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How to choose the right CRM tool for your small business

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A CRM or customer relationship management tool is a one-stop software program that allows businesses to keep track of client information and transactions. The primary advantage of having this app for your company is to stay connected to consumers and improve efficiency through streamlined processes with the end goal of increasing profits.

With this system, you can store the contact details of clients and prospects while monitoring their transactions. This can then help you pinpoint opportunities based on where an individual is positioned in the sales funnel.

The ultimate question, though, is discovering what CRM tool should small businesses use. There are lots of options in the market today and you should do your due diligence before deciding which one is a good match for your priorities.

1. Determine your budget

While the cost of acquiring the software shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of your search for the best CRM system, pricing does play a significant role in the final decision while making a purchase. Take a look at your finances and assess how much money you can allocate for the software.

Starting a business requires considerable capital, even if you only have a few employees. It makes sense for business owners to take a step back and determine a budget that they’re comfortable with when purchasing a CRM program and making other expenses.

You must remember that you may be charged an extra amount on top of the price of the software. Maki it a point to ask if there’s a setup fee and whether you can add more users without incurring additional cost.

2. List must-have and good-to-have features

After determining how much you can afford to invest in a CRM tool, you should evaluate your processes and transactions. Identify the areas in which you need support the most. Then scrutinize the software’s features to see if it contains solutions to the issues that your business is facing .

Divide the features into two categories. There are the ones that your CRM system must have, while there are other functions that you don’t necessarily need but that would make both your and your employees lives easier.

These are the essential features that your CRM tool must have:

  • Contact Management – The software you choose should allow you to encode your customers’ details manually as well as retrieve information automatically when they order online. It should save every interaction you have had with a particular client in real-time.
  • Lead Management – Aside from keeping track of your client relationships, a CRM system must also monitor the leads that come your way. It should tag them appropriately based on where they are in the sales funnel so that your salespeople can follow them up accordingly and facilitate the conversion from lead to paying customer.
  • Marketing Tools – On top of managing your leads, some CRM systems provide email templates and other related features that you can use to reach your current and potential clients. You can even find software that has a competition tracking feature.
  • Sales Monitoring – Most CRM tools allow businesses to create and store sales quotes. You can also track invoices through the system, which is why it’s considered a central database for all of your company’s processes.
  • Reports and Dashboards – Your CRM system must also automate the process of creating reports and provide valuable information on dashboards. This way, you can see how your company is doing at a glance. The data provided by this tool is also useful for forecasting as you make plans for the future of your business.
  • Project Management – The software program you purchase must facilitate smoother task management and dissemination of information. Some tools have built-in workflows and approval boards so that teams can collaborate seamlessly.
  • File Sharing – With most CRM systems having cloud storage capabilities, file sharing has become more manageable than ever. Your employees can work on the same report without having to go through email ping-pong to complete the task.

3. Prioritize automation functions

Not only has technology improved customer experience, but it has also made the lives of employees easier. CRM is one of the top workplace innovations, primarily because of its automation functionality.

An excellent example is how this tool can help your salespeople by automating the process of sending an email to new leads. For instance, if a web visitor subscribes to your newsletter, their contact information will be saved directly to your CRM database.

You can then have the system send them a welcome email immediately after the prospect clicks on the submit button. Include exclusive discounts and perks in your message to maximize appeal and incentivize their first purchase.

Another automated email you can send is a greeting on their birthday. What’s great about this practice is that it feels personal and allows you to improve your rapport with clients.

4. Look for integration capabilities

You must also look for integration capabilities, especially if you have started using a multitude of apps and software programs for your business operations. Before you invest in a CRM system, you should ensure that it works well with your other applications to make the migration of data more seamless.

Moreover, this feature allows you to continue using the solutions that you and your employees are already accustomed to. The system can then update itself in real-time and continue maintaining the database where all your business transactions and customer interactions are stored.

5. Find industry-specific CRM

It can be challenging to use a generic CRM system if you’re operating in a very specialized field or niche. This is why you must look for industry-specific tools to ensure that you get the best solutions for your enterprise’s needs.

Find a CRM vendor that has supplied software programs to companies in the same industry as you. You can easily find information about a provider’s clientele on their website. Check out third-party review websites as well to get an idea of how their product can accommodate your business requirements.

Conclusion

A customer relationship management (CRM) system can extend valuable support to your company by providing you with a central database that stores information on all customers and sales transactions. Follow the tips mentioned above to ensure that you find the best possible software program to meet your business requirements.

About Ainsley Pavee

ainsleyp@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

Ainsley Pavee is a New York based financial and business consultant with a focus on assisting female business owners and entrepreneurs overcome hurdles that can hold them back.

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