CRM software helps to improve the quality of the relationship between a company and its clients by automating a range of customer-focused processes and providing insights into these activities. The traditional goal of customer relationship management software is to automate the process of recording and storing customer information, providing one point of access for all team members.
However, as these applications have become more popular they have grown to be become vital tools for sales teams in managing their daily activities.
CRM applications are not only used to keep track of customer interactions, but also those of vendors, partners and suppliers. This helps sales teams and other customer-focused members improve the experience of their customers. Features that help with this include conversation and interaction tracking, allowing you to follow the progress of leads through the sales cycle.
The majority of CRM solutions not only offer customer data storage, but also include sales and marketing features, such as lead management, competitor analysis and team collaboration tools.
CRM software removes the need for teams to keep separate spreadsheets, files and folders by consolidating customer data, interactions, notes, billing, invoicing and account history into one easily accessible user interface. Many applications now also link social media profiles to customer profiles.
Having all this client information in one place bridges the gap between departments, improving the overall performance of all teams. This also helps teams to avoid doubling up on work and ensures your most important clients receive the right amount of attention.
Many CRM applications also include features for performance and productivity monitoring and will generate reporting based on key insights and analytics. This helps you identify issues and opportunities that may otherwise go unnoticed.
|Contact management||The ability to store customer contact information in a searchable system.|
|Marketing||Enables marketing teams to run campaigns, qualify leads, and pass them off to the sales teams. Facilitates collaboration between marketing and sales teams.|
|Allows users to manage their business and personal email accounts from inside the CRM tool.|
|Customization||Allows users to customize the CRM tool to match business process and needs.|
|Intelligence and reporting||Allows users to monitor and control day-to-day challenges, and runs reports regularly to analyze key business areas and operations.|
|Accounting and inventory||Integrates accounting features such as billing, invoicing, and inventory management features such as products, sales quotes, with the sales related modules such as leads, opportunities, and contacts.|
|Lead management||Stores leads information in a database that facilitates scoring and nurturing. + Grades leads using certain attributes to identify those most likely to result in a sale.|
|Task management||Helps scheduling tasks related to customer service, sales, marketing, contact center, etc.|
|Permissions and security||Defines and allows access rights to one or all for any file, folder, application, printer, scanner, etc.|
|Project management||Provides management of basic project information, including tasks, requirements, deadlines, and people.|
|Workflow automation||Standardizes business processes (usually through a combination of task lists, calendars, alerts, and templates), automatically triggering the next step and/or setting up reminders accordingly.|
When information about your contacts is scattered around, gathering and managing it is time-consuming and troublesome. Who wants to constantly jump around looking for files and folders manually to gather information about your contacts?
Contact management is at the core of any CRM and there are several contact management features you'll want from your tool. The table below shows some of the key ones. Let's explore!
|Contact history||Provides information about a customer's previous contacts with the company.|
|Activity management||Helps your sales team organize and prioritize their day.|
|Appointment management||Helps sales teams schedule and track appointments with clients.|
|Pipeline management||Informs sales teams about the number of deals in the pipeline, at which stage any deal is, and notifies them whether certain deals need special attention.|
|Shared contacts||Gives sales team real-time access to a central, shared contact database.|
|Social media integration||Monitors social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for brand mentions and sentiment. Helps users detect and explore their client's entire social media profile information.|
Whether you're exhibiting at an expo or hosting a customer conference, timely planning and management are required to ensure the smooth running of activities and to keep your team organized. From setting marketing budget to assigning task ownerships to measuring the success of campaigns, marketing CRM will do it all for you. Let's look at some of the marketing features a CRM tool can offer.
|Auto-responders||Used for sending automated replies and follow-up emails to prospects and customers|
|Campaign planning||Lets users plan marketing activities, develop campaign hierarchies, and outline marketing campaign objectives.|
|Drip email marketing||Write a series of marketing emails that will be sent out automatically on a schedule.|
|SMS marketing||Instantly delivers messages and promotions to customers through text messages.|
|Web forms||Capture leads from the website and automatically have them loaded into the CRM software account.|
Email is the backbone of any business correspondence. Yet it can often fail where it matters most: conversing with customers. Different employees respond to customers differently, prompting befuddled customers. To avoid this messy and clunky process, pick a CRM tool that offers powerful email features. Let's explore below what this email functionality can accomplish for you.
|Email integration||Integrates with all popular email services and clients, and automatically stores contact emails in CRM account.|
|Email notifications||Notifies individuals or teams of a pending task, a new opportunity that needs attention, and informs sales representatives of upcoming meetings or calls.|
|Email tracking||Tracks emails and gathers analytics such as email open rates, the volume of clicks on links in emails, and the number of downloads of email attachments.|
|Email templates||Offers inbuilt email templates that can be used to send bulk emails to customers on instances like welcoming a new customer or sending follow-up emails.|
|Email distribution||Allows users to maintain a list of email addresses and send bulk emails to all of them instantly.|
As your small business grows, you want your CRM system to grow with it. That's the benefit of customization features. Your CRM should allow you to upgrade and add features according to specific business needs. Let's take a quick glance at what customization functionalities you would want your CRM tool to offer.
|Customizable branding||Change the inherent CRM branding such as color schemes and logos as per business specific needs.|
|Customizable fields||Customize pre-built data fields as per specific business needs. Users can include a broad range of data types to store data related to subscription dates, customer account limits, etc.|
|Customizable reporting||Generate customize reports as per specific business needs. These reports can also be exported in the desired format for presentation.|
|Customizable templates||Helps create customizable email templates, invoices, purchase and sales orders, etc.|
Reporting and analytics tools let you run or create standard or customized reports in your CRM, helping you gain valuable insights into your customer relations, sales, marketing, and other business activities. Here's what these functionalities can help you with:
|Sales analytics||Analyzes historical data to create better sales campaigns for the future.|
|Sales reporting||Enables users to track the sales process, understand pipeline metrics, see sales split by product, etc.|
|Sales tracking||Track, manage and accelerate lead processing for maximum conversion.|
|Activity dashboard||Displays entire sales activity including status of open leads in the sales pipeline, progress towards goals, sales leaderboard etc. in easy-to-read charts and graphs.|
|Data import/export||Lets users export data (in CSV format) from individual CRM modules, allowing them to further validate or store it their own servers. Data import feature allows users to import data from external sources to CRM account.|
|Sales forecasting||Allows sales teams to plan financials and forecast revenue, identify bottlenecks using real-time data, set and track sales quotas, analyze sales representatives' performance, etc.|
|Pipeline reports||Gives a holistic view of the status of each lead, giving sales representatives an idea on which leads to prioritize. Helps sales teams understand which of the sales regions, branches and personnel are performing better.|
Accounting and inventory management are integral to customer relationship management. Lack of integration of these components can result in inefficient sales, redundant data, wasted time, and a lot more.
|Accounting integration||Lets users track expenses, create customer reports, and gain insights for better forecasting. Also allows sharing of your financial data with the sales team.|
|Expense tracking||Keep track of real-time customer project costs and other sales and marketing expenses.|
|Inventory tracking||Enables users to plan timely procurement, manage accurate stock level at various locations, and analyze stock movement trends.|
|Purchase orders||Create purchase orders and store details such as payment terms, discount and VAT, credit limit terms, tasks and reminders, delivery schedule, request for approval, cancellation etc.|
|Sales orders||Creates sales order which includes details such as date, order number, products code, the quantity of shipment, price, billing and shipping address, etc.|
Converting a lead into a potential customer depends on several factors. From lead assignment to lead capture to lead scoring, a powerful CRM tool ensures proper follow-up to move your leads through the sales funnel.
|Lead capture||Automatically captures leads from emails, websites, mobile devices, social media sites, etc.|
|Lead distribution||Automatically routes and assigns leads to right sales representatives. Also ensures leads are responded and followed up in time and drive higher conversion rates.|
|Lead generation||Allows sales teams to track leads and successfully convert them into sales-qualified leads.|
|Lead scoring||Helps sales team prioritize leads by setting scores for each lead, then focus on the most important ones, resulting in faster lead conversion.|
|Lead assignment||Allows users to assign leads to sales representatives based on geography, product, or department.|
Your sales success depends a lot on how you and your team performed the tasks at each sales stage. Here are some common task management features you'll find within CRM software that can help you improve your workflow.
|Calendar management||Keeps users organized by displaying the upcoming meetings, milestones, tasks with due dates, and helps in tracking the schedule.|
|Project tracking||Manages and tracks projects throughout their lifecycle, outlining details like total value of a project, expected revenue, completion time, etc.|
|Task scheduling||Users can start and stop the scheduled tasks, monitor their status, as well as review the task log.|
|Task tracking||Allows users to view and manage tasks and to-dos, providing them task-related details such as due date, priority level, and any notes that pertain to each task.|
|To-do list||Keeps track of to-do items that need to be followed-up on.|
|Workflow management||Sequencing and coordination of tasks to achieve a common objective. Defines how teams should collaborate to work efficiently.|
|Ticket management||Enables helpdesk process automation by allowing customers or employees to log a request with a unique ID for any query or issue.|
Unauthorized data access and other security gaps can adversely impact business operations and reputation. Almost all CRM tools provide a set of security features that define access rights and permissions to the data, files, folders, etc.in the tool. Some of such permissions and security features are listed here:
|Client portal||Enables users to provide customers with personalized, interactive service on the Web. Customers can receive answers to their queries, make online transactions, as well as submit support issues.|
|Role-based permissions||Allows administrators to set different levels of access rights so they can keep a close control on who's accessing which data.|
|Access control||Helps in limiting the access to critical data by assigning permissions only to authenticated users or groups.|
GetApp’s Category Leaders graphic identifies leading cloud-based software products in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software category. If you’re a business owner or decision maker who is evaluating CRM technology options for your company, Category Leaders is for you.
The ranking highlights key factors that small businesses should consider when assessing which software products may be right for them. These factors include user perception (“user reviews”), compatibility with other systems (“integrations”), mobile offerings (“mobile”), technical capabilities (“functionality”), and product security (“security”).
To create each Category Leaders ranking, our research team typically evaluates hundreds of products in any one category. The 10-15 with the highest scores become Category Leaders.
Category Leaders is focused on the North American CRM software market. To be eligible for inclusion, products must offer a core set of functionality, as determined by our research analysts, who provide coverage of and have familiarity with products in that market. Please see the “Functionality” section below for additional details on the core set of functionality we define for the CRM market.
Since Category Leaders is intended to cover the CRM market at large, individual analysts use their market experience and knowledge, existing market-based research, and small business software buyer needs analysis to assess an application’s suitability for a given category depending on whether it can reasonably be expected to be relevant to most small business buyers across industries searching for a system with a strong focus on CRM capabilities.
In addition, a product must have at least 20 unique user-submitted product reviews across the three Gartner Digital Markets web properties: softwareadvice.com, capterra.com, and getapp.com, and those reviews must be published within 18 months of the start of the analysis period. The analysis period for the Q4 2018 Category Leaders update is February 10, 2017 to August 10, 2018.
An app’s score is calculated using five unique data points, each scored out of 20, resulting in a total score out of 100. The ranking and scoring methodology ensure complete impartiality and independence from any relationships that GetApp has with app vendors.
Review scores are calculated using weighted reviews collected from GetApp and its sister sites, Software Advice and Capterra. This score is based on average user ratings (on a scale from 1 to 5) of how satisfied users are with a product overall. The scoring includes ratings left within the previous 18-month period; ratings that are more recent are weighted more heavily.
The methodology calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for inclusion. That percentile ranking is then translated into a 1 to 20 score.
Integration scores factor in a number of variables. Up to 16 points are awarded based on the number of integrations an app has. The first 10 points are awarded based on the number of integrations relative to the category average, while 4 points are awarded based on the number of integrations relative to the leaders in the category. An additional 5 points is awarded for an integration with Zapier, a widely used software integration platform, while an extra point is given for having an open API. The total possible score for integrations is 20 points.
Mobile scores are calculated based on the availability of an iOS and Android app. Five points are awarded for the presence of each app, with an additional 10 points awarded for the number and average rating of reviews in both the App Store and Google Play. These review scores are calculated on a scale based on the category average for a maximum of 5 points per platform and an overall maximum score of 20.
If there isn’t a native iOS or Android app, the product’s website is assessed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights to measure mobile usability. A score out of 100 is given, then scaled to a score out of 5 for a maximum of 5 points.
Functionality scores are assigned based on a combination of two assessments: user ratings and functionality breadth data.
Fifty percent of the score is based on average user ratings on a scale from 1 to 5 of how satisfied users are with the product’s functionality. The scoring includes ratings left within the previous 18-month period; ratings that are more recent are weighted more heavily.
The methodology calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for inclusion. That percentile ranking is then translated into a 1 to 10 score.
The other 50% of the score is based on a functionality assessment of the product. For each software category, our research analysts define a core set of features that a product must offer, as well as additional “nice-to-have” common and optional features. For the CRM category, we identify the following set of features:
Core features: contact management, interaction tracking, and lead management.
Common features (at least two of the following): email marketing, workflow management, forecasting, reporting or analytics, call management, and lead scoring.
Optional features: customer support tracking, channel management, social media integration, document management, contact list management, marketing automation, product catalog, quote management, referral tracking, and territory management
Products are assessed according to how many of those pre-defined features they offer, and products with more features receive a higher score. We use this data to calculate a product’s percentile ranking, which allows us to determine how products compare relative to one another rather than determine an absolute number.
All told, a vendor can receive up to 10 points based on user ratings and up to 10 points based on the features assessment for a total maximum score of 20 for “functionality.”
Security scoring is calculated using answers from a vendor-completed survey. The questions in the survey are based on the Cloud Security Alliance self-assessment form as part of the Security, Trust & Assurance Registry, supplemented by the expertise of our security research experts. Each answer in the 16-question survey is assigned a point value. The scoring then calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for Category Leaders consideration. That percentile ranking is then translated into a 1 to 20 score.
In the event of a tie, each data point is weighted for importance, with security taking precedent, followed by reviews, integrations, mobile apps, and functionality, respectively.
Providers must abide by the Category Leaders External Usage Guidelines when referencing Category Leaders content. Except in digital media with character limitations, the following disclaimer MUST appear with any/all Category Leaders reference(s) and graphic use:
GetApp Category Leaders constitute the subjective opinions of individual end-user reviews, ratings, and data applied against a documented methodology; they neither represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, GetApp or its affiliates.