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CRM technologies: Finding the right solution for your business

CRM Technologies
What are CRM technologies?
What features should I look for in CRM technologies?
Selecting the right CRM technology for your business
Implementing CRM technology in your business
Measuring the success of your CRM implementation
Final thoughts

Navigating today’s competitive business landscape requires effective customer relationship management (CRM). However, many organizations struggle to keep track of all their data, leading to a poor customer experience and hindering growth.

CRM technologies alleviate these pain points by centralizing your key data, automating tasks and giving you valuable insights into customer relationships.

In this guide, we’ll explore CRM technologies, important features to look for and how to implement the software within your business.

What are CRM technologies?

Customer relationship management is an essential part of business, covering the different strategies, tactics and tools used to monitor and improve customer relationships. CRM technologies refer to the different software and apps used as part of the process.

These tools enable businesses to track customer interactions and data more effectively, making it easier to review essential details and identify customer trends. As a result, businesses use CRM technologies to improve their sales, marketing and customer service throughout the customer lifecycle.

CRM technology brings plenty of benefits, making it one of the most popular sales tools. According to the latest Pipedrive State of Sales and Marketing report, 85% of respondents use CRM software. CRM software serves as a business’s one source of truth, a place where all the customer-facing teams can collect, view and analyze customer data.

By better understanding your prospects and customers, you can streamline customer communication over multiple channels. You can then tailor your service to their specific needs and objectives, which will improve customer retention and increase revenue.

It’s possible to categorize CRM technologies based on where they’re installed:

  • On-premises CRMs are installed directly on a company’s servers and typically have higher up-front costs, but they can give users more control over how they store and use their data

  • A cloud-based CRM lets you access your customer data anywhere there’s an internet connection and enjoy a more cost-effective, scalable solution

While all CRM technology is designed to manage and improve customer relationships, the way it achieves this can vary, meaning there are three different types of CRM. However, most modern CRMs combine all three.

Operational CRM

Operational CRM improves productivity and customer satisfaction by automating daily business operations, such as sales, marketing and customer support. Operational CRM uses automation and data management, so it’s ideal for businesses looking to optimize these processes for stronger customer relationships and revenue growth.

Analytical CRM

Centered on data analysis and customer segmentation, analytical CRM helps organizations make data-driven decisions, enabling targeted marketing and sales efforts. It’s optimal for businesses that have plenty of customer data and want to use it for strategic decision-making and enhanced customer experiences.

Collaborative CRM

Collaborative CRM fosters a unified approach to customer management, emphasizing communication and collaboration within organizations and with external stakeholders. It’s best suited for organizations requiring seamless collaboration for a consistent, integrated customer journey across touchpoints.

What features should I look for in CRM technologies?

There are hundreds of different CRM technology solutions available, which can make it difficult to select the right one. Here are some of the main CRM features you should look for when deciding on what technology to use.

Contact management

Contact Management

The core of any CRM system is its ability to effectively manage your contact data. In addition to monitoring your customers’ information, you can also use CRM technology to get a 360-degree view of your leads, prospects, partners and vendors.

Lead management is more than just storing your customer data, though. You also need to be able to access that data quickly and easily when you need it – at any given time. If you’re about to jump on a sales call with a potential customer, you don’t want to spend hours navigating through hundreds of entries just to find the details you need.

Look for a CRM solution that can create comprehensive customer profiles, along with customizable fields and tags that cater to your organization’s specific needs and industry requirements.

Pipeline management

Pipeline Management

One of the features that separate most standalone contact management apps from a fully featured CRM solution is sales pipeline management. By tracking deals and sales opportunities as they move through different stages, you can monitor progress and see where to focus your attention.

You can also identify any weak points or bottlenecks in your process as you watch prospects move through the sales funnel. You’ll also get a better understanding of why certain deals succeed and others fail, enabling you to optimize for future sales.

The best CRM technologies provide a visual representation of the sales pipeline, so you can see deal progress at a glance and improve your sales forecasting.

Workflow automation

Pipedrive Workflow Automation

From generating leads to following up with potential customers, salespeople have more than enough work to keep them busy. With artificial intelligence and workflow automation, CRM technology helps sales teams eliminate much of the repetitive data entry and other mundane tasks that take time away from selling.

There’s plenty of work you can automate, including scheduling calls, email marketing and sending personalized outreach. CRM tools like Pipedrive’s Smart Contact Data automatically enrich contact information with details from social media and other websites, saving hours of research.

Look for CRM technology with relevant automations for your organization's specific workflows, so your sales representatives can reduce manual work and spend more time on high-touch sales activities.

Communication management and tracking

Schedule meetings in Pipedrive

Your CRM should help with every aspect of customer communication, starting with how you reach out and engage with potential customers. From there, you should be able to see your entire communication history and review notes from previous meetings.

Look for a CRM that syncs up with your inbox and other communication channels so you can talk to your customers in the way that suits them best. Pipedrive includes advanced email and communications features, such as a scheduling tool that lets you automatically book meetings at a convenient time for both you and your customers.

You also get email tracking features, notifying you when a contact opens your email or clicks on a link so you can follow up at the right time.

Dashboards and analytics

Dashboards and Analytics

While pipeline management helps you understand more about your customer lifecycle, sales dashboards give you greater insights into your sales team and their performance. By providing a convenient dashboard customized to your unique goals and objectives, CRM technology lets you see your most important metrics and KPIs in one place.

A sales dashboard should be able to track all of your sales rep’s activities and their results, so you can pinpoint any issues, give relevant support and make strategic decisions.

Choose a CRM that gives you real-time data visualization and insights, providing the latest information in an easily understood format. Your CRM should be capable of producing custom reports you can use to quickly share information with your team and other stakeholders.

Mobile accessibility

Mobile Accessibility

Whether they’re at their desk, visiting prospects or working from home, sales teams need to be able to access customer information wherever they are.

A mobile-friendly CRM means your reps can view the data they need on cellphones, tablets and laptops. You should also be able to record notes and attach them to specific customers and deals for future reference.

Look for a CRM with a user-friendly app that’s compatible with both Android and Apple devices. Pipedrive’s mobile CRM lets you access your customer data, even if you’re offline, so you’ll never be stuck looking for a mobile signal again.

Selecting the right CRM technology for your business

The best CRM technology for you will depend on your business’s unique needs and requirements. When trying to find the right solution for your business, start by asking yourself questions such as:

  • What is the size of my organization?

  • How many users will need access to the CRM?

  • How many customers and other contacts do we engage with?

  • How complex is our sales process?

  • What is my budget for CRM implementation?

If you’re a solo entrepreneur just getting started or working with a limited budget, then a spreadsheet with a sales pipeline template might be sufficient. Startups and small businesses will benefit from the features of a dedicated CRM solution, while a large team CRM enables enterprise-level businesses to collaborate across multiple departments and locations.

Consider any unique requirements and standards that affect different industries and whether you’d be better with a CRM specifically designed for that niche.

Beyond these surface-level needs, take some time to identify the biggest challenges your organization is currently facing. For example, maybe you’ve previously lost deals due to an inefficient sales process or lack of customer data visibility.

Once you’ve got a complete picture of your business requirements and pain points, you’re in a better position to assess potential CRM solutions. Compare the features and functionality of various CRM systems, paying particular attention to aspects that align with your organization’s requirements and goals.

Good questions to ask here include:

  • Is the software user-friendly, or will I have to spend months training my staff to use it properly?

  • Will this CRM integrate with the software and tools we’re already using?

  • How much will the system cost, including initial setup and ongoing expenses?

  • Will the system scale with my business as it grows, or will I need to change providers in the future?

If you’re finding it hard to locate a CRM solution that meets all your needs, check out software review websites such as G2, Capterra and TrustRadius. These sites collate unbiased reviews for all the major CRM platforms and give a quick overview of the different pros and cons of each CRM from businesses just like yours.

Similarly, most providers will have a collection of case studies to show the exact results different types of businesses get with their solutions.

Implementing CRM technology in your business

Successfully implementing a CRM system in your organization requires careful planning, preparation and training. The following steps will ensure you get the most out of your CRM technology.

1. Define your goals and objectives

Start by documenting your goals and objectives for implementing the CRM technology. What are you hoping to achieve? How do these goals align with your organization’s overall business strategy and vision?

For example, maybe you’re looking to shorten your sales cycle or increase revenue from existing customers. Having a clear destination in mind from the very beginning will ensure your CRM is set up according to your requirements.

2. Cleanse and organize existing customer data

In most cases, you’ll already have existing customer information you want to use with your new CRM technology. However, before you transfer everything over, make sure it’s suitable for use. If your CRM contains inaccurate and out-of-date information, any insights or decisions you make based on it will be flawed.

Review your current customer data, removing any duplicates and checking that all the information is up to date. You should also ensure that all the data follows the same format and that you’ve included any mandatory information required by the new platform.

While this might sound like time-consuming tasks, there are apps that can speed up the process. For example, the Insycle Data Management integration eliminates duplicate entries, standardizes your data and cleanses it ready for importing.

3. Define project scope and timeline

In line with project management best practices, establish a clear project scope that identifies the specific system features, customization and integrations required for your CRM implementation. Which areas of your business do you need to include? What tools will work alongside the CRM? Will you need external expertise?

Develop a realistic timeline for each stage of the implementation process, taking into account potential challenges and contingencies as much as possible. For example, you might allocate four weeks for data migration, two weeks for system configuration and one week for user training.

4. Identify key stakeholders and champions

The best CRM technology in the world won’t do you any good if people aren’t willing or able to use it. Engage individuals from your different customer-facing departments and involve them in the implementation processes. Explain the benefits of a CRM system, showing how they will personally benefit from the new solution.

When you have “champions” in the business who are enthusiastic about the new CRM solution and are willing to promote it within their teams, user adoption will be higher and you’re more likely to get a positive outcome.

Use this opportunity to assign roles and responsibilities to every team member involved in the CRM implementation process. For instance, you might designate a project manager to oversee the overall implementation, a data migration specialist to handle data transfer and an IT admin to manage system integrations.

5. Train your team

Comprehensive CRM software training is crucial for smooth user adoption and getting the best results. Organize in-depth training sessions for all CRM users, covering how to use the key features as well as best practices for CRM data management and collaboration.

Consider using a mix of training formats, such as live workshops and videos, to cater to different learning preferences. Check to see if your chosen CRM offers any training resources.

For example, Pipedrive’s Academy offers a wide selection of virtual training programs and courses, along with a range of webinars and video tutorials.

Pipedrive Courses

6. Encourage user feedback

Fostering a culture of open feedback encourages users to share their experiences, challenges and suggestions for improving the CRM system. Regularly gather feedback from users through surveys, focus groups or one-on-one meetings.

Encourage honest feedback. If team members are struggling with a certain feature or dislike part of the process, try to find out the root cause and see if there are any changes you could make that would improve your CRM strategy.

Measuring the success of your CRM implementation

Once you’ve successfully set up your CRM solution, measure your results and make data-driven adjustments as needed.

Think back to your original goals and objectives for using CRM technology. For each goal, decide on the corresponding sales metrics and KPIs you want to track. For example, you might want to measure:

  • Lead conversion rate

  • Customer retention rate

  • Customer lifetime value

  • Average deal size

  • Sales cycle length

  • Sales revenue

Use your CRM’s reporting and analytics capabilities to see how you’re doing. Can you see any patterns or trends in the data, either positive or negative? If so, can you tie those results to any specific changes that you made? Use these insights to identify potential areas for improvement and optimization.

Conduct regular reviews of your sales performance to ensure your CRM continues to meet your business needs and delivers the desired results. These reviews are especially important when your business’s circumstances change.

Whether it’s internal policies or external pressures, your business will face challenges. Your CRM can help you adapt your business processes and adjust your sales and marketing campaigns as necessary, but only if you’re regularly reviewing your results.

Final thoughts

As businesses face increased competition and other challenges, having a reliable way to monitor, manage and improve customer relationships is a necessity. CRM technology streamlines the whole process, helping you engage more effectively with customers and make smarter business decisions.

While CRM software is particularly popular with salespeople, all customer-facing teams can benefit from a better customer understanding. When you implement CRM across your organization, those valuable insights lead to improved marketing, sales and customer success.

By creating a better customer experience across every touchpoint, businesses can increase profitability, improve customer satisfaction and truly stand out from the competition.

Driving business growth