November 2, 2023

How to Choose CRM Software for Your Business

Reading time about 9 min

Knowing how to choose CRM software is no easy task. CRMs are vital tools for growing your business and maintaining healthy customer relationships, but there are so many CRMs on the market. Read on to get an in-depth look at what to consider when choosing a CRM.

If you’re here, you’re at an exciting point in your business. This is when your teams are beginning to feel overwhelmed and your spreadsheet is no longer manageable… Which is a good thing?

The short answer is yes. This means your business is growing. The question now is how to find the right CRM software to nurture and accelerate this growth.  

A customer relationship management (CRM) software is a digital tool that helps businesses keep all of their customer, client, and partner data in one place. Centralized information makes it easier for companies to coordinate internally to manage their customer relationships. 

Often, CRMs also carry out other business functions. They can help you improve your sales cycle, marketing efforts, and customer support with the help of features and tools. Different CRMs specialize in certain tools and all come with their own pricing.

Checklist for how to choose a CRM:

  1. Identify business requirements and goals
  2. Determine which teams need a CRM
  3. Choose the type of software you want to use
  4. Look for CRM features for scalability
  5. Shortlist and test your top CRMs

Checklist for choosing the right CRM solution

The best CRM is one that not only solves a problem for your business but helps you grow. It’s easy for all of your teammates to use, filled with features to help your team succeed, and within your pricing range. 

So how do you find the right CRM for all of these needs? Consider these key factors when making your CRM selection:

1. Identify business requirements and goals

As a business owner, you know where the bottlenecks are in your business processes and what your goals are, but it’s not always easy to know how a CRM can help.

Here are some example questions to consider when looking for a CRM:

Are you outgrowing spreadsheets and looking for better contact management?

Are you doing sales forecasting in Excel and finding it frustrating?

Does your sales team need a way to visualize your sales funnel so they can win more customers? 

Are you looking to generate more leads and connect with new customers?

Do your marketing teams need more insight to create targeted campaigns and offers?

CRM systems are designed to solve your business needs. Let’s look at some areas they can help you with.

  • Improve marketing and sales processes
  • Help your teams communicate better
  • Create a personalized customer experience
  • Provide better customer service
  • Find new customers
  • Find qualified leads
  • Automate customer data collection in real-time
  • Centralize contact management 
  • Manage contact conversations in one place (from social media, website chats, email)

Here’s a real case study showing why a US-based tech company chose CRM software for their business. 

Zinatt Technologies, INC, a company specializing in investigative information management, needed a way to unite its marketing and sales processes. The data wasn’t consistent between the various sales and marketing services it was using. Customer data from the sales pipeline wasn’t available to the marketing team, so email marketing campaigns didn’t match their audience. 

The solution? Zinatt switched to the Brevo CRM suite to unite sales data and marketing campaigns.

Now they have a streamlined marketing and sales process helping turn new contacts into long-term relationships — without having to hire more employees.

Read Zinatt’s full success story

2. Determine which teams need a CRM

Based on the challenges your business faces, decide which teams will benefit most from a CRM. 

This involves talking with your team to see what specific challenges they’re experiencing and how those challenges relate to bottlenecks. Understanding your team’s needs will help you decide which features you’d like in your ideal CRM platform. 

Most businesses over time find that all teams will eventually benefit from CRM features. A CRM is a chance to digitize and centralize your business operations for maximum productivity. Once one team migrates to a CRM, it’s easier for all teams to communicate on the same platform.

You’ll ultimately want a CRM platform that has functions that support all of your marketing, sales, conversation, and even service needs.

3. Choose the type of CRM software you want to use

There are two popular kinds of CRM software. On-premise and cloud-based CRM. 

Cloud-based CRMs

Are the largest growing CRM group. They are software as a service (SaaS) and are maintained by the CRM provider. This makes them easy to start using. They’re also user-friendly and an excellent option for small businesses looking to grow. 

Cloud-based CRMs have tiered pricing plans, from free (with limited features) to enterprise (large businesses). Within each pricing tier there are also categories with different purposes. You can choose a marketing plan, a sales plan, a chat and conversational plan and so forth. 

Flexible pricing plans allow you to control your costs and give you the freedom to just choose the tools you need. 

You might already know of some SaaS CRMs: Brevo and Salesforce. These are both CRMs that you can access from your computer and use to manage your customer relationships.

Cloud-based CRMs are fast becoming the industry standard. 50% of businesses with fewer than 10 employees and 91% of businesses with 11 or more employees use cloud-based CRMs. 

On-premise CRMs 

Are licenses that you can buy to run on your server. They require a tech team to install and are very costly upfront. Another disadvantage is that you must back up and secure your data. For this reason, these solutions are usually for large companies with dedicated tech teams. 

However, if you do have a dedicated team, you can customize your CRM for highly specific use cases. 

Read The 8 Best CRM for Small Business for an overview of the best cloud-based CRM software selections.

4. Look for CRM features and tools for scalability

The right CRM will help your teams boost their productivity and allow them to do more. Good CRM tools are the key to scaling your business without increasing your headcount. Finding the tools you need will help you know how to choose a CRM.

CRM tools include:

Business processCRM feature
Contact and project management

Contact database. The first thing that any CRM platform will provide are tools for exceptional contact management. A CRM connects to your data streams to always keep customer profiles up to date. You can see basic customer information and even customer interactions such as call history, email opens, and total revenue in your CRM database

Shared dashboards. All customer, sales, and marketing data is centralized in your CRM dashboards. 

Reporting and analytics dashboards. In order to improve your next marketing campaign or sales cycle, you need to know exactly how well your current processes perform. 

Reports tell your sales team information such as what percent of clients they won or lost in a sales pipeline, reasons for these wins or losses, and total revenue.
Reports for your marketing teams provide insight into how engaged contacts are with your campaigns and how much revenue campaigns earn.

Workflow automation. Put daily tasks on autopilot, from updating customer profiles to sending welcome and onboarding emails. 

A sales pipeline is a visual representation of the customer journey. It shows your sales teams which leads are in each step of the sales funnel. From there, your team can assign tasks (like follow-ups and calls) for easy lead management.

Another great tool for helping your sales team work more efficiently is a sales forecasting tool. Sales forecasting looks at past data to predict future sales for your current deals. 

Email marketing. Latana’s 2022 Digital Communications Report confirms email is consumers’ preferred marketing channel. As such, it’s a must-have marketing tool.

Multichannel marketing campaigns allow your business to reach a larger audience and connect with customers on their favorite channels. 

SMS and WhatsApp campaigns have a 98% open rate and help reinforce email marketing messages. They can also be used to send order confirmations and meeting reminders, making them all-around useful tools. 

Marketing automation workflows trigger everything from welcome messages to order confirmations. Your marketing team doesn’t have to manually send every email, text, or WhatsApp message — automation does it for you.
Customer service

If you’re looking to improve your customer experience and service, a CRM with conversational tools will be your go-to.

A VoIP business phone system allows customers to easily reach you. Service teams benefit from call recording and other information management tools. 

Live chat widgets are another valuable tool for helping customers on your website and connecting with new leads.
Centralization of apps 

Rather than having tools scattered across platforms, keep them in one place for easy access. Make sure your CRM has integrations (or plugins) for the apps you use every day, from WordPress to Shopify. 

Make sure your data is well-protected with an ISO 27001:2013-certified CRM. This international standard ensures information is protected by a security framework.

You don’t need to start with all of these features (aside from security standards). Most SaaS CRMs allow you to use one aspect of the CRM that fits your needs, such as a marketing platform or a sales platform. 

Start looking for features for your current needs and consider the others for future growth down the road. 

5. Shortlist and test your top CRMs

Once you’ve narrowed down your top CRMs, it’s time to have your team members test them out for ease of use. Sometimes this means starting a free trial (or free version), and sometimes it means requesting demos and sales calls with a CRM vendor. 

Here are some ways your team can narrow down the best CRM system:

  • Start a free trial
  • Import contacts
  • Explore the knowledge database and help articles
  • Watch the CRM vendor’s YouTube tutorials
  • Schedule a demo 

How to choose CRM software: key takeaways

  1. Know your needs
  2. Compare features and pricing of CRM software
  3. Let your team try it out with a free trial
  4. Get more information with a demo or sales call

If you’re looking for the best CRM software for growing your business at an accessible price, the Brevo CRM suite is for you. With sales pipelines, reports, marketing campaigns and in-depth customer profiles, Brevo is trusted by over 500,000 businesses worldwide and is a top CRM recommendation.

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