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Cloud CRM Software for Sales: What is a Cloud CRM and Do I Need One?

Cloud Based CRM
Topics
What is cloud CRM?
The benefits of cloud CRMs
The challenges of cloud CRMs
How to find the right cloud-based CRM
Examples of helpful integrations for cloud-based sales software
Why Choose Pipedrive as your cloud-based CRM?
Final thoughts

A cloud-based CRM can be an extremely useful tool for sales and marketing teams, but knowing which Cloud CRM software is right for your business, or if you need one at all, is tricky – especially now that many cloud-based CRM providers offer an affordable, flexible solution, making them attractive propositions to organizations of all sizes.

In this guide, we’ll explain exactly what a cloud CRM is, the benefits it can have to your business, the challenges of implementing one and how to choose the right CRM solution for your needs.


What is cloud CRM?

Customer relationship management software (CRM) helps organizations manage information on a range of internal and external contacts and relationships. Cloud CRM is a solution hosted on the software provider’s servers, which organizations can access via the internet.

CRMs aren’t only used to manage customer information though; these are powerful tools to automate business processes and centralize information across departments. They make it easy for sales, marketing and even HR to access comprehensive data from your CRM software cloud and elsewhere.

With CRM software, your sales team can find the best time to reach out to their hot leads and how to engage them across every customer journey touchpoint. Sales managers can access comprehensive data about team performance, missed opportunities and best strengths.

Unlike traditional, on-premise CRM software, cloud-based CRM systems operate in the cloud, offering more flexibility when it comes to collaborating on, accessing and updating client records and customer data. Getting to grips with what cloud CRM software is and what it can provide your company can be a daunting process, but realizing the benefits of a CRM is simple when broken down into a series of points – so let’s do just that.


The benefits of cloud CRMs

While all CRMs provide an effective and transparent way of managing customer and employee information, in-house solutions sometimes come with drawbacks. You can avoid these drawbacks with cloud CRM for small businesses or large enterprises. Because cloud CRMs operate in a SaaS (software-as-a-service) model, they avoid these drawbacks and have the following benefits:

Easy, cost-effective installation

Setting up your CRM in cloud computing services does away with the need for expensive in-house applications, making them an attractive option to organizations of all sizes. It’s prohibitively expensive for a start-up or small business to afford on-site CRM software, not to mention the associated servers and maintenance staff. Updates, maintenance and data backup and protection are handled by the cloud CRM provider.

Cloud CRMs also eliminate hardware and overhead costs, which are absorbed by the CRM vendor. You instead pay affordable monthly or quarterly subscriptions, without any nasty surprise costs or complications.

Scalability

Cloud CRMs provide a cost-effective means of scaling. With clear pricing and immediate access, this translates to lower upfront costs, which means it’s easier to handle your company’s growth

Likewise, for a larger company seeking to upgrade their storage, cloud CRMs provide a simple and immediate solution, so no need to source hardware and have it installed and maintained by a team of in-house IT specialists.

Greater access

Cloud CRMs also allow for far greater mobility than their in-house counterparts. Users are no longer tied to their desks and can access CRM applications via the internet from any device. Internet access gives users greater flexibility and means less downtime while traveling or out of the office.

Many providers have specialized mobile apps, meaning they can be updated on the go for even quicker access to information.

Flexible, tailored plans

If your organization only needs certain aspects of a CRM, then you can often choose to subscribe to a pricing plan that includes just those features. Unlike most traditional options, cloud CRMs offer a customizable package so you don’t have to pay for services you won’t need: you pay for exactly what you want, for the number of users you require.

Subscriptions can be paid monthly or quarterly and can be changed or canceled immediately.

More security

Resources spent building and maintaining a server and ensuring data security are resources diverted from helping your organization grow. Cloud CRMs handle all this backend for you, ensuring your information is encrypted, backed up and never lost. Moreover, many cloud CRM providers give uptime guarantees to ensure a consistent service without risk to your organization.

Easy integration

One of the best ways of transforming your CRM software into a much more powerful package is to use integrated software. With in-house CRMs, organizations need a team of IT specialists to build programs from the ground up or modify existing programs to ensure compatibility with the CRM and meet your specific needs.

Cloud CRMs provide a simpler solution, with a host of intuitive third-party programs designed to work perfectly with your CRM and provide specific and targeted solutions for your unique needs. These tools boost functionality in key areas like marketing campaigns, help desk, emails and social media to help teams save time on repetitive tasks.


The challenges of cloud CRMs

The inherent issue with cloud CRM solutions is that information exchange takes place over the web and information is stored away from your organization on the provider’s servers, where it can sit for years.

It’s a double-edged sword: you’re free from the responsibility of storing data, but you’ve got to trust that the sensitive information you are storing on the cloud computing servers will be secure and accessible only by you and your team. Here are a few challenges to be aware of when it comes to using a cloud-based CRM solution.

Risk of a security breach

It’s important to know going into a relationship with a provider that they can be trusted to keep your data and communications safe. Without this assurance, you run an enormous risk in today’s trust economy of damaging your company’s relationships from a potentially insecure host platform. In fact, 78% of customers would stop engaging with a brand online following a security breach.

You need to ensure your provider prevents outside sources from logging into your network, while still retaining ease of access for your staff.

System repairs are out of your control

When you outsource your CRM maintenance, you run the risk of the tool or database crashing, leaving you without any way to access the data your teams need to work. It’s crucial you ensure your CRM provider upholds high standards of system maintenance because if something goes wrong, you’ll bear the brunt of their mistakes.

Your core sales and marketing operations will be offline, potentially meaning missed deals, missed prospect leads, hurt customer relations and damaged customer experiences with existing clients, seriously affecting your organization’s current and future cash flow.

Your data is out of your hands

With no physical backup of your data on-site, if your provider loses your data, it’s lost forever. Businesses need the peace of mind that their information is securely backed up in case of emergencies, or else operations will come to an abrupt halt.

Choosing to use a cloud-based CRM tool over a traditional in-house CRM can have huge benefits for your business, but it comes with the caveat that you’re no longer solely responsible for protecting your most valuable data. You must do your research when choosing a provider.



How to find the right cloud-based CRM

Finding the best cloud CRM for your organization means researching the security of any system you’re considering. After that, it’s a matter of determining what features and functionality are most important to your organization. Here are some tips to help you navigate both.

Ensure top security

First and foremost, your cloud CRM must be secure. Look for cloud-based CRM systems with robust security measures such as:

  • Two-factor authentication

  • Account and device logging to pinpoint any suspicious devices

  • Audits to review recent security and permissions changes

  • Risk alerts based on user access and permissions

Ensure your information is stored on reliable and secure servers and your data has state-of-the-art encryption both in transit and at rest. You should also make sure it’s being backed up regularly to a secure location.

A quick way to tell if a CRM provider has great security is to check for certificates proving their reliability, such as SOC 2, SOC 3 and US-EU Privacy Shield awards.

Find the features that matter

With security taken care of, it’s time to work out which solution will suit your organization best. Cloud CRMs come with a bevy of features and third-party integrations to help your teams streamline their tasks. Look out for the following features and decide which are important to ensuring a positive experience for your team and clients.

Contact management

Contact communications and customer interactions are tracked and stored in one easily accessible place.

  • With all your data in one place, ready to be updated in real time by anyone with permission, you can ensure there are no missed or forgotten leads.

Workflow automation

  • Some cloud CRMs provide performance tips and recommend features and third-party integrations that can automate repetitive administration tasks.

Lead management

A cloud CRM with the right tools (or that can integrate with the right lead generation software) can simplify lead management. Use customizable chatbots to sort through your leads and send them to the right people. Get them to book meetings for you if the lead meets your criteria or deploy and follow-up notifications based on custom triggers. Use online forms to establish lead contact information.

Management tools

Create reports using the data already stored in your cloud CRM – no more spreadsheet data entry. Choose what metrics to compare to discover your strengths and weaknesses.

Mobility

A good cloud CRM will have a mobile app for iOS and Android, allowing users to access the system wherever they are, whenever they like.

Project management

Deals and leads are arranged in a visually neat system, making progress along the sales pipeline simple and uncluttered.

Ease of use

With all your data in one place, any interaction with a client or a lead can be managed in real time so that users who need that information can access it immediately. This also allows separate teams to build up a complex picture of their leads from the beginning of the interaction.

Consider the provider’s qualifications

Beyond security and features, choosing the right CRM solution is a case of using your common sense and doing your homework. Go for providers with good feedback and ratings, and if in doubt check their customer service yourself with a free CRM trial.

Avoid products that require manual updates, those that haven’t been updated for a long time and options where accessing your data is a hassle. Untidy interfaces and clunky pages make for a terrible experience.


Examples of helpful integrations for cloud-based sales software

Third-party integrations can help boost productivity, but sifting through the vast array of apps available to you can be overwhelming at first. The following apps make a good starting point for any business:

Lead generation

These tools are designed to help your organization identify the hottest leads as and when they appear. Web Visitors allows you to see which companies are accessing your website and the pages they’re viewing, automatically updating your cloud CRM. The lead generation tool can also be customized to send alerts when new leads arise.

Bots and messengers

Sending out messages with key information and identifying your leads’ key needs are important but time-consuming tasks. Fortunately, there are app extensions to help you easily automate these processes and improve customer support. Pipedrive’s Dealbot for Slack integration automatically lets your colleagues know the progress of deals by updating key information in Slack, removing the need for extra meetings and repetitive emails.

Email marketing

There’s a plethora of great email marketing and email automation solutions available, such as Campaigns. Campaigns lets you send out automated campaigns with branching options for different levels of lead response. It supports dynamic content so you can target high-value contacts while still appealing to your leads with the right level of human interaction.

Tools like Campaigns create highly customizable automated campaigns based on CRM information. They then feed the response levels back into your CRM contact data.

Analytics

If you’re looking to find bottlenecks in your sales pipeline or see where you could be performing better, analytic apps are an excellent way to pinpoint your weaknesses and convert them into strengths.

QuarterOne lets you measure the success of your sales force and predict the growth of your sales pipeline. This will ensure your management and finance teams are as happy with your cloud CRM as your sales team.

Plecto offers a different angle by displaying key data and KPIs in real time. It also has gamification features that will keep your teams stay engaged and competitive.

Find out about some of the tools that integrate with Pipedrive in our Marketplace.

Download your guide to managing teams and scaling sales

The blueprint you need to find a team of superstars and build a strong foundation for lasting sales success


Why Choose Pipedrive as your cloud-based CRM?

One huge benefit of Pipedrive’s cloud CRM is that it integrates with many of the other web-based services you use, letting you streamline your working process and become super-efficient.

Pipedrive was developed by salespeople for salespeople, built to bridge the gaps in your sales workflow by combining all the necessary tools into one package:

  • Manual data entry can be a thing of the past with Pipedrive and you can spend less time handling data and more time selling.

  • Pipedrive’s sales management software provides an easy one-stop-shop for all your sales tracking needs, pooling information from across your sales data sources.

  • Having a single, streamlined view of your sales process is essential. Pipedrive’s clean interface ensures clarity, keeping your team on the same page.

  • Flexible sales management systems are a valuable tool when molding the perfect sales process for your business. Pipedrive’s extensive yet simple customization makes forecasting and changing things easy and the impact immediate.

  • Mobile access is crucial when you’re actively selling. Pipedrive’s CRM app makes it easy to sell and manage sales on the move, so you’re less likely to miss an opportunity.

  • Pipedrive takes all the tedious upkeep and admin associated with running the backend of a CRM out of your hands. It’s constantly being developed to keep up with the pace of modern sales reps.


Final thoughts

Adopting a cloud-based CRM can have a significant, positive impact on an organization and its bottom line. With information centralized and repetitive tasks automated, your team can focus on the important things: better team collaboration, building relationships with clients and leads, improving customer engagement and selling your product.

Having cloud CRM software means having access to information at all times, regardless of location, laid out in clear dashboards and an easy-to-understand representation of your sales pipeline.

It gives you the ability to quickly analyze your metrics and compare them to your KPIs. Your data is kept secure and the pricing options mean that as you grow, your CRM solution grows with you.

Cloud CRMs do away with the limitations of in-house software at a price that’s affordable to businesses of all sizes. If you’re ready to make the move to cloud-based sales software, here are some tips on how to find the right CRM for you.

Download your guide to managing teams and scaling sales

The blueprint you need to find a team of superstars and build a strong foundation for lasting sales success

Driving business growth