With the proper set of tools and features, CRM software can become an essential part of operating a business. It can help you save time, boost sales, and cultivate extraordinary relationships with customers and prospects by offering you critical insights into their journey from prospect to buyer to returning customer. If you’re just starting out your CRM software search or you’re just prospecting the market for newer solutions, keep reading because we have a short list of capabilities that all CRMs should have.
1. Contact Management
While CRMs have evolved a lot in the past few years and are more than just a digitized rolodex, contact management features are still the cornerstone of similar solutions. Robust contact management features offer a standardized way of storing and accessing information, tracking interactions, and cultivating strong relationships with your contacts. Apart from contact information, look into solutions that let you see a purchase history and each contact’s preferred communication outlets.
Apart from helping businesses effectively manage contact details, contact management features within your CRM will also help you streamline customer interactions. With similar capabilities, you can quickly spot areas in your operations that need improvement in relations with your customers, how you can resolve customer inquiries more effectively, and even personalize how you approach communications with each of your customers.
Strong contact management capabilities will not only help you keep track of your customer interactions, but they will also contribute to developing strong relationships with them.
2. Lead Management
Lead management is the central point of generating more sales. It refers to the process of capturing qualified leads and pushing them down the funnel as effectively as possible. The process itself is highly dynamic since it requires fast response times on your end, as well as assigning them to the right people in your sales team. It also involves repeated follow-up interactions. Because each lead has its preferences in terms of how they communicate and interact with companies, having relevant data to help you in the process is essential. Here’s what stages your lead management solution should follow:
- Lead generation
- Lead qualification and segmentation
- Lead nurturing
- Lead scoring
- Lead distribution
- Lead conversion
- Lead tracking
As you can easily observe, these are stages that encompass both marketing and sales interactions. A robust CRM that integrates with all your other systems will offer all parties involved clear insights into the lead management process, allowing you to boost sales and create loyal customers.
Properly interacting with your leads will ensure higher conversion rates. So, having an effective way to centralize relevant information on your leads is equally as important as effectively managing your existing customers. Lead management features are necessary because they show each lead’s potential to convert. Thus, you have a powerful tool to ensure that you’re focusing on the right people and that you don’t waste time and resources on leads that are unlikely to make a purchase. Lead management is equally relevant for both Marketing and Sales.
3. Sales Forecasting
Another critical capability for all organizations is sales forecasting. Such features help you understand how your pipeline, quota, forecast, and attainment evolve over time with advanced visualizations, time-aware visualizations, and configurable dashboards. Advanced sales forecasting capabilities, ideally powered by AI and ML, are essential to help you identify potential risks and opportunities. Predictive sales forecasting and analysis are based on both historical data and third-party data, such as market trends and conditions, and they can help you gain valuable insights into customer behavior. In the long run, they facilitate data-driven decision-making processes.
4. Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics help you uncover insights unique to your business, even with limited or incomplete CRM data. For example, tools such as SugarPredict tap vast external data sources to analyze factors your data doesn’t cover and make predictions that enable businesses to make better decisions and focus on the highest-priority sales activities. Predictive analytics features are not only relevant to Sales. They bring immense value to marketing and support teams as well.
By applying deep learning models to CRM data, marketing lead activity, and large quantities of data derived from external sources, predictive analytics capabilities provide a distinct advantage over modeling derived from CRM data alone: data that often is inaccurate or incomplete. Such capabilities use algorithms that identify signals with more accuracy than rule-based approaches. Such features help you predict with accuracy which leads and opportunities are more likely to convert by compiling CRM, marketing, sales, and support data, together with externally sourced data.
5. Workflow Automation
When looking into robust CRM solutions, make sure that workflow automation capabilities are part of the whole package. We already mentioned why workflow automation is critical for business success. Apart from helping you automate repetitive tasks, it also offers a standardized way to gather and process large amounts of data. This ensures accuracy and consistency at a cross-departmental level.
More than this, business automation helps you save time and resources by automating tasks such as lead nurturing, communications, and data entry. Instead of having a human handle these time-consuming processes, your team members can focus on higher-value tasks, where the human touch brings a plus to your business, communications, and overall customer experience.
6. Reporting and Dashboards
The second most popular technology to integrate with CRM today is analytics and measurement dashboards (35%), behind only marketing automation. Reporting capabilities and dashboards are essentials for CRM solutions because they let you closely and accurately monitor marketing, sales, and support metrics. Reporting capabilities give you the most relevant and recent insights on leads, opportunities, support cases, marketing campaign success, etc. Some CRMs feature intuitive out-of-the-box dashboards and customizable reports, which helps companies ensure that they track the metrics that matter the most to them. In the presence of such capabilities, companies can enhance their response times, adapt marketing strategies, and analyze sales trends.
At a macro level, such capabilities help you build consistent experiences for your customers and even anticipate business outcomes. Reporting and dashboards should allow you to monitor anything, from individual performance to team or department performance. All this contributes to elevating the decision-making process by identifying growth and improvement opportunities with increased accuracy.
7. Integration with Other Tools
Your CRM may be the central hub of your organization, but it should easily integrate with other tools as well. To ensure compatibility and ease of integration, you should look into product suites with extensive capabilities. These should expand from your central hub, aka your CRM, to marketing tools, support, and sales tools. When these tools are developed and deployed by the same vendor, integration mishaps are minimized and data collection facilitated.
However, not all CRM vendors offer auxiliary systems. In this case, you should ensure that you select a robust CRM with solid integration capabilities.
How customizable is your CRM? If the answer to this question is “not very customizable,” you might need to reconsider your solution of choice. Robust CRMs allow you to tailor systems to predefined workflows and processes that fit your business needs closely. Everything from custom fields, rows, forms, workflows, and reports matters to a business and how efficiently it operates. Customizable (56%) and easy to use (46%) are the terms that best describe the SugarCRM platform, according to our 2024 State of CRM Report.
Interested in learning more about the latest CRM trends and market evolutions? We have all the insights you need in our latest 2024 State of CRM Report!