Choosing the best CRM system for your team

Small Business Guides

5 min read

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application can help you close deals and maximise revenue from existing accounts. But first and foremost, it has to make your sales team happy. We spoke to Nutshell, a CRM software company, about choosing the best CRM system for your team.

When CRM systems work, they're amazing

If sales is a big driver for your business, you’ve probably either tried a CRM system before or you’re in a hurry to get one up and running. At their best, they can:

  • increase sales (some say by up to 30%)

  • take away admin, so your sales people are happier and more focused

  • identify opportunities to cross-sell or upsell to existing customers

  • ensure customer requests don’t slip through the cracks

  • consolidate and protect your institutional knowledge

The list could go on because CRM software is getting smarter all the time. These systems can do more and more to support your sales process.

But an awful lot of businesses say they use less than half of their system’s capabilities. And many say they’d give up some of those extra features if the thing was simpler to use.

When it doesn’t work, CRM software can be a roadblock

Depending on which study you read, between 25 and 50 percent of CRM projects fail. Failure can be due to a lot of things. In some cases, the system gets in the way of your sales process and reps end up fighting against it to get their job done.

When this happens, staff will probably abandon the CRM system – going back to spreadsheets, private email and other forms of manual record-keeping. Not only does that slow them down, but it means you lose the opportunity to coordinate your sales efforts, which is the whole point of using CRM software in the first place.

There’s a system for you

CRM software has come a long way. The idea of one-size-fits-all was abandoned a long time ago and systems are now built to support all types of business, with their many different sales processes. The growing choice can seem overwhelming but it’s ultimately a good thing.

You can whittle down to a shortlist of systems quickly once you start asking questions about your sales process. The guys at Nutshell say that’s the most important step in choosing the best CRM software for your business.

CRM can be done really well, or really quite badly. The choice is yours. There are products out there that will suit your business and support your team.

Don’t just research the CRM software, research your business

To work properly, a CRM system needs to support your specific sales process – no matter how complex or unusual it might be. Every step should be easier than it was before, or your staff won’t get onboard. It’s as simple as that.

So before you start looking at brochures, look at your team and find out what they need. It’ll tell you what to look for to find the best CRM software, and it’s more important than choosing by brand or price.

Asking the right questions

To choose the best CRM software, you need to understand how your team operates. Here are the key considerations to help you choose:

How do you collect lead information?

Your CRM software should make it easy to add new sales leads. If your sales team collects business cards at conferences, get a system with a native mobile app to scan business cards. If you capture leads online, you’ll want CRM software that integrates with your website or marketing automation platform.

How many sales leads do you have?

Many businesses like Trello-style CRM software that visualizes their sales process, and shows which prospects are at each stage. That’ll work if you have a relatively small number of sales leads, but the display will become too dense and complex if you deal with high volumes. The best CRM system will give you a meaningful dashboard view.

How many steps to close a deal?

Map out your sales process and make sure your CRM software can support it. If you have to move a sales lead through 10 stages to close a deal, you’ll need a system that supports all those stages. If you have business requirements that must occur before a lead can be moved ahead, your CRM software should support required steps. Look for a system that can automate simple tasks like sending literature to sales leads.

What do you need to simplify admin?

You’ll need certain features to support your internal procedures and reporting needs. Consider things such as:

  • How easy should it be for team members to access each other’s data?

  • Do you need to secure some data, so it can only be seen by permitted users?

  • What sorts of reports do you need to create quickly and easily?

  • Will you need to be able to export or extract data easily?

Shortlisting and testing

Spend time with your team to fully understand their processes and then create a list of criteria to compare products. Consider only those systems that meet all your needs and have the vendor demonstrate a working model – don’t just rely on brochures and customer testimonials. If you can avoid it, try not to test any more than three systems.

Choosing the best CRM software for you will boost business

Around 80% of sales leads never get converted. Imagine the effect on revenue if you could move the needle just a few percentage points. Good CRM software can really help that journey by improving the quality of each contact with a sales lead or customer.

When you integrate that CRM system with compatible business software, you can create a single workflow to take someone from lead to prospect to paying customer. You’ll be able to:

  • personalize your interaction with sales leads and prospects

  • create quotes

  • turn quotes into invoices

  • graph how much each customer is worth to your business (so you can nurture them and reward them with deals, where appropriate)

But this only works if your sales team is happy to use the system. No matter how hard you might try, you can’t force compliance.

Getting started

To find the best CRM software for your business, you’ll need to:

  • map out your sales process at a high level and share it with your reps

  • get their feedback and refine your map until the sales team is happy

  • seek input from anyone else who’s involved with the customer journey (such as engineers who sometimes go on sales calls)

Your sales team is probably busy and out of the office a lot but resist the temptation to do all this by email. Call meetings, where necessary, to make sure you get the direction you need.

If you’re looking for your first CRM software, check out Nutshell’s eBook There’s a Better Way to Grow Your Business, which describes what a good system can do for you.

Avoid shortcuts with CRM

CRM can be done really well, or really quite badly. The choice is yours. There are products out there that will suit your business and support your team – boosting conversions, maximizing the value of existing accounts, and helping to create a happier workplace.

They’ll also automate many processes, saving you a lot of admin effort. The time you invest in finding the best CRM system will be repaid many times over.