Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has become more complex. Businesses need full transparency over their customer data, wants, needs, behaviours and preferred messaging to help align the sales, marketing, customer service, order management, billing and finance teams.
If your current CRM software isn’t delivering the level of transparency needed for your business operations, you and your customers are likely feeling the impact in all areas.
Perhaps it’s time to switch to a CRM solution that serves all aspects of your business seamlessly and will grow alongside your company.
We’ve highlighted some key requirements, features and more to help you ascertain the best CRM software for your brand, teams and, ultimately, your customers.
What Are the Key Requirements for CRM?
There are some essential requirements that every business should look for when choosing the best CRM solution for their company. We’ve touched on some of these a little later on in this article too, but they include:
1) Improving Your Most Inefficient Processes
When you choose a CRM system, the focus shouldn’t just be on the processes that are running well. Take this as an opportunity to improve your least effective processes, whether that is your sales pipeline, contact management routines or something else.
One of the benefits of using your chosen vendor’s partner network is that they can help you identify what makes these processes inefficient and assist in bringing them up to the same performance levels as your more successful processes.
2) Implementing (or Improving) Automation
Automating monotonous and long-winded tasks can free up your team to focus on projects that will generate business growth, personal fulfilment, continual professional development and progression.
Freeing up time for your sales team by automating some of the sales processes, for example, can provide additional time for your staff to better align their sales and marketing efforts, enhancing the skill sets of both departments.
The right CRM software will allow your team to cut down on admin and increase output.
3) A CRM System With Full Integration
Traditionally CRM software was used by the sales team as a standalone product to manage leads and opportunities. Today, CRM offerings should serve every single aspect of your company.
This is because customer expectations have changed and customers in both the B2C and B2B world expect you to know who they are, what they’ve purchased in the past and how much they paid regardless of how they choose to interact with your company.
A good CRM solution should work seamlessly with your other systems (such as your financial and order management software), as well as provide all of the functionality you need. This allows your customer processes from initial enquiry to sales order to invoice to become seamless.
The best CRM system will not only have full integration potential with other software your company uses, but it should also align with your business priorities.
Full integration provides a real 360-degree view of your customer behaviour, including order history, the products and services they’re interested in, how much they paid, payment terms, delivery dates, and more.
With the right CRM integration, you can take full advantage of this invaluable information by maximising bespoke and geared marketing campaigns to your customer base, driving add-on sales and future business growth.
4) Flexible CRM Features
The right CRM system will provide features suited to your industry that are flexible enough to change and grow with your business needs.
Software growth should include an increase in the number of records, users and functionality.
The reporting and analytics tools connected should also take ease of use and customisation into consideration.
These are just some requirements to keep in mind when selecting new CRM software, vendors and partners.
5) Easy Adoption
You don’t want to spend time and money choosing and implementing CRM software and then suffer from a lack of user adoption. A CRM solution is only as good as the people entering the data and using its tools, so employee buy-in is vital.
Here are a few tips for ensuring employee buy-in:
- Assign a good project manager who will act as an evangelist for the software
- Involve key staff in the decision-making process
- Involve end users from the beginning
- Explain the benefits not only to the business as a whole but also to people’s individual job roles
- Provide quality training
- Listen to feedback
These provide the best chances of uptake and use.
6) Mobile Access
If you have employees that work remotely out in the field, at client sites, or from home, then mobile access to your CRM software is invaluable.
Human behaviour is changing with improved technology; we can no longer wait for answers and we demand instant information at our fingertips. Employees now expect to access information when they need it, from wherever they are, using their device of choice.
With mobile access, employees that are working out on client sites, or from home, can access the data they need there and then. Another bonus is the information in your system is always up-to-date so you can confidently run real-time reports.
Now that you know what features you may require from a CRM company, it’s time to start whittling down the list of potential systems.
How Do I Choose the Right CRM?
A good CRM system is key to successfully managing your customers, prospects, vendors and partners. But how do you make the right decision when there are so many different options out there?
Here are ten questions you need to ask when evaluating different CRM software offers for your business:
1) Does It Do More Than Contact Management?
Customer experience management has become much more complex. Today, businesses need a 360° view of customers to ensure all departments are on the same page to provide smooth, enjoyable experiences.
When looking at different options, ask what features are available to ensure your chosen solution will meet all of your business requirements.
2) Is It Scalable?
The hope of every company is that the brand will continue to grow and expand. Be sure to choose a scalable CRM solution that will grow with you.
Ask whether you can add new users, what extended functionality is available and what the process is to update the system’s user interface as and when needed.
3) Can It Be Tailored?
Look for an operational CRM solution that can be customised to your business requirements. Every business will be set up and operate slightly differently, and the best CRM systems can be tailored or customised so that you don’t have to attempt to fit your business into the confines of the CRM tool.
An out-of-the-box CRM system is highly unlikely to fit in 100% with your operations, so it’s vital that your chosen software can be tailored to your business.
Additionally, a good solution will also allow you to add more functionality over time if and when it is required.
4) Does it Have Good Reporting and Analytics Tools?
One of the key purposes of CRM software is to provide you with an overview of customer behaviour and real-time sales and marketing data so that you can easily measure business performance and truly personalise your sales, marketing and customer service activities.
The best CRM system has easy-to-use dashboards, reporting and analytics. This helps manage customer data and better connects your departments as everything is just a few clicks away.
Customer service databases like CRM systems should make innovation, growth and inter-departmental relationships smoother and quicker.
5) What Hosting Does the Software Run On?
The options here include on-premise or true-cloud. The option you choose will depend on how your brand operates and wishes to operate in future. There are pros and cons to both.
To help we’ve created guides to assist you in selecting the right option for your brand.
Alternatively, here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of each:
Advantages of On-Premise CRM Systems:
- Your in-house IT department has greater control over equipment, security and data.
Advantages of Cloud-Based CRM Systems:
- The system can be accessed anywhere, anytime, provided you have an internet-enabled device and a decent internet connection.
- Cloud-based systems are less expensive to implement because little or no hardware is required.
- Maintenance and upgrades are taken care of for you.
- They are flexible and scalable.
Disadvantages of On-Premise CRM Systems:
- You are responsible for maintenance, security, software upgrades, etc.
- It is more expensive to set up and maintain.
- On-premise systems can be difficult to scale and upgrade.
- There may be limited or no remote access.
Disadvantages of Cloud-Based CRM Systems:
- Cloud-based software relies on a decent internet connection. If your internet goes down, then you will experience downtime. (However, mobile data can be used in the short term in these circumstances until any issues are resolved).
6) Can the CRM Vendors Supply Customer References?
When you start evaluating CRM vendors, it’s crucial that you ask each company what experience they have in your industry. It’s worth requesting case studies and references to ensure you’re selecting a partner that knows how to best serve you, your team and your customers.
7) Can You Use an Implementation Partner?
An implementation partner can play a considerable role in the success of your transition to a new CRM system. Once the new CRM solution is in place, a partner can provide a long-term, ongoing relationship to help you and your team get the most out of your new software.
You may be able to select from your chosen vendor’s local partner network, which could be even more advantageous if they specialise in assisting businesses in the same sector as your brand.
If you have a competent in-house IT department that can manage the implementation of your new CRM software, then you may not require an implementation partner.
However, if like many businesses, you don’t have a dedicated in-house IT support team, or if they simply don’t have the time or resources to manage the entire project, then you should consider using an implementation partner.
A partner takes care of many of the technical details for you, helping to provide peace of mind that your project will be a success. They can help in the following ways:
- Experience and know-how, which means less disruption to your business
- Ongoing training & support
- Software health check
- Recommendations to extend functionality
8) Is CRM Training Available?
The most advanced and useful system is pointless if you aren’t able to use all of the features to the best advantage. Therefore, it’s important to know if your chosen vendor will be supplying a user-friendly CRM system and offering training.
Providing training and not just online tutorials to everybody who will be using the CRM software not only ensures a swift uptake of the system for your staff but also highlights additional functionality that will make their everyday working lives easier.
Whether it’s teaching staff about marketing automation, sales management or where customer requests are stored, training should be offered by your chosen vendor or partner as part of the sales process.
9) Will You Be ‘Locked In’ With the Vendor?
All CRM solutions come with vendor contracts. So it’s vital that you ascertain what happens when that contract comes to an end.
If required, are you able to transfer your data out of the CRM system? While you’d hope that your chosen CRM software will meet all of your requirements, it’s worth knowing and preparing for every potential outcome.
10) Will Your Data Be Secure?
If you’re opting for a true cloud-based CRM solution, ask your chosen vendor whether the software has the appropriate security certifications.
Perhaps the most important aspect of selecting a new CRM system is ensuring all customer data is safe and secure. The best CRM solution will fulfil all security requirements.
These questions will put you in the best position to make a decision regarding CRM purchase, deployment and use.
Choosing the Right CRM for Your Business
The main aim of CRM software should be to increase business success, improve employee output and experience, and create a more personalised customer experience.
To choose the best CRM software solution from the right CRM vendor, it’s imperative that you:
- Understand which of your business processes are performing
- What processes require improvement
- How you want your business to operate in future so that you implement CRM software that won’t become redundant
- Whether you want on-premise or true-cloud hosting
- Know what system training is available
- The technical expertise of your chosen vendor in the industry you operate in
- The flexibility of the CRM software to grow with your business
As well as selecting the right implementation partner.
Choosing a new CRM software for your business is not a decision to be taken lightly. Doing your due diligence is vital to selecting the best CRM software for your business, staff, and customers.
NoBlue offers a range of NetSuite products including Customer Relationship Management. We’ve helped companies from a variety of industries implement new CRM systems that drastically improved efficiency and experience.
We would love to assist you in your CRM search.