As the term suggests, Customer Relationship Management was taken to be a system adopted by businesses who dealt in the B2C domain. However, a CRM can be used in the B2B scenario as well.
The idea of using a CRM is quite simple- by using a CRM, the sales professionals aim to deliver business solutions and data that customers want. CRM’s are built to help sales team up-sell and cross-sell, win more deals and retain more customers efficiently. Moreover, with the more evolved version of a CRM, backed with data analytics, a sales professional can accurately identify and differentiate between potential and disinterested customer.
Over the years, the use of a CRM has not been limited to just sales. The marketing aspect of businesses can also make use of the various features that help enhance marketing efforts, thus resulting in higher customer acquisition. All in all, the existence of CRMs have made the entire process of pitching a product and selling much more relevant and data-driven.
If you’re still not convinced with the idea of introducing a CRM to your business, maybe you should do through the following benefits of getting one:-
1. Connecting and Engaging: One of the biggest challenges that an average sales professional faces are to connect with the right people to make a product pitch. It is crucial that the potential customer is accurately chosen, for the following conversations to be relevant. Post connecting, it is again difficult for the sales professional to keep the Lead engaged. If they lose their interest in the conversation or the product, your sale is lost!
This is where a CRM provides required data and analytics for sales professionals to make the most of their leads and increase the probability of making a sale.
2. Efficient Growth: More often than not, we tend to mix up processes resulting in the duplicity of various steps that leads to delayed results. By bringing a CRM platform in place, most of these processes will be much more organized and will help you deliver results much faster, with accuracy much higher than before!
Since CRMs today have the capability of alerting the user for pending tasks, the productivity levels can also be majorly worked upon and improved by excellent standards.
3. Business ‘On the Go’: The latest CRM platforms have introduced their mobile versions in the market too, which greatly enhances the way business is done. When teams could not access customer data while they were out meeting clients, their work was practically put on hold! Imagine how much time would go to waste in such a situation.
But now, with the latest mobile CRMs, you have access to all your customer data for you to initiate action when required and to get the right insights for increased sales even when you’re on the go.
Keeping in line with the requirements of a sales team, Pipedrive is one of the relative latest entrants in the CRM space. They focus on getting the sales processes and data organized to the T, leading to more favorable results (read increased sales).
Again, a cloud-based CRM, Pipedrive can be accessed on the web from anywhere in the world, giving the users access to their valuable data no matter where they are. It is much easier to collaborate on this platform and increase productivity through relevant integrations with numerous other platforms.
Pipedrive has a list of features that seem to get the selling and marketing game right for professionals. However, do take a look at the following to increase your productivity further while using this platform:
1. Emailing Within Pipedrive: As basic a need as it may seem like, a lot of CRMs are missing this feature. Emailing being one of the most important activities for making a sale, can also get pretty hectic. Keeping track of emails and their responses while toggling through different windows can only make matters worse.
Pipedrive seems to have simplified this challenge multi-fold. But, going one step ahead, the tool also automatically threads your email with the deal it is relevant to, basis the recipients of the concerned mail.
2. Reminders and Updates: Behaving like the good CRM that Pipedrive is, the platform also has all its reminders, alerts and update system right in place. For any pending tasks, a deal that you’re supposed to close, or a call that needs to be made, Pipedrive sends you alerts for all of it.
You can even set time frames for these alerts, defining how soon you want the alert to be received. Or choose if you want the notification to be sent directly to your mobile device.
3. Google Integrations: This one is quite a genius feature. Since most of us are regular Google Suite users, we don’t like to shift all of our data or past records onto a new platform. To overcome this challenge, Pipedrive has gone ahead and integrated extensively with Google. Recently, I had also reviewed Google Suite CRM – ProsperWorks.
Right from the syncing emails, tasks on the calendar, contacts (keeping personal and work contacts separately), and files again segregated basis work and personal- everything seems to be taken care of!
4. Forecasts and Projections: This feature lets the user take a look at the revenue lined up with on- going deals and allows him to calculate how far or close he is to his targets. By taking a look at the revenue projections, the sales team can modify their efforts basis deals that are close to positive results, giving a second priority to those that are not.
By using this feature efficiently, you can make your sales strategy robust and results driven.
5. Customized Emailing with MailChimp: Since marketing also plays a significant role in making good sales, personalized mailing has been included in the plethora of other features offered by Pipedrive.
For those who have already worked on MailChimp would agree that there’s probably no better platform than this one for mass mailing.
While emailing is one of the most crucial parts of any marketing strategy, email marketing has been built for fun on Pipedrive. The feature allows you to customize your mail content without actually having to do it manually, choose the required format and the list of recipients for the mailer.
While Pipedrive seems to have got everything right in terms of putting together an all-round CRM platform for sales and marketing teams to improve their performances, there is no harm in checking out some other alternatives.
Since there can never be a dead-end for innovation, one must keep a look-out for something new that online solutions might have in store for you.
So let’s go through some of the other CRM players in the industry that can give serious competition to Pipedrive.
Considering that like every other business, you would also like to save money and efforts while multiplying your business, Insightly would probably be the best choice you can make.
Insightly has been built with high precision, carefully defining features and limitations for Small Businesses, Growing Business and Enterprises. This segmentation does not only determine the role of the platform for its selected target audience but also makes sure that only the relevant features and pricing is offered to each.
The focus here is on ‘relevance’- a significant aspect that sales and marketing teams fin extremely challenging but often have to work around.
The segmentation further carries down to the usage of the product by industry- Advertising & Media, Manufacturing and IT. Each sector has its case studies, reflecting impressive numbers that boast of tremendous success and improvement in business processes with the help of Insightly CRM. Again- relevance is the key element here, which aims at keeping the platform applicable to only the industry that seems fit for it.
By using a CRM, you are only embracing a better way to manage your leads, contacts, organizations, vendors and partners. There’s more to a CRM than directly handling stuff for you. The extra step and the innovation that your sales and marketing processes currently lack, will be taken care of with the following features:
(a) Custom reports
Amongst the latest feature updates, Insightly has introduced an enhancement in its reports and charts feature. Apart from managing your business, it is also equally important to track and measure the progress of your business.
Doing so requires going through a lot of data and sitting down to understand where you’re going right and where could you be going wrong. However, stuck as we are in our daily grind, there never really is enough time!
But, with Insightly custom reports, you can get the hang of the current situation of your business in a jiffy. Not just this, you can easily forecast the future revenues to plan better selling strategies. Another great update is that you will now get the feature in all plans, including the free plan on Insightly.
(b) Advanced Filtering on Mobile
Business on the move has become critical today. With the world gone digital, things have undoubtedly become simpler but at the same time, a lot harder to transform business as per the digital surroundings.
While a cloud-based CRM, such as Insightly can be easily accessed from anywhere in the world, sales teams needed to access it even when they couldn’t access their computers.
That’s where the concept of mobile CRM stepped in, and along with the business, the entire CRM platform got shifted onto mobile as well. Apart from all the features being available on mobile, there’s an advanced filtering that has been introduced recently.
With the new improve filtering, you can easily access data related to tasks assigned to whom, the progress of the tasks, reasons they may still be pending, customer related information/ data – basically, everything you need at your fingertips to have an exciting sales experience!
(c) Workflow Automation
With numerous tasks lying around for each of the hundred customers that you may have in your kitty, managing it all becomes nothing less than a tedious job that you just want to run away from.
Well, one of the advantages of having a CRM is that most of your manual work makes an exit and in comes automation. Workflow automation is one such feature that lets you define criteria for tasks to start getting completed on their own. From shooting out mailers on bagging a Lead to alerting you for the next call, you get to lay down the ground rules and watch things happen on their own!
PS: This feature is only available in Insightly’s top tier subscription plans.
(d) Automatic Lead Distribution
This feature is a life savior for every sales manager that there is in the business. With this latest update, life has been simplified many times over.
The update allows you to distribute leads evenly amongst your team automatically. Again, you may choose the criteria for distribution them, such as, by geography, the number of employees in the team, your custom fields, and even automatic rotation!
Such a simple update but solves so many problems at once- saves time, introduces accuracy and lets you focus on matters more important than distributing leads.
Pricing: The basic plan starts at $12 per user/month.
2. Sugar CRM
This is one CRM that has gained a lot of popularity in the Entrepreneur community. Owing to its simplicity and nominal pricing, Sugar CRM becomes a smart choice when it comes to organizing a company’s sales and marketing processes on the whole.
Just to share a little more about Sugar CRM, they have not only a CRM solution but also other collaboration solutions that can contribute to a smooth running of your business.
But keeping the discussion limited to customer relationship management, let’s take a look at some of the highlight features that Sugar CRM has in store for its users:
(a) Multi-Lingual and Currency Support
Sugar CRM comes with an in- built system to support different languages from across the world.
This makes things much easier when it comes to providing training or sharing user adoption programs. This feature has made it simpler for SugarCRM to be accepted by people belonging to different parts of the globe.
The language pack framework adds significant points for customer satisfaction. Adding to the many languages that the platform supports, there are also multiple currencies that teams and clients can transact on. This is removed another barrier, making the platform much more global than anything else.
Conversations and payments both have been made into simpler tasks, making it easier for sales teams to get more customers on board in much lesser time!
(b) The Self Service Portal
While focusing on building a robust product, product developers often tend to forget about keeping it simple. However, even if the product still comes out to be a huge platform; things can be simplified by offering a way for the user to figure his way out in the simplest manner possible.
The self-service portal is a self-sufficient platform where the user can simply come on to, should he ever faces a problem on the CRM. The platform is well equipped with case studies, dummy situations, which by the way could be real life situations too and an extensive knowledge base that can come handy anytime!
The list of FAQs listed here, in addition to all other relevant information, a user would almost never have to pick up the phone to call customer care.
Now many would say that human interaction with their clients is necessary to retain them, I’d say not really. Today’s consumer does not have the time to wait for another person to give him a solution. He’d rather go online and look for a solution himself.
(c) Filters and Tags
You have the search feature where you can type in a name and locate the person saved under various categories such as Lead, Contact, etc. In addition to this, you could have also kept the same contacts under different fields such as the organization they work in, the place they come from or any other field that you may like to add.
There is also an additional feature of including extra tracks if you feel the need for it.
Another interesting aspect to this is the Tag feature that lets you and your sales team build and create labels for each of the contact that you want to save onto your database. These would be specific to your group records, a small step that can help you categorize your customers better on the platform.
You can also view these tags separately and choose from to take a look at all the contacts that may have been grouped under the same.
(d) Activity Streams
Under this feature, you can quickly take a look at all the activities that are currently being performed by your colleagues across the organization. This data can be easily accessed through your dashboards, module list and also record views.
The most recent updates can be easily viewed and tracked, not to mention the ability to filter the content that you’d like to receive onto your activity feed. The feature is customizable to your needs as it lets you stay updated with latest from around you. Further to this, you can even go and post messages for your colleagues using the platform.
Giving it a hint of an ESN, this feature is great for real-time collaboration as it lets you be a part of your colleagues’ activities, giving you a chance to participate by sharing ideas and knowledge with each other.
(e) Social Integration
With all other aspects of an online sales and marketing solution covered, they wouldn’t leave out social media integration, would they? With sales and marketing first going online and then going social, to be more precise, social media integration has become one of the most crucial aspects of any customer relationship management platform.
While Sugar is missing integrations with Linkedin and Facebook, they have the gap covered by linking Twitter, Google, and Outlook. Twitter feeds can also be received in your Activity Stream to get real-time social updates too!
Focusing on online collaboration and cloud storage, the social media integration on Sugar is pretty robust- something that sales and marketing professional would truly appreciate, as this feature does make their lives much easier!
Sugar CRM has an extensive feature base to offer to its users. It is up to the user as to how he chooses to put all of these fantastic features to good use.
Pricing: The services for SugarCRM are priced at $40 user/ month for the basic plan which includes nearly everything that you need a well-equipped CRM to have.
3. Microsoft Dynamics
Coming from a relatively better-known brand, MS Dynamics did manage to build a favorable rapport for themselves pretty quick in the industry. To talk about the features they offered, they were also pretty much on par with the other players.
However, MS Dynamics is especially good at improving operational efficiency due to its tight integration with the Microsoft Office Suite.
More than half of our business application belong to the Microsoft family, what better than getting a CRM also from the same family! This CRM platform is well equipped to take care of all aspects of a sales and marketing business- helping stay in touch with customers through targeted marketing, integrations with the right tools for better and faster results, managing customer data and communication- you name it, and they have it!
But, let’s dive deeper into the features that the platform offers to its users:
(a) Customer Insights
It is true that getting a peep into your customer’s personality, likes and dislikes can help you sell better. Under this feature of the platform, you can quickly gather relevant customer insights and interactions all in one place, making it simpler for you to understand your client requirement better.
This feature is so detailed that its built-in predictive analytics and customer intelligence can read and deliver results basis their purchase history, demographics, interactions and more. Further, the customer interactions are so well organized that you can tell beforehand if you have any at- risk clients and can chart out a counter strategy to avoid losing them!
The focus on relationship building with customers is quite a crucial aspect of the platform, as it lets you leverage your business relationships for increased business and sales.
With targeted marketing campaigns being one of the most important parts of any pre-sales support, Microsoft Dynamics has built the marketing feature to be pretty nifty too. Moreover, they have partnered with Adobe for an even richer experience for the user. There will be a whole lot of enhancement that the partnership will bring along.
The mailers to be sent to your customers can be easily personalized to establish a more intimate connect with them by encouraging one-to-one communication and contextual content that drives conversion.
Adding to the advantages of Customer Insights being offered on the platform, you can put that to good use for marketing too. By understanding your customer better, you’d know the exact nuances of a marketing strategy that could work in your favor. After all, the success of a marketing strategy depends on how well targeted and relevant it is to your audience!
(c) Customer Service
To have a client turned completely loyal to you, it is important you provide them with the best in class customer service that there is. The way people experience your business is crucial to the success of your business, hence, MS Dynamics offers a whole feature focused on providing an excellent customer service, around the clock!
Since there are consumer insights already at hand, the customer service team can quickly understand the needs of the customer and cater to them by delivering personalized and relevant solutions. Moreover, the market changes and evolves pretty quickly, hence it is necessary that you provide solutions that can be tailored that quick too. On this platform, your customer service team can quickly adapt and customize solutions using configuration instead of codes.
Lastly, the foundation of the entire platform- sales- focuses on turning relationships into revenues. So far you went through all the features that help you understand and connect with your customers better, but this one feature helps you convert them into business.
Adding to the experience, you can keep your sales team motivated with the data-rich dashboards equipped with charts that deliver instant insights into their sales performances. You can set goals and see how much more you need to achieve to reach them
The built-in predictive analytics, automated lead scoring, and digital intelligence give your sales team a chance to automate processes, save time on mundane tasks and make the most of the customer relationships for better business.
Pricing: There is an entire pack of plans that you can choose from. However, the lowest one starts with INR 660/user/month.
A CRM platform specially built for teams to work and collaborate seamlessly, ProsperWorks introduces some interesting integrations in the system. Not just that, the platform has been built to be quite a robust system for sales and marketing professionals to function with minimum hiccups.
They aim to offer a CRM platform that’s easy to use and fun to work on. Let’s see some of the features that help enhance ProsperWorks to be a better CRM than the rest:
As a sales team manager it is your job to improve your team’s productivity with desirable results every single day. One of the most efficient ways to ensure this is by helping them prioritize their day.
The feature offers a customized view for each of the team member to take a look at their individual tasks. You may set up activities for them, varying from – setting up meetings, events, arranging follow-ups and even add new leads from your email!
(b) Comparative Charts
ProsperWorks believes in the spirit of healthy competition and encourages sales and marketing team members to keep up with their best performances. Once you join a team on the CRM platform, you can easily view the progress of each of your fellow team- mates.
You can see who’s performing the best in terms of earning revenues, setting meetings, making calls and gathering prospective clients!
You can also view similar comparative charts for different teams all together to gauge the success rate for each team in the organization.
(c) Google Inbox Extension
The latest feature introduced by ProsperWorks is an extension that you need to install on your system before you can start using it. But to explain the feature does, read on, and you’ll be excited to try it right away!
By using this feature, you will not have to leave you Google Inbox again as the extension allows you to have all your CRM contacts updated right in the inbox. As a majority of the tasks of a sales professional include sending emails, setting up meetings and following up, the platform brings in all these functionalities straight into your inbox.
Further, you can even view the recent activities of your Leads as well as track if they open and view their emails in real time. Check complete ProsperWorks review.
Pricing: The Basic Pack is offered at $19 per user per month by ProsperWorks.
A relatively complicated and an extensive platform, PipelineDeals has managed to secure the spot of one of the most popular CRM platforms that there are in the industry. This CRM is built for the modern businesses and organizations that believe in going the digital way to perform more tasks and saving time while achieving more.
PipelineDeals hosts an entire suite of features that are imperative for any business to advance in the smartest of ways and for maximum revenues. Following are the functions that make PipelineDeals an excellent addition for your organization:
(a) Mobile Selling
A sales professional goes where new opportunities and prospective clients take him. Owing to the very nature of the job, a sales professional is expected to be on the move for a majority of his work hours.
Keeping this requirement in mind, PipelineDeals has established an equally robust CRM system onto the mobile, for maximized productivity and engagement with the user.
Adding to the regular features of the CRM, the mobile version of PipelineDeals offers customized text messages for reminders that can be set up by the user. It has been designed, so you never miss an event again.
(b) Importing Data
One of the most painful tasks of a sales professional is to manually feed data into the CRM, which acts as a barrier for them to use the CRM in the first place.
This is one of the biggest reasons why CRM adoption has been a challenge for most companies. However, this hurdle has been taken care of by PipelineDeals, by introducing ‘Data Importing’ as a feature.
As per the functionality, the user can seamlessly import data directly from many applications such as Outlook, Google, VCards, Excel and a few of their CRM competitors. In total, three types of data can be imported- contacts, deals, and companies.
You may import these individually or in bulk and also, the duplicate data gets removed automatically. To make things better, the feature allows you to undo the last import if you see a mistake in the data and the current upload gets cleaned as required by the user.
(c) Sales Team Management
For a sales team manager, the tasks go way beyond scheduling meetings with the team and monitoring their performance. It requires a true understanding of the approach being taken by his team to earn more revenues, taking cues from what’s working out for them and what’s not.
The team management feature offered by PipelineDeals is an excellent example of a CRM function that aims towards better collaboration and making efforts in the right direction. It allows the user to view his sales team’s performances individually by taking a look at the interactive pipeline charts and the activities logged in by his team members, individually.
By taking a quick look at the entire sales and activity scenario, the manager is in a better position to make informed decisions and guide his team accordingly.
Pricing: The starting plan is introduced at $25 per user per month, with limited features.
Stemming from Freshdesk’s motto of providing the best possible customer service, FreshSales is a CRM that efficiently takes care of customer problems and aims at building better business relationships.
One of the many products under the umbrella of FreshDesk, FreshSales has been designed to track user behavior to counter customer problems at an early stage. This advanced feature takes a CRM’s basic functionality to the next level of accuracy and efficiency.
The features mentioned below will give you a clear understanding of the platform:
(a) Integration with Segment
FreshSales’ integration with Segment lets you track activities carried out by your prospect on the website and within their product. Such insights give you a peek into their requirement pattern for you to service them better. Further, you can also track contacts and leads, and even update them on the app.
(b) Data and Reports
A CRM platform is one of the richest sources of a sales team’s performance. To get a 360-degree view of the progress of an organization in terms of revenue earned as well as revenues lined up for the future, there’s no better source than a CRM to rely on.
Such insights can play a crucial role in taking actionable decisions to improve the sales and marketing performance, which is why analyzing the existing data become imperative for any sales manager. With FreshSales’ Visual Sales and Data Analytics, getting insights into the sales performance becomes a simple task.
The feature lets the user view visual sales reports, study revenue analytics to understand which campaigns worked and which ones did not, and even have customized reports as per the fields you want to look at!
(c) In- App Calling
One of the biggest challenges faced by most sales professionals is making calls for conversions. To be precise, it is the keeping track of all these calls which takes a toll on them as well as most of their precious time!
But with the in-app calling feature on FreshSales, you not only get to call up prospects from within the app but also get to maintain a call log automatically. The feature also keeps your phone and email conversation history stacked up in one place for you refer to it whenever required. It also lets you customize your ‘welcome’ and voice call messages for a personal touch.
Pricing: The plans start at $12 per user per month.
Apt for smaller sales teams and small businesses, the features on GetBase have been built to earn increased revenues in the shortest time frame possible. It has a reasonably clean and attractive interface that lets the user get on board with the platform pretty quickly.
The following feature line-up will help give you a better idea of the platform:
(a) Win Rate Optimization
The tons of data that is available on your CRM gets analyzed and churned into actionable reports for you to have an idea of which deal is more likely to convert. By looking at these reports, you can easily predict the convertibility of an opportunity, thereby getting enough insights for you to direct your team to the right direction.
The feature has been designed for you and your sales team to identify and put efforts into the opportunities that are most likely to bring in more business.
GetBase is a data driven app and aims to deliver insights basis actionable data collected over time through various sales activities performed by sales professionals. The Apollo feature is a particular scientific data reader that analyzes data points and delivers actionable insights. For example, it can tell how much time your teammate needs to take to make the first call for a real closure!
The feature offers an interactive insight feed with suggestions to make an improvement in the performance being reflected on the app.
(c) Scientific Sales Academy
GetBase claims to a CRM platform that takes the scientific approach to making and improving sales. On the Scientific Sales Academy’s platform, you get access to quantifiable data and insights that help you modify your sales practices for an enhanced performance and increased revenues.
It’s a course that seems to be promising and delivers new lessons on a timely basis. Do check it out, after all, what’s a growing profession without some regular learning!
Pricing: Starts at $25 per user per month.
Sales professionals have never really welcomed a CRM into their routine. However, with a simple yet effective platform that automates the daily sales and marketing functions, you can quickly enhance your productivity many times over.
The CRM solutions explained in this article are some of the best ones in the industry. By matching your business needs with the offerings of each of these players, you can easily select a platform that’s best for your business.