Review Guide for CRM Software

By Kevin Stewart
Updated: April 29, 2011

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a broad term that covers a wide range of business functions, including contact management, sales force automation, inventory management, and customer experience management. Before you review the features of a particular software package, make sure you focus on your organization's particular business needs.

Beyond Contact Management

Managing your business contacts is a primary feature of any CRM solution. Creating and maintaining useful contact records is important to maintaining your customer relationships. CRM takes contact management further by allowing you to segment and target your customer base. When you review CRM software packages, look for ways that the software provides more than just a list of contacts. CRM should enable you to apply business intelligence to create and manage an ongoing relationship with your customers.

Sales Force Automation

Today's CRM packages also provide sales force automation (SFA). SFA creates a process for sales teams to manage customer contacts, enter and track orders, generate forecasts, and manage sales employee evaluations. If SFA is a high priority for your business, focus on these features and evaluate how they fit into your existing sales process.

Comparing CRM Packages

Making a list of key features and how they should benefit your organization is an important first step in your review process. List the features in priority order, for example: 1. Sales Force Automation, 2. Contact Management, etc. Then for each feature, make a note of the important tasks that must be provided. By doing this homework up front, you will get the best results from your review.

There are many online resources available to compare CRM software packages. When using these resources, make sure the packages and configurations are presented accurately. Most CRM packages have several options that you can choose to create a customized solution. This is particularly true of software as a service or cloud computing platforms, where the software is delivered over the internet with just a login and password.

Choosing a CRM Vendor

You may get the most benefit from choosing a CRM vendor that can perform a complete evaluation of your business needs and then present options for you. The cost of hiring a vendor may seem unnecessary, but vendors do provide the benefit of their experience and sector knowledge to help you make the best choice from a large field of CRM offerings.

Whether you do your own research online or choose a vendor to help you make the purchase decision, it makes the most sense to review and evaluate CRM packages based on their fit with your organization.

Featured Research
  • Your Guide to Social Customer Service

    Did you know that 67% of online consumers have used social media for customer service purposes?Unfortunately, many businesses ignore social mentions because they don’t know how to handle them appropriately. This is a problem because managing and responding to these mentions can make or break your brand. more

  • A Guide to Selecting a Customer Portal for your CRM

    This whitepaper provides a guideline for selecting the right customer portal solution for your CRM by following a three-stage process. By comparing in-house and third party SaaS products, we examine present business and technical portal requirements, which are then mapped against the upfront and hidden costs for development and future scalability needs. more

  • Top Intelligent Tools That Every Sales Rep Should Have in 2017

    Explore how Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes it possible for salespeople to leverage the structured data in their day-to-day activities and enhance the communication with customers and prospects. more

  • The Social Intranet: A guide to getting better business results

    This whitepaper describes why the shift from a traditional to a social intranet is imperative to staying competitive, and analyzes the costs and benefits associated with implementing one. You will also find useful KPIs to measure performance and further leverage your intranet's success, raising employee engagement and boosting your competitive advantage. more

  • The New 2016 SMB CRM Comparison Guide

    Selecting a CRM system is not easy. That's why our CRM expert has compiled this new SMB CRM comparison guide to provide you with the information you need on the top 40 CRM software solutions available on the market. more