A Customer Relationship Management tool or CRM software provides customer data to your marketing, sales, and service teams. With this data, marketing teams can create better campaigns to attract the right leads. Salespeople can focus on the highest quality prospects. And service teams have all the information to provide excellent customer support.
You can also use your CRM to improve your marketing automation strategy and nurture customers through the sales funnel. The primary focus of every CRM is simple: to help brands build better relationships with their audience.
The question is, with so many CRM tools on the market, which features do you need to prioritize?
What is CRM software?
CRM software help companies track, automate, and understand customer interactions. With a Customer Relationship Management platform, you can see where leads are in your sales pipeline. All the way from customer acquisition to loyalty. Or you can access sales forecasting features, and lead qualification tools. CRM tools also provide teams with lead management tools, and help with segmentation. All these help brands gain a better insight into their audience.
Why do I need CRM Software?
In a world where 74% of customers buy based on experience, there are few things more important than understanding your consumers. CRM software helps you to manage the customer journey from start to finish.
With customer data, you can manage interactions more effectively at every stage of the buyer journey.
CRM platforms also make it easy to create automated strategies for marketing and sales. The major benefits of CRM software fall into 3 main categories:
- Accessible customer data: Get to know your customers. CRM software includes searchable databases full of prospect information. Marketing, sales, and service teams all use this data to improve campaigns and communication.
- Streamlined automation: Customer relationship management software can automate the grunt work of marketing teams and sales professionals. You can create workflows for connecting with customers or following up with leads.
- Insight to act on: The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to impress clients. Your analytics will help with segmenting customers for marketing strategies and tracking revenue.
11 Features your CRM Must Have
The market for CRM software is growing. By 2025, the industry will be worth $49.6 billion. It’s no surprise there are countless vendors out there offering tools. The key to success with your CRM software is finding the right features. Some of the most essential tools to look for among your software systems include:
1. Full 360 Customer View
The heart of any CRM is a full view of your customers. Your CRM database serves as the storage for all the data your company collects about clients. Any CRM must include access to basic contact information for each customer. Other insights may include:
- Interactions between the company and customer. This includes conversations started by either party on email, phone, live chat or any other channel.
- The lead score. Your CRM should show exactly how warm each lead is. To determine the “warmth” of a lead, you’ll look at how often they engage with your business. How often have they opened marketing emails or visited the company website?
- Purchasing history. Has your customer bought anything in the past? Have they left comments about the products they bought? How often have they needed help with the product?
- Sales cycle stage. Is the customer new? Have they made a purchase with your company yet?
2. Multiple sales pipelines
Managing your customers and leads in a pipeline makes teams more efficient. Pipelines help you to see the entire sales funnel. You can see where different leads are in the sales journey and how much a deal is worth.
You may want to access pipelines for different countries, products, or lead sources. A good CRM software allows you to label and segment all your customers.
Access to multiple pipelines also makes it easier to search for information about a specific customer or audience.
3. Customer profiles
CRM platforms are designed to help you understand your customers. Customer profiles are one of the most important CRM features you can look for. These profiles make it easy for your sales and service teams to find all the information they need about a client instantly.
A good customer profile lets you attach files you have on your customer, set activity reminders, include links to social profiles, and link invoices or quotes.
The customer profiles in your CRM should also have a complete engagement and purchasing history. This helps sales and service reps decide how to approach a customer and on what channel.
4. Customer lifecycle and segmentation
CRM software can track and segment customers as they move through the customer lifecycle.
All modern CRMs have marketing and sales automation features. These help you create automated workflows. Like automatically moving a lead from cold to hot after they’ve signed up for your trial. You can also automate a notification to go out to a sales rep as soon as a prospect is hot.
Information about your customers can also be extremely useful during sales conversations. Sales reps can access your CRM to see where leads are in the sales cycle.
5. Customer Insights
CRM tools let you access deeper insights into your customers. With a CRM, you don’t just collect customer data, you analyze it too. The best CRM tools will give your sales and marketing teams valuable information like which leads are closest to buying.
It can also highlight which content works best in your marketing campaigns. Some CRMs even use AI solutions to discover patterns you might miss.
With AI features, CRMs can identify trends in customer relationships. Tools like Zoho CRM already use this information to guide sales processes, like predicting the best time to contact a lead.
The same data can act as a trigger, notifying sales team members when to follow up. The more data you collect, the more you can optimize your sales strategy.
6. Documentation Library
If your employees are interacting with customers, they don’t want to jump between apps to find the data they need. To shorten response times and have consistent information, companies can use workforce analytics software solutions that allow measuring, characterizing, and organizing employee data or build document libraries in CRMs.
A document library in CRMs is where you collect the information teams need when they communicate with customers. This includes access to sales scripts, branding guidelines, and answers to FAQs. You could also use your documentation library to store training information.
A good CRM can import and export data in a range of formats. It will also be able to store the information you need in the cloud. If you have a lot of documentation to keep track of, you might need to look for a tool with a high storage capacity.
7. Goal Tracking
CRM apps help companies to keep track of their progress toward crucial goals. You should be able to access dashboard reports and visuals to highlight your progress. Some CRM platforms show progress on day-to-day tasks alongside visual representations of metrics.
Different companies and sales reps track different things, so most CRM reports are customizable.
Your CRM dashboards and reports should be shareable. With some CRMs, you can even create individual dashboards for each employee. This helps push reps towards personal goals.
8. Collaboration and Communication Tools
In today’s world of hybrid and remote work, you may need to take extra steps to bring staff together. Some CRM tools help with this, by embedding collaboration features into the software.
With collaboration tools, your marketing, sales, and service teams work more efficiently together. Employees from different teams access the same detailed contact information. Teams can share files and assign tasks to each other.
Some CRMs also have built-in tools for communicating with your clients. You can use EngageBay to send emails to customers within the CRM. This makes it easier for small businesses to access critical data during customer conversations.
Tools like Monday.com even have built-in task management environments. This makes it easy to track what employees are doing and keeps staff on the same page. Having a list of employees in your CRM makes it easy to send employee newsletters too.
9. Integrated email
As mentioned above, some CRM platforms have built-in email marketing tools. These platforms will usually offer various templates to choose from, a drag-and-drop email builder, personalization, and automation. Some of the email editors in CRM platforms are on par with the best drag-and-drop template builders.
There are also smart inbox tools for sending and receiving messages in the same app. Sales and service teams can see social media messages, emails, and texts from a client in the same inbox.
If your CRM doesn’t have email tools built-in, you’ll need to find integrations. Most CRMs have integrations with email marketing tools, so you can transfer all the data you need between these apps.
10. Automation Tools
All of the top CRM platforms have sales and marketing automation features. Use this to send emails, assign tasks, and segment contacts. You can even automate lead scoring to help salespeople prioritize leads.
Most CRMs have visual automation builders. This makes it easy to create and edit even advanced automation.
By automating recurring and mundane tasks, your agents will spend more time working on tasks that demand their creativity.
11. Billing and Invoicing Tools
Billing and invoicing tools are crucial for keeping projects running smoothly. When a customer reaches the right point in a sales cycle, it’s best to send them a quote or invoice instantly. These features also make it easier to take repeat payments. Thus if you know how to create a perfect invoice, then you are one step onward to expanding sales. This is crucial for subscription companies.
With built-in payment tools, your team has access to branded documents and pre-designed templates whenever they need to send an invoice. You can also attach invoices and quotes to customer profiles.
It’s best to look for a CRM platform that has payment tools built-in. Or at least look for one that has good integration with a payment platform. Having these systems connected will save you lots of headaches.
Want to learn more about CRM?
We went through all the functionality a CRM platform should have today. Look for these CRM features as you’re deciding what software you want to go for. Check out our other guides to learn more about the best CRM platforms:
- What is ActiveCampaign and why do you need it?
- What is GetResponse and why do you need it?
- What is Hubspot and why do you need it?