A well-run business needs a quality CRM system. With so many different systems on the market, it can be difficult to work out which one is best for you. There are a variety of features and integrations to choose from. 

Making the right choice can transform your business, saving you time and allowing you to automate much of your customer activity. 

What Is CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It stores and tracks interactions with your contacts and customers. Far from being the electronic equivalent of an address book, today’s CRM uses this data and integrations to run entire areas of your business, from sales to marketing and logistics. But what is data processing in CRMs and how can it help? Well, the more data in a CRM, the smarter it gets, allowing you to view data, make decisions and automate actions. There are some very impressive platforms on the market, suitable for most sectors and budgets. 

What Do You Need Your CRM To Achieve?

Before you choose a CRM system, you need to make a list of the actions you would like it to handle. For example, do you want to track business leads at every stage, and report on closing rates and turnover? Some offer integrations with marketing systems, customer service platforms, and website CMS

CRMs can be useful for both communicating with potential customers as well as managing existing contacts too.  

It may be that you don’t know what you want you’re CRM to do because you aren’t aware of what can be achieved. If this is the case, then research this first as it may give you some ideas on how to transform how you run your business. 

Create An Implementation Plan

Many CRM implementations fail because they aren’t planned out properly. Suddenly installing and springing a new system on people can lead to chaos in your business, which can cost you time and money. 

Firstly, you should document exactly which processes your CRM will be handling. Next, ensure that you have resources in place in order to set up any processes and customizations that need to be done for the system to work for you. In many cases, you will be able to use features out of the box, but others will need to be created for you. The last bit of your plan needs to lay out a timetable for training and the rollout of the CRM system. All employees will need to know how to use the system in order for it to work effectively. 

Create A Training Plan

Some systems are easier to use than others. Don’t expect users to be able to pick a new system up without the correct training. In most organizations, there are people who will be resistant to using new software, especially if they’re used to doing things a certain way. When looking at a CRM system, investigate what kind of training materials are available. Unless you’re paying for an enterprise-level system, then you will usually be unable to access specialized training. If you do feel like you need something a little more in-depth, you can find a third-party company that can do it for you. 

Compatibility With Existing Programmes

A good CRM system will integrate with your existing systems. These could be your accounting software, marketing system, or contract software. Some CRM systems have bolt-ons that can take over these aspects of your business for you. A good example of this is Hubspot, which has a core CRM system for sales and account management but also has bolt ones that handle marketing, customer service, and helpdesk. 

At the very least, your CRM should be able to integrate with other systems, either through an API or a tool such as Zapier. 

Mobile Use

How and where your employees use your CRM system is important. If you have people working out of the office, or on the move, then they need to be able to have to assess to your CRM through their devices. When choosing a CRM, make sure that it is accessible via an app, so that they always have the most up-to-date info to hand. 

Demo The CRM First

Looking through marketing materials and product documentation will only get you so far. Seeing the software in action is the best way to gauge if it’s right for you. Many platforms offer a free trial, which can be helpful. Most companies will also run a demo for you. This is sometimes better as it gives you the opportunity to ask questions. If you’re being taken through the demo by someone from the CRM company, they will be very thorough, introducing you to features you may not know existed. 

If you are taking a free trial, then have multiple people use it so that you can get the opinions of multiple stakeholders. 

Reporting Features 

A key feature of CRM systems is the range of reports you can produce. This data can give you amazing insights into your business allowing you to identify where you’re doing well, and where improvements could be made. These reports can be done automatically too, meaning that you can save a lot of time as you don’t have to manually pull all of the data together to analyze. 

Reporting can inform your ongoing business strategy. 

Key Points

A well-designed, feature-rich CRM system can transform your business. Not only will it streamline your processes, but it will also make you look more professional, and save you time and money. 

Choosing the right CRM can be difficult. There are so many different ones to choose from, getting in wrong could cost you a lot of time and money. Plus, it may make it more difficult to implement another one in the future as employees may be more resistant to learning another system that they do not see value in. 

Getting help in the planning stages from a specialist in CRM software can ensure the integration and training process is as seamless as possible.