Asking yourself when you should consider investing in CRM software is a worthy exercise if you haven’t already. The process of choosing and implementing a CRM platform can be a daunting task. What we’re aiming to do for you today is help you declutter all those questions you’re asking yourself and help guide you through the process.
Defining which department needs the most support and attention is a great place to start. Are you a heavily sales focussed business that has an inside sales team with lofty sales targets? Are you a business that has less 1 on 1 contact with customers and generates lots of your business through marketing efforts? Are you a business that requires lots of post-sales customer support?
Marketing, sales or support, what is your focus? This will help you refine the platforms you review as each has strengths and weaknesses in each of those departments. I’ll provide 2 examples:
- Zendesk’s CRM platform has evolved off the back of an extremely powerful customer support platform. As a result they will be very competitive if you have a weighting towards your support team requirements however do need a little more time to grow into strong sales or marketing tool sets.
- HubSpot CRM is a platform that evolved from a Marketing platform stack who’s sales tools were then built by sales reps who moved into product management tools. They are very strong in the marketing and sales feature sets however still need some time to be very strong in the support feature sets.
Defining your departmental focus is a great step.
Features to consider
CRM software doesn’t just keep your contacts organised neatly, they also build powerful feature sets on top of your contacts database that empower customer facing teams to do their best work. Below are a couple key features that you should consider:
- Marketing Tools
Marketing teams utilise lists of contacts and customers routinely to execute their campaigns effectively. Email tools, website analysis tools, landing page tools to convert contacts, and even lightweight project management tools to help them manage their projects are all important features to consider.
- Lead Management & Sales
The “CRM” has most commonly been associated with sales people and for good reason. A CRM is where your sales people will live and die. Some CRM’s are simply list building tools whereas others have features built in that turn your salespeople into literal super heroes. You should focus on features that help your sales people be more efficient and effective and working their entire sales process, from automatic syncing of communication to the CRM to being able to make calls within the CRM to empowering the sales person to know when their prospects are visiting the company website.
Tickets are commonly used for support teams however their application is far wider. A support ticket feature can be used as a process for onboarding new customers, to handling customer queries, and managing any number of customer related processes that your business has in place. They are extremely valuable when you’re creating a scalable and repeatable process for your teams to work within.
Automation, automation, automation!! These features should be viewed as important across marketing, sales and service teams. Anything that is a manual time intensive task that is completely routinely should be reviewed and automated if possible. You will almost always want CRM software that has strong automation capabilities that touch all departments. Notifications for sales people when their leads visit the website, automated emails for your marketers nurture campaigns and automatic assignment of various support queries that are coming through. Everything should be viewed through an automation lens.
All of the above is worthless unless you’re able to measure the impact and performance of the strategies you’ve put in place. You’ll want to make sure that reporting is possible across all the important sections of your business that are critical to success.
Create feature wish lists (needs vs wants)
Once you’ve determined your departmental focus and have a better idea of the features that are available to you it can be useful then to make a wish-list of features that will help you achieve your goals. Getting stuck into this exploration can get exciting. There are some really cool platforms out there that have some really cool features. Do your best to shield yourself from the dazzling lights and shiny things that you’re looking at and ask yourself the below question:
- What is the ultimate goal?
- What challenges am I solving right now?
- Does the CRM allow me to scale up over time?
- What does my team want?
- What does my team need?
Answering these questions should help you refine your purchasing decision down significantly and enable you to pull yourself away from the ‘shiny toy’.
Off the shelf vs customisable
Some businesses require an immense amount of customisation to their CRM implementation. Whether that is because of their industry or their unique business or is simply a by-product of the size and scale of their business, there is sometimes a need for a CRM that is highly customizable. Some CRM’s provide tools for a business to create more functionality within it than is available off the shelf, therefore allowing a business to create custom processes and data sets.
Other CRM software is more ‘off-the-shelf’ and will for the most part suit the vast majority of businesses. Most CRM software is configurable enough that a business can get going, particularly small to medium sized businesses. We suggest being cautious of delving into the highly customizable pool as it will require heavy maintenance over time and will be more costly from a financial standpoint.
As you have probably gathered, there CRM software comes in many shapes and sizes with industry specific software also adding to the complexity of the purchasing decision. If you fit within a specific industry it may very well be worth reviewing a couple platforms that have been built for your industry however we will advise to review some of the all-purpose CRM platforms as these tools are surprisingly powerful and can support many business types.
We hope that this article has helped clear the mud away from the path you’re walking. If you would like to chat and probe us for some support we’d be happy to have a conversation with you.