What does the term CRM stand for?
CRM is the acronym for Customer Relationship Management. It’s a set of business processes that centralizes, consolidates and leverages volumes of customer data to help companies establish a long-term relationship with their customers and increase their profitability.
What is CRM software?
The term CRM is also used by many to refer to the business system or software category that performs CRM tasks like:
- Tracking deals and tasks pipeline
- Consolidating customer data in a single database
- Qualifying leads
- Managing email marketing
- Generating reports
Good to know: The CRM software industry is one of the fastest growing segments in cloud computing, which, overall, is expected to reach $162B in 2020, according to a Forbes report.
What is the difference between a CRM process and a CRM system?
The media (including us), your colleagues and your boss are referring to the software when they talk about CRM. After all, nobody today does CRM manually with rolodex, the telephone and notepad. So, when the boss asks what you think of CRM, he wants to know more about software features and how they benefit the company. You can read more about what is CRM process in our separate article.
What are the key CRM features?
CRMs vary in feature set, price, deployment and target users, but they share key features, to name:
- Contact management – stores, organizes customer details plus associates deals, tasks, activities, transactions and conversations related to the customer. This gives you a 360° view of the customer.
- Lead management – qualifies leads for the likelihood of conversion, then feeds them into the pipeline
- Deals & tasks management – tracks deals across the sales pipeline; it also associates tasks that are related to specific deals
- Dashboards & reporting – displays key metrics that give an overview of your CRM performance, including conversion rate, number of leads in a period, win-vs.-loss, etc. Reports on deal progress and statuses are also generated with a few clicks.
- Analytics – crunches various customer data to elicit an insight, such as transactions, tickets, social data, demographics and more
Why is CRM important to businesses?
When customer data are processed, insights and patterns can be gleaned that help companies understand better customer behavior, preferences, issues and, in general, market trends. This in turn gives you the following benefits:
- Making your customer communications consistent
- Addressing persistent customer complaints
- Improving product based on market needs
- Developing campaigns that resonate with customers’ interests
Likewise, it’s less costly to sell to existing customers than look for new ones. In fact, many marketers believe the cost of finding new customer is five times more expensive!
What are the key aspects of a good CRM?
This depends on your needs and if the CRM can address those needs. The most common aspects of the software to look for include:
- Ease of use – are the tools easy to understand and used by average users?
- Feature set – how many of the main features we mentioned above are available? The more features a CRM has the more robust and powerful it is.
- Scalability – can you add or remove features as you need them?
- Integration – can the system work with business apps that you’re using like Googel Apps, Dropbox, Quickbooks, Office, etc.?
- Price – is the price cost-effective, meaning do you get an ROI over the costs?
- Support – does the vendor have reliable support when you need it?
- Security – is your data protected by the system against unauthorized access?
Most cloud-based CRM solutions today can easily pass all the questions above. It’s a matter of which solution is better in which aspect.
How to compare CRM systems?
Start by identifying your situation such as, your goals, needs, and priority for CRM. Then measure how each CRM product addresses your situation. Use the aspects we mentioned above to guide your assessment.
The best and fastest way to compare CRM systems is to use our software comparison feature. This tool helps you compare the feature set, benefits, integration, pricing, technical details and support of various CRM solutions. An overall scoring and user satisfaction rating also help you get a quick picture of a solution and how it fares with others.
What are the best CRM tools?
Here are some of the top CRMs in the market with their unique benefit:
- Pipedrive – Designed by salespeople so it has clear, easy-to-follow visual pipeline. Adding deals is fast and tracking it with associated tasks is likewise convenient. Good for visualizing the sales pipeline.
- HubSpot CRM – It’s 100% free and excellent for lead importing and sales pipeline management. Its features are extensible by integrating with HubSpot Sales and Marketing, which got your inbound marketing covered. Good for consolidating your CRM with inbound marketing.
- Freshsales – From the same vendor that developed popular invoicing app FreshBooks, Freshsales is one of the great alternatives to HubSpot. It has great email tracking, event tracking, sales management and analytics & reporting. Good for lead scoring and native integration with Freshbooks.
- bpm’online CRM – A process-driven CRM that helps you sync sales, marketing and service activities for consolidated customer data and engagement. Good for customizing processes for CRM activities.
- Zoho CRM – Offers a wide range of integration including within the Zoho suite of business apps. Good for automating daily sales tasks and lead generation and native integration with over 40 Zoho business apps.
- Salesforce CRM – The cloud pioneer featuring extensive sales and marketing features such as lead management, opportunities, forecasting and real-time visibility. Good for fully integrating analytics, service, marketing and cloud in one platform.
- Talisma CRM – A comprehensive CRM designed to provide users a clear view of their entire customers while effectively managing and executing their customer touchpoints. It arms businesses with multiple tools for improving customer engagements through compelling interactions, thus helping them greatly up their sales as well as cross-sells and upsells.
Who use a CRM system?
CRM systems, in general, should apply to business of any size, type and industry. After all, what company does not strive for profits? Specifically, if your business has these characteristics, you need CRM:
- Has a sales team
- Has marketing activities
- Sends quotes and invoices
- Deals with customers
- Strives for efficiency
Internally, CRM is used by:
- Customer service
- Product/business development
- Senior management
- Partner agencies (ex. Creatives, suppliers, outsourcing)
- Remote teams
CRM is also useful for non-profits like educational institutions, government and charity organizations to improve the relationship with their target audience.
What are CRM pricing models?
CRM systems are priced based on how they are deployed, such as:
- On-premise – the system is installed and run in your local server. Pricing includes one-time license fees, installation fees and technical maintenance/upgrading fees.
- Cloud-hosted or web-hosted – the system is hosted in the vendor’s server, while you access the features through an account. Pricing includes a per-user, per-month subscription, plus fees for add-ons or dedicated support.
- Hybrid – the base system may be installed in your server, while other modules and add-ons are hosted in the vendor’s server. Pricing may be a combination of one-time license fee and monthly subscription.
What’s the pricing of CRM software?
It’s really hard to pinpoint an “average cost” since CRM systems are packaged and priced differently. For example, Salesforce CRM charges as much as $300 per month, while Sage CRM at $39. On another note, a Microsoft Dynamics CRM license is sold as high as $4922, while HubSpot CRM is free!
However, most CRMs today are priced on a per-user, per-month basis, so it’s easy for you to compare pricing. If you want a fast and convenient way to compare CRM pricing, you can use our software comparison tool.