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What is a CRM? Beginner’s guide to CRM software

Forrester’s Q3, 2022 CRM Waves report found that CRMs can improve conversion rates by up to 300%. If you’re looking for a tool to decrease costs while increasing your bottom line — a CRM is it. A health care-specific CRM can also aid with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance and other regulatory aspects of health care that don’t typically apply to other industries.

Who is CRM software for

From bringing leads in to nurturing them and retargeting old customers, the integration options will cover you for any feature that Wise Agent doesn’t offer out of the box. Integrating CRM with financial software allows businesses to seamlessly sync sales data with financial records. This can be achieved using integration platforms like Zapier or Mulesoft or through custom APIs provided by software vendors. Such integrations ensure real-time data flow, accurate invoicing and streamlined financial reporting. By centralizing data, automating processes and breaking down silos, CRM integrations empower businesses to deliver unparalleled value to their customers.

Best CRM software of 2023

By understanding your customers better, cross-selling and upselling opportunities become clear — giving you the chance to win new business from existing customers. This helps you to grow lasting, more profitable relationships with your customers. With complete, accurate, centrally held information about clients and prospects, sales and marketing can focus their attention and energy on the right clients. Details can get lost, meetings are not followed up on promptly, and prioritizing customers can be a matter of guesswork rather than a rigorous exercise based on data. The market for software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and generate content in response to user prompts is expected to grow nearly four-fold through 2027. Our experts preferred software that was not only easy to navigate and use without any customizations but also one that was easy to make needed changes without a tech team.

Finally, many CRM services are cloud-based, which means automatic software updates that IT won’t have to deal with. With CRM software offering many integrations, sales departments don’t have to worry about switching between programs and missing key information. It’s also possible to view every deal in progress, and track and analyze individual sales performances for each employee. A CRM is a customer relationship management tool that allows you to organize contact info and manage your relationships with current and prospective customers, clients, and other contacts. At some point in our lives, most of us have reflected on how much easier life would be if we could see the future. Your customers may be contacting you on a range of different platforms — including phone, email, or social media — asking questions, following up on orders, or contacting you about an issue.

Table of Contents

The easiest is if the CRM system or the system to which you’re trying to connect supports the other as a “native” integration. That means that the company has a pre-built integration module you can just download and use as needed. You’ll have the best luck with big-name targets here, as many companies pre-build integrations for companies such as NetSuite or Salesforce, for example. Knowing crm development team how your salespeople operate and having some idea of the features that can help them is where your pricing decision needs to start. Only by knowing what you need and then matching that up against the appropriate pricing tier are you going to get yourself the best deal. It’s one of the easiest to use among the systems we tested, even if it’s not quite as feature-rich as some.

Our top five picks for CRM software — Zoho CRM, Monday.com, Freshsales, Salesforce and HubSpot — scored highest across all criteria including user experience, features, value, customer support and reputation. But the best CRM software for you may come down to just one of these categories, which is why we give you two additional companies to consider. Take a closer look at our testing criteria, then dive into all seven CRM providers.

How much does a CRM cost?

A business should look for a solution that delivers the features they need most. Depending on your industry, there may be specific CRMs that are more well-adapted without the need for much configuration on your end. For example, health care-specific CRMs will already have HIPAA compliance and other features exclusive to the health care industry. Before looking for a CRM solution, it’s important to specify your unique goals and needs for the software. Most modern CRMs are cloud-based, meaning they are hosted on servers operated by the CRM vendor. A cloud-based CRM requires very little internal support from the business using it.

Who is CRM software for

LionDesk is an industry leader because it incorporates most features any real estate agent would be looking for. The CRM includes rich messaging options and click-to-call, and you’re able to customize just about any field in your pipeline management. Additionally, LionDesk offers an AI-powered lead follow-up tool that can automate texts and streamline new sales. Integrating a CRM system with other software platforms is both a technical and strategic endeavor. It ensures that businesses have a 360-degree view with customer integration, streamlines operations and fosters collaboration across teams. As businesses continue to adopt diverse software solutions, the importance of robust CRM integrations will only grow, paving the way for more informed decision-making and enhanced customer experiences.

How to Shop for a CRM System

This prepares your sales rep for their call with a customer and will help them personalize their approach. Having easily accessible data from your customers allows businesses to find areas that need improvement and build on areas that are already strong. Every operational department within a company will have access to this information, so departments can often work independently to find their own areas of improvement as well as solutions. A CRM is a software tool that works in concert with your other business systems and workflows. Because of its flexibility and the ability to integrate other apps and features, it is considered a total solution for customer and sales relations related to various business operations.

  • By being able to easily manage customer data and sort through it to prioritize leads and similar data, it’s a huge benefit for a company keen to grow their sales.
  • More specifically, analytical CRMs first gather customer or lead data, then store that data in one place where all internal stakeholders can view it.
  • Additionally, businesses might face hurdles in training staff to use the integrated system and in ongoing maintenance.
  • Freshworks is our favorite solution for solo businesses because it saves you from the hassle of toggling between platforms.
  • If your small business is ready to boost its sales efforts, there’s a lot to like about Freshsales by Freshworks.
  • Salesforce is a popular CRM tool that is used by over 150,000 businesses.

A straightforward interface and generous support options make Keap highly accessible even for the most novice CRM users. Not all CRMs are as useful to sales reps as they are to marketing departments. Sales teams need specific things from a CRM, including contact management, lead and pipeline tracking, and deal management.

Infor CloudSuite CRM

Also has integrated marketing automation features with customizable workflows, and it can connect to Gmail or Outlook (but not very elegantly). Give Freshsales a look if you want a CRM that’s functional, but won’t overwhelm your sales team with features (particularly if you’re already using some of the software on Freshsales’ list of integrations). Its lightweight approach should let your team get up to speed and start closing deals, for which they’ll thank you.

Who is CRM software for

We did find the sales number in multiple places, but not any support number or email, giving us pause on any potential difficulty for direct communication should the need arise. Furthermore, there is a help area of the website with self-help content via a searchable database. The best CRM software solutions integrate with almost every aspect of your business, helping you track customer relations, streamline processes, and increase sales. Integrated AI (artificial intelligence) automates repetitive tasks, letting you focus on your customers. Office 365 is a subscription service that grants you access to Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, and other office based apps. Microsoft CRM Dynamics 365 is a cloud-based solution that provides you with access to CRM software that can also be tied into other Microsoft based apps.

The best CRM software compared

None of the CRM software companies we reviewed advertise that they offer a free trial extension. If you run into circumstances that may lead you to want to extend your free trial, however, it does not hurt to email the company to ask. For example, Freshsales recommends free trial users email their Account Manager or the sales department with their account details to discuss the possibility of extending a free trial. The highest-tiered plans tend to be for users who have grown out of the standard plans and need a higher level of customization and automation to streamline complex workforces..

Getting Started with CRM

To help support our reporting work, and to continue our ability to provide this content for free to our readers, we receive payment from the companies that advertise on the Forbes Advisor site. To achieve a successful integration, businesses must adhere to certain best practices that guide the process, mitigate potential challenges and ensure that the integration delivers the desired outcomes. While you should always approach third-party sites with reasonable caution, there are a few avenues that offer legitimate ways to get discounts on software if your business meets the eligibility criteria.

Types of CRMs

Read on to learn where each software’s strengths lie, as well as prices, integrations, reporting features, and more to help you make an informed decision. The best CRM software will provide you with valuable insight into how your customers behave and what they need from you. It minimizes the risk of tasks, appointments, and notes being missed, which could hurt your business. You’ll be able to track the tasks you need to accomplish to keep your customers happy and close more sales.