Customers are the lifeblood of most businesses, regardless of whether they’re working in a B2B or B2C industry or sector. Managing customers was a common issue prior to the invention of the CRM.
CRM – customer relationship management – is the process of managing the relationship between customers and the business.
Relationships between businesses and customers form at different stages of the sales funnel, starting with discovery and acquisition, progressing to conversions and sales and then hopefully ending up with repeat business.
This complex process can be broken down and visualised using a CRM that assists businesses in managing their sales pipelines. It serves as a database of customers and their contact with one or more business touchpoints, which range from the business website to social media channels, customer feedback forms, apps and even brick-and-mortar stores.
CRMs enable businesses to:
Fundamentally, CRMs act as databases of customer data. This customer data can be managed and organized from one central location, allowing businesses to work with a ‘single view’ of their customers across multiple touchpoints.
Modern CRMs do a lot more than that, however. Here are some top CRM features to look out for:
Agile CRM has built an excellent reputation for its clean and clutter-free interface with deep functionality and plenty of integrations. It covers both standard customer relationship management; deal management, sales tracking, sales funnel analysis, etc, as well as email marketing and customer service.
The heart of Agile CRM is its customer and lead management area. This works as it should do, organizing customer data from various business touchpoints. Each customer can be sorted and organized using preset or custom tags. View a breakdown of each customer’s deals and assign them to different teams to progress different actions, e.g. book appointments, follow-up calls, etc. Social media tools are well-integrated and the telephony and customer helpdesk features are excellent.
Agile CRM is not as advanced as some of its competitors, but this is an advantage for small or mid-sized teams that don’t manage hundreds of thousands of customers. It’s streamlined and purposeful with some innovative extra features, even including a landing page builder and web form, and pop-up builder. Agile CRM offers all your usual integrations with email services, GSuite apps, etc.
Agile CRM allows users to:
Agile CRM has a free version for up to 10 users. From there, it’s $8.99 per user per month for the Starter, which lacks some features like the helpdesk. The Regular tier is a big jump to $29.99 and the Enterprise level is $49.99 per user per month. All of these prices are when billed in one go for 2 years. They’re almost double if billed each month.
Ranking the number 1 most popular CRM for some 7 consecutive years, Salesforce is a real behemoth that comes stacked with advanced CRM features. In fact, for small businesses, Salesforce almost definitely goes too far beyond the standard expected CRM feature set – it’s best for medium or enterprise-level businesses that take advantage of its many features.
Salesforce has all the basics covered, allowing unprecedented organization and control of vast customer data across multiple sales and marketing channels. Salesforce integrates directly with its own order management system and other Salesforce tools, truly allowing it to be an all-in-one tool for businesses that wish to move their systems to the Salesforce ecosystem.
Some advanced features include the Flow Manager which allows users to create advanced process automation. There are plenty of options for setting permissions, e.g. to restrict some employees from gaining access to certain customer data or deals.Advanced reporting tools allow businesses to quickly view and analyze their sales data and pipeline health. Customizable dashboards ensure that team members and higher management are informed of their projects and milestones.
Salesforce allows users to:
Salesforce charges $25 per user per month for their lowest-level option for 10 team members max. This then jumps right up to $75 per user per month, $150 per user per month, and $300 per user per month. The more expensive versions allow access to Salesforce’s advanced marketing, analytics, and customer service tools.
Nutshell is another modern and innovative CRM that is probably aimed more towards small and mid-sized teams. It has a super-crisp, quality UI which is easy to use with plenty of advanced features under the hood.
At the core of Nutshell are its customer and lead management platform that does everything one would expect it to do. Customers and leads can be organized, sorted, and assigned off to different team members for onboarding, management, booking follow-up calls, etc.
Calls, appointments, and emails can be assigned with automatic reminders. Email marketing is well-implemented, allowing users to send bulk emails to customers. Social media marketing and management tools are well-integrated too and the dashboard can be tweaked and tuned with different filters. Nutshell offers plenty of integrations with business intelligence tools, email marketing services, GSuite, and more.
The drag-and-drop pipeline management tool is augmented by a map view that allows businesses to sort their customers by geographical location. Nutshell’s lead tracking tools are excellent and suit small client-based businesses extremely well, though they might not suit businesses with many thousands of customers as well.
Nutshell allows users to:
Nutshell’s simple and fair pricing starts at $19 per user per month for the Standard tier, rising to $35 per user per month for Pro. Pro adds sales automation and reporting tools amongst other features. It’s one of the cheaper products on the market – simple pricing benefits small and mid-sized teams the most.
Nimble CRM is very well-suited to small to mid-sized teams that manage high-value clients and customers. At its core, it’s a powerful CRM that allows for granular tracking of contacts across multiple sales channels and touchpoints. Advanced sales funnel analysis combines with quality data segmentation tools to accurately break down customers depending on where they’re located in the sales funnel.
One standout feature of Nimble is the Today dashboard which displays all daily relevant data in one easy-to-read section. Instantly home in on pending tasks, deals, marketing tasks, etc. Each contact can be displayed alongside their social media info (Facebook and LinkedIn sadly no longer allow this, though), allowing users to gain instant insight into their high-level contacts.
Another of Nimble’s advanced features is the Prospector tool which essentially acts as a web-scraping tool. This automatically pulls up potential lead data as you surf the internet, e.g. when browsing a website or social media page. It’s a powerful and innovative tool that works extremely well for cultivating cold leads.
Nimble is probably best suited to businesses with sets of high-value leads that require more detailed management, but it can handle larger customer datasets too. Nimble is also equipped with plenty of integrations for connectivity to business intelligence tools, email marketing platforms, GSuite apps, time-tracking, and more.
Nimble allows users to:
Nimble charges a flat $25 per user per month when billed monthly. The Prospector is included but requires Enrichment Credits to use. Teams get a number of these each month but more can be purchased from the app.
Having reached ‘Unicorn Status’ as a startup valued at over $1.5 billion in 2020, Pipedrive has surged through the ranks of CRMs to become one of the most advanced products in the industry. Namely, Pipedrive incorporates several AI-powered tools for populating leads with contact info, finding leads using web scraping, and uncovering problems with sales pipelines and deals.
Pipedrive has all the basics covered too, allowing businesses to manage their customers and contacts across multiple channels. Email marketing tools are well-implemented, allowing users to send bulk emails to their customers via the app. Pipedrive even comes with its own chatbot service that can be integrated onto a business’s website and routed to the app.
One of Pipedrive’s headline features is its Leadbooster that comes with a Prospector tool that works similarly to Nimble’s Prospector. This allows users to search for new leads via Pipedrive’s web-scraped database. Businesses can also use Pipedrive to build customized web forms for placement on-site or through other channels.
Pipedrive’s AI sales assistant analyzes sales data and deals to auto-suggest tips and tricks for preventing deal rot and other sales problems. It may seem like a gimmick but provided Pipedrive is set up properly, it’s reportedly very effective.
Pipedrive allows users to:
Pipedrive is $15 per user per month when billed monthly for the Essential tier. This rises through $29 for Advanced, $59 for Professional, and $99 for Enterprise. The Leadbooster tools are an extra $32.50 for the entire company, but there is a credit system similar to Nimble.
These 5 CRMs represent the latest and greater in customer relationship management. Needless to say, each one covers the basics in excellent fashion, simplifying the way businesses organize and manage their customer’s data and contact information.
With email marketing tools, deal management, and reporting, and analytics, customer data can be managed efficiently and effectively to maximize deal turnover, repeat business, and ROI.
Some of these CRMs, namely Nimble and Pipedrive, come with their own lead-prospecting tools. These are essentially web scraping tools that allow users to prospect new leads when surfing the internet (or by accessing a database in Pipedrive’s case).
Aside from the accomplished and innovative Nimble and Pipedrive, small and mid-sized teams are well-suited by Nutshell and Agile CRM. Salesforce is definitely the heavyweight option and boasts the most integrations, customizability, and Enterprise-level security and data governance tools.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are designed to make interacting with new and existing customers…
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