30-Second Summary:

  • Make sure that internal communication is front and center. Ensure that you have answers to these specific questions. 
  • You should be able to use filters to drill down into things like the product sold, the source of the leads, the average amount spent by lead source, the worst performing channels, etc. Here is one of the top advanced CRMs. 
  • Any CRM tool you choose should have a knowledgeable support team to help you get set up and take advantage of all the features. In addition to this, ensure they offer these channels of communication. 
  • Take the time to thoroughly test these tools before you commit to it. 
  • The best CRM software makes automation a core part of its offer. It’s important that you can also track this particular metric. 
  • Small business CRM software should have the ability to customize the way deals are handled, the way information is entered and shared, and everything in between. You should also be able to hide this attribute of software. 
  • There should be a central repository in your CRM that allows you to add important documents whether it’s for processes or agreements.
  • Another essential area any CRM you choose should excel in is integrations with third-party tools. Look for these basic integrations first and foremost. 
  • The software should have the key features of CRM in a mobile application. Read on to discover the most critical features needed for a CRM mobile app. 

The CRM market has exploded over the last few years. Previously, you could only find a handful of providers like Salesforce but today it’s the largest software category in the world.
Due to the proliferation of CRM tools and the inherent competition. Many providers have decided to niche down and only offer a subset of features. At other times, they’re bloated to the point of being almost unusable.
This guide will help you understand the key features every CRM should have. When you’re finished reading, you’ll have a much better idea of what a good CRM looks like.

1. Internal team communication

Teams that communicate well do great things. It seems that many tools actively hinder communication-based on the way they’re designed. It can be difficult to draw the attention of others or the chat interface is hidden behind multiple screens.
When evaluating a CRM, make sure that internal communication is front and center. Are you able to tag people in the comments? If so, do they get an email notification or an in-app notification? Can sales reps share information across departments or does the CRM have a silo structure?
The answers to these questions will determine whether or not you can bring more resources to bear when trying to close complicated or important deals.

2. Custom reporting features

What gets measured gets improved. It may sound cliché at this point but it’s true. Almost every CRM will give you insights into your sales pipeline and the deal size or volume. This is the bare minimum and a good CRM will help you analyze much more data.
First, you should be able to use filters to drill down into things like the product sold, the source of the leads, the average amount spent by lead source, the worst performing channels, etc. In addition to that, you should be able to save these custom reports so you can pull them up in a few seconds. Advanced CRMs like Pipedrive have robust reporting features that’ll help you get the information needed to improve sales over time.

3. Excellent support

As the competition in the CRM market increases and customers become more discerning, the tools available introduce advanced features. This helps customers in the long run but it adds complexity. Any CRM tool you choose should have a knowledgeable support team to help you get set up and take advantage of all the features.
It doesn’t stop at the support team. There should also be a robust knowledge base that contains written and video tutorials to guide you when support isn’t available or you’re not interested in talking to a rep. Finally, the team behind the CRM should hold regular live training sessions to show you advanced features and present ideas about how best to use the software to achieve your organizational goals.

4. Ease of use

Ease of use is one of the few non-negotiable factors to consider when choosing a CRM. A common challenge with a new CRM system is adoption by your team members. Some people will use it for a while then drop it while others never really get the hang of it. This can have serious consequences on your bottom line.
Take the time to thoroughly test the tool before you commit to it. Of course, it’ll have its own quirks but are things easy to find? Does it follow best practices when it comes to menu placement, entering contact information, automation, etc.? If you have trouble wrapping your head around it then it’s likely that others on your team will have trouble as well. It may not be worth trying to force it to work.

5. Automation

Gone are the days when you had to move every deal to the next stage in the pipeline manually or send out messages by hand. Even free CRM software allows you to automate the most basic tasks and free up your time for building relationships.
The best CRM software makes automation a core part of its offer. You’ll be able to link triggers together so a large part of your work – and the process of building a relationship – is done on autopilot. With that being said, it’s important to be able to track what was automated and the results you’re getting so you can tweak your sequences over time.

6. Customization

It has been mentioned multiple times in this guide but it’s worth repeating, CRMs are getting complicated. That means the average CRM comes with many essential features you need and it also comes with many that you don’t need.
Small business CRM software should have the ability to customize the way deals are handled, the way information is entered and shared, and everything in between. This is especially important when you don’t have the budget or time to hire a consultant to handle it for you.
In addition to customizing what’s available, you should be able to hide features so you’re not forced to interact with things you don’t need and won’t use. This will make it easier for your team to focus on closing deals and supporting clients instead of navigating around a bloated tool.

7. Simple document management

Most businesses, if not all of them, produce a large number of documents for various things. These documents can be for approvals, contracts, procurement, etc. Whatever the case, it’s important that your documentation is easily accessible when and where you need it. There’s nothing worse than losing a deal or churning a customer because documentation you have disappeared due to poor organization.
There should be a central repository in your CRM that allows you to add important documents whether it’s for processes or agreements. Your team can download them or share them with relevant stakeholders in just a few moments. The documents should have basic editing features, it should be searchable by title at the least and the CRM gets bonus points if it allows you to make comments for your team to see.

8. Integrations

Another essential area any CRM you choose should excel in is integrations with third-party tools. Your CRM is an integral part of your business. When used properly, it can enhance customer support, marketing initiatives, product creation, etc.
The challenge is that when a CRM doesn’t play nicely with other tools, your data can become siloed. For example, if you want to use information from your CRM to launch email marketing campaigns, the CRM needs to have a direct integration. Otherwise, you’ll be constantly importing and exporting data manually.
Moving closer to the core aspects related to the CRM, it should, at the very least, integrate directly with your email (GSuite, Outlook, etc.) and your calendar. That way sales reps won’t have to leave the tool to perform repetitive activities. The best small business CRMs like Monday allow you to automate these processes.

9. A mobile application

This may seem like a luxury but it’s not. It can drastically improve the efficiency of your sales team. For example, a sales rep can set up alerts on their phones so that when a new form is filled, they’ll be notified. That notification will allow them to follow up faster and increase the likelihood that they’ll close the sale.
Other features of the CRM mobile app include contact management, team collaboration, phone calls, etc. In essence, it should have the key features of CRM in a mobile application.

Conclusion

A CRM is an essential piece of software to manage contacts and close more deals. Over the last few years, countless providers have sprung up which means it’s more difficult than ever to choose the right tool.
This guide has walked through the major areas to look at when you’re choosing a new CRM for your organization. Of course, you may have some peculiar needs so be sure to take that into consideration. When you’ve finished assessing the features you need, take a look at our helpful reviews to shortlist the best tools for your situation.