CRM Software Selection – The Basics

Installing a good CRM software package is the cornerstone of any customer relationship management program. Without good software, gathering and storing the multitude of details gained about a customer from each interaction would be very difficult.

Small business CRM systems has gone ahead in leaps bounds in recent years, with several top quality packages now available to choose from. Prior to beginning the search for good CRM software technology however, there are a few basic features you should seek in a potential CRM package:

· Basic Functions: The CRM software should manage data relating to both individuals and companies and it should also provide time management features. As most businesses use Microsoft Office, including Outlook, the CRM package should offer seamless integration with MS Office and/or fax software, as the ability to compose letters, faxes and email without leaving the CRM software is vital.

· Recognised CRM Software Supplier: Do your research. Make sure your proposed CRM software supplier is recognised in the industry and has a solid backing with reputable customer testimonials and reliable 24/7 technical support.

· 360 Degree Customer View: It is important to know which people work for the same company; who said, emailed or wrote what to whom, and when. These details need to be a single click away. Does the CRM package you are considering provide this 360-degree view?

· Seamless Connectivity: These days it is becoming more and more common for a growing business and its mobile workforce to utilise networked access to a central database, to mobile phones, and to PDAs. You need to ensure your CRM software package supports all the connectivity required by your company.

· Managing Campaigns: In order to optimize your business marketing dollars, tracking of marketing campaigns and measuring their performance is critical. You will need a CRM package which provides this function.

· Managing Leads: If you want sales opportunities to become closed sales, tracking leads is of prime importance. Make sure you select CRM software which provides lead tracking.

· Data Transfer: Unless you are starting a business from scratch, you will probably need to import information from previous software. Make sure you will be able to import directly, instead of spending hours processing the data through an intermediate stage or even worse, manually. You will also need the ability to export data in order to exchange information with businesses who might use another CRM software package.

· External Support: To get the most from any CRM package, you will find tips from fellow users, industry-specific templates, plug-ins to be vital. Make sure the package you are considering is well-known and supported.

CRM gurus Dr Martha Rogers and Don Peppers say that practising good CRM means you need to develop a one-to-one learning relationship with each customer, over four stages:

· Identification

· Differentiation

· Interaction

· Interaction

It’s about treating different customers differently. It requires a shift in thinking, perseverance, discipline, and very good CRM software.

It will take you many interactions with a customer to improve identification of their details. You will need many customers before you can place them in different segments and cater to their needs by segment. It may take even longer before you know enough to customise individual offerings.

So get researching, and flush out the very best computer CRM software technology suitable to your business. Without it, you are certain to be pushing up hill in your quest to run a successful customer relationship management program.