We all know that CRM software helps us build strong relationships with our customers, boost conversations, and improve revenues. We all know that we need CRM to process and analyze customer information, make use of disconnected data to depict opportunities, create sales funnels, and carry out loyalty campaigns. It also allows us to categorize customers according to their expectations and devote attention to prospective buyers. But here’s what we want to know:
Ultimately, what we want to know is how to choose the right CRM solution for our company.
Companies choose the right CRM solution for them by comparing the various factors in all the available CRM solutions. Some of the things that companies look at are features, how the software is deployed, how much it would cost, the quality of customer support, whether or not it allows customizations, whether or not it provides mobile support, and finally CRM trends. We are going to look at each of these seven factors in this article, and hopefully it will answer your questions and show you how to choose the best CRM software for your unique needs.
Most quality solutions share common features that help you perform basic relationship management processes, but they also vary in some features that address specific industries, business size, or specializations. You can read more about why is a CRM system important in our other article. These are the key features every CRM should posses:
You buy or license a range of software applications that you need for your business. You run these out of a hosted environment, where you rent space on a server or a virtual server and your users access the application via a web interface. With this option your data is held remotely at the hosting organization. The beauty of a hosted environment is that you don’t need to purchase a physical server nor keep an in-house IT team to support it. In other words you are just renting the space you and your users require.
You could also install a web-access CRM. The software and data live in your own servers, located in your building. However, you are relieved of the cost and maintenance headache of having the software installed on multiple machines around the business. Everyone, whether they’re in the building or working remotely, can access the software through a URL with a username and password. It’s like an intranet/extranet set-up, but you’re diving straight into the application, rather than accessing web pages. For those organizations concerned with where their data is stored, web-access is a good option since data never leaves your servers.
True Cloud Application
The third option is a true ‘cloud’ application. The software company hosts the application on their high-powered servers and you get secure access from wherever you are, via a security log-in which recognizes you, your permission levels, and the location (also at the software host) of your stored data. Considerations here tend to rest on whether you’re renting the use of a discrete or a ‘public’ cloud application. Are you just another bunch of users sitting on a set of mega-servers in a shared application environment? Or does the service give you your own private environment, separate database, etc?
True “cloud” applications are a very attractive option for businesses with growing databases that do not want to worry about constantly purchasing new on-premise storage servers.
Choosing between these options is tricky. Each deployment option has its pros and cons depending on several factors such as budget, accessibility and security requirements.
We cannot ignore cost when deciding on which CRM solution to go with. After all, cost plays a factor in how profitable we will be in the long-term. Therefore, it makes sense to choose the lowest cost solution without also sacrificing needful and necessary features. In the final analysis, what matters is not so much cost, but value.
Below is a list of the top 7 CRM software solutions we reviewed, with their lowest-cost option:
When it comes to CRM software solutions, one big factor would have to be customer support. What good would it be if, when you run into a problem, you cannot get the necessary help to solve it? The CRM solution might be the most cost-effective, or the most feature-packed, but if you cannot get a hold of anyone to help you when you run into a problem, it wouldn’t be the ideal solution for your needs. Fortunately, the top 7 solutions have very good support options:
Even the best CRM software solution is not perfect or ideal for every company or every need. The software developers of each product couldn’t possibly anticipate all the needs or requirements of each company or business. Therefore, it is important that the ideal CRM software solution allow certain customizations to better fit the requirements of your business.
Pipedrive allows full and extended customization
With Pipedrive, you can customize literally everything. It’s possible to add customized fields to modify your sales pipeline stages according to your business needs. You can also turn on and off whole modules with just one click. When communicating with your clients, you will have access to a variety of modern editing filters to personalize messages, or share/publish files you think would be relevant for your colleagues. Group discussions are also available.
Hubspot allows you to customize views. Salesforce, on the other hand, gives you customizable reports with the basic Contact Manager Plan, customizable dashboards with the Professional Plan, and customizable everything with the Enterprise Plan. Insightly also offers customizable features. Zoho, Freshsales, and Nutshell also offer various customizable options with their various plans.
Most people nowadays spend the bulk of their time online with their mobile devices, rather than on a PC or a laptop. Therefore, it’s imperative that any CRM solution should have a strong mobile component. The top 7 CRM solutions profiled in this article offers mobile support.
Pipedrive offers full mobile optimization
Pipedrive allows you to take your sales pipeline with you anywhere you go because of its mobile apps. If you are a tablet user, you can use the app’s mobile web version using your favorite browser from anywhere in the world. You can also take notes during a meeting or call using this application. All data is also backed up in real time to a separate server.
Hubspot supports Windows Mobile, among others. Freshsales and Nutshell can do mobile too.
Salesforce CRM has a mobile app (Salesforce1 Mobile App) for Android and iOS featuring real-time data from dashboards and custom reports. It lets you take the software’s main functions with you, on the field or at the office.
Insightly has an iOS, Kindle and Android mobile platform for on-location flexibility, and it integrates well with popular applications, such as, Google Apps & Gmail, Evernote, MailChimp, Office, and Outlook.
Zoho’s mobile platform lets you take CRM on location so can get updates fast and real-time, and close more deals even when on the go. It is a special, dedicated mobile edition for Android and iOS users which helps stay in control of customers even while on the go. You can control their actions, access sales records, or send invitations directly from your mobile device.
The global Customer Relationship Management market has been growing at a phenomenal pace over the past few years. The market has been expanding at a CAGR of 7.1% as of 2018. Salesforce has been a market leader in the CRM space for some time now and continues to improve its position. Going forward, we expect Salesforce to maintain its competitive edge and continue to add significant market share by leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Indeed, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the next big trend in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). The combination of the two technologies is seen to result in better information management with AI interpreting and redirecting data. It will likewise make customer interaction far simpler to include help desks in transactions. More accurate customer profiles can be generated from these hybrid systems as they use intelligent information analysis and data entry.
Another recent CRM trend as reported in InformationWeek is called customer retention through contextual messaging. Through this technology, messages can be far more personalized.
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