The top 10 things to look for in a CRM

CRM software provides many advantages to outbound sales teams—but which are the most important?

Here are 10 essential benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re searching for a new CRM.

10. Mobile access

Sales reps need to be equally effective both inside and outside the office, so the ability to access deals and contact information from any device is crucial. Ideally, your CRM should offer iPhone and Android mobile apps that are reliable and easy to use without sacrificing desktop features.

9. Team-wide communication

Does your CRM allow sales reps to easily communicate and share customer information with other team members, even outside of the sales department? The ability to quickly tag in your support and marketing teams to provide additional assistance on deals in progress gives you a tremendous advantage over sales teams who are isolated within their organizations.

Related: Why ‘conscious collaboration’ is the key to sales success

8. Fast, simple setup

Don’t commit to a CRM that requires extensive upfront training—or even worse, a permanent admin to run it for you. Small business sales teams are best served by user-friendly, intuitive CRM solutions that can be learned in an afternoon and don’t require ongoing maintenance. Keep in mind that 55% of sales reps feel that ease-of-use is the most important feature of a CRM. Fancy bells and whistles often overwhelm reps who just want to sell more, more quickly.

Which CRM has the features you need?

Our interactive worksheet compares the benefits offered by Nutshell, your existing contact management solution, and any other CRMs you’re currently evaluating.


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7. Contact syncing

Manual data entry can suck countless hours out of a sales team’s week. The best CRMs reduce as many of those repetitive tasks as possible by allowing you to quickly sync your email accounts, your calendar, and your smartphone, giving you one location for all account information.

Related: Five Levels of CRM Requirements

6. Custom reports

While most CRM platforms can show you your sales and pipeline figures at a glance, the most useful ones allow sales teams to drill-down by product, source, and other filters, so you can find the numbers that matter to you.

5. Integrations

If your sales reps have to leave their CRM every time they need to send an email or check their appointment calendar, that lost time will add up—and kill your team’s productivity. Look for a CRM that integrates with the business software you already use, so you and your reps can do everything in one place.

4. Sales process tools

CRM should make your reps more effective, not just more organized. CRMs with sales process capabilities help reps know when and how to reach out, so they can focus more on closing rather than task management. Sales process tools also provide managers with another way to break down their pipelines—not only quantitatively but qualitatively—and understand if their reps are effectively working leads.

Related: Why your sales team needs a standardized sales process

3. Value

For small- and medium-sized businesses, every dollar counts. CRMs with massive feature lists usually come with massive per-user costs, and some CRMs nickel-and-dime their users by charging extra for standard features. (What’s the point of having a CRM if you have to pay to view your reports?) Be sure to find an affordable CRM that includes all the features your sales team will use, right out of the box.

2. Free support

Pro tip: If a CRM service tries to charge you extra for the honor of live support, they’re ripping you off. Your CRM’s customer support department should be a team of actual human beings, who are available by phone, email, or online chat.

1. Team adoption

Your CRM has to be designed with your sales reps in mind, or else. With CRM adoption rates well under 50%, according to a 2015 Gartner Group study, it’s no surprise that so many CRM initiatives eventually end in failure. Sales reps will rebel against CRM tools that only offer a means for managers to monitor their teams and force compliance.

For a successful implementation, your CRM must prove its value to sales reps first and foremost, by alleviating common pain points and helping them win more deals. Once they see the benefits, the team will get on board—which needs be priority #1 in your CRM search.

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