Maybe you've heard of customer relationship management (Commonly called CRM) software before, but you don't really know what it is. It's possible you may have considered investing in CRM software but decided against it because you had the following assumptions about it:
- It's too expensive and won't bring a high enough ROI
- It doesn't do anything that other office software doesn't already do
- It's too complex to setup
- It doesn't really make much difference in your overall profit lines
The truth is CRM really does make a difference with your business because it adds so much more capabilities than you probably realized. It's even become a hot new market in business software because of how it can be used even by small businesses.
What is CRM Software?
CRM software is pretty well explained by its acronym because it does in fact manage customer relationships, but how does it do that? Much of it is from the data you have on your customers that it sorts through and organizes for you and gives you a better idea of how to market to them. Before CRM existed, much of what you did to gather data on customers or to keep track of your important contacts would have been note taking on small flashcards and filing them away. But then as computers came along, this data would be entered into files, spreadsheets and database software. But then CRM came along and made even greater use of all that data because of how it could utilize it across multiple company departments and do so in great detail. CRM at its core combines customer data while also giving sales and marketing managers a way to delegate tasks to their teams and do so in a collaborative way.
Benefits of CRM Software
One of the first and most important benefits of CRM software is you do get a good ROI on it because it's very affordable. Some CRM systems even have free versions that although they're limited compared to the premium versions, they allow you to do a lot more than you could without them. And most premium versions come in monthly subscriptions of somewhere between $20-$40. But the second benefit is that most CRM software is based in the cloud which means it can be accessed across multiple devices and can come in very handy when you need to access it on a mobile device. And along with that, one area that many CRM software developers have addressed is security. This is a key area to be concerned with when you need to protect customer data, and many SaaS CRM platforms have improved data protection mechanisms. As a business owner, you can also create access control protocols for who has access to which administrative levels.
Popular CRM Software
Now that you have a better understanding of CRM software, you may want to do some shopping on which would fit your company needs the best. Some software packages can be practically installed right out of the box or accessed through online portals, while others are a little more technical and require some programming and coding knowledge to setup. But these are the main CRM platforms that are usually top-ranked in the industry:
- Salesforce – Salesforce is usually the first name that comes up in the CRM universe. It has a diverse set of packages for different business sizes and has some of the most options in its user interface.
- Zoho – Zoho is a little less expensive than Salesforce and doesn't have nearly the same amount of extensive features with it. But its affordability and ease of use without needing to get too technical make it a highly rated CRM platform.
- SugarCRM – SugarCRM also has a relatively low cost and has even more features you can add in using the API and developer tools. But because of that, it's usually better to use if you're a more skilled programmer or developer.