Do you need a CRM in the first place?

The first question you need to ask yourself before buying a CRM is, do you really need one? A CRM is an important asset to any business, and can elevate your customer experience significantly. On the flipside, they also require a significant investment of time, money, and effort from your organization to be deployed and used successfully.

Signs that your business needs a CRM

Regardless of whether you're a small business or an enterprise, one thing remains constant. Your success depends on the relationships you build with your customers. Managing your leads and customers with just an excel sheet can start to take a toll on your sales team and hurt your revenue in the long run. Look out for the following signs that indicate you're in need of a robust CRM solution.

Difficulty in following up with leads

When you start generating a steadily increasing flow of leads, your sales team may have trouble prioritizing which ones to focus on. It becomes harder to track the sources of your leads or identify leads worth pursuing. As a result, your sales team often ends up spending their time and effort on unqualified leads that may never close.

Scattered customer information

Oftentimes your customer information is spread out across a variety of different mediums. You've got contact information in your spreadsheets, your tasks written on sticky notes, and your conversations stored in your emails. This means that your team will have to endlessly comb through all these different sources to find relevant information when engaging with multiple customers. This ultimately leads to delays in responses and misinformed decision-making.

Poor customer experience

Customers crave personalization these days. They want businesses to understand their needs and engage them with relevant offers and solutions. When it's hard to stay on top of all your interactions with a customer—all their different needs and preferences—achieving this level of personalization becomes impossible. All your interactions end up becoming generic and scripted, which can turn off a lot of prospects from doing business with you.

Connecting with your customers

Modern customers are often active across multiple channels of communication, like email, social media, calls, and more. If your business finds it hard to engage with these customers on their preferred channel and keep track of all your previous interactions, you might want to buy a CRM.

Guidelines to buying a CRM
for your business

Make a quick online search for the term "CRM", and you'll be inundated with results from dozens of vendors all offering their own CRM solutions. You may also come across software review and aggregator sites offering detailed comparisons between popular CRM vendors. These can often overwhelm people looking for a CRM for their business. We've put together the following simple guidelines to help businesses of all size find the right CRM for them.

What type of CRM do you need?

Are you a small business trying to effectively manage your customer information in a single place while keeping it accessible across different devices? Or, are you a large business trying to manage your end-to-end customer journey and improve customer satisfaction? Depending on the size of your business, your needs may differ in complexity. This will be reflected in the type of CRM solution you will need.

Ask yourselves the right questions

Your sales team, decision makers, and all stakeholders must sit down and ask themselves a series of questions. Answering these questions helps establish your pain points and can help paint a clear picture of what you're looking for in a CRM.

  • Identify the challenges you are trying to address.
  • What are the business processes that you need to implement?
  • What third-party applications are you using that will need to be integrated?
  • How many people would be using the CRM system?
  • How much is your business ready to invest in the solution?

Frame your objectives

Once you identify your pain points, you may be tempted to choose a solution that helps you address a number of immediate challenges. But you will reap the most benefit if you frame your long-term objectives around your CRM process, rather than the CRM solution. It will help you reduce the implementation time, cost, and business complications. Always remember, The CRM you choose should be molded to fit your business requirements, and not the other way around.

Shortlist your vendors

Based on your requirements, your next step will be to look for vendors with CRMs that meet these requirements. Most vendors have detailed feature availability and comparison documents against other vendors on their websites that you can refer to. You can then shortlist the vendors whose offerings best match your requirements.

Understand the products

When your vendors have been shortlisted, it's time for you to start engaging with them. Get the vendors to explain their functionality in simple terms. You must be vigilant of CRM systems that use too many jargon and buzzwords in their marketing. If your vendor is unable to provide a convincing explanation for the functionalities in their product, do not buy from them.

Get demos and negotiate your prices

Get your vendors to run you through a customized demo to see if they can satisfy your needs in your business environment. Get quotes from your shortlisted vendors, compare pricing, and negotiate the best deal to stick to your budget. This is important, as the true cost of a CRM solution can be hard to gauge if your implementation process requires third-party assistance.

Deploy your CRM solution effectively

Once you've found the right CRM that meets all your requirements at the right price, slowly roll it out across your business and let your team get comfortable using it. If there is a learning curve in adopting your solution, certain vendors provide personalized training to help your team learn the ins and outs of the CRM and use it effectively.

Features to look for in your
small business CRM

We talked about how your CRM requirements can change based on the size of your business. So, let's take a minute to discuss the different features you should be looking for in a CRM. If you are a small business, a complex, feature-loaded CRM might end up hindering you more than it helps given that you'll have to invest a lot more time and money into the setup and customization process for features that don't make sense for a business of your size.

Manage your leads and prospects effectively

A good SMB CRM helps you centralize prospect information and interactions in a single place, empowering your team with a 360-degree view of your customers. Interact with customers over email, calls, and social media directly within your CRM. Real-time notifications for all these interactions will help you address the needs of your prospects in the shortest time-frame possible.

lead, contact and account management with Bigin

Manage your pipelines

The ability to create your own sales pipeline with customized stages tailored to your sales process is instrumental in closing deals effectively. A pipeline view of all your deals helps your sales team track the status of every deal and prioritize their follow ups on the deals with the greatest chance of closure.

Pipeline management with Bigin

Automate recurring activities

Every lead counts, and every deal matters when you are a small business. Your sales reps shouldn't be bogged down with data entry or other mundane administrative tasks when they should be focused on selling. Easy-to-create workflows can help you automate routine tasks and maximize your selling time. Create workflows that help you track deal updates, set up email alerts, and more.

Workflow automation with Bigin

Analyze and measure your performance

Powerful reports and dashboards can help you analyze your sales performance and gain more clarity into your business anytime, anywhere. Track key metrics like leads generated, deals closed, deals in the pipeline, and more with the help of charts, graphs, KPIs, and more.

Business analytics in Bigin

Features to look for in
an enterprise CRM

As your business grows, your requirements also grow and become more complex. Your CRM should be able to support an expanding set of users, scaling your sales process, implementing more complex business processes, and integrating with more 3rd-party applications. You need a robust, secure, and scalable enterprise-grade CRM solution.

Customizations to reflect your business

The best CRMs are the ones that can be molded to fit your business. The ability to customize your CRM to collect a variety of information and execute your unique business processes is a necessity for large businesses and businesses looking to grow.

Multi-page Layouts Custom Components Subforms
Multiple layouts in Zoho CRM Customize your modules with custom components Interlink data with Subforms in Zoho CRM

Integrations with 3rd-party apps

There are often multiple applications that you might have in place to handle specific business operations. Your CRM must be able to integrate with these applications seamlessly to send data back and forth. This helps your customer-facing teams get a complete picture of your customers' journey from inside the CRM, allowing for more personalized service.

Scale your business effortlessly

Let your business grow without your software bottlenecking you. Craft end-to-end customer journeys, build and automate complex processes, design and distribute custom mobile applications that interact with your CRM data, and even embed third-party applications into your CRM window to get a unified view of your business.

Keep your data secure, and stay compliant
with regulations

When working with customers from different countries, it's important to pay attention to their data security and stay compliant with any local regulations. From granular security settings and access controls to GDPR compliance features, choose a CRM designed to keep your data safe and your business in compliance across the globe.

Data Processing Basis Marking Personal Fields Encryption At Rest (EAR)
Choose the right processing basis for customer data Mark fields containing sensitive or personal data Choose data that needs to be encrypted at rest with Zoho CRM

Testimonials from the Zoho CRM Family

Zoho has played an important role in standardizing our program. We now have more than 15,000 sellers using our services.

The Zoho CRM mobile app helped me analyse my sales rep's occupancy data, with options like Check-in, which is a very advantageous tool for any organization.

Our bottom line has increased by over $100K per year from the cost savings alone after using Zoho.

Anand Goyal,Director, Amazon India
Divya Sundaraju,Asst.Manager - Learning & Development, FundsIndia
Alex Tolbert,CEO, Bernard Health
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