7 Must-Have CRM Features

Melissa Till | 08.03.18 | 0 Comments

The modern business truth is that every single lead, potential, or existing customer you have is actually your only customer. At least that’s the truth from their perspective. Customers expect nothing less than perfect service. They want maximum efficiency regardless of their stage in the lead pipeline.

When you have just a handful of customers to work with, those expectations are more or less easy to meet. However, as the number of leads and customers grows, internal miscommunication, too frequent or seldom prospect communication, multiple sales touches, and similar errors become inevitable. This is where a well-designed CRM solution shines. In fact, it has been reported by various sales teams that CRM solutions can increase revenue by over 40%. If you’re looking to stay on top of your game and maintain your reputation as a great service provider, you will need to choose a CRM software that fits your case perfectly.

There are so many CRM solutions on the market offering an insanely high variety of features. Choosing a good fit may seem a real challenge. To help you out, we have comprised a list of 7 must-have features regardless of business size, industry, and customer base.

1. Core functionality

In its essence, a CRM software serves as an upgraded, digitized, flexible and searchable version of paper and pen (or a masterfully crafted Excel sheet, if you will), with the ability to take notes for future reference. These notes could be related to actions that need to be taken for a specific case. It can also allow multiple people to work with the same prospect without overlapping information or creating confusion.

If the software you’re looking at doesn’t have even one of the following 4 keys, either it’s not a proper CRM, or it’s a CRM you want to avoid.

  • Contact management: The ability to easily manage, store and retrieve contact information whenever needed by all team members.
  • Task management: The ability to work collaboratively on single or multiple tasks at once.
  • Calendars and reminders: Setting up reminders for multiple team members on a number of different tasks and/or events, and keeping track of customer interactions according to sales strategy.
  • Basic reporting: Basic information on customer demographics, sales stage of every prospect, lead type, profits, revenue, etc.

2. Ease of use, customization, and ability to scale

A CRM solution needs to require next to zero effort to understand, use, and integrate with your existing tools. The whole point of a CRM is to make the lives of your team members easier. It also boosts productivity, minimizes time required for routine activities, and essentially eliminates data loss and miscommunication.

Customization is another important aspect. Every business has its unique challenges. The CRM system you’re looking for has to offer some customization options to adjust it to your needs. This allows you to have control over what data you’re prioritizing to work with and to reconsider your approaches as you progress. The CRM needs to work for you, not the other way around.

Finally, it’s worth considering a CRM solution’s ability to scale as your organization gets bigger. Of course, you can always find a new system when the current one can no longer support your business. However, it’s always good to know that you can stick with the tool that you chose initially, especially when everybody has long become comfortable with it.

3. Mobility and mobile access

The pace of life has increased substantially over the past decade. This has affected the way we do business as well. Prospects have less time to dedicate to you, they are always in a hurry and, most of the time, they are only reachable outside of normal business hours.

Closing a deal has become a game of precision, and if you let time slip by, there is a good chance you’re going to lose that prospect you worked so hard for. This is why both mobility and mobile access are essential for a CRM. It needs to be cloud-based and accessible from anywhere in the world.

Even that’s not enough. Many sales calls happen outside of business hours. There is a good chance that your sales associate might not have access to a computer when it’s time to close a potential deal. This is why a CRM mobile app is essential as well.

4. Tracking interactions

Interaction tracking is used to record all communication between your team and prospects. This allows any team member the opportunity to instantly retrieve all previous information.

As you onboard more sales reps, multiple people will be talking to the same prospect at different stages of the lead cycle. Imagine how disheartening and annoying it would be for the lead to keep going over the same conversations that a potential client has gone through already; it would be a real turn off. Having all the information about a customer’s journey stored and tracked will negate the possible frustration and allow your own team to save precious time.

While most CRM vendors offer interaction tracking, there are slight differences. For instance, if you’re a small business and no more than two people working on the same lead, simply keeping track of calls and emails will be enough. A software like Pipedrive can be a good choice in this scenario. But for bigger companies that have over 5 people working on the same lead, access to emails, call records, and the ability to take notes for others becomes a necessity.

CRM Solution

5. Storing documents

Document storage feature enables team members to store all work-related documents inside the CRM. These are accessible by everybody from anywhere at any time. Normally, as the number of customers grows, so does the number of sales-related docs. At some point, the sheer numbers start leading to confusion, loss of information and poor customer management.

While many CRM vendors offer document sorting options, they all do it differently. Some of them simply have a general section where all kinds of files are stored, which is fine for a small business. Others like HubSpot CRM go a few steps further and allow to attach files directly to each contact that are specific to that person. This is especially useful for big enterprises when there are multiple people working with the same lead or need to quickly go through the background of the case they are currently working on.

6. Pipeline overview

The lead pipeline is probably the most important aspect of any sales strategy. The pipeline allows team members to systematically move each prospect to the next stage of the customer journey. This way you can get a clear understanding of which stage every lead is currently in. This is essential to a business’s success. The pipeline feature also allows to drill down on a specific lead to retrieve related data, see what kind of work has been done prior and how many sales touches have been made.

Naturally, no matter how you construct your pipeline, it will always have weak points where prospects drop off. This can be caused by poor lead management, lack of lead’s stage knowledge, way too many (or too few) customer interactions, etc.

With this feature, the CRM will track prospects in their respective stages and provide a visual form of the pipeline. This allows you to identify the weak points and work towards improving them.

7. Social media integrations

Currently, there are over 2 billion monthly active Facebook users, with another billion spread across Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora and a few other platforms. In other words, half the world’s population is using social media. Not making the most out of this immense market is a poor business decision, to say the least.

Social media sales are a bit different and involve building relationships with prospects to strengthen the trust.  However, it’s an excellent way to reach more potential customers and access their networks.

According to Kissmetrics, 46% of sales reps that utilize social sales hit their quota – in contrast to 38% that don’t have a social media presence. Social media integrations allow businesses to post updates directly through the CRM and to interact with prospects via chat, comments, retweets, etc. Moreover, social media analytics can be used to find prospects that are already interested in what your business has to offer. This rich data can be used for effective targeted advertising.

Conclusion

Each of the above-mentioned features is focused on improving three things:

  1. Boosting sales processes through effective customer management and communication
  2. Acquiring more potential customers through various channels
  3. Retaining existing ones

These three aspects represent what you should be looking for in a CRM solution. Depending on your needs, strategy, and processes, vendors may offer additional features that take other aspects a step further. These can be advanced reporting, marketing automation integration, premade templates, workflow automation, etc. These aren’t necessarily requirements for all businesses and should be viewed as bonuses rather than must-have elements.

Melissa Till
author

As a marketing and sales wizard, Melissa creates and manages marketing campaigns. She helps major companies with their branding through email marketing and social media, and works closely with sales teams to help focus their message to prospects and customers.

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