How to Choose CRM Software: A Guide for Buyers


CRM software was made to help businesses build and keep ties with both new and old customers. Since then, CRM software has changed from a simple contact management system to a powerful tool that helps users handle sales, marketing, point-of-sale (POS) transactions, accounting, vendors, and other types of operational data all in one easy-to-access place.

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“Choosing CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is a critical decision for any business, as it can significantly impact your customer interactions and overall efficiency.”

From the point of view of growth, CRM helps you find leads, keep in touch with prospects, and guide them through the sales process. CRM is also used to keep customers loyal by saving key information that can be used to boost sales, like making the experience more personal and giving great customer service.

Here is our 2021 guide on how to choose the best CRM software for your business. Visit our best picks page if you already know what you need and just want to see our suggestions for the best CRM software.

How much does it cost to buy CRM software?

Costs for CRM tools vary a lot. Most vendors use a pricing plan based on subscriptions. The price varies on a number of things, like the number of users and the features that are available.

Most of the time, you pay a set fee per person per month. Some sellers charge a flat monthly fee for a set number of users, but you may find that to support the number of users you need (and the features you want), you need to buy a more expensive plan or pay extra for things like extra users. Depending on what your business needs, prices can run from $10 per user per month to thousands of dollars per month.

Don’t have a budget for CRM software? Or maybe you’re not sure if CRM software is right for your business, but you want to see what it has to offer. Many companies let you try out their tools for free. There are also free versions of famous CRM software. Some are full-featured but limit the number of users or records, while others only do the bare minimum.

What should you look for in tools for CRM?

CRM doesn’t just keep track of your contacts; it also gives you a lot of tools to help you make more sales and run better marketing efforts. Here are some more details about what CRM software can do for small businesses.

In charge of sales and management. Find new customers by instantly getting leads from places like social media, website visitors, incoming calls, newsletter signups, and more. You can automatically follow up with leads by setting up emails and tasks, or you can contact them directly yourself. CRM can help prospects all the way through the sales pipeline, from getting leads to finishing the sale. Also, many CRMs let users make sales quotes, store them, and track bills.

Marketing. Many CRM systems come with built-in marketing tools, such as email templates, email marketing pipelines, SMS messaging, and light project management tools. Some can even keep track of the industry and make sales predictions.

E-commerce. Some high-end CRM software comes with built-in e-commerce features, while other products make it easy to add e-commerce by using the API or a third-party service.

Reports/dashboards. Most CRM software has some kind of reporting feature, and many of the higher-end tools have dashboards that are live and changeable. Make sure that any needs you have for exporting or importing (like moving information to and from Excel or QuickBooks) are met by the method you choose.

Call center. Most low-cost CRM systems don’t have call center features, but third-party integrations can link CRM software with call center software. But if your business is built around a call center, it may be worth it to get a CRM with full call center tools.

Workflows/approvals. A key part of any CRM is the way it handles projects. Most good CRM have built-in processes and checkmark-style approvals that make it easier to keep track of tasks and keep things organized. But how customizable these project management tools are varies from product to product, so if you need a certain workflow step or review process, make sure the application you choose can do it.

There are many kinds of CRM software, so picking the right one is important if you want it to help your business. Here are some questions that small business owners should ask possible suppliers:

• Is it made for small companies?

• What is the process for putting it into place, and how much professional help is included?

• Is it easy to use? Can I easily teach people what to do?

• Is there a minimum number of users?

• How easy is it to connect to other options I already use?

• How much does the program cost all together? Are there any fees for setting up or extras? How do I add more users or connections if I need to?

• Can you use the API?

• What kind of security features are put into the app?