Growing sales is no longer limited to advertising your offerings and convincing people to buy them. Nurturing and building personal relationships with prospects and past buyers makes your brand and offerings stand out while earning their attention and loyalty.
The best way to ensure this is through systematically managing your relationships with every possible or existing customer. And over 65% of businesses implement this within 5 years of their launch through Customer Relationship Management (CRM)!
Customer Relationship Management involves forming and maintaining good relations with leads or buyers by offering them a great experience at every step of your sales process. It ensures that people form a favorable image of your brand and prefer your offerings in the long run.
However, a contemporary business interacts daily with thousands of prospects and buyers. So, manually pursuing relationships with every person, wherever and whenever they interact with your entire company, is simply impractical!
This is where you need to use a reliable CRM software that maintains centralized records and automates the repetitive tasks involved in your sales process. And this blog will help you understand the basics of CRM software and choose the perfect one for your business. Let’s start!
Table of Contents
Customer Relationship Management software are tools that help business owners track all communications with their leads and clients while nurturing lasting relationships with them. A CRM saves time and money by replacing the multiple spreadsheets, databases, and apps used traditionally to track client data with one comprehensive software.
CRM software offer customers a unique and seamless experience. Moreover, they help to build better customer relationships by-
A CRM tool helps you sort, analyze, and prioritize your leads so that your sales team can focus on the opportunities that are most likely to close. It also helps you provide accurate answers to prospective customers quickly. Moreover, it gives the required information for upselling and cross-selling to prospects.
A CRM helps you identify, nurture, and follow up on the most qualified leads. This means you can save time and money by focusing only on leads that are likely to convert. And this leads to a high marketing ROI, raised conversion rate, and shorter sales cycle.
A CRM tool helps your team stay productive by defining efficient processes for your business. It automates routine activities and enforces high operational standards. This ensures that your sales team spends time on closing high-value deals and not on mundane daily tasks.
CRM tools provide accurate data from across your organization to keep your decision-makers informed. This helps your sales team to react to market trends quickly and effectively. Moreover, CRM software provides detailed reports showing how your teams are performing and where there is room for improvement.
A good customer relationship management software will keep your data safe in the vendor’s data centers. And the vendor will safeguard it using leading physical and digital security mechanisms. If you are based in the European Union or do business with European customers, you must use a CRM that offers automatic GDPR-compliance features.
A CRM tool with a mobile app ensures that your team has access to key CRM data, wherever they are! A sales rep can pull up information about nearby customers, then drop by for a meeting, and easily update everyone on new information by logging it in their CRM mobile app.
A CRM equips your team with the past data of your customers by storing records in an instantly accessible centralized repository. This helps your team resolve customer inquiries immediately, ensuring their satisfaction.
CRM tools are applicable in all key industries such as retail, banking, hotels, insurance, consulting, financial services, agriculture, etc. Here are some factors that indicate that your business should go for CRM software immediately-
A customer relationship management tool helps sales managers and salespeople to maintain centralized records and identify trends in their prospective or existing customers’ behavior. This helps your sales managers and reps collaborate to sell, upsell, or cross-sell products.
Businesses can use sales information from the CRM tool’s customer records to plan and improve their marketing campaigns. It helps to create large yet highly targeted marketing campaigns that provide high returns on investment.
CRM programs come with built-in invoicing tools that enhance the invoicing process’s speed, accuracy, and efficiency. No more switching between software to make routine records!
Customers will likely be loyal to your brand if you make them feel important and understood. And using CRM tools can help you ace this by properly addressing their concerns and resolving common issues instantly. This helps to enhance the customer experience and boosts their loyalty to your brand.
One complete CRM solution can save a great deal of time each day by replacing multiple software and processes. It will integrate multiple areas and automate business processes to make life easier for the sales manager and representatives. Some features that CRM tools provide to boost your efficiency are-
CRM software vary in features and primary purpose, and you need to understand their classifications to make the best choice. So, here are the three main categories of CRM systems-
A collaborative CRM system integrates the marketing team, sales reps, and customer support agents into one workflow. It achieves this by forming a channel to share information across the entire organization in real-time.
Collaborative CRM tools ensure that every employee that customers interact with can quickly pull up a record of all past interactions with the consumer to learn all relevant details without asking unnecessary questions. And this enables you to provide a seamless customer experience throughout the customer’s journey.
Operational CRMs help streamline your company’s processes to form lasting customer relationships. They provide tools to visualize and handle the full customer journey. This starts from their first interaction with your company’s website, goes through the entire sales pipeline, and continues even after they’ve become buyers.
In this regard, Operational CRM systems typically provide comprehensive automation features, including marketing automation, sales automation, and service automation. These ensure that your salespersons have more time to carry out personalized communication with prospects to convert and retain them.
Analytical CRMs focus on providing valuable insights by analyzing customer data. They take up large amounts of data from all your sources and turn them into useful inferences about ongoing customer trends. With this information, you can better understand your customer’s problems and needs and optimize your sales process to resolve them most efficiently.
CRM tools come with diverse features and add-ons, but here are the key features that any effective CRM tool must have-
CRM software should have sales process automation features to help your team be more productive. This includes sales automation, marketing automation, sales automation, and customer service automation, amongst others.
The CRM software must cater to your business’s unique needs by allowing customization in crucial areas such as additional contact fields, custom reports, personalized dashboards, custom extensions, plugins, and other add-ons. You may also look for API access to ensure maximum personalization.
Connecting your CRM software to existing solutions can save you lots of time and money. So you must look for CRM programs that offer convenient third-party software integrations for the software you use. The integration may be with email tools, POS systems, accounting software, cloud storage services, and marketing management software.
CRM software must offer capabilities that help you offer the best customer service so you can acquire and retain customers easily. This includes automated records of every customer interaction and a 360-degree comprehensive view of the records for each customer.
The CRM service provider must build and maintain the CRM software on their servers. And it should be accessible to your employees anytime and anywhere over the internet through a browser.
CRM software must offer features to track employee activity and performance based on their hours, tasks, meetings, sales numbers, sales goals, and other metrics. It must also provide easily understandable reports on individual performances to help managers judge and improve employee performance.
A CRM with built-in social media monitoring features will save your marketers a lot of time and effort. This is because they won’t have to switch platforms to monitor your company’s social media.
Lead management features will help you to identify qualified leads and analyze the actions they’ve taken along the entire sales cycle. This will offer sales managers crucial insights into the leads, allowing easy lead prioritization and task scheduling.
Real-time data recording and analysis are essential to staying agile and competitive in the dynamic market. So, CRM tools must pull real-time data about the leads and market from all your sources, analyze them instantly, and provide visual reports in real-time.
CRM tools must have advanced analytics features that provide key insights into customer data. These insights will help you make better decisions about your offerings, marketing, sales process, customer service, and communication.
A CRM with a forecasting feature will predict your future sales revenue based on past records or current pipeline data. This will help you anticipate and avoid risks while making the most of new opportunities. It will ensure that your sales plan is up to date and you follow it perfectly.
Ready to go for a CRM software? Let’s check some leading CRM tool examples so you can make the best choice without spending hours in research! Here are the top 20 CRM tool examples with their key features and monthly pricing when billed annually-
HubSpot’s CRM is a SaaS platform that optimizes or automates your customer support, sales, and marketing processes. It is one of the most renowned CRM tools that offers exceptional usability and detailed reporting. Here are its main features-
What’s more? It offers all these features for free!
Zoho CRM is an affordable tool that optimizes the performance of your customer-facing teams with its cutting-edge features. It is a SaaS tool that offers high mobility and is very easy to install and scale up. Zoho CRM is ideal for businesses of all sizes and here are some of its key features-
The pricing of this software starts from $14.00 for 1 user per month and goes up to $40.00 for 1 user per month. It also has a free version with limited features. It offers a free trial of 15 days.
Salesforce CRM is a popular cloud-based CRM solution that provides comprehensive features that leave nothing to ask for! It provides a 360-degree view of your customers and helps you provide them with a seamless experience. You can also integrate Salesforce with your telephony system and various other third-party tools and systems to streamline processes and improve productivity. It offers many plans with different features and pricing, making it perfect for businesses of all types and sizes. The features include –
The CRM plans offered by Salesforce range from $25 per user per month to $300 per user per month. It also offers a free trial of 30 days.
Salesflare is an advanced CRM tool that offers best-in-class automation, analytics, and touchpoint tracking features to accelerate sales cycles for your business. It is popular amongst B2B businesses for its high reliability, ease of use, and robust automation. Also offers a comprehensive set of features at a relatively low cost, and this includes-
It offers three plans with costs starting at $29.00 for 1 user per month and going up to $99.00 for 1 user per month. This tool also offers a flexible free trial.
Pipedrive is a SaaS tool that helps you manage customer accounts across devices with high efficiency, thanks to its advanced automation and analytics features. It is one of the most convenient tools for creating automated workflows for repetitive activities. Here are the main features that this advanced yet affordable CRM tool offers-
Pipedrive offers multiple pricing plans starting at $24.90 per user per month. It also offers a free trial of 14 days.
Apptivo is a cloud-based CRM suite with 50+ integrated apps that help you manage your contacts, sales, customer service, and marketing from a single platform. You can tailor it to meet the goals and requirements of any business. So, Apptivo is perfect if you have very specific needs and a limited budget. Here is what Apptivo CRM offers-
It offers a free trial of 30 days and multiple pricing plans starting at 10$ for 1 user per month.
Mailchimp offers all the CRM tools you need to aggregate, organize, and manage your audience’s data in one cloud-based platform. This popular software is primarily used as an email marketing platform. But it also integrates advanced CRM features such as-
Mailchimp offers various pricing plans to match every budget, going from a free version to a premium version that costs $299 per month and up.
Oracle CRM is a trusted customer relationship management system created by Oracle Corporation. It includes several cloud applications to store, manage, analyze, and implement customer data. You can deploy the applications together or use them individually as per your specific needs.
Oracle CX is currently one of the most advanced cloud-based CRM tools for sales growth with the latest features-
Oracle CX pricing starts at $65 per month per user and goes up to $300 per month per user.
It offers a free trial for up to 30 days.
Zendesk Sell is a productivity-focused CRM for sales reps. It provides end-to-end features to help you manage your entire sales process. It is an advanced cloud platform aimed at boosting conversions and retaining customers in the long run. And its diverse pricing plans let you spend only on what you need without wastage. Its comprehensive features include-
Zendesk’s pricing varies from $19 per month per user to $199 per month per user based on the plan you select. It also offers a free trial of 30 days.
Freshsales CRM is a feature-rich SaaS that helps you track your leads, sales growth, and sales team performance with visual reports. It also helps you engage with customers conveniently to form long-term relationships with them. The main functionalities of Freshsales CRM include-
Freshsales CRM is relatively affordable, with a free plan and paid plans starting at $15 per user per month.
Sales Creatio is a simplistic yet powerful cloud-based CRM. It enables total control over the complete customer journey from lead generation to repeat sales! Moreover, it is the ideal option if you are looking for the best automation features at a low cost. Here is what Sales Creatio offers-
It is one of the top CRM tools for sales growth and has a free version so you can try it before buying. Its full version costs only $25.00 per user per month.
Insightly is a cloud-based CRM tool that tracks your lead information and creates a rich activity timeline of marketing campaign sources, email communication, phone calls, meetings, and other tasks for every customer. It is the perfect tool for providing a personalized and seamless customer experience while boosting sales process efficiency. Here are the key features of Insightly CRM-
The pricing plans of Insightly vary from $299 per month to $1,299 per month. It also offers a free trial of 14 days.
This powerful SaaS tool helps you to locate prospects, nurture leads, convert leads, and maintain relations after purchase. It is a comprehensive sales tracking and management tool you can apply over multiple channels. UNlike basic CRM tools, Sugar Sell has specialized features for project planning, quote management, and forecasting. Here is what it offers-
The pricing plans of SugarCRM go from $49.00 per month to $135 per month. It comes with a free trial of 7 days.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a powerful solution to manage customer relationships and optimize sales, marketing, and customer service to offer them the best experience. It is ideal for both B2C and B2B businesses and offers the highest level of data security. Moreover, this reputed SaaS helps to streamline operations and speed up the sales cycle with its advanced features, which include-
It offers a 30-day free trial, after which you must purchase the sales professional license for $65 per user per month and then buy additional licenses per your specific needs.
Act! Premium is a powerful CRM and marketing automation tool that is perfect for small and mid-size businesses looking to enhance their marketing and sales efficiency at low costs. It is one of the most innovative and feature-rich tools on this list that is also relatively affordable. Here are the major features of this innovative SaaS-
Its on-premise variant costs $37.5 per user per month and the cloud version costs $30 per user per month. It also offers a free trial of 14 days.
NetSuite CRM helps you manage all your prospects, existing customers, business partners, and vendors on a single cloud-based platform. It replaces multiple software with one complete CRM solution that is exceptionally rich with features and works perfectly on mobile devices. Here is what Netsuite provides-
Netsuite’s pricing ranges from $99 to $2,499 per month, and the exact cost varies based on your needs. It offers a free trial of 14 days.
Infusionsoft’s CRM platform is a central hub for all your sales and marketing efforts. It lets you segment lists, automate lead data entry, sync client emails and identify the best opportunities. This SaaS by Keap aims to automate or optimize your sales activities with the latest features, which include-
Its pricing plans range from the starter plan costing $99 per month to the Complete plan costing $379 per month. It comes with a free trial of 14 days.
Less Annoying CRM is a simple, affordable contact manager for small businesses. You can set it up easily and it focuses on usability without compromising on its features. And this makes it the perfect CRM for sales reps in growing companies. Moreover, it offers a long free trial and surprisingly low pricing for its advanced features. Here is what this SaaS tool offers-
Less Annoying CRM is competitively priced, costing only $15 per user per month after a 30-day free trial.
Nimble is a one-stop SaaS solution for managing and organizing your contacts, setting reminders, building and maintaining customer relationships, finding new opportunities, and meeting sales goals. It is an effective collaboration platform with many integrations. So, you can easily apply it to your existing system at low costs. Here are some significant features of Nimble-
Nimble is also priced affordably at only $19 per user per month. It also offers a free trial of14 days.
BIGContacts by ProProfs is a SaaS designed to help small businesses grow their sales through improved marketing and lead management. Its advanced automation, tracking, and reporting features come at a reasonable price. And this makes it one of the most effective CRM tools for small businesses. The main functionalities that BIGContacts offers are-
This software offers 3 affordable pricing plans starting from $5 per user per month. Moreover, it offers a 15-day free trial.
Now, you need to perform a quick CRM tools comparison to find the right fit! And if you’re still unsure which is the best one for you, we’ll check some key guidelines in the next section to help you decide!
Every CRM tool has different features and pricing plans, and you need to find the right balance to get all the necessary features at reasonable costs. But this isn’t easy! The major challenge here is to narrow down your options from the plethora of available software.
Of course, the list of 20 tools and essential features above will help you limit the scope. However, it is important to carefully analyze every remaining option in your shortlist to find the perfect match! So, let us check out the key characteristics that you must look for when choosing a CRM software within your budget –
Cloud CRM software are built and maintained by the service provider on their own servers. You can access this service over the internet through any browser, regardless of location. And this allows you to deploy it without any software installation on your organization’s computers.
On-premise CRM tools usually involve setting up servers in your office and installing the CRM software on all required devices on your local network. And this puts the responsibility for all upgrades and maintenance on your IT wing.
So, cloud CRM tools are the better option regarding costs, convenience, and effort involved. But you must ensure the reputation and server security of the brand.
With rising customer data security concerns, it is imperative to go for a reliable CRM with secure data centers, GDPR compliance, and leading data-safety practices. Security is the primary factor you must ensure before buying a CRM software, especially if it is cloud-based.
Adopting new technology can be very difficult if your employees are uncomfortable using it. So it is essential to ensure that the CRM fits well into your existing processes and offers a simplistic interface that is free of lags and easily understandable by everyone using it.
You must look for a CRM that you can easily customize to match your business’s specific processes and requirements. It must offer support for additional modules, custom process creation, automation of repetitive tasks in custom workflows, and other personalizable features.
Your CRM must keep up with your business as it grows! It must support additional modules, custom processes, large data sets, and integration with third-party applications that you may require as your business grows.
Your salespersons and management must have access to customer data at all times and locations. This allows your team to be on the move, close deals effectively, and keep everyone in the loop. And the right CRM software will leverage cloud technology and collaboration features to provide your team with this vital mobility.
The right CRM software helps your marketing, sales, and customer service departments collaborate to offer a seamless customer experience while forming lasting relationships with every customer.
A secure, mobile, scalable, and customizable CRM will equip you to maximize conversions and retain past customers at minimum effort. Moreover, the right tools will help you automate business processes and accelerate sales cycles without needing an army of personnel!
All you need to do now is follow the discussed guidelines and check out the examples to find the right CRM solution for your organization.
All the best!
As per neilpatel.com, the position for the best overall CRM crown goes to Salesforce, the best budget CRM is Zoho CRM, and the best off-the-shelf CR/m is Freshsales.
The 3 chief types of CRM are operational, analytical, and collaborative. You can choose the one that meets the requirements of your business, its goals, and objectives.
A CRM database is a tool for customer relationship management that has all the interaction businesses have with their customers stored in it. It helps manage customers better from a single dashboard.
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