CRM Software: 5 Main Benefits To Your Business
What is it that compels companies to invest big money in customer relationship management or CRM? Worldwide sales for CRM software will reach $36.5B by 2017, according to a Gartner report last year. In fact, CRM software (on-premise and cloud hosted or online) is already the second largest enterprise software market today after ERPs. This table from Forbes.com plots CRM sales on a steep climb compared to other enterprise software:
The answer of course is to positively engage more customers and remain competitive in today’s crowded and cutthroat business environment.
We review the main ways how a good CRM strategy helps companies, from small business to large enterprise, achieve business success. If you want to know more about the basics of CRM, our article, “What is CRM software?” introduces you to the essential elements of this business strategy. Meantime, here are the five key benefits of CRM to your business:
1. Increase sales
It’s the most obvious reason for adopting CRM strategies. The best CRM software allows you to follow quality leads and reduce time wastage following prospects. Sales cycles are reduced and win rates improved. Moreover, you can check customer buying histories to identify potential leads, upsell opportunities or repeat customers.
Top CRM software also helps identify your most valuable customers and create a customer reward system or personalized communication to increase engagement and conversion. Furthermore, you can easily pinpoint weak links in the sales process—for example, unanswered emails or calls are not followed up—and address the issue at once.
2. Increase profitability and efficiency
Profitability is more than just increasing sales. It is creating efficient processes across your business operations to make sure sales opportunities are not lost or costs are minimized. With CRM, employees can access important data quickly to serve customer needs or address a critical business process faster. For instance, a customer is complaining about a defective product. Customer Service can ask for the product’s serial number and quickly access the Logistics’ database to record the defective batch, while Logistics can make the necessary replacement. Meantime, Finance is computing the cost implication of this minor activity to the overall monthly overhead.
Customer engagement can also be tracked, such as emails and calls, and necessary actions can be rerouted to the right department to immediately address concerns. Similarly, best performance hotspots are easier to identify and reward employees with excellent outputs. In our example, a Customer Service employee with a track record of addressing customer concerns fast can qualify for an incentive.
Other forms of efficiency include reducing training cost by equipping new employees with user-friendly CRM tools that can be deployed in minutes. It is also easier to accustom new employees with standard operation procedures. The CRM system acts like a gatekeeper of universal forms and processes across your business operations, ensuring employees are using the same templates, forms and procedures to perform their tasks.
Not only that, CRM integrates processes like accounting, inventory and sales to come up with a seamless pipeline and avoid doubling of tasks. Items like contracts, events, projects and products are aligned in one CRM infrastructure for faster turnaround of deliverables.
3. Allow fast, reliable strategic and tactical decisions
A well-informed manager with access to real-time data can make adjustments quickly to react to market trends. CRM allows you to cull accurate insights from real-time and on-location data. This means you can fine tune your strategies or tactics right away to take advantage of an opportunity or avert a crisis.
For example, a quick look at your sales figures entered by the Sales Team can reveal customer clusters. Consolidating this insight with, say, supply chain, can help the Events Team organize scalable trials in lesser performing but promising sales clusters. CRM helps you allocate resources not just in needy areas, but promising ones.
Likewise, more accurate data also allows you to pull together raw best practices by different departments to further improve the overall business operation. In our case, a more integrated collaboration among Sales, Events and Logistics reinforces weak sales points, which can be replicated in other territories.
4. Reinforce data security
Confidential customer data and trade insights are kept in a centralized CRM system instead in disparate and disconnected desktops. This means you can focus your budget, human resources and capital infrastructure on one item: the CRM ecosystem. You can set parameters so only authorized employees can access the data, while keeping a close tab on a single channel for possible breach. In military parlance, by positioning your defensive line in a narrow channel you reduce the superiority in numbers of the enemy, the hackers around the world.
5. Mobile CRM increases productivity of field team
Mobile technologies today allow field teams to access CRM data like customer personal information, purchases or product information and delivery schedules on location and make decisions or reports on the spot, in front of the customer.
For instance, log completed field checks or client meetings at once, while the back office processes your mobile report immediately. Even as you’re pitching to a prospect, the back office is already consolidating a quote based on your field inputs. You can even deliver the quote before the meeting ends, saving you the difficulty of scheduling another meeting just to offer a custom quote and cutting down the sales cycle.
Other field applications of mobile CRM include: checking real-time inventory; checking customer credit limits; receiving alerts like out-of-stock items; and processing approval in minutes rather than days.
How to Select a Good CRM Solution for Your Company?
Businesses get an influx of information and data through their websites and phone lines that they can use to generate more revenue with the help of a quality CRM application. Such software can pool the information and generate insights to help you improve customer service, satisfaction, and loyalty, minimize costs, and boost profits. Therefore, you should give adequate consideration to selecting a proper app by taking feedback from both business and IT professionals in your company. We’ll try to help you with that process a bit by identifying five important factors you should evaluate to end up with the best tool for your company.
Budget plays an important role in the purchasing decision. Besides the upfront expenditure, you should also calculate long-term costs and analyze the benefits obtained for the money spent. Be sure to ask the vendor about what you get in the pricing package and what you don’t. Does the upfront payment cover the cost of training, ongoing services, and upgrades? Do you need to shell out more for customization, integration, and added hardware such as laptops, PCs, and servers? Can the software integrate cost effectively and smoothly with your existing systems and infrastructure? Make sure you get the answers to all these questions so that you don’t get saddled with a relatively cheap CRM app that nevertheless requires you to make huge infrastructure investments.
Define Your Business Objectives
You should have a clear idea of your business goals before you embark on the selection journey. Get feedback and input from your IT staff, managers, end users, and top executives on what they want a CRM solution to achieve for them. This will help you prepare a list of capabilities that you need from the ideal software. Understand how your company’s departments currently use data and be clear about the strengths and drawbacks of your processes. Get input from your customer support, marketing, and sales departments on their requirements and obtain their wish-list of functionalities. In short, you should prepare a checklist of priority software requirements which can also help you later to evaluate the CRM app’s effectiveness and the return on investment (ROI) it generates.
On-Demand vs. On-Premise
Both deployment methods have their benefits and drawbacks. A cloud-based SaaS CRM platform can give you access to advanced equipment and you don’t need to invest in hosting technologies and infrastructure. Plus, it is easy to implement SaaS software and get started quickly.
However, enterprises with a large IT unit and adequate computing infrastructure may opt to buy on-premise software as they have the hardware and resources required to run it. Though SaaS vendors offer service level agreements, expert security, and service providers’ contracts, some companies may not want to use a third-party to manage such an important business software application. If you want an on-premise solution but do not possess the IT staff and resources to maintain it, you can opt to hire a third-party consultant, solution provider, or systems integrator to externally host the platform.
It is essential that the CRM app can grow with your business. You shouldn’t make a hasty purchase decision this year only to regret it year after that. This is because you would be spending time and money yet again to select another software app later on.
At the same time, the CRM platform you select now shouldn’t be too complex to use as it can put off your employees. On the other hand, if the system has limited functionality and uses, it would necessitate software customization and an increase in manual tasks. To avoid these issues, make use of the free trials offered by leading vendors to get your company’s users to check out their features and scalability.
Finally, it is important to select a vendor with a proven track record and reputation whom you can trust. Read online reviews and check out social networks for feedback and comments on CRM products and their makers. Many review websites host in-depth reviews of B2B software apps that include close analysis of the features, training, and support. Read the case studies on the vendors’ websites to learn how other organizations are using the CRM system.
You can also get references from the vendor and contact current users of the software to get feedback on its strengths and drawbacks, the quality of customer support and other details. If you are interested in a SaaS solution, existing customers can tell you about the provider’s services, responsiveness, and up-time rate.
Do not be hasty to invest in a new CRM app. First, be clear about your objectives, needs, and expectations, and then methodically embark on the selection process. This can ensure your purchase decision delivers the cost savings and enhancements you expect. The time invested in research and analysis will be worth it if you can find a suitable CRM application that delivers the advantages and benefits your company needs.
Top CRM Software Systems You Can Check Out
To further help your search, we provide the features and benefits of a few leading CRM apps that we have tested and recommend for your business:
Currently the best CRM based on our extensive tests of all popular solutions from this category. It received the highest total score of 9.8/10 in our evaluation and it currently has a perfect 100% user satisfaction rating. It is also the winner of our Best CRM Software Award for 2016 as well as the Supreme Software Award for that year. The overall quality of features and customer support offered is top-notch and the software is very flexible making it an ideal tool for companies of all sizes and from all industries. There is also a great free trial available that you can use to try out this service first to see if it is actually a good fit for your company. You can easily sign up for Pipedrive free trial here.
Businesses can effectively use Pipedrive to take control of their sales process. With it they can examine their pipeline’s weaknesses and strengths with real clarity. It is a tool that takes the guesswork out of what activities are needed to close deals.
Pipedrive’s sales methodology allows you to focus on the activities that drive deals to a close. You can clearly define the steps needed so that no deal is missed. Plus, you can control the way your deals move through the pipeline. The app’s task-based methodology keeps sales teams focused on the factors they can control — the actions and habits that drive consistent sales. You can really efficiently use the system to save time and boost productivity.
The unique element of Pipedrive is it helps efficient sales management as it acts as your personal sales manager to help you focus on the right activities and deals. This application is utilized by more than 100,000 users around the world including freelancers and small and medium-sized businesses. We really recommend that you check their free trial plan as one of the possibilities for your future CRM. You won’t be disappointed.
2. Nutshell CRM
Nutshell CRM helps sales teams to win more deals. Many CRM apps are not effective because they don’t offer much value to sales teams. But Nutshell CRM stands out because it provides excellent features and customer support to help small businesses become more successful. The application is used by thousands of small businesses in more than 50 countries to effectively manage their sales processes and win more deals quickly.
The unique element of Nutshell CRM is it prevents CRM inefficiencies. It offers effective features and tips to help sales reps use customer information to make smarter decisions and close deals. The system enables sales reps to track data for more quotas, schedule more easily, and save time spent on data entry. The vendor has designed this CRM app for the needs of brands and wholesalers, business services companies, construction businesses, software companies, manufacturers, resellers and VARs and others. The vendor also offers a really good free trial plan that you can try. You can sign up for Nutshell free trial here.
Freshsales is an ideal CRM for high-velocity sales teams. It offers integrated phone and email, lead scoring, user behavior tracking and more in one effective CRM package. You can use the system to make more calls and send targeted emails with just a few clicks. Plus, you can find high-potential leads that are ready to buy your product. Another help is you can find all sales interactions and track your buyers’ journey.
Freshsales informs you who is interested in your product with real-time email alerts. You can manage the sales pipeline better by visually tracking the progress of deals and selecting promising ones to focus on every day. The unique element of Freshsales is it allows you to send bulk emails created on personalized templates, schedule them, and sync them with your calendars. This app is used by more than 1,000 small, medium-sized, and large businesses including top brands such as Vacasa, Weefer, Raved, and Ascendore. For a more hands-on experience with the app we recommend you check out the Freshsales free trial plan to get a really comprehensive look on all key features.
Bpm’online offers seamlessly integrated products to link marketing, sales and service. It delivers end-to-end processes to manage the customer journey – from lead to order, and to ongoing account maintenance.
bpm’online products are backed by a strong business process management platform. Changing processes is easy as you don’t need coding knowledge. The app offers the agility to continually test and improve processes to adapt to changing business environments. With bpm’online, you can combine sales, marketing, and service on a single CRM platform.
The unique element of bpm’online is it offers both BPM and CRM functions in one system. You can design, automate, track, and manage business processes, view details of customers’ purchase behavior, and forecast sales plans more effectively. The app has been designed for the needs of medium-sized businesses and large enterprises in advertising, banking, real estate, retail, consultancy, private investment, distribution, telecommunications, legal, pharma and other industries. As usual, we recommend you sign up for bpm’online free trial first to check if the range of reatures offered by this solution is actually what your company is looking for.
Insightly is a robust CRM app that you can use to manage leads, organizations, contacts, suppliers, vendors, and partners. You can view all information about a lead or contact including background, events, email history, projects, and opportunities.
Insightly offers social media integration and you simply need to enter a contact’s email address and the system will detect all social media profiles related to the email address. You can view content and your contact’s public LinkedIn profile. Plus, you can explore your contact’s public profile information on Facebook, Klout, Picasa, FourSquare and other popular social channel s where the contact has participated.
The unique element of Insightly is it offers CRM and project management in a single app to help you manage and control your customer relationship at every stage. This solution can be used by small businesses, growing companies, and large enterprises in advertising and media, manufacturing, IT consulting and other industries.
6. Zoho CRM
Zoho CRM enables businesses to engage their customers on multiple channels such as phone, live chat, email, social media, and in person. You can store all your conversations in one place and use your interactions to boost sales. The app offers you information and insights in a usable manner.
Zoho CRM offers insightful analytics and reports for detailed metrics about your customers’ life cycle and your team’s performance. Plus, you can use automation features and workflows to generate more sales. The unique element of this app is you can adapt it to meet the market. This is possible as you can customize how you collect and use important data across your organization. The system is used by freelancers and small, medium-sized, and large enterprises including top brands such as Amazon, Amiad, Benchmark, and Selectra.
Businesses today, whether B2B or B2C, should make sure all their operations act in one unified direction to acquire new customers, retain them and cut operational costs. They need a good CRM strategy. It is like a conductor that allows an orchestra to perform a solid musical piece by consolidating various musical instruments in one fluid motion. If you don’t adopt CRM in today’s competitive business environment, you may end up playing Beethoven out of tune.