CRM and marketing automation software have rapidly advanced in the past few years. Major CRM tools have been around for years and have kept up with cloud and mobile growth. The right CRM can bring a new competitive edge to your organization. Now more than ever, you need the right software that will help your teams better engage with customers and prospects.
Competition is fierce, and providing top-notch service relies on a 360-degree-view of your customer. We put together a list of top tips for choosing the right sales and marketing software below.
Tip #1: Evaluate the Best Bang for Your Buck
You need to optimize features and benefits for the cost you pay. When choosing a sales CRM and marketing automation tool, you should be able to perform an in-depth ROI analysis. But remember that value is not always clear-cut. A system such as Salesforce has a higher price tag per user, but it offers more functionality beyond a CRM than other competitors. Examples of functionality beyond CRM include quotations and invoicing, customer service, operations workflow, and portals.Click To Tweet
Also consider customization capabilities, mobile enablement, reporting, and dashboards. With a marketing automation tool, think hard about your requirements and how you will primarily use the system. Pardot, HubSpot, and Marketo all have key differentiators with their features.
Tip #2: Review Your Mobile Business Strategy
In today’s hustle and bustle world, many employees work whenever and wherever they can. Since your employees are always in a rush, having mobile capabilities is critical. Most sales and marketing teams need on-the-go access to their systems and data. This is where choosing a software that offers full mobility for your CRM and can be customized for your unique business needs becomes important. Excellent user experience is a core success measurement in a mobile app, and if your mobile app doesn’t have the right things in it, your people won’t use it. This would be a missed opportunity for your employees’ performances.
Tip #3: You Need Meaningful Reporting
Building reports that are meaningful to management, middle management, and end users should be a high priority on your list when it comes to purchasing a new CRM or marketing automation software. Dashboard reports must make it easy to identify trends and possible issues immediately. If you’re constantly digging for a simple piece of information, you’re using the wrong software. One of the most common reporting requirements that customers have is pipeline management. For marketing teams, they need to understand lead sources. Your reporting capabilities, however, usually rely on integration between Sales and Marketing and other systems, so all teams are working with all available data.
Tip #4: Consider Workflow Capabilities
Workflow takes a business process and articulates it through users who have a role in that process, identifying who has to perform tasks and make decisions in that process. A good CRM will have built-in logic to support that path. For example, consider how your systems, processes, and people will work together when a new lead comes in through your website. What does the workflow look like through every stage of the sales cycle?
Complicated sales processes can be automated in the right CRM system. Some software allows for a simple drag-and-drop action. Creating workflows that guide employees through qualification conversations, intelligently recommend next steps on a deal or automate manual tasks like filling out orders or putting together complex proposals can be a big check mark in the win column.
Tip #5: Understand Security Features
To build a web-based application with a lot of customer data, you have to have a certain level of security whether it’s identity management or single sign-on. Knowing that these standards are in place is important. A system that doesn’t charge more for different levels of security is a bonus and extremely helpful. Salesforce, for example, has the same security features if you’re a 5-user organization as if you’re a 1,000 user organization. Understand what security features are offered and how they can work for your company is essential for the “right” software.
Tip #6: It Must be Cloud-Based
Online “cloud” access gives you a lot of flexibility in how you access the system. Premise-based CRMs require your IT team to develop an elaborate firewall to enable secure access from any device. Of course, that costs more money and drains internal resources.
However, cloud access can provide a convenience factor to all employees. With the ease of sharing resources with partners and employees, many companies prefer this method. Some companies prefer to have everything on-premises. Determine which route your company should take.
If you are going to select a cloud system, make sure it is a very robust multi-tenant system such as Salesforce.
Tip #7: Look at the Big Picture
When considering a new CRM, marketing automation tool or any new major business software, it’s a good idea to look at all your systems for a big-picture evaluation.
- Will each existing and proposed system work together to improve efficiency and generate growth?
- Does the new CRM have features that can eliminate the need for other apps?
- Do you need CRM to do one job or many?
- Do you need to integrate data from other sources into your CRM processes?
- How much do you want to spend?
- How well does the tool support integration with other apps?
Salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud, for example, offers functionality for customer service, marketing, and operations. Also, look at how well the solution you plan to implement, or your existing solution you want to stick with, is onboarding new customers. The more growth they’re experiencing, as well as the overall number of customers they have, will give them the backing they need to innovate and provide direction on improvements.
Tip #8: Integration Capabilities are Critical
This is by far a top must-have in the CRM solution your company is utilizing. While many CRM tools can import your data directly from other sources, several systems offer rich APIs that allow for custom interfaces to be created. Having an open API means developers can more easily integrate your company’s CRM and marketing automation tool with other apps. For example, having email marketing integrated into your CRM allows your company to easily make sure your data is up-to-date in one location – duplicating data is a time killer and a recipe for errors.Click To Tweet
Salesforce, Pardot, and HubSpot are some examples of CRM systems that offer an open API. If the chosen software product doesn’t have an open API connecting to a different system, it becomes abundantly more complex and expensive.
Tip #9: Consider customization capabilities
Your system must be customizable to your business processes and requirements. You can even customize your workspace in an organizational method that promotes productivity in your work. CRMs can allow tailoring to your solution that mirrors your distinctive business processes and industry needs. This is an important feature because having a system that integrates within your business model can continue to grow to meet your business changes. Failure to recognize this often causes CRMs to fail and ROI to hit bottom. It’s a common reason some organizations move to the Salesforce platform.
Tip #10: Is it scalable for rapid growth?
One of the great benefits of cloud CRM solutions is the predictable, per user monthly cost. If you start with five users, you can very quickly scale to 500 or 5,000 users with the same system. That’s vital for fast-growing businesses. Some organizations also choose CRM and marketing systems with different tiers that add features as the organization implements more complexity in phases. Being able to grow within a CRM and marketing system could save money and time in the long run because leaders won’t have to go through the process of choosing a new system year after year.
Once you’ve finished looking at your own organization’s operations, needs and potential, it’s a matter of evaluating what’s out there and finding the best CRM and marketing platform to move forward with. Armed with the right information, you can make a wise purchasing decision for you and your company.