The decision for a customer relationship management system (CRM) is at the heart of your strategic planning: it is about improving customer relationships and increasing efficiency in sales and marketing. However, there are countless CRM systems. How should you go about selecting a CRM system? And what is particularly important for medium-sized companies, i.e. companies with between 50 and 1,000 employees? You will find the most important criteria for selecting the right CRM in this overview.
Why choose a CRM at all?
An effective CRM system revolutionizes the way you interact with your customers. At the same time, it optimizes your internal processes. It helps to manage customer data effectively and gain valuable insights for business decisions. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that modern CRM technology has an enormous transformative effect on companies.
Company needs as the basis for CRM selection
There are excellent CRM systems out there, but they won't necessarily suit you. The first thing to do is to understand the specific needs of your business. Do you want to make your sales more effective? Do you want to automate your marketing? Is improving your customer service important to you? How many employees should work with the future system?
You are probably facing very specific challenges in your market. If you know what you specifically want to achieve, you have taken the first step towards selecting the right CRM system.
Consider functions and tools when selecting a CRM
Important aspects when choosing a CRM are the functionalities and tools that the system offers. Here are some of the most important functions to look out for when choosing the right CRM:
- Customer data management: A central function of any CRM system is the management of customer data. An effective CRM system should provide a comprehensive and easily accessible database that stores all relevant customer information such as contact details, purchase history, interaction logs and customer preferences. This data should be easy to update and segment to enable targeted marketing and sales strategies.
- Marketing automation: Functions from this area enable you to automate recurring marketing tasks and design more efficient campaigns. Look out for tools relating to your email marketing, lead nurturing and campaign management. These enable you to develop and execute personalized marketing campaigns based on customer data.
- Sales support: A CRM system should offer tools that support and optimize the sales process. These include lead tracking, sales funnel management, sales forecasting and performance tracking. These tools help your sales team to effectively track and convert potential customers. At the same time, they can be used to gain insights into sales performance.
- Customer interaction tracking: A powerful CRM system should track and record interactions with customers across various channels. This includes email, social media, (video) calls and face-to-face meetings. This feature helps you to get a complete picture of the customer relationship and ensure that all team members are on the same page.
- Reporting and analytics: Advanced analytics tools are critical to gain meaningful insights from your customer data. Look for a CRM system that offers custom reports and dashboards to monitor key metrics such as customer satisfaction, sales performance and marketing ROI.
Select CRM once, save follow-up costs again and again
The cost of a CRM system is of course an important factor. Our tip: Evaluate the price-performance ratio and consider not only the acquisition costs, but also the long-term operating costs. Because there are big differences here. With a CRM system such as Salesforce, for example, the costs depend on the number of users. Many additional functions, such as AI, cost extra. Dynamics 365, Microsoft's counterpart, is different: the flexible licensing with different license types and the AI integrated at no extra cost are cost-effective, especially for small and medium-sized companies. We have drawn a detailed comparison between Dynamics 365 and Salesforce in another article.
A CRM system should be able to grow with your company. The selection of a suitable CRM therefore requires a look at the scalability of the system to ensure that it can also meet future requirements. This may involve adapting the number of users, the ability to expand the functionalities or the data processing capacity. Can the system be further developed in the direction of ERP, for example? Can it cope with significantly larger data volumes without losing performance? And will the price-performance ratio remain attractive if new users and functions are added?
User-friendliness and user needs
The more user-oriented the CRM system is, the higher the productivity and data quality will be. Why? Every user has specific working methods and requirements. A CRM system should offer sufficient personalization options to enable individual views, dashboards and reports. The easier it is for users to access the information relevant to them, the more efficiently they work. It would also be ideal if the CRM system offered scope for user feedback. This enables further adjustments and improvements.
For these reasons, user-friendliness is one of the most important criteria for many companies when selecting a CRM. After all, it is not IT specialists who will be working with the CRM, but sales staff, clerks, service employees and marketing and communication specialists. User-friendliness and ease of use are therefore crucial for the acceptance and effective use of the CRM system.
Because most people already work with Microsoft programs, they appreciate Microsoft Dynamics 365 in this respect, where they can rely on essentially familiar user interfaces and similar handling.