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Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps sales and marketing professionals manage routine administrative tasks, identify trends, convert leads, and increase sales. Professionals use CRM solutions to tailor email marketing strategies based on customer preferences, improve customer satisfaction, and maximize consumer retention.
CRM platforms allow businesses to organize customer data, predict future sales using sales pipeline and potential leads, and scale up the entire sales process.
We’ve prepared this guide to help you select the right customer relationship management software for your business.
Here's what we'll cover:
Customer relationship management (CRM) software allows businesses to store and manage contact information, identify sales opportunities, manage marketing campaigns, track service issues, and maximize customer interaction. The software helps consolidate all your data, including customer history and communication records, and lets you analyze data by breaking it down into understandable metrics.
A CRM tool also helps you streamline your sales process, automate key tasks, improve customer retention, and nurture long-term relationships with prospects and customers.
At its core, CRM is all about the strategies used by businesses to manage customer interactions. It enables them to learn more about customers, including their purchase history and preferences. The system is used not only to manage existing customers but also to acquire new customers and improve customer relations.
Since customer loyalty is a major factor that drives a company’s revenue, a CRM tool can also help increase customer retention.
There are three types of CRM tools: analytical, operational, and collaborative.
An analytical CRM collects and analyzes consumer data, including payment history, credit score, response rate, brand preferences, and other information that enables businesses to improve customer satisfaction and develop targeted customer marketing strategies.
An operational CRM helps automate business processes that are meant to enhance customer support, such as sales, marketing, and organization services. This type of CRM stores all customer information and allows you to track processes along the entire customer journey.
While both analytical and operational CRM help improve the customer experience, the two address different issues. While operational CRM helps automate customer-related processes, analytical CRM is more about developing business strategies with the help of customer insights.
Collaborative CRM is a bit different—the tool is geared toward driving communication among stakeholders, including teams within an organization, suppliers, and distributors.
CRM is used across a variety of industries, including retail, banking, financial, consulting, and hospitality. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from a CRM system. Even if you are a freelancer, you can use CRM to manage customer interactions and meet your client’s needs.
CRM can be used in sales, marketing, and operations departments within an organization.
CRM tactics are what businesses use to increase efficiency, productivity, and revenues by focusing on customer feedback and retention.
Creating personalized customer communications such as email templates, developing an omnichannel presence, and targeting customers based on their demographic and behavioral characteristics are all examples of commonly used CRM tactics.
Here are some of the ways in which CRM software can help you deploy CRM tactics to improve customer relationship management in your business:
Lead management: CRM software has lead management, which enables businesses to acquire and manage leads up until the point when they make a purchase. With solid lead management in place, you can enhance the buying experience for customers, increase marketing and sales productivity, and make the best out of your advertising and marketing spends.
Interaction tracking: CRM solutions allow users to track interactions with prospects and customers, which helps them improve sales/marketing strategies and enhance customer and tech support. It also allows businesses to provide real-time guidance to customers in order to increase cross-selling and up-selling.
Social media integration: CRM’s social media integration allows users to fetch data directly from social media channels into the CRM tool. It allows them to track every stage of the customer journey, ensure consistent customer engagement, respond faster to customer complaints, and create buzz about products and services.
With a robust CRM strategy in place, businesses can collect in-depth customer data and use the information to streamline communications and improve the customer experience. Having a CRM strategy ensures that all your business processes, from sales to marketing, work in an organized manner.
Your CRM strategy will help you:
Identify leads and opportunities
Enhance collaboration between sales, marketing, and customer service departments
Track the progress of team members with respect to achieving sale targets
Gain data insights to devise business strategies
Strengthen long-term relationships with customers
Key features of CRM software include marketing automation, lead qualification, email management, and customer segmentation. All these enable businesses to understand their customers, identify leads, and develop a customer-centric strategy. The software also allows you to grow your sales processes and improve your strategies to meet the changing customer requirements.
A CRM system allows you to implement the CRM strategy by taking into account how prospects interact with your business online. It provides you access to consumer data and increases the effectiveness of your marketing strategies through data-driven insights.
A business needs CRM software primarily to:
Improve productivity: A CRM system helps users collaborate on important documents, share insights, and automate manual repetitive tasks such as data entry and task assignment. The result is streamlined processes and higher productivity.
Increase sales: A well-implemented CRM system allows sales and marketing teams to segregate customers based on specific criteria, including their preferences or recent spending, and schedule targeted email marketing campaigns. It also helps them streamline sales activities and monitor sales cycles. This, in turn, leads to higher lead conversion rates.
Enhance lead management: Customer relationship management software is used to store potential and current customer information. The tool automatically extracts prospect information from multiple sources and allows users to track lead status, including the number of customers contacted in recent times and their queries. It also tracks communication between sales personnel and prospects.
To choose the best CRM software for your business, you need to:
Identify your business needs: Before selecting CRM software, identify specific business needs that you need to address. These could be growing yearly sales, expanding your product portfolio, increasing productivity, or tracking opportunities. Select a CRM solution that will help you address these needs. For instance, if your goal is to improve the efficiency of your sales team, select a product that has workflow automation.
Check for core CRM features: A CRM tool should give you core features such as marketing automation, contact management, and lead tracking. Other than these, you can also look at additional features that meet your specific needs such as reporting capabilities and third-party integrations.
Look for product mobility: Your sales team may want to use different devices (mobile phones, laptops, and tablets) to access the new CRM system. CRM mobility is therefore an important criteria to consider before investing in a CRM product. Mobile-friendly CRM tools help improve convenience and adoption across teams.
Consider the software price: The price of CRM software usually depends on three main factors: features, contract duration, and user access. The majority of CRM software available in the market offer both monthly and annual pricing. While the monthly plan is good for businesses that want to try out new products from time to time, annual pricing is popular among businesses that are sure about the product and want to go for a yearly subscription. Advanced features such as approval workflows, custom fields, and advanced lead management can also add to the price of a product. Similarly, the number of users on a team also impacts the price.
There are several advantages of using a CRM tool for a small business. The most common ones are:
Increased sales: CRM software allows sales representatives to track and store prospect information and target people based on their preferences. It also helps them renew dead opportunities, identify cross-selling and up-selling opportunities, and close more deals by focusing on the right leads.
Trend analysis: CRM tools help businesses identify key trends through reporting and visualization features. It also helps in sales forecasting, identifying changing customer needs, and highlighting areas in need of improvement.
Streamlined communication: CRM systems help small businesses manage and organize their relationships with customers. The software is used to store and share messages and videos across teams so that everyone working on a project can view sales/job updates in real-time. This way, the tool helps foster cross-team collaboration. CRM systems also allow businesses to trace conversations between representatives and potential customers, which helps them maintain a unified brand voice.