Choosing the Right CRM Software: A Simple Guide

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is one of the most important tools for you to have in your marketing and sales arsenal. It gives you the power to uncover deep insights about your audience so you can drive more revenue.

That’s why choosing the right CRM software is so vital. But how should you go about choosing a CRM? There are so many options available that it can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, you can follow a simple process to find the best CRM for your business needs.

How to choose the right CRM software

The key to knowing how to choose the right CRM software is to follow four steps during your research. Taking these steps will help you compare different CRM options and choose the one that best suits your company’s needs:

By taking these four steps, you can assess which CRMs are the least expensive, best-reviewed, and best-equipped when it comes to useful features and integrations.

Evaluate features and functionality

The first step in finding the right CRM for your business is comparing the features and functionality of different options. CRMs can do a lot for your business, including streamlining your sales pipeline, organizing customer information, and enabling more effective marketing campaigns.

Whichever CRM software choice you go with, it needs to have all (or at least most) of the features you’re looking for. But what features should you prioritize?

To some extent, it depends on your company’s specific needs. That said, there are several different CRM features you should be sure to look out for, including:

  • Contact and lead management
  • Sales forecasting and reporting
  • Marketing and sales automation
  • Customizable dashboards and reports
  • Mobile accessibility

We’ll briefly review those features below.

Contact and lead management

The most fundamental feature of any CRM is data gathering and storing. Since the data in question is about your leads and customers, part of that feature includes contact and lead management.

Basically, your CRM should be capable of storing leads and contacts based on the data it gathers. That allows you to easily identify sales opportunities and streamline your overall sales process.

Sales forecasting and reporting

Another crucial CRM feature is sales forecasting and reporting. This is basically where the CRM uses all the data it’s gathered to generate reports—which can show you patterns and trends in your audience—and predict future sales.

Since the whole point of gathering customer data is to analyze it, it makes perfect sense to pick a CRM that can perform that analysis. Otherwise, you’ll just have to go find a whole other analytics tool on top of the CRM.

Marketing and sales automation

Marketing and sales automation is another important feature to consider when choosing a CRM system. Automation features are where your CRM can handle mundane, day-to-day marketing and sales tasks for you. For example, your CRM could automatically send out a marketing email to leads when they take a particular action.

The advantage of automation is that it frees your team from spending all their time on those simple tasks, allowing them to focus on other things while the CRM handles the repetitive, day-to-day tasks.

Customizable dashboards and reports

In addition to generating reports, most CRMs will include a dashboard that summarizes the sales metrics that are most important to your business goals. Of course, not every business considers the same metrics to be their top priority. That’s why you should look for a CRM that lets you customize your dashboard.

A customizable dashboard will let you choose which metrics it shows, tailoring it to your company’s specific needs. Ideally, you can do the same thing with more in-depth reports, building them on specific metrics you choose. If a CRM can’t do those things, it might not provide the data analysis you need.

Mobile accessibility

CRMs are built around sales, and sales don’t always take place in the convenience of your office. On many occasions, you may earn a new lead or customer while away from your office. In those cases, you’ll want to be able to quickly update or check your CRM.

For that reason, try to get a cloud-based CRM that you can access from your phone as well as your computer. Moreover, make sure the mobile version of the CRM is easily usable and navigable. 

Ensure compatibility with existing systems

Your business already uses multiple sales and marketing tools to get the job done, from cloud document storage platforms to accounting software. Integrating those tools with your CRM allows you to sync your data across all the software you use and maintain up-to-date, accurate information where you need it most. 

When you choose a CRM, make sure you find one that can integrate with a wide variety of tools—or, at the very least, with most of the data tools you use at your company. Otherwise, you’re going to have a tough time automatically syncing your data.

Here are some of the most common types of integrations you may want to look for in a CRM solution: 

Determine the CRM’s other integration offerings

Whether a CRM integrates with your existing tools is only one piece of the puzzle of whether it will work for your company long-term. Suppose you use one email marketing platform but, over time, discover that a different one suits your needs better. What happens when you switch to the new platform, but your CRM can’t keep up with the change?

A CRM that integrates with multiple email marketing solutions is better than one that only offers a single integration. That type of flexibility gives your business more options for accomplishing your goals. 

Be sure to look for a CRM that also offers integrations with software similar to the one you’re using, which can help increase your efficiency. For example, if your business uses Google Drive as a collaboration tool, you could also look for a CRM that integrates with your Gmail and Google calendar accounts so you can stay synced across your platforms.

The CRM company may also be able to build a custom solution through a third-party tool like Zapier. Zapier creates connections between web applications. This solution may be a way to create an integration that you couldn’t have otherwise.

Some CRMs also have sales and marketing tools built right into them, such as email marketing tools and online form builders. These native capabilities eliminate the need to integrate certain types of third-party tools altogether—and they allow your team to accomplish even more without ever leaving your CRM platform.

A CRM that works with the tools you use

At Nutshell, we offer a wide range of native and middleware integrations, plus the ability to enable custom integrations. Explore our integrations below or contact our team for information about a specific integration.

Explore our integrations Contact our team

Compare by price and reviews

After you’ve compared a CRM’s features and integration options, it’s also critical to consider the software’s pricing and reviews. A CRM’s price plan tells you whether the solution is within your budget, while customer reviews clue you in to any issues you may encounter if you choose that platform. 

Take a look at some of the most important considerations as you compare CRM pricing and reviews. 

Considering CRM pricing

Comparing CRMs by price is generally easy. After all, it’s not complicated to simply compare different CRMs and look at which ones cost the least.

However, where it can get a little tricky is when you dive deeper into what’s offered on individual plans. CRM plans include different features, enable different capabilities, and come at various price points. A vital aspect of comparing CRM pricing is considering what you get with each plan.

It’s also important to remember that with CRMs, you often get what you pay for. The cheapest options are probably the cheapest for a reason, offering the fewest features and functions.

Comparing reviews of CRM performance

Customer reviews can be helpful tools for determining whether a CRM works for other businesses, particularly those in your industry. Read reviews by verified users posted on a reputable software review site like G2 so you can feel confident in their validity.  

When you compare companies by reviews, you want to look at both quality and quantity. If one CRM has a bunch of great reviews and another one has a bunch of bad reviews, you’d want to go for the first one. But what about when you’ve narrowed it down to a handful of CRMs that all have good reviews?

In that case, be sure to focus not only on how positive the reviews are but on how many there are. Maybe one CRM has a 5-star rating on a particular site while another CRM has a 4.7-star rating. But if the 5-star CRM only has three reviews while the 4.7-star CRM has 300, it might be better to go for the second option.

Three reviews isn’t enough for you to be confident about the quality of a CRM, but if a CRM maintains a 4.7-star rating after receiving 300 reviews, that’s promising.

Also, be sure to look at why CRMs receive positive reviews. Reviews for one CRM might praise things you don’t actually care about, while reviews for another may highlight exactly what you’re interested in.

When reading reviews, look for information about customer support. Even with the best CRM in the world, you’ll still occasionally have questions or concerns that a support team can help with. Friendly, thorough, and efficient customer support is a must for every CRM user. 

Some CRMs make you pay for any kind of customer support. But it’s impossible to guess how frequently you may need to reach out to the support team, and you don’t want to be stuck having to pay a higher price just to get in touch with a support person. A CRM that provides free support services in your chosen plan makes a world of difference when your team hits a roadblock.

Nutshell is the optimal CRM choice for your business

The tips listed above can greatly streamline the process of choosing the right CRM software—but we can make the process even easier for you. The best option is already right in front of you: Nutshell. Our CRM comes equipped with all the features listed above, all for an affordable price—and our reviews point to how useful it is.

Of course, we know you might be wary about jumping right into a tool without testing it out first. That’s why we offer a 14-day free trial. Check it out today to see what Nutshell can do for your business!


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