Customer relationship management (CRM) is more than contact between yourself and potential leads. It has become a tool that can be used to nurture leads, contact potential leads, keep all data on clients and leads in one centralized location, help your team work collaboratively, and more. Having this information readily available to your team allows them to work more efficiently. As they can log into your B2B CRM tool, find the information they need/add the new information to the lead/client, and then use that profile as they would like. 

In today’s business environment, where data is a commodity. We work within such data-heavy programs, managing that data is more important than ever. Further, user experience (UX) is almost more important than the features the tool has. Your team’s ability to navigate the software easily and quickly is key. As everyone is either on the move, extremely busy, or both and they can not be dragged down by slow or difficult to use tools. 

What’s Included in a Good B2B CRM Tool?

A good B2B CRM tool records your customer’s contact information, stores the details of your relationship, logs their interactions with your company and/or tool, adds automated or manual tags, and allows you to contact them through the tool. These are all basic requirements of a B2B CRM tool. But in recent years, tools have become increasingly smarter and developed new functionalities. Such as: recommending when to up-sell or cross-sell existing customers, reminders when to follow up with prospects, tracking new market opportunities and tracking invoices. 

The Criteria for Picking a Good B2B CRM Tool

As I am sure you have come to the conclusion yourself, implementing B2B CRM software into your business can be a game-changer. Allowing for scaled productivity, improve collaboration, increased sales and shoot your customer service through the roof. Now, all that is left to do is to decide which tool is right for you. Easy right? Unfortunately, this can be a difficult process as there are hundreds of tools out there. It can be next to impossible to weed through them all to find the right one for you. This is where we are hoping to be a light at the end of the tunnel. We have handpicked a few B2B CRM tool features we think are the best and will hopefully give you a running start. 

Would You Like To Supersize That? – Pricing of CRMs

One barrier to entry that is most commonly vocalized, especially by SMB’s, is pricing and the price for the features they are looking for. But when you are analyzing different B2B CRM tools, cost should play a part in your filtering methods but it should not be the first filter that rules out tools. Look at the tool and see what features come at that price. Then see if you would need to purchase a higher plan or add-ons in order to achieve the level of productivity or features you are looking for. 

For some companies with a smaller staff or group that will be utilizing the software, it may be beneficial to look at some of the CRMs that price per user. But with this pricing model, the same caution applies. Ensure you know what features come with this pricing model and make sure it covers what you are looking for. 

Training is another element that can eat up not only time, but money as well. If your team is training themselves and contacting support to learn the system, they are not closing deals. Take into consideration how long it would take to integrate this system and if it would cost anything to integrate it with your pre-existing tools. The features offered with one tool may look fantastic to you now. But, will it cost you money to integrate it with your other tools or do you have to change what tools you are currently using? 

Hello, Are You There?

CRM software needs to be intuitive or else your team will actively avoid it and only use it when absolutely necessary. Take note of how many clicks it takes you from logging in until you are able to complete basic tasks you are likely to repeat. If you find that this process is taking a long time it may not be the right tool for you. As you will avoid this process if you are slightly tight for time. 

Support for Your CRM Needs

Other than being easy to use, consider how available the support team is, regardless if it is user error, concern, inquiry, or a bug. Verify with the agent giving the demo or explaining the software to you what level of support is available. And if it is based on the plan you have chosen/how much it is for a more accessible support level. Not only inquire about the support available but inquire about any self-service help that is available (blog posts, walkthroughs, video tutorials, FAQ’s, etc.). If there is a limited number of self-help tools available keep this in mind. As you will need to be making inquiries to a live agent if you require assistance. 

Get In, Get Out, Don’t Get Distracted

With any piece of software, there will always be features and functionalities that go unused by you and your team. As not every tool is going to be custom-built to your needs. Software companies try to address the main problem and specialize in this solution. But will offer functionalities they believe could be helpful to aid you in your business’s journey. Depending on your needs you may use some of these features but there are some that fall by the wayside. Don’t get distracted by the features that you won’t use. Focus on what problems you are looking to solve and find a tool that fits the puzzle of other tools you currently have. 

Mobile Responsive CRMs

As business is transitioning more and more to remote and mobile work, ensure you evaluate their mobile device platform. Ensure the app can do the tasks you most commonly perform. For some companies, the mobile version may be more critical than the desktop version. For companies this applies to ensure that this version meets all requirements and is something your team will be able to use. 

Set It and Forget It

The ability to have well-planned marketing automation is one of the most valuable features of CRM software tools. Unfortunately, not all platforms have this feature. This automation process allows the software to remind you, or, in some cases handles a task for you. Whether this is automated emails to be sent to the customer following up from a call or sale. This can also extend to other software you have implemented. Such as email campaigns based on the last interaction you had with the customer. You can set tags to launch different actions and affiliate these tags to customer profiles based on the interactions you have had. Then allow the software to do the follow up for you. 

Manage Your Leads with a B2B CRM Tool

Lead management is a core capability of all CRM platforms. As this was the initial problem many of them started out to solve. A way for companies to maintain their leads, customers and centralize their prospect profiles so they can follow up and contact their customers and prospects more easily. Lead management is part of all CRM platforms. How the software handles lead management along with marketing automation, is the sweet spot for many companies. IT also comes down to the way the operator handles the information and their ability to customize the information to make it work for them. During this process, it is equal parts of software capabilities and equal parts of user ability. 

Play Nice Together – Integrations with CRMs

Make sure you determine which features are included with your subscription and whether integrations are included. An essential part of deciding which platform is going to be right for you is going to be which tool will integrate either natively or through an integration tool with the tools you currently use. Not all CRM tools will integrate natively with every tool in your toolbox. But there are third-party integration tools like Zapier that allow you to integrate tools and automate these processes.

Zapier allows you to seamlessly integrate thousands of tools. There may be some tools that you are currently on the fence about and may switch away from in favour of  another tool because it integrates natively with your new B2B CRM tool. Or, there may be some tools you are not willing to part with and will need to find a way to integrate through a third party with these tools. 

Another form of integration that may be available if there is no pre-existing integration (natively or a third party) available, or if you are unhappy with the way the tools integrate, is an application programming interface (API). Many CRMs on the market offer APIs for you to use for this exact use case. . With API availability, your IT staff or contracted IT team can build a custom integration for you that meets your needs. This option offers the most amount of flexibility and customization. But can also incur additional cost depending on your team’s coding talent. 

Show Me The Data

Once you have implemented a CRM in your daily routine you will want to see some data on trends, what is working, what isn’t working, and where you can improve. This is where a tool with reporting features can open up new ways of approaching problems. By seeing where your leads and customers are falling off, you can improve on these spots. By taking elements of what is working and implement them elsewhere to keep your customers and convert more leads. Keep an eye out for CRM tools that allow you to export these reports especially if you ever need to present high-level data to stakeholders or team members. 

Fort Knox

Finally the last thing you should consider, and by no means is it the least important element,  is security. With your data being incredibly valuable , security is an ever-present liability. Your business has done hours and hours of work to ensure their data is secure and if you handle others data you have to have safeguards in place to account for that. You should feel comfortable with the CRM tool’s security requirements. You should be concerned if your CRM lets you select a password but doesn’t generate an audit trail if you are trying to make changes to the account. Or if you are not able to select the security profile for different users.

With more and more data scandals happening worldwide, customers are more reluctant to provide their information. Thus causing privacy laws coming into effect like GDPR and CCPA. Making data privacy no longer optional. and to do business in these regions you are  mandated to meet these requirements. Securing this information isn’t just about maintaining your privacy. It is about protecting your profitable relationships with your customers and providing peace of mind for your prospects. 

What This Means

As I am sure you have come to the conclusion yourself, there is much more at play when selecting a CRM software than you initially thought. These are just the main points we felt are necessary elements in deciding which tool is right for you. If you select the correct tool and tools surrounding your CRM, your CRM can be one of the strongest and influential parts of your business.

For your team to operate as you hired them, they need the ability to get the data they need when they need it. Having access to all aspects of the business (through integrations), and have assets helping them close deals (through marketing automation). You will be shocked how much easier it is to contact your customers and follow up with prospects when you have implemented the right B2B CRM tool. You will be left there wondering why you didn’t do this earlier.

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