Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems enable companies to track and manage all customer interactions across the customer lifecycle from lead to order to support in one master system of record. CRM software suites typically provide (i) Sales Force Automation (SFA) including contact, account, and opportunity management, (ii) Marketing Automation features such as lead and campaign management, (iii) Customer support features such as support case and knowledge management, and (iv) a unifying database and platform for companies to manage all customer data and customer-facing applications.
What is CRM Software?
Compare Best CRM SoftwareG2 Crowd helps you compare the best CRM Software products. You can compare products on the Grid, or by selecting any of the products for a side-by-side comparison. In addition, you can download the full report for more detailed information about CRM Software products. Only products with 10 or more reviews are included in the Grid. For a full list of products, click on the Products tab.
G2 Crowd Grid for CRM
Buying Considerations for CRM Software
- Strategy and process first
- A customer relationship management (CRM) system doesn’t help you with your strategy. CRM tools help automate a customer management strategy. So, the first step when selecting a tool is to document your strategy and desired processes. Make sure you understand all the options when creating your strategy and defining your processes.
- Suite vs. best of breed
- CRM systems can be divided into several subsections; based on your needs, you could purchase one software suite that offers a wide range of functionality or purchase one or more best-of-breed solutions that focus on solving a specific area such as sales force automation, marketing automation, partner management, or customer support.
- Size of company and customer base
- Typically, smaller companies desire a suite tool that is easy to learn and handles a wide variety of features but only handles the most common use cases. Larger companies often seek out a tool that handles more complex use cases and can scale to thousands of users, but in turn usually takes longer to implement and requires more training. In addition, larger companies tend to have a segmented staff and therefore might choose to use several marketing tools that are designed to go deep in certain area.
- Budget and degree of customization
- CRM systems come at many different price points with many CRM vendors now offering free trials and low entry-point pricing for small businesses with only 1-5 users. However these editions will offer only minimal customizations. On the other end of the spectrum, large enterprise CRM deployments are rolled out to thousands of users and can require millions of dollars in implementations services and training. Filter your CRM vendor selections based on how much you can pay and how much you want to customize versus how much you can just live with a standard CRM solution.
- The requirements for B2B vs. B2C companies often vary considerably. Strategies tend to be different and so automation requirements are different. Different sales cycles, emotional buying behavior, number of people in the decision process and the database size can all influence the software that will best fit your strategy.
- Sales channels
- Most marketing automation suite tools focus on three channels:
- Direct sales
- Most SFA (sales force automation) and CRM (customer relationship management) systems where built with a direct B2B sales force in mind. If you mainly sell via a sales force, then traditional CRM solutions will likely be well suited to you.
- Channel sales
- Many companies sell via partner sales channels such as distributors or independent manufacturer’s representatives. Many CRM suites do offer features aimed at partner relationship management (PRM) but may not be as well suited to channel sales scenarios.
- Direct to customer
- If you sell directly to customers via retail outlets, eCommerce, and/or call centers, then then you will have different sets of requirements that may not we as well suited by traditional CRM suites. You may want to look at either eCommerce suites and/or call center and web customer service solutions for these scenarios.
- Mobile Support
- Many sales forces work in the field and prefer to do business using mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. CRM vendors vary in their ability to support users on iOS and Android mobile operating systems, and you will want to assess their mobile capabilities. The reviews on the iOS store and on the Google Play store that we have also embedded in the G2 Crowd product listings can help you assess the mobile capabilities of various CRM systems.
- Often the data that needs to be used to automate a customer-facing process is held in another system (e.g. ERP, customer support systems). Different CRM systems offer different levels of APIs. Going into a project make sure you understand what interfaces you need and validate that the vendor can support them without too much custom services work being required. Ideally the vendor offers pre-packaged APIs to the system to which you want to integrate.
- Strength of Partner Ecosystem
- Many of the larger CRM software suites (e.g. Salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle) have also built large partner ecosystems that you can leverage to plug best-of-breed applications into a broader suite. In addition each of these ecosystems has consulting firms with skills in implementation, support, and training for the CRM provider. You will want to make sure you understand that all the partners you will need to either provide you additional functionality or to help you implement the CRM package.
Key Benefits of CRM SoftwareWe have discussed how CRM can improve customer relationships, and how increased customer satisfaction can benefit your business. But a successful CRM strategy can directly benefit your company in other ways as well.
With CRM, you can:
- Improve customer relationships and experience by making it easy to access all information about a customer to provide superior support
- Increase revenue and referrals from existing customers thanks to increase customer satisfaction and proactive renewal and referral management
- Close more deals by increasing sales productivity and arming your sales team with the best practice processes and tools to close business
- Optimize your marketing programs via real-time analytics that track marketing spend and ROI all the way through the lead-to-order process and through the entire customer lifecycle
- Improve your products/services by systemically capturing customer feedback and by measuring satisfaction
- Reduce systems support costs by moving to more modern cloud-based systems that reduce the need for IT support
- Measure and optimise your performance with real-time analytic and dashboards powered by your CRM systems
These are the common features of CRM Software
Sales Force Automation
- Opportunity & Pipeline Mgmt.
- Manage sales opportunities through their lifecycle from lead to order. Track stages, values, and probabilities of close. Manage sales pipelines by individual sales rep, team, region, and company-wide.
- Partner Relationship Mgmt. (PRM)
- Manage partners by tracking channel partner leads and sales opportunities. Provide a partner portal to collaborate with channels on sales opportunities and to share product, pricing, quoting, ordering, and training information
- Task / Activity Management
- Manage and track tasks and activities. Assign due dates and integrate to calendars to manage daily schedules and priorities.
- Desktop Integration
- Allows users to sync their Email, Calendar and Contact tools with their CRM system. Includes Microsoft Outlook and Google integration.
- Territory & Quota Management
- Assign and manage sales quotas and territories. Track progress against quotas. Change as needed.
- Contact & Account Management
- Store and retrieve information associated to customer contacts and accounts. Track company-wide communication and information about contacts and accounts.
- Customer Contract Management
- Management of contracts made with customers. Contract management includes negotiating the terms and conditions in contracts and ensuring compliance with the terms and conditions, as well as documenting and agreeing on any changes or amendments that may arise during its implementation or execution.
- Product & Price List Management
- Enter product/part numbers and manage the prices associated with them. Typically functionality allows users to add products and prices to opportunities and quotes if these modules are provided within the same system.
- Quote & Order Management
- Allows users to create a quote to be provided to a customer that contain at least products, prices and associated discounts. Order management allows users to process orders that contain products, prices and associated discounts.
- Email Marketing
- Allows users to send email to contacts in bulk. Common features include: Built in Email templates, social media integration, Subscriber list management, sign up forms, success rate reports, AB testing and auto-responders.
- Campaign Management
- Optimizes the process for organizations to develop and deploy multiple-channel marketing campaigns to target groups or individuals and track the effect of those campaigns, by customer segment, over time.
- Lead Management
- Allows users to manage and track leads though a process. The lead process typically involves steps such as: 1. Lead Generation, 2. Customer Inquiry, Inquiry Capture, Lead Filtering, Lead Grading, Lead Distribution and Lead Qualification.
- Marketing ROI Analytics
- Enables analysis of effectiveness of an organizations various marketing activities
- Call Center Features
- Allows customer support professionals access to all information required to support the customer including customer information, case history and related customer social activity. Common features include: call recording, analytics, workforce management, call script management, and compliance management.
- Case Management
- Tracks issues/help requests reported by customers through the resolution process.
- Customer Support Portal
- Provides a convenient way for customers to get answers to inquiries, post service issues, place orders, view order histories, and gain access to other information contained in the knowledge base.
- Knowledge Base
- Information repository that provides a means for information to be collected, organized, shared, searched and utilized. Allows customers to get answers to common questions.
- Support Analytics
- Enables analysis of customer support activities to optimize customer support professionals, processes and tools.
Reporting & Analytics
- Enables projection of sales revenue, based on historical sales data, analysis of market surveys and trends, and salespersons' estimates.
- Enables reporting of all data contained within the system. Typically contains standard reports as well as the ability to create ad-hoc reports.
- An easy to read, often single page, real-time user interface, showing a graphical presentation of the current status and historical trends of an organization’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to enable instantaneous and informed decisions to be made at a glance
Mobile & Social
- Social Network Integration
- Use public social networks to listen and engage with customers. Allows users to filter what’s important and respond quickly. Often this functionality allows questions and requests from customers on social networks to case management.
- Social Collaboration Features
- Enables multiple users to interact by sharing information to achieve a common goal. Social collaboration focus's on the identification of groups and collaboration spaces in which messages are explicitly directed at the group and the group activity feed is seen the same way by everyone
- Output Document Generation
- Allows adminstrators to create templates that enable users to quickly generate dynamic documents in various formats based on the data stored in the application.
- Sandbox / Test Environments
- Allows administrators to easily develop and test changes to the CRM deployment. After changes are made admins can easily migrate the changes into the "live" or "production" environment.
- User, Role, and Access Mgmt.
- The ability to grant access to select data, features, objects, etc based on the users, user role, groups, etc.
- Performance & Reliability
- Software is consistently available (uptime) and allows users to complete tasks quickly because they are not waiting for the software to respond to an action they took.
- Allows administrators to customize to accomodate their unique processes. Includes ability to create custom objects, fields, rules, calculations, and views.
- Workflow Capability
- Automates a process that requires a series of steps that typically require intervention by a several different users. Administrators can write rules to determine who and when a user needs to complete a step. Also includes notification of users when they need to take action.
- Enables users to view and transact business with the same content in multiple languages and currencies.
- Document & Content Mgmt.
- Allows consuming, publishing and editing content from a central interface. Content management for CRM systems might include presentations, documents, images and other related electronic files.
- Integration APIs
- Application Programming Interface - Specification for how the application communicates with other software. API's typically enable integration of data, logic, objects, etc with other software applications.
- Data Import & Export Tools
- Ability to input, modify and extract data from the application in bulk through a structured file.
- Breadth of Partner Applications
- To what extent are there partner applications readily available for integrating into this product? Partner applications typically provide complementary, best of breed functionality not offered natively in this product.