a few free trial plans or demo from the vendors that are popular. With that method you will have the opportunity to test the important elements and you will get a good comparison of the capabilities of each app. The best thing to do is to try the list of services that currently have the highest rankings in our SmartScore and Customer Satisfaction Rating in our CRM software reviews to discover the best CRM software programs for small business: PipelineDeals, Salesforce, Zoho CRM, Pipedrive, Insightly reviews, Freshservice, Active Campaign, Teamgate, RelateIQ and TeamDesk. For information on leading apps, read our article on the top 10 CRM software.
Another sensible strategy would be to check out some of the free CRM software tools offered by some vendors who provide freemium or entirely free tools.
CRM is welcomed wherever there are customers, but that’s still too generalized and straightforward to say. Instead, we are going to mention few businesses that can benefit significantly:
- Businesses with sales teams. Every sales team needs a good CRM to identify trends in customer behavior, or to use it with up-selling and cross-selling. At the same time, CRM software reveals which care the leads most likely to close sales, and helps the team keep an eye on them.
- Businesses that do marketing. To be more precise – any type of marketing. The sales information provided by the CRM records is invaluable to marketing teams, which use it to funnel their campaigns, and to include as many customers as possible without unreasonable expenses.
- Businesses that lack efficiency. If you’re running short on conversions, a CRM is more than likely to bail you out. CRM solutions save plenty of time and automate a vast number of critical processes allowing you to focus on more important tasks. For instance, you can use customer records and prospect notes to cut the time you’re investing into generating leads.
CRM Software For Enterprises
Best customer relationship management systems happen to be enterprises’ most valuable assets, regardless of the industry they’re in. Unlike small and medium businesses focused on gaining more customers, large companies need a system that will maintain all of their current relationships and partnerships, making each of their customers feel as if he was the most important client the company has. At the same time, these systems provide a comprehensive overview of customers’ status and behavior, and track every interaction in order to reveal trends and opportunities. CRM tools are particularly recommended for online retail businesses, as they keep the sales pipeline updated with information, and store customer records in cloud.
What are Examples of CRM Software?
- Insightly: A well-organised contact manager that drills down to particular tasks, and helps executives streamline customer communication. It is very flexible and well-integrated.
- Infusionsoft: Infusionsoft is a web-based solution that coordinates all the tasks most business owners would prefer not to manage on their own, allowing users grow sales, help organized, and save them time when dealing with various business issues.
- Salesforce CRM: A great addition to Salesforce’s productivity kit which tracks and records cyberspace interactions for a more productive business.
- Nimble: A powerful contact management tool which collects and summarizes information from popular social media channels.
- PipelineDeals: A popular application that eases complex CRM processes, but doesn’t require special efforts to learn and understand.
- Zoho CRM: The leading member of Zoho’s productivity family which can suit the needs of businesses from all scales and industries.
Check out our article on the top 15 CRM solutions to get info on popular products in this category. You can also examine some comparisons of most popular solutions such as HubSpot CRM vs Salesforce to see how they fare agains each other. This is often the best approach to choosing the optimal software for the specific needs of your company.
Types of CRM Software
Depending on their role, and dimension in which they can manage and maintain customer relationships, CRM systems are classified in three separate groups:
- Operational CRM – Also known as basic CRM, operational CRM aims to integrate the three essential parts of every business: sales, marketing, and support. What these tools do is to provide an operational dashboard where every prospect is ‘evaluated’ for each of the three functions,in order to summarize his status and to develop a strategy for him. The subcategories of operational CRM are: Sales force automation (analyzing prospect cycles from leads to customers); Marketing automation (automating marketing processes to create and execute multi-channel campaigns with fine segments); and Service automation (handling customer service, and integrating advanced types of support).
- Analytical CRM – Unlike operational CRM which gathers data, analytical CRM has the role to analyse that data and to draw some important conclusions for drafting reports and making better decisions. This type of CRM uses powerful techniques, such as data mining, pattern recognition, correlation, etc.
- Collaborative CRM – Last, but not least, collaborative CRM incorporates external stakeholders (vendors, for instance) and shares valuable customer information with them. The rationale is obviously to improve communication, and to gather information that can be used for targeting prospects and making promotional offers.
Key Features of CRM Software
Most quality solutions, such as Base CRM, share common features that help you perform basic relationship management processes, but they also vary in some features that address specific industries, business size, or specializations. These are the key features every CRM should posses:
- Contact manager – Organizes your contacts (customers and suppliers) by categories for easy sorting or retrieval. For some small businesses with a tight budget, this feature is all they need to conduct a CRM program, such as, email campaigns or categorizing their customers based on their records. This feature may be a stand-alone module or integrated with other modules.
- Sales automation/marketing – It’s the main component of a CRM software. This feature automates the sales process from prospecting to customer inquiry and sending out replies to order taking. At its core, this module should help you to follow leads, such as, customer inquiries, past sales, or web visits. A good sales automation feature also have web forms that let you capture leads from landing pages, invite web visitors, or collect feedback. This module is sometimes referred to as marketing automation.
- Sales tracking – Some vendors include this feature in sales automation or as a separate module. This feature helps you measure sales analytics. How much you’ve sold? Where? Who? Sales forecasting. Sales rep performance. These are some of the basic functions of the module. The CRM software should have at least a basic set of report templates and a dashboard to help you create sales reports or see an overview of your sales performance.
- Communication channels – This feature is usually integrated with other modules. Many CRM software boast of multiple-channels to communicate with customers, including: email, phone, IM or live chat, social, and forums. Although having more channels means a wider reach, it doesn’t make sense to get a live chat or phone feature if you don’t have someone to handle it, or a social network function if your online social presence isn’t developed. Often, an email channel alone sits well with customers provided you respond within 24 hours.
Benefits from CRM Software
We operate in an ultra-competitive market, which is why adopting powerful CRMs is more vital than ever before. If you’re still blowing hot and cold on the idea to purchase yours, these are the benefits you are missing on:
- Efficiency and Productivity. A well-implemented CRM is more than likely to straighten your operational inefficiencies, mostly because of its data discovery capacity, and the powerful integrations with your current software infrastructure.
- Data Availability. Data is your most invaluable and strategic asset, and the CRM is your best bet to gather that data in one place where it will also be analysed. The idea is not merely to see data, but to understand what it is about, and CRMs make that happen with plenty homegrown/ integrated analytic tools.
- Improved Accountability. When your relationship with customers is not going well, that indicates that none of the rest is. That’s where CRMs are the handiest – they streamline customer communication, and make your business more trustworthy and accountable. What they do is to help employees understand their duties, but foremost to understand their mistakes.
- Better Collaboration. Spreadsheets are not that functional, and we all know it. Still, we’re falling short on certain functionalities we should provide right because we don’t have the right tool to do it. CRMs, on the other hand, are cloud-based, which is enough of a guarantee that customer information will be accessible to everyone in every department.
- Streamlined Communication with Customers. When implementing a CRM, don’t only think about what it is supposed to do for you. Walk in your customers shoes, and try to see whether the tool can identify their needs and therefore lead to more sales. CRMs are one of the few systems that are proved boosters of customer retention, right because they are tracking the company’s relationship with each customer individually.
Aside from the basic features, many CRM software today have these latest features which can boost your marketing and sales. Here are a few of the latest trends that are worth investing in:
- Social CRM – It can be sold as an add-on, a separate module, or integrated with the basic plan. This feature leverages the opportunities social networks present to building personalized customer relationship. You can track social mentions of your brand or get alerts when people talk about you in their social networks. This ability lets you create leads or arrest an impending negative issue about your business. At the least, look for CRM software that integrates with any of the three popular social networks: Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
- Mobile CRM – The mobile app is designed for your use, not the customers’. You can access the CRM software through a smartphone or tablet. This feature is helpful when you’re often on the go but want to keep tab of your CRM program. Most top CRM solutions have a mobile app for iOS or Android or both, which are sold as an add-on, while some vendors feature a mobile web-based version (you need to open a browser to log in to the system). Some of the basic features to check in the mobile app include: synchronization of data; uptime; and, for Android app, compatibility with different Android phones like HTC, Samsung, and LG. Some CRM mobile apps also use gps for location-based marketing.
- Business Intelligence – This feature leverages the tons of customer data you have gathered in sales automation. This module goes beyond creating leads and sales—the sales automation already does this—business intelligence aims to improve the overall performance and efficiency. For instance, it allows you to create “what if” scenarios prior to launching a product, or rank sales reports based on specific criteria (e.g., by location, customer’s age, season, etc.) to check the strongest and weakest aspects of your business.
Aside from assessing the components and deployment, it’s also important to consider the following issues that may be critical to your business:
- Data Security. SaaS CRM means your data is in the hands of the vendor. This setup may appear risky at first, but depending on the vendor’s reputation and infrastructure, your data may be more secure in the hands of experts than relying on your internal team. Do a background check on the vendor to lessen the risk of data security breach. Otherwise, a multinational company may opt to invest in an in-house data security infrastructure and staff and run an on-premise CRM because they have the resources.
- Integration. Many CRM solutions emphasize integration with popular productivity and business apps because most companies are already using these applications to, among others, create documents, engage customers, or manage their calendars. Check if the CRM software can be integrated to your existing applications, or if you can export/import files to and from the CRM software.
- Scalability. It’s important that the vendor allows scalability of features and payment terms. This is especially helpful for businesses with seasonal needs, growing or contracting sales.
- Vendor’s Support and Credibility. As with any purchases, make sure you buy from a reputable vendor. A popular vendor doesn’t necessarily mean reputable; conversely, a newcomer may be more reliable. Check forums or social mentions, or better yet, ask past and existing users for feedback. A good vendor should provide consistent support because you will encounter glitches along the way.
It bears repeating that, as you browse through the various CRM solutions, remember to listen closely to what you need and you’re likely to get the right CRM software for your business.
History of CRM Software
List of CRM Software Companies
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Our Score Read More
FinancesOnline makes use of our innovative SmartScore™ method to gather information about all the applications in the CRM Software category to help you select the best possible service. It pays attention to the following elements: core features, collaboration elements, customization, integration, simplicity, customer support, how secure a software is, support for smartphones and tablets, general media ratings. Currently, HubSpot CRM is the leader in this category and is recommended by our experts. Following extensive testing it had the best results among its competitors and we strongly suggest that you include it as one of the choices for your business.
User Satisfaction Read More
An overview of general user satisfaction with the software in our CRM Software category evaluated with our unique algorythm that analyzes user reviews, comments and opinions across a broad set of social media platforms to help you make an informed investment choice.
Pricing Read More
Each vendor in the CRM Software category will have a different group of pricing packages for its product and each package will include a unique set of elements. Below we list the general pricing for the most affordable plan available for each service. Keep in mind that advanced features may have an extra cost.
Devices Supported Read More
A summary of what kind of devices and operating systems are supported by all B2B solutions in the CRM Software category, including mobile platforms and web-based solutions.
Laguages Supported Read More
Find out what languages and countries are supported by the popular B2B services in the CRM Software category, including spftware designed for international markets and prepared for multi-cultural teams of employees.
Pricing Model Read More
Learn what pricing plans are supported by the vendors in the CRM Software category to see which one fits your business needs and budget best. Note that specific apps can offer free or freemium accounts for you to try out first.
Customer Types Read More
An analysis of which groups of companies a given B2B platform in the CRM Software category is designed for, from small businesses and non-profits to big enterprises.
Deployment Read More
An overview of what types of service deployement are provided by every B2B vendor in the CRM Software category. While most of modern SaaS solutions are cloud-hosted there are services might offer an on-site deployment model as well.
History of CRM Software
The gains of decent CRMs pattered the road for vulnerable and poorly competitive businesses long enough for us to know we can’t do without them. Darrell K. Rigby revealed in a Harvard Business Review interview that behind every company with outrageous reputation and flawless product delivery, there are these well-developed data gathering hubs which turn business decisions into productivity keys. A glance on the impressive CRM timeline will show there was more to CRM than a game of chance, and will reveal who exactly we ought to credit for our easy and streamlined interactions… Long before they became standalone products, customer management services were embedded in marketing data collection and analytic programs. It was only in 1986 that a CRM-like service became available on the market, known under the name ACT!, and developed by Tim Siebel. ACT! looked nothing like trendy CRMs of today, but it paved the way for contact handling to contribute to sales automation, the thing Forbes considered to be the official start of the CRM race. Wiretech devoted a special post on CRM milestones which explains exactly how CRM diminished restriction between sales and marketing, and how it made it from a backend database into a system for interaction and communication. If you wish to go further and compare the bells and whistles of our time, you’d probably qualify it as your lead generator, team connector, analyzer, or mention some other CRM benefits. Current CRMs have to value few pivotal moments in their development, such as the introduction of the CRM term by Gartner which believed the destiny of customer relationship software was already predictable on their summit in 2000. It seemed like a poor consolation, as 2001 and 2002 were not the ‘smooth start’ the organization had promised, but the deepest CRM black hole noted this far when all development drew back, and Siebel Systems and Oracle lost quarters of their revenue. The turnover happened when Microsoft decided to join the industry, integrating its products with Navision, and launching a CRM of its own. Once revived, CRM underwent all sorts of innovations and development strategies, the most notable being its mobile optimization. An interesting Techcrunch article describes how CRMs came to be mobile-friendly and foresees them to be mobile-exclusive. Believe it or not, the first mobile CRM app was introduced in 1999, and it was called Siebel Sales Handheld (nowadays it’s an Oracle product). 2016 marked the peak of CRM development, where no limitations to as who can use it, how, or why exists. It is associated to a number of vital business operations, and has a bright, social, and cloud-exclusive future.
Long before they became standalone products, customer management services were embedded in marketing data collection and analytic programs. It was only in 1986 that a CRM-like service became available on the market, known under the name ACT!, and developed by Tim Siebel. ACT! looked nothing like trendy CRMs of today, but it paved the way for contact handling to contribute to sales automation, the thing Forbes considered to be the official start of the CRM race. Wiretech devoted a special post on CRM milestones which explains exactly how CRM diminished restriction between sales and marketing, and how it made it from a backend database into a system for interaction and communication. If you wish to go further and compare the bells and whistles of our time, you’d probably qualify it as your lead generator, team connector, analyzer, or mention some other CRM benefits.
Current CRMs have to value few pivotal moments in their development, such as the introduction of the CRM term by Gartner which believed the destiny of customer relationship software was already predictable on their summit in 2000. It seemed like a poor consolation, as 2001 and 2002 were not the ‘smooth start’ the organization had promised, but the deepest CRM black hole noted this far when all development drew back, and Siebel Systems and Oracle lost quarters of their revenue. The turnover happened when Microsoft decided to join the industry, integrating its products with Navision, and launching a CRM of its own.
Once revived, CRM underwent all sorts of innovations and development strategies, the most notable being its mobile optimization. An interesting Techcrunch article describes how CRMs came to be mobile-friendly and foresees them to be mobile-exclusive. Believe it or not, the first mobile CRM app was introduced in 1999, and it was called Siebel Sales Handheld (nowadays it’s an Oracle product).
2016 marked the peak of CRM development, where no limitations to as who can use it, how, or why exists. It is associated to a number of vital business operations, and has a bright, social, and cloud-exclusive future.