Choosing a CRM is unfortunately not a simple task. The main issue is the balance of features/capabilities with ease of use. This is a ranking of the top 20 CRM software products. When looking at that list it is important to keep two things in mind:
- Some products are popular simply because they have been in the market longer, but no longer reflect state of the art in usability, UI and UX.
- Some products have developed a strong position catering to large enterprises but are not the best solution for a small business.
I have direct experience with the CRM products from Salesforce.com, Highrise, Infusionsoft and GetBase.com. Salesforce is in my opinion too overloaded with features and not very easy to use. Highrise is the other extreme, easy to use but you will quickly outgrow it and need something more powerful. Infusionsoft has developed a great position as the system of choice for small businesses. It is in my opinion a good balance of features and ease of use but it is not inexpensive. GetBase has a cleaner and even simpler user interface and should also be a good candidate. I know of several companies that use Zoho CRM and have very good things to say about it. Furthermore they have a free starting package for 3 users that is not as limited in capabilities as other CRM free packages. It is now on my list to test next.
These are my recommendations when evaluating a CRM.
1. I strongly recommend to use a 100% cloud-based product. 40% of the CRM products sold in 2012 were cloud based. These systems have no cost of installation and can be used by your sales staff from any location via the web.
2. Main user screen should be welcoming, simple and intuitive. If it is not, your salespersons will not use it and the project will die.
3. Test search capabilities extensively.
4. Is the product capable of doing mass e-mail or direct mail marketing campaigns? Today’s modern CRMs are far more than simple contact management.
5. CRITICAL REQUIREMENT FOR B-B MARKETING: Does the product have a simple way to segment your contact database. Consumer marketing does not worry too much about this since they can’t quite segment customers by needs and requirements, only demographics. In B-B segmenting is a must, and a CRM that cannot segment your contacts into, for example, drilling companies vs. refineries it is useless for marketing. Infusionsoft uses Tags for this which can be used to generate reports, segment different emails, etc.
6. Does the product offer a way to edit the steps in your opportunity pipeline? Many products do not.
7. Must have a way to connect with your email system, either Outlook or Gmail to easily record outgoing and incoming email communications.
8. The newest CRM trend is to facilitate integration with social media networks like Facebook or LinkedIn. Zoho CRM has a great feature that connects the Facebook and LinkedIn profiles of your contacts based on email address. Features like this will continue to increase in importance.Selecting a CRM system that best fits the way your company does business is not a decision that should be taken lightly and you should devote the necessary time to ensure a successful transition.