5 Things To Consider When Choosing A CRM Solution

All good businesses seek to have good relationships with their customers.

The quality of client relations is a sure indicator of the success of a company, no matter what industry or size. If you make your clients feel valued, communicate with them frequently, and make yourself available to answer questions or concerns, you are more likely to build brand loyalty, and they are more likely to recommend your product or service to others.

But how do you keep track of all of these customer relationships?

Small local businesses may know exactly who they deal with, but as a business expands in size and complexity, the need for a digital solution is a necessity. In the same way that you need the contacts app on your phone to track the information of people you know, your business would greatly benefit from a CRM (customer relationship management) system.

A CRM system allows you to store customer data such as contact information, accounts, leads, and sales opportunities in one central location where it can be accessed by multiple team members and updated in real time. It’s a holistic view of all customer interactions that can greatly increase your understanding of your customers, and we believe it’s crucial to your company’s growth.

If you’ve never used one before, the extensive variety of CRM applications available to you can be overwhelming. But don’t be intimidated—all CRMs operate with the same basic goal in mind (allowing you to know your customers better and then putting that knowledge to use), but how they achieve this goal varies from system to system.

Here are five things to consider when sorting between CRM software and selecting one for your company:

1) Business Goals

There are a few basic categories of CRM software: conversation CRM, leads and deals CRM, contact CRM, and marketing CRM. These all function uniquely, so before choosing an app within one of these categories, it is critical to ask yourself what you hope to gain from a CRM system and define your main focus.

  • Conversation CRM is structured around the conversations your company members have with clients and contacts. These apps organize emails and calls so that everyone is on the same page about when to contact customers and what to discuss with them. Some of the top rated conversation CRM apps include Nutshell, Contactually, Streak, SalesforceIQ, and Close.io.
  • Leads and deals CRM is structured around converting potential leads into paying customers. These apps help you track all the interactions that are involved in making a sale, including obtaining leads, adding information as you persuade leads to purchase your product or service, and then highlighting the finalized deal. It is a particularly helpful product management tool for your sales team to keep everyone informed of where the sale stands at a given time. Some of the top rated leads and deals CRM apps include Hubspot, Oracle, Base, Clinchpad, Pipedrive, Zoho, and Salesforce.
  • Contact CRM is structured around those details that, if remembered and utilized in customer interaction, will help you make a lasting and personal connection. These apps, which are cheaper and simpler than other CRM tools, gather information such as birthdays, favorite foods and lunch spots, and family names, so that next time you contact that client you can have that information fresh on your mind. Contact CRMs help you impress your clients by showing them that you care enough to remember the little things. Some of the top rated contact CRM apps include Google Contacts, Highrise, Clevertim, Insightly, Vtiger, and Capsule.
  • Marketing CRM is structured around automatically putting your data into action. These apps, which tend to be more expensive but also extremely efficient, can send emails to leads the day after they open an email or click on an ad, or notify your team when a lead seems promising. Some of the top rated marketing CRM apps include Infusionsoft, Interakt, Jumplead, Hatchbuck, GreenRope, and Instant Customer.

You also have to decide between a cloud-based (web-based) CRM solution and an on-premise one. Cloud-based systems are the most popular and provide practically unlimited access, but they are dependent on web connectivity and can be hindered by Wifi or device issues, whereas on-premise systems can only be hindered by power outages.

The most prominent needs, weaknesses, and strengths of your sales team will affect which type of CRM will be most effective for your company situation, so consider your goals when choosing a CRM application.

2) Size and Expertise of Sales Team

Before you implement a CRM, which in and of itself is a complex process and cannot be undone easily, you should have an estimate (if not an exact number) of how many people will be using it, and be aware of how competent they are at adapting to new processes and technology. The reason for you buying a CRM solution is to grow your business, so ensure that the CRM you choose is going to grow with you and allow for however many employees you need to be able to access it. Scalability is an important factor to consider.

Some CRM apps are more complicated to use than others. You know your staff’s ability best—if the CRM is too difficult to use, your sales team might be unwilling to use it, and ROI will plummet. Take advantage of free trials and evaluation tools before you purchase a CRM system to gauge how well your employees can understand the technology.

3) Integration with Existing Platforms

A CRM system is supposed to make things easier on you, not harder, so prior to purchasing one check and ensure that the app you choose is compatible with other applications you already have in place. Can it integrate with your website? Can it pull data from your social media platforms, company emails, and customer analytics? Some third party platforms can help you streamline this integration, but you definitely want a CRM that has this capability, and the smoother the integration already included, the better.

4) Industry Specific

There are CRM apps designed specifically for your business niche. When shopping for CRM software, consider getting one of these more custom options, as they are tailored to areas such as real estate or finance and can provide insight into best practices regarding customer relationships within your industry.

5) Custom CRM

Purchasing a CRM solution that has already proven itself to be successful is much better than having no CRM solution at all, but having a custom CRM solution gives you total control over the functionality and design of your CRM software. You decide what factors are important and how to log information. And since custom CRM apps are designed to fit the workflow that your team is already familiar with, the learning curve you would experience with an off-the-shelf CRM app will not be as much of an issue. Having a custom CRM gives you a competitive edge in your industry, as you can quickly adapt your strategies and technology to fit trends or competitors’ behavior. However, custom CRM solutions are typically much more expensive to create and maintain, so you should weigh the potential ROI before committing to building a custom software.

Need help building a custom CRM system or want to know more about what CRM is and how it can help you? Contact us today!

Shea Duncan – Author

Lead Content Producer


Shea is an expert content writer and is a classic literary nerd! She loves writing highly engaging content and has a knack for making it convert!

Elliot Alicea – Contributor

Co-Founder of Empirical360


Elliot is a Co-Founder of Empirical 360 and is extremely passionate about creating highly effective marketing campaigns. He places ROI above all else!