If you're shopping around CRM software, then you'll want a checklist of the most important features to include. Maybe our little list of "must-have" CRM features will help you decide which platform is best for you. We've used a ton of different CRM software over the years. Beckmann Collaborative settled on Zoho CRM for ourselves and many of our clients. However, you may find another platform such as Keap or Hubspot is a better fit for your business.
1. EASY TO LEARN
Depending on your level of comfort with technology, you and your team may find different user experiences easier than others. For example, people who have previously used Salesforce or SugarCRM in enterprise companies often like Zoho in a small business. On the other hand, if you want something that has fewer features and can covers most basic needs such as Hubspot or Pipedrive.
2. IMPORT YOUR CONTACTS, NOTES, AND DEALS
Most likely, you have been keeping track of customers and sales in a spreadsheet or other document before buying into a CRM. Or if you are in a CRM software you no longer like, you should (hopefully) be able to export everything into a spreadsheet. The best way to get up and running quickly is by starting with your existing data. Most every CRM has this feature, but a few do not. We highly recommend finding one that allows you to import a spreadsheet or CSV file of your existing data.
3. NOTIFICATIONS AND REMINDERS
This is another one of those very basic features that just about every CRM offers. There is simply need to be notified or reminded about various things in your CRM - whether it be an automated reminder based on workflows you setup or something you manually add. These keep you on track.
4. CUSTOMIZING FIELDS
One of the reasons we chose Zoho over another CRM was that easy access to customize it to our business without a developer. That was a big pet peeve with Salesforce and some of the other big platforms. You often need someone who writes code and knows the platform well to customize it for you. Try to find a CRM that makes it easy for you to add custom fields that pertain to your business and tracking needs.
5. AUTOMATED TASKS AND EMAILS
Ideally, your CRM should have automation features included - especially tasks and emails. Not all of them include workflow automations. If productivity is high on your list of reasons for a CRM, then definitely look for the ones that include workflows / automations.
6. EMAIL INTEGRATION
This "must have" partially depends on your email provider (Gmail, Microsoft 365, etc) for your business. Look for a software that includes email integration with your existing provider. Tracking email opens and clicks in your CRM is a game-changer.
7. PHONE INTEGRATION (SMS too)
If you have a decent sized sales team (more than 3 people), you are likely to want telephony or a phone bridge that is integrated with your CRM software. As a sales director or CEO, this allows you to have full detail about the activities of the sales team. It also helps the entire organization have that much more access to details about the activities with prospects and customers. And of course, a phone bridge makes it that much easier to make calls. Bonus points if the platform includes SMS (text messaging).
8. MOBILE APP
If you asked me about the importance of a mobile CRM 5 years ago, I might have shrugged and said something like, "I guess that's good." Nowadays, it seems vital to success. Whether you are waiting in the airport for a flight, on the road, or just sitting on the couch, having your CRM available through a mobile application can help you be much more productive.
9. INFORMATION SHARING ACROSS USERS
At Beckmann Collaborative, our team is completely transparent about what's going on, with who and the details. Not every company runs that way, but if you are like us then you will want to ensure that your CRM makes it easy to share information across your team. If I create a new Lead in the CRM, my team can see who that person is, the notes I've taken about that person, and meetings we've had.
Many CRMs will allow you to set up a data sharing hierarchy where you can adjust what each user can see or do. For example, maybe you want your entire team to see all of your Leads but you only want your sales reps to be able to edit those Leads. Or maybe you have multiple locations so you want the team at location A to only see the customers and deals for their location.
10. OTHER INTEGRATIONS
This last one is has becoming increasingly important in the age of Iot (Internet of Things). Everything we do in business seems to live online. This has led to businesses having 5, 10 or more different technology platforms to run your business. Thing about it... email marketing, CRM, bookkeeping, project management/task management, digital signature software, social media scheduling, point of sale software/eCommerce, and so much more.
If you can find a CRM that integrates easily with all of your other software, then that is the ultimate win. Integrating all of your systems is key to operational efficiency and peace of mind. Whether you are a small business or an enterprise business, a cohesive software experience makes your business run so much better.
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