Buyers' Guide for Customer Relationship Management Solutions

Selecting a CRM solution is a big deal, as this system is used to manage all of a company's interactions with current and future customers.

The right solution will make managing customer relationships a breeze, enabling marketers to collect valuable information and personalize future marketing campaigns. The wrong solution, however, can make it much more difficult to foster quality relationships with customers, resulting in lost opportunities for brands.

This is why Web workers need to conduct thorough research and take a look at all of their options before committing to a CRM platform. Let the following tips work as a guide in the quest for the finding perfect CRM solution for your business.

1. Know how many team members will need access.
Prior to shopping around the CRM market, it is important to know how many team members will need to access the CRM system. By knowing this information, you can filter out solutions and/or plans that don't fulfill your team member needs.

2. Be aware of customer database size.
A CRM needs to be able to grow with your company, so it is important to pick a solution that fits all of your current contacts and has room for future contacts too. Nimble, for instance, offers a plan that includes space for 30,000 contacts and charges $10 a month for each additional 10,000 contacts after that.

3. Get a complete view of the customer.
Your customers contact your brand through multiple channels nowadays, and your CRM should be able to keep up with their conversations. Before making a commitment to a CRM platform, make sure that it syncs with your inbox and social accounts. Salesforce, for example, enables marketers to track customer emails from any email app, as well as allows users to pull in social data for access to more customer insights.

4. Take extensions into consideration.
Whether it is an app, plugin or extension - these extra add-ons can make a world of difference when it comes to your CRM capabilities. Infusionsoft is an example of a solution that offers a Marketplace, where users can leverage a variety of different services, including apps for analytics, SMS and social media marketing. 

5. Know what else you want.
It is important to know all of your business's "deal breakers" before researching available CRM solutions. After all, your business should not have to conform to your CRM, instead, your CRM should be flexible enough to meet the needs of your business. This is why it is important to know where your team stands on aspects like marketing automation, the length of stored conversation history (30 days, six months, a year?), collaboration features, price points and more. CRMs are increasingly being integrated with ecommerce platforms, so retailers may want to consider a solution that does that, such as NetSuite.

6. CRM on-the-go.
Do you want the ability to access you CRM while away from your desktop? If so, you'll want to make sure that the platform you are looking at offers this functionality. Zoho CRM, for instance, offers CRM mobile apps that give users access to customer info and sales activity on both iOS and Android devices.

7. Analyze the analytics
CRM systems hold a treasure trove of customer data, so it is important to consider each platform's analytics and reporting capabilities. Not only should the analytics be presented in an easy to read format, but the reports should also be customizable Take SugarCRM as an example. This platform offers reports that are personalized for every user so that each team member has access to the best information and customer insights that can be used to drive sales.