How to Choose the Right CRM System

How to Choose the Right CRM System

Choosing the right CRM system is an important decision for any business. There are many options to choose from, but not all CRMs are created equally.  In this blog post I will talk about what features matter most in a CRM system and how to find the perfect fit for your company.

Among other things, CRM helps you:

  • Understand your existing customers’ needs and satisfy them by tracking and managing customer service and other tasks.
  • Renew, upsell, and cross-sell effectively—when more people across your organization better understand customers, you can more intelligently offer the right products and services to meet those needs at the right times.
  • Assist with nurturing and growing new leads into closed sales.
  • Be more productive by managing your sales lead flow; good CRM can make it less likely to drop the ball on follow-through with new leads.
  • Have better sales forecasting ability because managers will have more data in the form of reports and dashboards.

There are dozens of CRM software applications and mobile apps that can help you manage your customer relationships. But CRM systems often do different things. So it’s not just a matter of choosing a certain vendor you feel comfortable with. Instead, you have to understand what each CRM package offers and whether it will meet your needs.

Here are the factors to consider when choosing a CRM package:

  • Customer contact database: Even the most basic CRM systems will provide a database of customer contact information. Consider how much and what types of data you will need. Is the CRM system able to track key kinds of information you typically track out of the box in your company? Or will a lot of customization be required?
  • Customer service capabilities: Does the CRM system help you see and manage key interaction points with customers across your organization?
  • Sales lead: How well does it provide a framework for tracking, nurturing, and managing sales leads? Some CRM systems better manage existing customer relationships and don’t do so well with new sales-led management. Others have sophisticated sales-lead management features.
  • Sales and marketing automation: Does the CRM system include any automation? For example, can you automate the follow-up of marketing communications rather than initiating all activity manually or “onesies-twosies?” Some CRM systems have sophisticated automation built-in; some have little or none.
  • Integration with other systems: Most businesses use multiple software systems that touch customers in some way, e.g., accounting, help desk, social-media management, and email marketing. Today, a crucial point is whether a CRM system will integrate seamlessly with other important software systems you use. The integration gives you greater productivity and more visibility across your company and minimizes manual data entry.
  • Implementation ease: Many small businesses do not use a CRM system today because of the difficulty of implementing some CRM systems. It will require some work to convert data from other systems, get employees trained and up to speed, and integrate with other business systems. Are automatic import and conversion capabilities part of the software? Will you receive human implementation support if needed? How intuitive is the software for employees to learn?
  • Reports and dashboards: The best CRM systems help the owner and managers manage better. What level of reports and dashboards comes with the system? Can you get the information you need quickly and easily, or will you have to custom-program reports?
  • Support: How much and what kind of support can you expect from the CRM vendor? Support varies widely—from online knowledge bases to 24-hour email support to immediate phone support. Know what you need and what you can expect for the package you purchase.

10 Tips For Choosing The Right CRM Software For Your Business

As a business owner or a decision-maker in a company, you know how crucial customer relationships can be to success. When a customer is happy and satisfied, they are likely to buy more products from you and tell others about your product when asked for a recommendation. So, implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) system is indispensable.

But with so many CRM systems in the market, how do you choose the right software for your business? Here are ten tips that will point you in the right direction.

Define Your Needs

The first thing you should have in mind is what you need the CRM system to do for you. There are some really powerful CRM solutions out there, packed with a plethora of features. However, most enterprises only end up using less than a tenth of these features.

Before opting for a CRM:

  1. Make sure the available feature set matches your business needs.
  2. Determine if your sales process is in sync with what you have in the system.
  3. List the “need to have” and “nice to haves”; assess how you will use each feature and the possibility of you using it.
  4. Integration with marketing

Marketing is the lifeblood of any business. A great CRM system should offer a complete view of each lead, current customers, and previous customers. This includes their related data such as contacts, demographics, products purchased, and margins. 

Such data can be harnessed to provide tailored marketing campaigns. For example, it will enable you to do email marketing, build landing pages, score and qualify leads, run multichannel marketing campaigns, and much more.

Helpdesk Features

Suppose your customer’s concerns are buried in a sea of data, and they have to continually follow up with your business. In that case, it shows that you don’t care or you don’t prioritize customer experience at best.

Helpdesk features enable reporting on tickets made and the duration it takes to resolve them. The tickets are organized based on deadlines, priority, or complexity. 

In addition, there’s a knowledge base for clients interested in self-service options. What’s more, you can interact with customers via phone, email, live chat, and chatbots.

Social CRM Capabilities

Your team may be producing excellent marketing content – snappy posts, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, and blog posts– but this conversation is one way. CRM software helps you make customer engagement a two-way street.

To grow your social media brand, you may want to invest in a CRM that allows you to monitor brand mentions while accessing a raft of new information about customer behaviour.

By using tracking and monitoring tools, you can see who is engaging in a conversation with your brand, reward brand advocates, and encourage them to spread the word further.

Integration And Open Api

Most companies depend on several applications to execute their business operations throughout the day. Therefore, it is imperative to choose a CRM that can integrate with other critical business systems. For instance, you can integrate your CRM system with email, e-commerce platforms, accounting software, among other applications.

An open API allows integration with third-party apps and enables you to work with them within your CRM system. It also syncs data from external apps into your CRM. This way, you have one source of reliable data that the entire business can leverage for decision making.

Business Growth

Whichever system you opt for, be sure it can scale with your business. It should also be flexible enough to adapt to your changing needs as your enterprise grows and evolves. 

CRM Usability

CRM usability is a critical variable. One common complaint that sales managers will often hear is that some CRM systems are incredibly complex. As a result, they have a steep learning curve and often prove difficult for employees to use.

If the system features are not intuitive and easy to use, adoption will be low. When some employees are working on it, and others are not, you lose alignment across teams. Consequently, efficiency and data integrity go out of the window.

 On the other hand, having a user-friendly solution that your team can fully take advantage of gives you the best bang for your buck.


If your sales team spends a lot of time in the field, accessing information from mobile gadgets is an essential feature to have. Your team should be able to synchronize calendars, access contacts, deals, tasks, events, and analytics from wherever they are.

 In this situation, you can increase your ROI by going for CRM systems that offer reliable and user-friendly Android and iPhone apps without sacrificing desktop features.  

CRM Pricing

For startups or small businesses, you probably operate on a tight budget. You may not have $2000 or more per month to allocate to all the software tools your business requires to grow. So, you want to find the best CRM system that will meet your needs without breaking the bank. Your best bet here is an all-in-one CRM system with additional marketing automation and customer support features.

Consider a CRM pricing model that would best suit your business. For example, while some providers charge monthly fees, others will require more up-front. 

Be on the lookout for hidden costs too. Some providers may offer pricing models that may appear friendly but need you to pay other fees on the side. Again, ensure you understand what is covered in the package you sign for.

Support And Training

It would not be prudent to check everything else and ignore the after-sales process of your CRM solution provider. For example, will your provider hand you your login credentials and leave you to figure your way around it? Or will they provide you with after-sales training for set up and implementation?

Most modern CRMs are easy to use and intuitive and don’t require training for basic functionalities. But for companies integrating the CRM with various departments, there will be a need for training. Be sure to check with your solution provider that they will offer support until you fully become operational. 

What Is CRM Best Practices

As with most tools, CRM is only valuable if you use it. So here are some tips and suggestions:

Make Customer Relationship Management A Habit. 

Start each day by checking in with your CRM system to see who needs to be contacted that day and what tasks and projects need to be done. This will help you keep hot leads hot and not have anyone wait too long for service, a quote, or anything else you promised to deliver.

Keep Your Crm Information Up To Date. 

The best way to use CRM is in real-time as contacts are taking place. That means emailing through the software, logging phone calls and meetings immediately after they’ve taken place, and noting follow-up actions needed and taken.

Hire Or Appoint A CRM Administrator. 

This might be you, a sales manager, or another employee who will get to know the ins and outs of the software, keep everything up to date, and hold everyone accountable. Some firms hire outside companies that specialize in CRM administration. In the same way, they’d hire an outside bookkeeper or IT support. Listen to the feedback you get from the employees who are using it and adjust accordingly to make it easier to use.

Customize Your CRM For Your Business And Industry. 

For the info you gather to be useful, it has to be meaningful to your specific situation. Modify the software, so it contains data relevant to your company. Add or delete as many fields as necessary to generate the information most helpful to you. If you require your salespeople to enter a boatload of information, compliance is going to below. Make it quick and easy to input data about a client, lead, or prospect.

Create Standards For Entering CRM Data. 

CRM is most useful when everyone using it provides the same type of information in the same format. This will make your reports easier to run and more meaningful. Hold a training session or two to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Make CRM Fun To Use 

Salespeople are competitive, so they offer rewards and recognition. Post a leaderboard or status updates to encourage CRM use. The more active and engaged everyone is, the more the system will be used, and the more valuable the information your CRM reports will provide.

6 Ways to Choose the Right CRM for Your Business

Here are tips to help you choose the best CRM solution:

Choose The CRM Software That Offers The Right Features For Your Business. 

Think about the kind of information that would be helpful to you, and make sure the product provides it. For example, some CRM systems are geared for business-to-business clients, and others, to business-to-consumer operations.

Think about how much you need the CRM to do now, how you might grow with it along the way, and how scalable it is through modules you can add. Then, find the balance between a system that does what you want it to but isn’t overkill and too difficult to use or master.

Make Sure The CRM Program Can Be Customized For Your Business. 

Investigate how you make changes and adjustments along the way. What kind of help and support is available?

Ensure That The CRM System Is Cloud-based And Mobile-friendly. 

As we said above, CRM needs to be used to be effective. You and your staff will want to be able to use it on the fly, which these days will likely mean on the phone or at least on a wifi-enabled laptop.

If It’s Important To Your Business, Make Sure The CRM Choice Integrates With The Other Systems And Software You Already Have In Place. 

Most small businesses use CRM primarily as a contact manager and benefit from tying it into an email. Integrating your accounting software can give you even more information and richer reports. Be sure the CRM you are considering works with the way you already work.

Match The CRM’s Cost To Your Business's Financial Needs. 

Make sure the CRM fits your budget as well as your needs. Generally speaking, the more features a system has, the more it will cost. Some free applications are usually stripped-down versions limited to a couple of users per company.

For a CRM program with more functionality, expect payments to begin from about $20 per user per month and go up from there. Insightly, for example, charges $29 monthly for basic features such as contacts, tasks, organization and opportunities.

At the high end, you could pay hundreds of dollars per month for advanced features from a fully loaded version of Salesforce with a custom dashboard, social media integration, automatic lead generation, and other advanced features. However, Salesforce also offers more basic capabilities for far more modest prices.

Take Your CRM Product For A Test Drive Before Purchase.

Demo the product before you buy it. Understand how it works and what it can do for you. Be certain the software is something you and your staff will be comfortable with and use. A CRM system is only as useful as the information it’s given to work with.

Frequently Asked Questions

CRM software is primarily sales-focused, while marketing automation software is (aptly) marketing-focused. Marketo—a leading marketing automation software provider—describes marketing automation software as a system that “allows companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows.”

The CRM industry has seen staggering growth in recent years. And 2020 was no different. Last year we found out that overall CRM usage increased from 56% to 74%. Broken down this statistic showed that 91% of businesses with over 11 employees now use CRM, compared to 50% of those with 10 employees or less.

A CRM system can help maximize your business performance by increasing your up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Up-selling is where you offer customers an upgrade or premium products that are related to their purchase.

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