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Choosing A New CRM? These Tips Can Help

Businesses now live and die by their data: the insights gathered from it, the decisions made from it. It’s a data-driven decision-making era, and organizations that do not have the ability to track data will fail to stay ahead of the competition. One way many organizations accomplish this is by implementing software such as customer relationship management (CRM) software. 

Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM) is essential to many businesses. It is a single repository where relationships are managed. The relationships could be with customers, suppliers, vendors, and/or partners, and the goal is to improve external and internal collaboration and communication by managing all of the relationships in one location that is accessible to relevant stakeholders. CRM does not just solely track communication, it also tracks interactions with social media and other campaigns to allow businesses to measure engagement. 

But with well over 40 CRM solutions out there on the market, how do you know which one is right for you? 

Understanding the Types of CRM Solutions

As the software name implies, the best CRM solutions will improve client interactions and relationships, and they’ll do this through tools that are designed for specific company sizes and needs. One of the easiest ways to narrow down your selection pool is to search for CRM solutions that are specifically geared toward either your company’s size or industry—or both. Overall, the solution you land on should be flexible, automate key interactions and transactions, improve customer support, and manage marketing campaigns. 

Next, take a look at the functionality of the CRM. While the software as a whole is flexible enough to work in multiple different business settings, CRM solutions can actually be split into three different categories depending on their functions: operational, analytical, or collaborative.

Operational CRM
This type of CRM solution works to facilitate streamlined business processes related to sales, lead management, new customer acquisition, and customer service. Its built-in tools are specifically geared toward these purposes, such as tools to help with scheduling, follow-ups, and other communications. Typically, an operational CRM will focus on sales, service, and marketing.

Analytical CRM
An analytical CRM’s goal is to increase profitability by providing deeper knowledge of customers and purchase history. Its main focus is on collecting data that is easy to mine for use in uncovering sales opportunities or forecasting. It will assist in segmenting customers into groups for targeted marketing, and track buying history for customer lifetime value and retention. It also excels at providing personalization features. Analytical CRM is most popular with B2C online retailers.

Collaborative CRM
Just as the name suggests, collaborative CRM systems promote cross-team communications. No more long email chains or disparate ticket-based systems. A collaborative CRM cuts out wasteful communications and centralizes them all in one place so every team can manage their needed channels. Collaborative CRMs are excellent solutions for organizations looking to, for instance, integrate customer service, tech support, and sales to build a better customer experience. 

What to Consider in Your Decision Process

When choosing a CRM solution, it’s best to consider what goals are the most important for your organization and align them with specific ROI objectives. Doing this first also helps prioritize what features are more important when researching different CRM options. This will help you eliminate those that do not align with the organization’s specific goals. During the research phase, consider the following factors and fast-track creating a short-list of options. 

  • Size of the organization: Was the CRM designed for large enterprise organizations? Typically CRMs cater to businesses in certain size brackets. If the business is considered small to medium, choosing a large enterprise CRM may not be the best option from a budget or feature perspective. Larger businesses may be looking for a multitude of features that would be overkill to a smaller organization or one that is just starting with CRM. The inverse is true as well for larger organizations: Selecting a package with unlimited users is more important due to size in that case. Considering these factors in the initial research phase will help to eliminate some options and save on cost. 
  • On-premises or Cloud: CRM software is built in various formats, such as on-premises, cloud, or even open source. Businesses need to consider which format is best for their needs. On-premises is actually on-location at a business, on its own network or servers. It requires employing a provider to handle updates, security, and hardware. This may be considered too much for some businesses, from a resource and cost standpoint. However, if security is paramount and a business cannot afford to take any risks, on-premises may be the best option. For other businesses, there are cloud-based CRMs. Cloud-based CRMs are hosted and managed on the provider’s server. This requires far less maintenance from an individual business perspective, as the provider will be responsible. This could be a security drawback but is more favorable on cost. 
  • Integration with other software: Another important consideration is what software is already installed in the organization and how the new CRM will integrate. If there is already other indispensable software, it’s best to spend the time ensuring that everything works well together before making a final decision. 
  • Budget:  Of course, the most important consideration is budget. Before moving too far into the evaluation process, iron out how many users will be needed and what features are imperative, and then figure out how much that costs. It is easy to end up getting attached to software that is outside of the budget if time is not spent in the research phase clearly defining the requirements and making sure the budget lines up with them.

After you do the research, set goals, and make your selection, it’s time to implement the CRM system. This requires a whole new set of steps, selecting a cross-functional team to manage the implementation, migrating data, and doing extensive testing before launch. Start to finish it can be a lengthy process but it is typically well-worth it in the end with efficiencies gained and improvement in the quality of data and number of manual processes. 

Read our free ebook for tips on a successful CRM implementation! 

Make Your CRM Work for You

A CRM solution is certainly one of the most useful technology solutions an organization can implement. According to recent studies, companies that use CRM experience an average increase in sales of 29% and a productivity boost of up to 34%. 

At CloudExtend, we believe in helping you make your CRM the most powerful tool your users can access, with the help of email integration that lets users work right in their inboxes to create and edit NetSuite CRM contact records, automatically attach email conversation threads, and sync event calendars. Whether you work in Outlook or Gmail, we can help you work even smarter in NetSuite, too. Try it for free now.