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Advantages of CRM: Three Steps to Help You Find the Best One

1Ask yourself if you really need a CRM tool
2Do your homework before you start CRM shopping
3Keep your key CRM stakeholders in mind
A well-matched CRM means happy customers

Convinced that adopting CRM software is the next step in your growth plans? Then your first task is to figure out which one will work best for you and your team, and then to evaluate the benefits of using a CRM.

There are hundreds of tools listed in Capterra’s CRM software directory alone, not to mention on the market as a whole. The available features range from simple data management to full-blown sales process automation, and from being free to costing hundreds of dollars a month.

The three steps outlined below will help point you in the right direction so you can start drawing up a list of CRM options and their advantages that will lift you and your team up rather than weighing you down.

1. Ask yourself if you really need a CRM tool

Before incurring yet another monthly expense, make sure that investing in a CRM is the right step forward. For starters, make sure you aren’t shopping for customer management tools before you have any customers.

A popular starting tool for customer and lead data management is the humble spreadsheet, and there are plenty of helpful Excel dashboard templates out there to help you when you’re in that early stage of business. However, there will come a time when these won’t work quite as well anymore.

Here are some possible reasons why:

  1. Your team has grown and too many people are editing the same spreadsheets
  2. The time it takes to maintain information increased substantially
  3. Spreadsheets are no longer a secure way to store sensitive client data

Once you hit the benefit ceiling of Excel and it becomes more of a burden and time-sucker than a helping hand, it’s time to turn to something a little more advanced. Managing data in a CRM platform has its advantages as it requires less manual work and it is a much safer way to manage valuable client data.

2. Do your homework before you start CRM shopping

Once you’re sure that you need a CRM, discerning which one best fits your needs and budget may seem like a daunting task, but the key is to start with an internal analysis.

Before getting overwhelmed by the glitzy features and all-in-one promises made by CRM market leaders, start by isolating the day-to-day functions you and your team carry out. Once you do, divide them into categories based on function and the tools you are using to carry them out.

For example, managing sign-up forms and scouring the web for prospects will fall under lead generation. Another example would be updating spreadsheets and using the data to create forecasts, which would fall under administrative work.

This will help you browse the value propositions and product pages of different CRMs, and navigate you towards those that are more suitable for your needs. Plus you’ll get a solid overview of the tools that manage every facet of you and your team’s day-to-day tasks.

Don’t throw the old stuff away just yet

Many CRM systems are built to integrate and sync with popular office and administrative software. So before going Marie Kondo on your admin tools, take a moment to note down what it is about them that you find so tricky.

If you have already invested in a CRM that’s not working out for you, you might be troubled by all the fancy features you pay for but never use. Or perhaps you are content with the product, but your needs as a customer aren’t met by their support team when problems pop up.

In the end, it all comes down to identifying your pain points. Below are some of the most common ones faced by teams using software that doesn’t suit their needs:

  • Time-consuming to manage
  • Not customizable enough
  • Too complicated for you or your team to use
  • Not scalable as your database of customers and team grow

If you are reading this guide and hunting for new customer management solutions, chances are you identify with at least one of these pain points. As tempting as a shiny, brand new solution may seem, the cost of changing out everything may be higher than you’re bargaining for.

Factor the cost of change into your CRM decision

According to Prosci, the more dependent a project's benefits are on adoption and usage, the more focus should be on effectively managing and easing your team into the change.

Therefore, you may want to look for a CRM that is easy to combine with the tools you have in use. This will make it more likely to be adopted by your team, which should be the ultimate goal. As a starting point, it might even be best to go for a very basic CRM that covers the basics, used in addition to the current mix to avoid shaking things up too much and stirring up resistance.

Many CRM tools are compatible with major email providers, calendars, and other basic office programs. Pipedrive’s CRM system, for example, is designed to integrate with rather than disrupt the tools in your sales process. You can read our page about integrating email with Pipedrive to see how it works.

If after all this evaluation you still want to ditch all the old tools, then, by all means, do so. The important thing is to think your decision through, and not to rush in before you and your team are ready.

3. Keep your key CRM stakeholders in mind

While you may be browsing CRMs and CRM advantages on your own, it is important to remember who you’re shopping for. Whether you’re a manager or not, chances are that you will not be the only one benefiting from the implementation of CRM software, so it’s important to think beyond your own needs.

First and foremost, before asking for feedback from your team, as a general rule of thumb you want your CRM’s advantages to include excellent customer support and an easy-to-implement framework. Avoiding overly-complex CRM systems or support teams that take over a week to get back to you is an easy way to ease the transition and make your teams’ lives easier.

The next thing to consider is the key functions your team is carrying out. Are they salespeople who will benefit greatly from forecasting and reporting features? Do they prefer a timeline view or is a Kanban board the best way to keep an eye on progress?

If you can’t answer these questions with certainty, just ask! Have a meeting to pinpoint your team’s biggest needs and priorities before making any definitive CRM choices.

Don’t forget about the people upstairs

While it’s important to look at things from a ground perspective, it is equally important to consider the needs of the people up top when considering which CRM advantages are key to your business.

What are the business objectives of your organization? Is productivity an area of particular focus at this time? Understanding the budgetary concerns and quarterly goals of the key decision makers involved in the purchase of a CRM will give you more leverage when pitching its advantages.

If you’re facing some opposition, free trials are a great way to get the conversation started and to preview the positive impact a CRM tool can have on outputs, which will often outweigh the cost by a long shot.

A well-matched CRM means happy customers

While the focus so far has been on advantages within your team and organization, the impact of a well-chosen CRM will also ripple into your customers’ experience.

By helping your team keep track of customer data, they will find it easier to adapt their services and offer support at different stages of the purchasing process. Moreover, personalization tools for email, landing pages, and other forms of communication often come with the CRM package, adding a personal touch to their customer journey.

Pipedrive is an agile, highly customizable CRM platform used by over 80,000 teams to scale and manage their day-to-day processes. Start your 14-day free trial to see if its the right fit for you.

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