Choosing the Right CRM for Your Web Business

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Many glaze over at even the mention of customer relationship management (CRM) software. While it may not seem like an exciting aspect of running a Web business, when the platforms are tied intricately to other business processes, they prove to be an invaluable component to Web success. 

If you’re not currently using a CMS to keep track of customers, here are few points to keep in mind when choosing a solution that is right for your business. For those using a CRM offering, you’ll find rethinking how you’re using the technology (or how it’s using you) will yield positive dividends.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is essentially just a database which enables Web professionals to store, manage and allow access to sales and marketing data.

In a perfect world, CRM solutions should be able to manage existing customers and facilitate the addition of prospects (e.g. through the use of forms), provide access to those who use the database from virtually anywhere (no desktop CRM, please), be able to quickly generate customer profiles for sales or marketing reference, analyze customer needs and preferences, identify customer attributes to reveal optimal marketing methods and be able to work with other databases easily.

Identifying what we need the CRM to do is only half the struggle. The secret to selecting a CRM that works for your business is to identify your business needs and analyze the myriad available solutions based on our expectations for the software.

Here are a few keys to selecting the right CRM for your Web business:

  • Ensure the solution can capture all relevant information (especially all interactions with customers). CRM systems help you collect, store and share data. But it’s essential that any changes made are reflected in the CRM globally and in real time.
     
  • Determine the breadth of the platform by learning how deep the coverage goes for your business. Will marketing, sales, and customer service be able to benefit from this system quickly and easily?
  • Ask whether the CRM solution can integrate with applications you already use. For example, many companies use multiple applications to manage their business operations. The ability to streamline processes - for example, exporting and importing data into e-mail systems - is imperative.

  • It is essential, whatever CRM platform you choose, that it can integrate with your business workflow. Choosing a solution that is adaptable (without code hacks) and can be customized in a way that best suits the enterprise using it, will be the one that yields the best long-term return.

  • Analyze the level of support you will receive and you’ll crystal ball your future. CRM softwares are some of the most sophisticated technologies on the market. Ensuring someone is available who speaks your language when you need it will be a major deciding factor. Before you sign, get a support contract secured.

While not nearly an exhaustive list, this should get those seeking out CRM solutions thinking about what they need and want from customer relationship management software. Share with other readers of Website Magazine the CRM you're currently using, what you like about it and what you don't by commenting below!

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2 comments

JohnM 03-06-2009 4:29 PM

We built an on-demand CRM system for website designers that we sell for $50 per month.  I would love to show Website Magazine how we built it.   I saw you guys at ISPCon years ago.

Our System: http://www.team-logic.com

MaryR 03-06-2009 5:25 PM

We just started using a new CRM system last September, primarily for managing the sales process. But we also have after-sales support, such as calibrations and repairs. We found it quite difficult to handle the after-sales processes because the data needs to be handled differently. We ended up using another database that takes care of the repairs, etc., that is linked to the CRM database. That's taken care of most of what we need, but it would be great if we could have it all in one package.

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