CRM tools are crucial for businesses looking to gain, nurture, and convert leads, but every CRM has different features. Which ones are vital? Knowing this will help you shortlist the best CRM, and if you already have a CRM, you may realize it’s time to switch providers.
Monday CRM – Affordable, Easy to Use, and Scalable
- Powerful Sales Automation
- Task and Project Tracking
- Efficient Roadmap Planning
1. Contact Management
The core CRM feature is contact management. This ensures you have all your customer data at your fingertips. All reputable CRM services will have this, allowing you to gather the following:
Number 8 relates to information like details on past deals or purchases, previous conversations leads have had with your brand, and where they are in the buyer’s cycle.
Having this centralized on one dashboard helps to unify all your contact data — giving you easy access to everything you need to manage your leads and contacts effectively.
Every business can benefit from this, but sales and customer support teams will get the most out of this CRM feature, as it’ll help them better prioritize and personalize lead and customer interactions.
2. Lead Management
The above image shows Monday’s sales CRM dashboard, complete with color-coded tags for each lead’s stage, details on the deal size, close probability, and even the forecast value.
You’ll find that many offer lead management and scoring, but as we found with our Less Annoying CRM review, some only offer very basic lead scoring capabilities or have this on higher-end plans.
With killer automation features, you can use your CRM to handle data entry, dull admin tasks, lead management, email outreach, and sales pipeline management — among other tasks.
You can automate actions based on triggers, for example. Say a contact has been sitting in your database, and you haven’t interacted with them for a while — your CRM can remind you to follow up.
Or, as you get off a call with a lead — your CRM can send an automated email to nurture them further. Take Monday CRM, for example. You’ll have IF/THEN automation from the Standard plan.
With this, you can use it to automate a host of tasks across different departments with the help of triggers — including marketing, customer service, human resources, and sales.
Automation is often something that’s either limited or completely reserved for higher-end plans, as we saw in our Salesforce review, for example.
4. Pipeline Management
With pipeline management, you can organize lead and customer information, automate lead nurturing, keep track of required follow-ups, and prioritize leads based on real-time data like deal size.
A CRM pipeline provides you with a visual representation of your sales cycle — helping you to effectively manage and automate different stages in the sales process.
Most tools give you the ability to customize your pipelines, too. The best CRMs will allow you to manage and customize multiple sales pipelines quickly and easily.
Some, as we found when reviewing Pipedrive, are known for their pipeline management — letting you identify sales opportunities and customize your pipelines with custom stages and fields.
On the other hand, services like HubSpot limit the number of pipelines you get on each plan.
You should always make sure customization is included on your CRM features list to ensure you can easily make changes to things like your dashboard, pipelines, reports, and forms, for example.
As an essential CRM functionality, the best CRMs offer off-the-shelf customization capabilities, meaning you don’t need any coding knowledge to adapt the software for your company.
When looking into customization capabilities, consider the unique needs of your team or business. For example, say you’re looking to easily manage and customize your sales pipelines.
Pipedrive, and even Monday CRM, lets you add custom fields that you can use to filter your contacts, leads, and deals — so your sales team has the right data to hand whenever they need it.
6. Customer Service Tools
Customer service CRM software features can go a long way in supporting the day-to-day tasks of your customer service reps, including aiding in improving customer service initiatives.
Your customer service reps can use a CRM to ensure they have fast and easy access to up-to-date customer information. Say a customer calls to complain about a delivery delay, for example.
A good CRM will have all the information you need on your past interactions with that customer — such as any past calls, messages, or emails for your reps to note any past issues or preferences.
This allows for better problem resolution and more personalized interactions. Many leading CRMs also provide tools to help you manage customer interactions — such as conversational AI.
As we saw in our HubSpot review, it includes a live chat feature you can use to engage visitors and customers – boosting your response times. Each chat is stored in a shared inbox for future interactions.
7. Analytics and Reporting
The best CRM tools offer ample reporting features — giving you great insight into your customers and leads and their journeys with your business. Great CRMs typically offer visual dashboards, too.
Here, you can view key insights related to your KPIs, leads, and sales in real-time — such as revenue forecasts, number of deal closures, conversion rates, and all outbound and inbound calls.
You can use this data to make more informed decisions — such as stepping up the tactics that are proving to convert best or focusing your sales team’s attention on the deals that are most likely to close.
Every CRM has different reporting capabilities (with some locked behind higher-end plans), and the interfaces are, of course, different. Take our findings from our full Zendesk review, for example.
As is the norm, custom sales reports and forecasting are often on higher-end plans, as is the case with Zendesk, but it includes call tracking and recording in its base plan.
8. Artificial Intelligence
For example, you can use Pipedrive’s personal AI assistant to provide ongoing analysis of your deals, contacts, and emails — using it to mine your data for new insights.
Similarly, CRMs that feature conversational AIs can help take the load off of customer service reps. Take Salesforce’s Einstein, for example, which has set the tone for AI CRM capabilities.
Customer service teams can use it to automatically respond to customer queries and complaints — using natural language processing to analyze tone, intent, and urgency.
As a result, AI can provide basic support and reroute high-level complaints to available customer service reps.
9. Collaboration Tools
Collaborative tools are one of the top CRM functions to look out for when choosing a CRM (or switching CRMs). Collaborative CRMs are built to help you manage internal communications.
You can use them to facilitate document sharing, messaging, meetings, and calls between colleagues and teams, facilitating real-time collaboration between departments.
Take a CRM like Monday, you can use it to bring your team together on projects using workdocs. You can share information, bring together contributors, and get input from different departments.
10. Email Marketing
HubSpot CRM – Best for Email Marketing + There's a Free Plan
- Deal, Call, and Email Tracking
- Powerful Team Collaboration
- Form and Landing Page Builder
CRMs can double up as marketing automation software that you can use to automate email workflows to get in front of your contacts, leads, and customers at the right moment.
For example, you can use an email marketing CRM, like HubSpot, to send follow-up emails, keep track of all important information in every email, and save time with customizable email templates.
Email marketing features are particularly helpful for marketing teams who need real-time insights on prospects, leads, and contacts — you can use these insights to better personalize your outreach.
In addition, you can also save time by automating nurture emails, sales emails, and other outreach, and track email metrics like open rates and bounces with the built-in email analytics capabilities.
CRMs are powerful in helping you manage your contacts, leads, and customers. From automation features to artificial intelligence, the best tools on the market go beyond contact management.
They let you automate workflows, improve data analysis, break down internal silos, and improve the customer experience. For all of this, we highly recommend checking out Monday CRM.