Should You Invest In CRM Software in 2021? (Plus How To Pick The Right One)
by Mohammed Shehu
If you’re still stuck in a manual sales process, you might be holding back your growth.
Speed and timing are two critical factors that determine how fast you can make quota while keeping your customers happy and engaged.
But between countless hours of phone calls, Zoom meetings, spreadsheets, and reports, salespeople go through the most to close deals and make quota each quarter.
Throw in things like duplicated outreach by different team members, unqualified or poorly qualified leads, missed next steps, and time-consuming reporting - and it’s clear that selling manually is a massive time-suck for any serious sales rep.
Why Selling Manually Is Hard
In sales, you have to prospect, enrich your leads, store that customer data in a structured way, send outreach messages, and follow up with each lead on time or risk losing them to a competitor. Let’s look at each of these in turn.
#1 You have to prospect
The first step toward making a sale is prospecting - finding potential customers who might be interested in your product.
Ideally, these leads have a pain point that your product (and only yours) solves best compared to the alternatives.
Your total addressable market (TAM) might number in the hundreds of thousands depending on your industry. Finding and reaching out to each of these potential customers manually could cost you a lot of time.
#2 Enrich your leads
When it comes to determining buying intent, a name and contact address given in exchange for a download are simply not enough.
To properly qualify your potential customers, you need to gather more customer data, such as:
- Their role within the organization (Are they decision-makers?)
- Their budget and timeline (How much do they have to spend, and over what period?)
- Their internal approval process (How many of their colleagues do we need buy-in from?)
- Their urgency (Do they need this right now, or are they just browsing?)
The above information determines whether your lead is hot enough to schedule a call with or if they still need to be nurtured for a while longer. And once you’ve enriched your leads, you then need to…
#3 Store your customer data in a structured way
In a manual sales flow, your first option for storing customer data will most likely be spreadsheets.
This approach is clunky for several reasons: you can’t add rich media to a spreadsheet, nor can you track conversations and team comments properly.
You and your team can lose valuable context and end up double-calling a contact who has already spoken to another rep, which confuses your prospect and makes your team look disorganized.
Besides, after you store your lead data you still need to…
#4 Send outreach messages and follow up with your leads
It takes an average of 8 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. That’s a lot of outreach that can easily get complicated the faster your list grows.
Worse, a customer says “no” an average of 4 times before buying — but 92% of salespeople give up on a sale after the 4th “no.”
And once you abandon a lead, your Excel sheet won’t notify you to do another follow-up down the line — because it’s not built for marketing automation.
Conclusion: A manual sales process is a waste of time for any serious sales rep.
Is there a better alternative to getting things done? Absolutely.
Enter CRM software.
CRM software helps you manage your leads and sales process in one place.
What is CRM software?
CRM software refers to any customer relationship management tool a business uses to simplify their sales process.
In fact, when used correctly, a cloud-based CRM system can easily save you hundreds of hours of manual work, freeing you up to focus on what matters most - closing deals.
Plus, you won’t be alone.
The CRM market has exploded over the past few years, with businesses spending more than $47 billion on customer relationship management in 2019. This number is expected to surpass $113 billion by 2027.
Many of these companies now enjoy productivity gains, higher customer satisfaction, streamlined processes, and higher monthly revenue.
CRM statistics (Source)
That could be you, too.
Should you invest in a CRM tool?
A CRM tool streamlines your sales process and helps you and your team to work better and more efficiently.
But CRM technology isn’t for everyone. Before you spend money on it, see if any of these reasons apply to your business right now:
- Your business is dealing with a lot of incoming leads and needs a lead management solution. But if your company has no sales or only a small pipeline, it might not make sense to invest in a full-fledged CRM system just yet.
- You need extra features like marketing automation tools and customer support. But if you don’t have any support tickets or aren’t running any marketing campaigns, a CRM platform might not be a good fit for your business at this time.
- Your sales, customer support, and marketing team integration isn’t performing as well as you’d like. But if you’re currently running a tight ship with stellar communication between all teams, maybe a CRM isn’t for you. If not, read on.
- You’re handling many deals simultaneously and need help with project management for your sales pipeline. But if you’re only handling one deal per quarter (hey, is everything ok?) then maybe a CRM would be an unnecessary expense.
- Your business is growing fast, and you’re onboarding sales staff quickly. But if your headcount growth is still manageable and there’s been no disruption to your current sales process, hold off on getting a CRM system for now.
- You’re tired of pulling reports together manually. But if you don’t need to do any reporting (a rarity in sales), or your reporting needs are still relatively minimal, then you can continue using spreadsheets for that function.
- You need access to previous customer interactions with your sales team. But if you’re a one-person team with access to all the emails and posts between you and your customers, then a sales CRM might be overkill for you.
If you’re currently dealing with major bottlenecks within your sales operations and need a better way to manage your sales pipeline, it’s time to invest in a customer relationship management system.
A CRM platform lets you see all your customer data in one place.
Top 5 benefits of a CRM system
When it comes to sales and workflow automation, there are few solutions that compare to the benefits of investing in a customer relationship management system.
Here are the top 5 benefits:
- Enrich your leads with comprehensive customer data
- Access customer data and pull reports from one place
- Collaborate better with different teams
- Track all your customer interactions
- Automate your lead nurturing
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
#1 Enrich your leads with comprehensive customer data
Each new email, call, or message from a prospect provides valuable information into their buying process, pain points, and a possible way forward.
Without a centralized location to store all this information, it can be hard to know how to handle (or hand-off) each lead.
The right CRM platform will let you store basic lead data and notes on where they currently are in the sales process, who else on their team you need to talk to, and what files or assets they need to make a firm decision.
#2 Access customer data and pull reports from one place
One big benefit of doing business through a CRM platform is that you can see all your customer data in one place.
By contrast, a typical manual sales process involves many spreadsheets, Google Docs, meeting notes, and emails spread all over the place.
A CRM platform centralizes all of that for you. It helps you to see what you’re working on, which leads are in your pipeline, who is responsible for each task, and each task’s progress.
This creates a tangible connection between your activity and productivity — a boon for anyone trying to prove ROI with a limited budget.
The best CRM products also let you pull analytics in mere seconds instead of the one or two hours it would usually take you.
And you can generate all kinds of reports at any time, for whatever type of data you need — on a predefined schedule.
Talk about epic workflow automation.
#3 Collaborate better with different teams
Collaboration boosts productivity, and a CRM platform is perfect for growing teams.
When every member of your sales team is hooked up to your CRM platform, you can skip the endless emails and Slack messages and work directly in one place.
Plus, knowing who to hand off a hot lead to or who’s responsible for that quarterly report helps the whole team work faster.
Also, a cloud-based CRM platform means that everyone has access to critical documents - like sales enablement assets or meeting notes - whenever they need them.
#4 Track all customer interactions
The average sales process involves a lot of customer interaction, most of which starts long before the actual transaction.
As we saw above, you start by prospecting for leads and nurturing them as they move along your funnel. Your tasks may change depending on where your prospect is in the funnel and what channels you’re using.
From engaging with prospects on social media and sending them emails about your pricing structure to scheduling a demo, you need to be in touch with your customer — several times — before they feel comfortable buying from you.
And even after that, you still need to onboard them, handle any support queries, and sort out billing issues.
Unfortunately, these interactions can be spread over many channels, making it easy to lose track of what you said, to whom, and where.
A CRM platform solves this problem by centralizing all your customer interactions in one place.
Say goodbye to wasted minutes searching through Outlook for that email about the last invoice you sent them — and say hello to one-click access to all your most important conversations.
Thanks to the speed of execution, access to data, and visibility of past customer interaction in a CRM platform, your sales efficiency skyrockets as you can now close deals faster.
#5 Automate your lead nurturing
Suppose you have 100 warm leads who are interested in your product but not quite ready to buy.
You would need to manually send a follow-up email to each person at the right time and update their status (manually) after each interaction.
This approach is highly time-consuming and detracts you from other more important work.
The best CRM products let you automate your nurturing sequence while you sleep. Simply write out your messaging template, select your leads, and watch the software fire off targeted and timely messages on cue.
There are 5 key factors to consider when picking a CRM platform.
How to choose the best CRM platform
Knowing the importance of a CRM system is one thing - but picking the right one is another story.
There are many factors to consider, but the top 5 to guide your decision are:
- Ability to scale
- Integration and extensibility
- Onboarding and support, and
- Cloud and mobile access
Here’s a bit more detail on each point:
#1 Ability to scale
It’s best to tie your choice of CRM to the type and size of your business. Start by doing some research around the features and benefits of the CRM products you’re considering to ensure they can scale with your growth.
Why is this important?
Because some CRM products are perfect for one-person teams or small startups but are practically useless at the enterprise level. The reverse is also true. This simple fact affects the next important consideration, which is…
Your company runs on a budget, and any CRM solution will inevitably dip into that. The CRM system you use should give you the most bang for your buck.
CRM pricing generally hinges on three main factors: contract duration, features, and user access.
Most CRM products offer a combination of monthly and annual pricing. Monthly pricing is great for businesses that want to try out a new CRM solution without lengthy contracts or commitments.
Annual pricing works best for businesses that already know which CRM system they want and want to lock in the savings of a yearly subscription.
If you search hard enough, you might also find a decent, free CRM tool that works well enough for your needs. These usually provide contact management and limited CRM functionality out of the box.
But you get what you pay for. A free CRM platform may lack the advanced features of paid CRM tools.
The number and type of features you add to your package might also affect your pricing.
Features like advanced lead management, custom fields, analytics, workflow automation, and approval workflows might all increase the cost.
Lastly, the number of users on your team might also affect the final price. For example, Salesforce offers per-seat pricing which means that the cost scales up or down with the number of users you pay for.
Other CRM tools like User.com offer pricing for unlimited seats. This pricing model is great for companies that want to add and remove team members whenever they want at no extra cost.
#3 Integration and extensibility
Your sales team doesn’t work with just one tool.
You likely send emails in Outlook or Gmail, access files from Dropbox or Drive, prepare documents in Microsoft Office or Google Workspace, and send Slack messages.
The CRM tool you ultimately decide on should integrate with your existing tech stack to bring everything into one shared workspace.
But what about extensibility? This refers to the ability for new integrations (such as Momentum) to be built atop existing CRM products.
For example, Salesforce has a Slack integration that allows sales teams to sync their conversations in Slack with their chats in Salesforce Chatter.
Momentum goes one step further than this by allowing sales teams to coordinate all their sales from within Slack — all automatically synced between their Salesforce and Slack accounts.
Here’s what that looks like in action:
Try Momentum out for free today and speed up your sales cycle significantly.
#4 Onboarding and support
The last thing you want to spend money on is a pricey CRM system that’s hard to use, difficult to learn, and delivers lackluster customer support.
The top CRM makers understand this and have prioritized the CRM software onboarding process by providing tutorials, webinars, guides, live consultations, and more.
The best CRM solution for your business is one whose customer support team will be available to answer all your queries quickly.
While comparing different CRM products, take note of each software’s support offering and ask yourself a few simple questions:
- Is it comprehensive?
- Do they offer priority support for all their pricing tiers?
- Have other customers had a good (or bad) experience with them in the past?
The answers to these questions will help you settle on the right CRM platform for your business.
#5 Cloud and mobile access
Sales can happen anywhere and at any time, so it’s best if you can access your CRM data from any device.
A cloud-based CRM like Salesforce lets you access your data on both desktop and mobile, helping you and your team to get more done in less time.
As you consider the right CRM solution for your business, compare the mobile offerings of each CRM tool to see which one offers your team the most flexibility.
Salesforce mobile app. (Source)
The fast-paced nature of sales today demands digital solutions that can keep up.
With a typical sales cycle requiring multiple touches, ongoing reporting, and collaboration across different teams, the right CRM solution can save you time and money by helping you capture leads, nurture them, and close deals faster.
Different CRM products offer flexible pricing that scales with the size of your team. And if you don’t have the budget for a paid CRM platform just yet, you can spring for a free CRM tool with limited functionality to get you started.
Plus, with the top CRM products allowing integration and app extensions, you can now turbocharge your sales process with even more helpful plugins — like Momentum’s sales coordination plugin for Salesforce.
See how Momentum helps sales teams close deals faster by signing up for a demo today.