Features of CRM Software

Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM) solution by its very name indicates it is meant for dealing with customers and managing relationships. However, the name does not give way to the fact that it is also the primary software used to handle sales and marketing as an all-in-one solution. Some companies use CRM software exclusively to manage customers and some exclusively for new business, but most companies use it for all of the above. This certainly makes sense given the breadth that the CRM features cover and the centralized view it can give you throughout the process of converting a lead to a customer.

But, just because others use it for everything or just some things, doesn’t mean that’s the best way for you to use it or that it even fits your needs. Taking an in-depth analysis of what your company wants to do compared to what CRM features offer is the best way to see what you need, what you want, and what you don’t need to consider.

Here are some of the key CRM features, separated by specialty, that are often included in a Customer Relationship Management solution.

Sales

1. Pipeline Management

One of the keys to winning a sale is nurturing a lead throughout the sales process. Pipeline management is where you can track the companies in each stage, see high-level information such as sales numbers, percent to close, and who is handling the lead. You can also organize by sales rep, sales team/location (if you have multiple), and many other criteria.

2. Account Management

This is where you see the details of each account. Basic information like addresses, employees, contact information and interests are all centralized on the account page. The key is you get a view of all communications associated with the account down to the contact level so you can avoid any double calls and be sure nothing falls through the cracks.

3. Partner Management

In addition to customers and prospects, you can also track partners. You can see what mutual leads there are or what sales opportunities there may be. This is especially handy if you have many partners and you work together regularly as the need to see more details on things like communication history and current status is higher.

4. Quote/Order Management

You can create a quote for customers directly in the CRM so that you can save it to the account instantly and have it for future reference. You can also see any previous quotes and process the quote to an order. Any discounts or product deals can be updated as well for up to date information.

Marketing

1. Email Marketing

Sending emails to customers in bulk can be a quick, easy way to let them know about new products or changes to existing products. You can also track to see who opened what if they clicked any links and if they filled out any information because they want you to follow up with them.

2. Campaign Management

Managing multiple marketing pieces at once makes campaign management very important. Knowing what pieces work and which ones don’t will direct how you should spend your marketing time and money to most effectively communicate with prospects and customers.

3. Lead Management

Tracking each lead and what stage they are in will allow you to customize what marketing piece you send to either get a response or to move them to the next stage, getting them closer to becoming a sale. You can also use it to qualify leads and give leads to the appropriate sales rep.

4. Reporting

Seeing detailed reports on what the current status of segments in the database are will help show you who to target now and in the future. You can better track current revenues and estimate for the future, create ad-hoc reports, and see trends in your marketing, for better or for worse.

Customer Service

1. Incident Tracking

With incident tracking, you record what the issue is, who is issuing the complaint, who is handling the complaint, and what the status is- whether not addressed, being worked on, or completed. This can help you look for trends in complaints by company type or by issue type, for example. This can help you either improve your customer service or improve your product.

2. Knowledge Base

Knowledge base refers to a category of materials designed to help the customer so that they do not need to contact anyone else. It may be articles, how-to-steps, word documents, etc. They are searchable and numerous so that customers can better help themselves to the information they need without having to contact you for help.

3. Call Center

In call center environments, there are a few key items that can make or break the system. One is the phone integration, which allows employees to pick up the phone and have the detailed history of the caller come up on their screen. Call scripting is also important as it allows information to be shared with the caller without taking up employee time.

4. Analytics

Once you have data on what the most common complaints or areas where customers need the most help are, you can use it to better tailor your support. For example, you can better train multiple employees on that area to better address the customers or fix what issues are causing problems internally to help lessen the number of issues.

Integrations 

1. Email

Many CRMs integrate with email such as Outlook and Gmail. This is often a major benefit because all you have to do is click once when you send and receive an email, and it will be automatically recorded in the CRM for future reference. This way, no email communication will be lost or forgotten because it will be attached to the company and contact record.

2. Social Media

You can use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to now engage with customers and see what their thoughts are on certain issues. It can also be a way to handle any problems they may have if they reach out via social media.

3. Mobile Applications

A mobile crm app can be a great tool to have if you have reps out in the field going to different customer or prospect locations. From a quick glance at their phone, they can see the detailed history tied to an account including any orders, payments, and last communications with contacts. They can also record what they do and who they talk to, and what was discussed while they were there all without having to open up the bulky laptop.

4. Other Integrations

There are also other software solutions that CRM can integrate with. The most common would be Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, etc.). In fact, many solutions allow you to both import and export from Excel. This makes getting certain data into and out of the software a simple task.

CRM integration with QuickBooks is also common. Many companies see the value of tying invoices and orders together in the CRM to the financial package so that at the click of a button you can go between the two. They will usually sync as well so all data will be up to date, and there is no need for double entry.

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