CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Broadly, it consists of not just customer relationship management, but also how such relationships are managed by your organization. Within these parameters, CRM can be divided into 3 parts: Contact Management, Sales Management, and Accounting Management.
Contact Management involves tracking customer information and the details of customer contact. Sales Management involves tracking sales and related communication and correspondence, and reporting relevant data about customers. Accounting Management involves organization of orders, generation of invoices, and tracking of related accounting information related to the customer.
Ideally, a complete CRM software package would encompass all these functions. However, these packages are also available in different modules, either combining a couple of these functions, or available singly for purchase.
The Need for CRM Software
So, how do you decide if your company or organization really needs CRM software? Honestly, there is no simple answer. It has been seen that companies spend a lot of money to buy and install CRM software, and it has shown no positive results. The work has just gone on as before. The mistake that these companies make is that they have just jumped on the bandwagon without understanding their needs and evaluating what the software really has to offer them.
There are several factors which one should consider before making a decision to purchase CRM software.
- What kind of business are you doing? A simple business, for example, may not require costly software which does thousands of things. Some software are for huge and complicated businesses.
- Do you have clients who need constant support? This will be identified by the nature of your business.
- If you do provide customer support, what type of support is it? Does your support involve visiting the clients at their office/homes, or can the support be provided over the telephone/Internet?
- Could you do better by outsourcing this function? Or do you already have staff in place to provide the support?
Based on the answers to these questions you can decide whether you need CRM software in the first place, and if so, what kind of software you need. Once you have identified your needs and expectations, you can look at the list below to decide what kind of software you need to go for.
- What features/functions are you looking for in the software? Are you just looking to track customer information, attract more sales on your website, or you want to just generate invoices and track payments. As mentioned before, CRM software will come in a variety of modules, singly or combined with other modules. You don't need to purchase the entire package if you want only one function. Also, there are other alternatives available in the market for each function, separately. They may be simpler to install and use, and cheaper too! It makes sense to identify your needs precisely, and see what options are available to meet what you are looking to do.
- Look at the size of your company. How many employees do you have? What are your plans for expansion or growth? How soon do you project that it would happen? One needs to consider these factors while looking for CRM software. Has it been used in companies where the number of employees is equal to or more than your projected growth of employees? If not, then you are looking at probable system crashes and/or glitches because the software may not be able to handle high volume of data. Check with the manufacturers of the software to know more about this aspect.
- Look at the technical aspects. Will the software integrate with the existing platform that you have? It's no use buying software which won't be able to work on your existing platform or integrate well with any existing systems that you have already in place. Often, manufacturers can provide cross-platform technical support. Do check with them before rejecting something you have liked.
- If you are going to buy CRM software, then does the company provide training to your staff? How long will the implementation take? Does the software company provide technical assistance and customer support? And what kind of assistance or support is it?
- Is the software able to import or incorporate all your previous data into it seamlessly and easily, or do you have to spend thousands of man-hours inputting all the old data into the system? Does the software company provide support for integration of the old system with the new system?
Based on the answers to all these questions, you would have identified if you need CRM software; if you do, then you would have identified what you are looking for in it so that it will suit your needs.