How to Choose a CRM System for Your Business in 2024

In today’s competitive world, building and maintaining customer relationships is vital. CRM tools are a must-have for this, as they help with lead generation, nurturing, and everything in between.

Knowing what features are key and mistakes to avoid are among the factors to consider when you choose a CRM. To help, this guide covers everything you need to take into account before deciding.

EDITOR’s CHOICE

Monday CRM – Affordable, Easy to Use, and Scalable

  • Powerful Sales Automation
  • Task and Project Tracking
  • Efficient Roadmap Planning

1. Consider Your Needs

First, identify your needs, set clear objectives, and identify the concerns you’re looking to address. Start by consulting your team to understand their experience with customer relations and data.

There’s never a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Every business is unique, so it’s important to choose software that’s compatible with your objectives and goals.

These are the 3 types of CRM systems:

Analytical CRMOperational CRMCollaborative CRM

Analytical CRMs focus on analyzing customer data, such as sales patterns, financial data, and marketing information. This can help you identify the current market trends in customer behavior.

Let’s say you want to form a customer segment. In that case, you can analyze your customers’ average spending to divide them based on income groups, for example.

If you want to improve and automate your marketing, sales, and customer service functions, an operational CRM is what you need. These also help in customer retention and acquisition.

These types of CRMs help businesses generate quality leads, nurture them, and convert the leads into loyal customers.

An organization is a collection of various departments, and all of them should work in sync, and a collaborative CRM does just that. It improves business processes and customer experiences.

This is done by allowing seamless communication between multiple departments. If you’re a large business with various departments and a broad customer base, you need a collaborative CRM.

2. Determine Your Budget

The cost of CRM solutions depends on the provider, the features you opt for, and the number of users you want to add, among others, with most offering various monthly subscriptions for differing budgets.

You can expect to spend around $12/user/month on an average CRM solution, but if you have a large team or require advanced features like AI insights, then you’ll need to opt for a high-end plan.

Higher-end plans typically cost $50-$150/user/month to $300+ for an enterprise CRM. You want to strike a balance, and this means ensuring:

  1. That you don’t overspend on a system that you don’t need
  2. That you don’t under-spend and compromise on features

If you’re not sure where to start or have very tight budget constraints, you can go for free trials. Some providers also offer free CRM products, which can be a good starting point for small businesses.

3. Consider the Features You Need

This ties into the budget. Start by consulting with the teams who’ll actually use the software, develop a checklist, and categorize them as must-have and nice-to-have features.

This will help you choose the right subscription and avoid paying for unnecessary features or opting for a service that doesn’t have what you need.

Here are some of the important features you should consider:

Contact ManagementLead ManagementInteraction TrackingSales AutomationReporting and AnalyticsCustomization and ScalabilityMobile Accessibility

Choose a CRM that can organize and store customer data, such as their names, contact details, addresses, and communication history. Additionally, your CRM should have features for exporting and importing contact lists, plus duplication management.

This lets you identify the most promising potential customers based on psychographic and demographic factors. This way, you can identify and focus on the right leads, thereby improving the productivity and efficiency of your sales team.

Make sure the CRM system you choose lets you monitor customer interaction through different channels like phone calls, email, in-person meetings, and social media.

This way, your team will have access to real-time data and communication history to personalize customized experiences for the customers.

Nobody likes doing repetitive tasks, and it’s a waste of valuable human resources. Choose a CRM that lets you automate recurring tasks like email campaigns, follow-ups, and lead scoring.

It’ll reduce manual workload and provide your sales rep enough time to focus on providing value-added services instead. Keep in mind that often, automation is limited or reserved for higher-end plans.

Robust reporting and analytical tools are key to gaining insights into the performance and effectiveness of your sales, marketing, and customer service efforts.

This will help you track key metrics, measure campaign success, and identify trends over time. However, it’s key to ensure the reports and analytics you need are on offer with your chosen plan or provider.

Switching CRMs is a big deal that requires a well-thought-out plan and, often, outside help. To ensure you won’t need to do this, it’s important to ensure the CRM you choose is scalable.

For this, we recommend ensuring it offers ample customization for things like workflows, forms, and fields and factor in the cost to scale and the functionality and any limitations on higher-end plans.

The best CRM apps will let your team members access and manage customer data from anywhere. Here, too, you’ll want to consider the UI and the functionality on offer, and where possible, try any free versions before committing.

4. Integrations

Businesses use an array of apps in their day-to-day operations, and it’s important to ensure they all sync to provide a single source of truth for your entire company.

For example, if you use Salesforce as your CRM and Monday for task management, it’ll streamline processes if these are integrated — where an action in one automatically updates the other.

This minimizes the need to juggle apps and saves you from manually doing things like updates. This is important to consider, as the number of integrations varies depending on the provider.

For example, as we found in our HubSpot review, it boasts 1,000+ options, whereas tools like Act! CRM has 40+. Some providers also limit certain integrations to certain plans, or they’re add-ons.

These are some of the integration categories most businesses will want to keep an eye out for:

  • Accounting or ERP software
  • HRM software
  • Billing and eCommerce tools
  • Your website itself
  • Social media accounts
  • Project management software

You’ll also want to look for common integrations like Gmail, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack so that your team can communicate without having to leave the CRM platform.

5. Ease of Use and Setup

A complex interface can lead to a low adoption rate, frustration, and mistakes. That’s why it’s important to choose a CRM that boasts a minimal learning curve — like Monday CRM, for example.

Make sure the provider offers online courses, in-house seminars, a training program, or webinars within the software. This will help you reduce downtime and get a hang of the software quickly.

We also always recommend making use of any free versions, be it a plan, trial, demo, or even a money-back guarantee, to test the software yourself before committing.

Guided implementation and onboarding for tools that have a higher learning curve is also something you’ll want to take into account to ensure that your team gets the support it needs.

6. Security

When using a CRM, you’re entrusting your company’s most valuable assets to the provider. We can’t stress enough the importance of choosing CRM software that prioritizes the protection of sensitive customer data, ensuring secure storage, transmission, and access.

Since CRMs contain personal information like credit card numbers, financial records, biometrics, and other personally identifiable information (PII), they’re an enticing target for hackers.

Make sure the CRM you choose is equipped with the strictest security protocols, including:

Data Encryption

Encryption can protect you from identity theft, data tampering, and unauthorized access to customer data. It works by converting data into code, making it difficult for any third party to access it.

We recommend choosing a CRM that offers strong encryption standards, such as TLS 1.3 and AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) 256-bit encryption.

Two-Step Authetication

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) mitigates the risk of unauthorized access, even if the primary password is breached. When you enter a password, a temporary code is sent to your email or phone that needs to be entered before you can log in.

Strict Access Controls

Role-based access control, or RBAC lets you assign user roles to different employees and provide or restrict access to certain data based on these roles. This ensures that employees can only access the data essential for their roles.

Data Protection

This is common in cloud-based CRM solutions. It involves hosting CRM software in a compliant and secure environment that complies with local laws.

For example, if your company is based in the EU, it must comply with GDPR. You must obtain GDPR consent from a lead or contact before collecting contact details through a web form.

Avoid These 5 Mistakes When Choosing a CRM

As you go through the CRM decision-making process, it’s important to know some of the common mistakes to avoid. This includes:

1. Ignoring End Users

The success of your investment depends on whether the employees are comfortable using the system. Don’t let your business goals overshadow the needs of your end users.

Automatic lead tracking is useless if the automation process is too complex to implement. Failure to consider your team’s expertise in a particular solution can lead to missed opportunities and decreased efficiency.

2. Not Identifying Your Needs

CRM systems aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions, and with so many popular CRM services, identifying your needs and having a clear budget is vital. Not doing this can lead to spending more than you need to or not having the capabilities your team needs, for example.

3. Ignoring Metrics

You need goals in place to measure whether your CRM is helping you achieve what you set out to. This means that you must be able to quantify your objectives and measure them on comparable metrics.

Before you choose a CRM solution, take some time to consider your goals. Then, choose a system that offers metrics to measure and support your goals.

For example, if you want to improve your email marketing, check if the CRM measures parameters like how many emails were opened or how many users clicked the links in the email.

4. A Higher Price Doesn’t Mean a Better Fit

Some think an expensive CRM is a must-have to accomplish business goals. However, that’s not always the case. Think about what works best for your business.

Don’t waste your resources on a CRM that doesn’t meet your needs. For example, as we saw in our Pipedrive review, it’s one of the cheapest, yet it boasts a strong reputation and solid features.

It all depends on your specific needs and your budget. 

5. Not Looking Into the Future

The main purpose of a CRM is to help your business grow, which means it should be scalable. Not taking this into account can mean, as we discussed above, needing to switch CRMs.

Another common issue is that businesses scale and then find the CRM doesn’t meet their needs or it’s too costly to justify in terms of the feature-to-price value on offer.

Compare the Best CRM Solutions

Now that you know how you can pick the best CRM software for your intended use cases, here are some of the market’s top options compared:

CRM Platform Salesforce Monday CRM Pipedrive HubSpot Act! Zoho
Best For Large organizations Startups Pipeline management Any-sized business SMB needs AI-powered assistance
Starting Price $25/user/month $12/user/month $9.90/user/month $18/month – 2 users $30/user/month $14/user/month
Free Version 30-day trial 14-day trial 14-day trial Free plan 14-day trial Free plan
Compatibility iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, browser iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, browser iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, browser iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, browser iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, browser iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, browser
Top 3 Features 3,000+ integrations, AI automation, lead activity tracking Unlimited free viewers, 200+ templates, mass email tracking Contact mapping, group email, meeting scheduler Team collaboration, conversation intelligence, recurring revenue tracking Built-in SMS, industry-specific templates, automated workflows Predictive sales, omnichannel presence, journey orchestration

Conclusion

The right CRM solution will help improve your business’s growth, revenue, and productivity. However, it’s important to do your research and pick a CRM that works well with your existing tools and fits your budget.

When you choose a CRM, take into account all the factors we’ve outlined to help you save time and money in making the right choice for your business. Remember to keep it simple and avoid getting caught up in all the features it offers.

EDITOR’s CHOICE

Monday CRM – Affordable, Easy to Use, and Scalable

  • Powerful Sales Automation
  • Task and Project Tracking
  • Efficient Roadmap Planning

FAQs

What is the most commonly used CRM?

What does a successful CRM look like?

What is the easiest CRM to use?

Related Terms

Krishi Chowdhary

Krishi Chowdhary has half a decade of experience writing buying guides and product reviews for numerous leading technology websites. He spent two years writing for Business2Community.com before joining Techopedia.com. He has a degree in Commerce and extensive experience in the technology industry. He's also the key driver behind TechReport.com's news content, delivering expertise insight into the latest tech and cybersecurity news daily.