Why CRM Software?
The top performers in our review are Salesforce, the Gold Award winner; NetSuite, the Silver Award winner; and OnContact, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 systems.
Keeping track of customer and lead information is essential to growing your business and maintaining a healthy client base. Customer relation management solutions, or CRM, are more than just souped-up address books; they are powerful systems that allow access to contact information from each department and multiple employees. This means that when the IT department interacts with a customer, it can see via your company's CRM who the sales contact is, how customer support has already attempted to help them and any notes about issues that IT can now help address. This cuts down on the time it would take to place the client on hold while your support staff tracks down the right individual to help them.
CRM is also excellent for following leads as initial contact is made and relationships are nurtured. As the lead turns into a potential investor or client, CRM software allows you to follow the client down the sales pipeline, noting each activity as it occurs. These notes will be saved and follow your new client during the rest of their interactions with your company in the future. This is invaluable for future sale potentials. For example, a real estate agent may refer back to the client notes in the CRM when that client decides to sell their home and purchase another. Rather than go through the entire get-to-know you process again, agents can see via the CRM the preferences and tastes of this particular client from the get-go, eliminating areas to search for and honing in on properties closely aligned with the personal preferences. Additionally, these notes can be accessed and used by other agents if the original representative is no longer with the company.
In addition to keeping contacts organized, the best CRM software provides you with tools and resources to give attention to investors, pay vendors, track employee workflow and much more.
CRM solutions are priced by the number of users that access the program and through a monthly subscription. For example, Maximizer CRM charges $49 per month for a single user and $195 per month for five. This amount will increase depending on additional users that may need to be added. This price scale is used primarily because each of these solutions is cloud based, meaning the solution is hosted on the developer's secured server and accessed online or through a mobile app. Although not on our top ten, Zoho is a free CRM application that is good for a single user and doesn't include as many additional support tools as those on our contact management review.
Which Solution Is Best for You?
We highly recommend each product on our CRM review. For the most part, CRM solutions are generic and flexible, and are able to be used by any company in any industry. We did discover that some solutions are designed to be better for certain projects or business types. For example, Infusionsoft is an excellent solution for retailers with an online store and other web-based customer interactions. It includes tools for tracking online orders and inventory management once a product is purchased and sent. Workbooks.com has powerful sales and lead generation tools plus a mobile app that lets sales teams enter contact information while in the field that will instantly update in the office-based system.
Our top three ranked CRM solutions are all part of an all-encompassing suite that includes integrations with accounting and HR departments so that employees can be tracked and assessed base on their interactions and follow through with your clients and potential leads. These programs are the most engaging, intuitive and easy to navigate through of the software we reviewed. They also come with excellent customer service and can be access and used from locations throughout the world. This is especially important if you are an international company or have clients located outside of the U.S.
If you would like some help determining with CRM is best for you particular company needs, check out the questionnaire at the top of our page. After answering a few important questions, you will be paired with, and contacted by, a contact management solution that will fit your specific business goals. You can also check out some important articles on CRM solutions and read additional reviews on our sister site Business News Daily.
What We Tested, What We Found
As we compared CRM software, we paid close attention to how well each program connects each aspect of the customer interaction experience, its ability to share files between multiple users and departments, the ease of installation and use, and the overall quality of the customer service experience with support personnel.
We looked at how easy it is to enter contact information and retrieve it later after it is saved. Most products are very intuitive in this area, though a couple required us to create a company contact first then an individual contact and connect the two. We also looked at how the program integrated with various email programs. Those that made it on our top ten have an email feature within the program itself. After sending out a message, the trail is saved in both the CRM and the email program integrated with it. This means contacts and interaction information are instantly shared and saved between the programs. We did test Prophet CRM, a solution that works well for micro-businesses. This program is opened and used within your Outlook, using the same contact and files in your email rather than creating a second set in the CRM software. Though it didn't make on our final lineup, it is still a reliable program.
One feature we paid close attention to was whether the system included real-time sharing. The very nature of CRM software allows multiple users to access contact information and client portals when needed. However, real-time sharing allows multiple users to be in the same portal or account at the exact same time. Each can contribute and have updated information instantly saved. The top ranking CRM solutions on our review include live chat features in the program so you can communicate at the same time that you are updating and sharing critical information.
We also assessed how well each CRM solution tracked customer interactions, the clarity of the individual client accounts and whether or not dialing capabilities are included. The user-friendly score was determined based on our experience navigating the program, including embedded helps, if functions were easily located and clearly marked, and whether the software allowed us to create custom data fields or if we were locked into pre-designed text fields.
Our Verdict and Recommendations
Our top-ranking CRM software each include the most and best tools for tracking customer interactions in addition to providing tools for sales and marketing strategies and following employee activities. They are also the more intuitive and easy-to-use applications; however, we can easily recommend each CRM solution on our review since each has a specific set of tools and functions that work to fulfill specific business needs.
For example, NetSuite, one of our top-ranking solutions, will track visitors in your website, pull their contact information and automatically create a client account, making it a good solution for retailers. Other solutions, such as SugarCRM, have document-management and file-sharing capabilities, important tools for law offices.
Buying CRM software is an important decision that will greatly affect the operations of your company. Our CRM software review has been designed to help you decide which solution fits best with your business goals and needs.