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.

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