Business development

CRM software: Definition, limits and how to choose it?

While not all of them are yet equipped (yes, yes…), CRM software has taken pride of place in the toolbox of companies. This large presence is explained by its essential nature for the smooth running of your commercial development strategy and therefore for the increase of your turnover.

Beyond a simple address book of business contacts, we'll detail what CRM is for and why you should choose it with care.

Morvan CarrierMorvan Carrier

Morvan Carrier

Co-founder
Published on 3 December 2020 (Updated on 14 February 2022)

CRM Definition and what is it for?

What is a CRM?

The word CRM ( customer relationship management in English) actually designates several key elements in the commercial development of a company.

The company's customer relationship management(CRM) strategy. These are the decisions and objectives that have been set by management in terms of customer interaction policy. This concerns several departments, in particular, the marketing and sales teams, but also that of customer service, for example.

The process of customer relationship management . This is an operational process that will guide all teams to deliver a standardized customer relationship experience throughout the lifecycle of a customer with your company.

CRM software : But today this term is mainly used to talk about CRM as business management software within companies. I bet it's this last definition that brings you to this article and that's good since it is indeed CRM tools that we are going to talk about.

The objectives of CRM software

The main objective of this type of software is to facilitate the monitoring and consolidation of business activity. In particular, it allows sales teams to fill in the customer data they have in a single tool (rather than in 27 different emails) throughout the sales cycle but also to better organize themselves during this same cycle. .

At the same time, CRM software is a very effective tool for management since it allows to have an overview of the commercial activity and to follow in near real-time the performance of the sales process.

Finally, let's not tell a story, at a time when sales teams are difficult to form an even more complex to retain, a CRM allows the company to capitalize on customer data and facilitate the handover between outgoing salespeople and new salespeople. This is especially true when the sales cycle is long.

The main features of CRM software

What are the main functionalities of CRM software (CRM but in French ^^)?

Well basically and for the sake of being rude to publishers, the basis of a CRM is to be a digital contact directory.

CRM

Relax, of course you are not THAT dear editors.

In order not to make people jealous and because we are not an editor ourselves, we are going to act as on television. We will name several effective software and do not favor almost any of them.

We'll be honest with you and let you know which ones we recommend the most to our customers and why later in the article. There are so many that we cannot quote them all and after all if this is our article that you are reading it is to get our opinion, right? ;-)

Let's come back to the most emblematic features of CRMs:

Contact management

The management of contacts,customers and prospects, offered by CRMs is very thorough. You can really consolidate all customer data in one place. Most solutions even offer custom fields, which allows you to go a long way in collecting and consolidating customer information. Be careful, however, not to go too far, if you have tons of fields but they are not filled, it will not help you.

gestion contacts CRM .png

Easy creation of contacts synchronized with your CRM

Most CRMs offer connection add-ons to your sales reps' email accounts to automatically fill in as much information as possible. It can also be used on social media to easily extract information and create contacts on the fly. A saving of precious time.

synchronisation des contacts avec CRM

Tracking of communications and sales documents

This synchronization with e-mail accounts generally goes further. Many CRMs will allow you to follow the opening of your emails by your interlocutors but also to track the opening and reading of the presentations that you have sent. This can be very useful to contact your contacts at the right time during a sales process, for example.

tracking des documents de vente

Appointment booking made easy thanks to CRM

Some CRM tools make it easier to book appointments by integrating slot proposal functions directly into the body of the e-mail or even automated appointment booking with integrations of tools such as Calendly. It may seem secondary, but all the salespeople who read us understand the time saved to avoid back and forth when scheduling meetings!

prise de rendez-vous plus simple avec les certains logiciels crm

Sales assistance, email template etc.

Customer relationship management tools sometimes offer functions to facilitate the sales process. From our point of view, it is one of the aspects less well dealt with by CRM today. Most will allow you to create email templates to save time and some will automate part of the creation of sales documents to more easily customize a presentation, for example.

This is insufficient, we can however note that some tools work there such as NoCrm with its appointment frame tool.

aide à la vente dans les crm

Track sales opportunities

Of course, one of the main functions remains the follow-up of the commercial pipe! This feature allows you to view all the prospects who are in the sales process with your company and at what stage they are. It is an important management tool both for management, who will use it to forecast future turnover over the coming months, and for salespeople who will be able to monitor their activity and that of the company more simply. the team as a whole.

Suivi des opportunités de ventes dans votre crm

Statistics on business performance

Finally, the creation of personalized dashboards to follow all of the commercial activity is also an important feature, particularly for management in order to detect areas for improvement or flaws in the company's commercial process.

Tableau de bord de suivi de la performance commerciale

Mobile CRMs

More and more CRMs are relying on mobile to support salespeople. It's not just “responsiveness”. CRMs like Hubspot or even CRM suite (which is open source) offer complete applications to support your sales representatives in the field, enter a business card using the smartphone camera, etc.

CRM mobile.png

How to choose your CRM software

Definition of your CRM tool needs

Before considering the implementation of a CRM , it is necessary that you make a precise inventory of your needs. Not all CRM solutions offer the exact same functionality and work the same. And depending on your current situation the questions to ask yourself vary enormously.

  • Who will use the CRM? How many users?
  • What is the main objective of this tool?
  • Is there data to recover from previous software?
  • Will your CRM need to be connected with other tools?
  • Do you need additional functionalities such as the management of marketing campaigns for example?
  • Do you need to use the software on mobile devices?

Overall, be careful not to over-equip yourself with stupendously complex software designed for organizations 10 or 100 times the size of yours. Their cost is of course higher, but beyond the immediate additional cost, the excessive complexity of a software will make it unusable for your teams.

Do not ignore the drafting of real specifications by involving all the employees intended to use the tool. This will ensure that you do not oversize or undersize your need.

Your corporate culture and your side projects

Beyond the objective needs, your corporate culture comes into play. For example, you may have the habit of setting up hyper-efficient specialized tools in their respective field, even if it means having several. Or, on the contrary, prefer all-in-one tools.

If you are in the first case, tools like NoCRM and Pipedrive will be excellent for you (we love them, we will tell you about them below). If you are in the second case, Hubspot or zoho CRM would surely be more suitable since you can add lots of additional tools (marketing suite, customer service suite, office suite, coffee machine… XD).

Beyond this aspect, at Sales Odyssey we tend to think that CRMs all have an underlying “culture”. There are CRMs which are fundamentally designed by and for salespeople, there are CRMs which are hybrid and which integrate a very marketing logic. Finally, some, more rare, manage to combine the two rather well.

Know how you operate yourself to choose the right tool for you. There is no such thing as a “good” culture. Simply choose the tool that's right for you .

CRM choices: let your sales people choose

Or in any case involve them strongly, their opinion must have an important weight.

Why ?

Because a poorly completed CRM that is not used on a daily basis is a useless CRM. It may seem obvious to you, but the reality is that the choice of manager and direction takes precedence over that of the teams most of the time. It is a mistake. You won't be driving anything at all if your teams don't want to use the tools.

Yes, you will be able to use energy and compulsion to force them. But think about the ROI a bit. Isn't it more profitable to focus on the solution that will allow you to easily reach your goal rather than the solution that you like but which will take energy and time to be really adopted and therefore useful?

This does not necessarily seem logical, we can talk for a long time about the fact that the teams are not always aware of all the issues. But be pragmatic, either your team is convinced and FREELY chose this solution, or you buy yourself problems that will have a cost that you cannot even imagine.

The best CRM software for SMEs in 2021

NoCRM.io: Simple and efficient tailored for your sales representatives

NoCRM is a UFO in the CRM world, as its name suggests. And I give it to you in miles, it is published by the French company “You don't need a CRM”. It cannot be invented but it sums up the philosophy of this solution.

A formidable efficiency solution, which has been designed to provide only what is strictly necessary for your sales team. The tool is pragmatic and “next action” oriented, no element is pending. And unsurprisingly, it is one of the only solutions on the market to have REALLY thought of integrating prospecting list management features (yes, a suspect is not necessarily a prospect).

Of course, we find all the essential functionalities of a CRM in a clean interface and at a very competitive price. This is undoubtedly the solution that we recommend if you have a company with a strong commercial culture.

The advantages of NoCRM:

  • A 100% French solution (yes we are chauvinistic).
  • A very pragmatic and energizing design logic
  • Very easy to use
  • A plug-in dedicated to LinkedIn to create contacts and opportunities directly from the social network (#socialselling)
  • An unbeatable price.

NoCRM's rates:

  • € 10 per user per month for the starter version . It is ideal for very small businesses.
  • € 19 per user per month for the expert version . It provides collaborative functionalities, improved reporting and the management of after-sales actions in particular.
  • € 29 per user per month for the dream team version. It provides e-mail tracking, template management and sales objectives management functionalities.

Discover NoCRM 

Pipedrive: Very complete, and interesting add-ons

Pipedrive is a great CRM . Its value for money is very advantageous, from the ergonomics to the variety of its features, we cannot be disappointed. Pipedrive excels in its ability to link with all kinds of tools to enhance its integration into your ecosystem.

It is also a solution which integrates extraordinary add-ons in particular “Web visitor” which for an unbeatable price proposes to you to identify from which companies come the visitors of your Internet site thanks to their IP address. Valuable information to implement a targeted prospecting or account-based marketing strategy.

There is real intelligence in the choice of the features offered. Pipedrive adapts to small teams as well as larger teams and is an excellent compromise between a sales and marketing culture.

Video presentation of the Pipedrive solution from their official website.

The advantages of Pipedrive:

  • A very complete solution easy to integrate with many tools
  • Very interesting add-ons: LeadBooster, Web Visitors <3
  • The built-in appointment planner.
  • Integrated automation features
  • A high-quality dashboard

Pipedrive prices:

  • € 12.50 per user per month for the “essential” version . A basic offer to discover the tool. However, it lacks a lot of useful features to fully benefit from the tool.
  • € 24.90 per user per month for the “advanced” version . The real good choice to get started with Pipedrive is where we find most of what makes Pipedrive so successful.
  • € 49.90 per user and per month for the “professional” version . It adds advanced reporting functions but also and above all two top functions: e-signature and the possibility of making these calls over the Internet directly via Pipedrive.

Discover Pipedrive 

Hubspot, is free a good deal?

A well-known solution , and for good reason the CRM is free. Let's put this argument aside for a moment.

We are on a very different approach from the previous two. Hubspot is a complete marketing suite that ranges from marketing automation to CRM through a CMS and customer service. And to tell the truth, unlike some generalist solutions, Hubspot is doing pretty well even compared to specialists in each of the areas mentioned.

If you are planning to acquire all of the solutions that Hubspot offers, this is probably the best solution for you. A downside, however.

CRM

Hubspot is expensive. Whether in terms of marketing automation, CRM or CMS. Free is a sham, the free version is very limited. The main flaw is also that you will be using a platform that is intended for much more use than just CRM. If you need it all the better, otherwise it's unnecessary distraction.

So see it as an all-in-one, all-or-nothing solution!

The advantages of Hubspot CRM:

  • A free offer to get started!
  • A solution integrated into a complete marketing suite of very high quality
  • Many free marketing tools (chat module, landing page editor)

Hubspot's Tariffs:

  • Free for the basic offer.
  • From $ 50 per month for two users in its starter version.
  • $ 500 per month for 5 users on the pro version. This release brings in particular the functionality of personalized e-mail sequence, personalized videos directly from Hubspot and electronic signature.

Salesforce: A CRM software heavyweight

Sales Force has made its way into the world of CRM software. With unbeatable customer support, this tool allows you to track and evaluate each sales opportunity from start to finish to trigger actions based on the likelihood of closing the sale.

You can also create quotes quickly, manage your product and pricing list (including custom pricing), assign to-do items, and organize your schedule. Of course, contact and partner management is also taken into account to improve your relationships and campaigns.

Sales Force also supports you in lead management and in the organization of your pipeline. Thus, you can integrate a lead scoring strategy to evaluate each lead and convert your prospects more efficiently and quickly.

The + de SalesForce :

  • There is a free trial version to try the tool
  • It tracks user engagement on social media
  • It has a mobile app
  • It has almost all the features expected of a CRM

SalesForce pricing:

  • €25 per user per month, for the “Essentials Plan”: Access to up to 10 users for account and contact management, follow-up, lead attribution, email management, personalization of reports and mobile access.
  • €75 per user per month, for the “Professional Plan”: Here you have no limit in terms of users. You can manage your campaigns, customize your dashboards, products and quotes.
  • €150 per user per month, for the “Enterprise Plan”: You have access to all the features mentioned above as well as a large number of automated tasks, the development of personalized applications and you can access the API of web services. You also have the option of using Salesforce Identity and Salesforce AppExchange.
  • €300 per user per month, for the “Unlimited Plan”: This subscription allows you unlimited customizations, free 24-hour assistance, training, personalized applications and a Cloud service.

Zoho CRM: A CRM to automate your tasks

Zoho CRM is a tool very focused on automation with features to trigger pre-established scenarios.

Zoho has an easy to use interface for managing your contacts. You can organize prospects in a simple and efficient way and it is possible to filter your data.

This tool helps you deploy your marketing strategies and advance your contacts in your funnel thanks to the features: management of your e-mailing campaigns, the implementation of a lead nurturing strategy, to prospect, to segment your contacts, to track them, etc. And if you want to manage a large number of leads from different touchpoints (email, social networks, etc.), you can use Zoho's Sales Signals feature.

You can also set up lead scoring strategies, carry out follow-up sequences independently and make certain actions such as sending e-mails automatically. And thanks to its AI, Zoho offers you actions that you could automate.

The + de Zoho CRM :

  • A free version for up to three users and access to basic features.
  • Easy to use, Zoho has a simple and practical interface to use.
  • Easy to add integrations like MailChimp, Evernote, Microsoft Office 365, ClickDesk, Zendesk Support or GoToMeeting.
  • A mobile application to manage your contacts and customers remotely.

Zoho CRM Pricing:

  • €7 per month and per user for the “Zoho Begin” version: It is suitable for structures that are just starting out. With this version, you can create 5 web forms, manage your email, and customize your dashboards.
  • 20 € per month and per user for the “Standard” version: You can set up a lead scoring strategy, automated scenarios and create pipelines as well as customize your dashboards.
  • €35 per month and per user for the “Professional” version: You will have access to the Sales Signal tool to track your prospects. You will also be able to manage the integration of forms as well as manage integrated stocks.
  • €50 per month per user for the “Enterprise” version: You have access to Zoho's AI tool and the multi-user portal.
  • €65 per month and per user for the “Ultimate” version: Has all the features mentioned above by adding a monitoring solution, to be integrated into your various analysis tools.

The CRM comparison of SMEs for 2021

SolutionsNo CRMPipedriveHubspot
pricingBetween € 10 and € 29 per user per monthBetween € 12.90 and € 49.90 per user per monthFree for the basic offer 50 € per month for 2 users on the starter version 500 € per month for 5 users on the pro version
Getting startedVery EasyEasyComplex due to the multitude of solutions offered
ConnectivityAverageVery GoodVery Good
ScalabilityDesigned for one use and one use only. Support the commercial team. No unnecessary functionality, the best solution for small teams (less than 20 salespeople).Good ability to equip your teams over time. Real bridges between sales and marketing.Very important thanks to a very complete suite that covers most marketing and sales needs.
To sum upEase of use and integration of prospecting file management.Everything is there ! Do you want more ? The add-ons in particular “Web visitors” will please you.A free offer to test it out.
SolutionsSalesforceZoho CRMSimple CRM
Pricing25 € for the essentials version 75 € for the professional version 150 € for the enterprise version 300 € for the unlimited versionBetween €7 and €65 per user per monthFrom 15€ for 1 to 5 users and per month for the “Starter” version From €60 for an unlimited number of users per month for the “Business+” version
Getting startedMore or less easy because well known to salespeople but with many featuresEasy since the new interface changesEasy
ConnectivityGoodGoodGood
ScalabilityIts features are numerous. It is an ideal tool for large sales teams.Has the necessary tools for contact management & nurturing.A complete management solution with the possibility of integrating tools such as Outlook, Drupal, Skype, etc...
To sum upIts status as market leader is not there for nothing. Thanks to its many applications and integrations, you can create the CRM tailor-made for your needs.A complete offer with many features and an interesting gamification system.A complete software and what is more French! Its artificial intelligence features make it an effective CRM.

What now? How to use your CRM tool well.

Intelligently configure your CRM software

Ok you have chosen a great tool, you are all excited to play with it… Sorry. You are stimulated by the possibilities offered and are eager to exceed your turnover goals (plus corpo). Sorry, but you only did a very small part of the job. A CRM, even technically operational, is not worth much as such, it is a tool, just a tool.

It's up to you to build a relevant and effective sales process to convert your prospects. Your CRM should be set up to support this process and not the other way around.

Likewise, be careful not to configure steps, contact fields or documents simply because the tool allows it. Above all, you must make the work of the sales teams as easy as possible. Any additional process that does not have an immediate impact on their efficiency is a waste of time and money.

It is the same for the indicators to follow. We all like, as a leader, the KPIs. It's cool KPIs are concrete, they help to make decisions. But do you know what's worse than not having a KPI? Track bad KPIs.

Consider that when you follow metrics to assess your team's performance it guides their efforts. How many times do I see the “Number of customer appointments” indicator, when we ask to make an appointment, the teams do so.

The problem ? When we receive a request and as soon as we qualify we feel that it will not go further, we must avoid the meeting. But if it's still good for the indicators, we'll make an appointment.

Think about it, there are always two sides to your KPIs. The good and the ugly 🤠. It is not a problem of honesty, it is up to management to think about the relevance of the indicators. The teams are just doing their job.

Train the sales team in the use of CRM

Yes, this step is not to be neglected. It is above all the sales team that must use the CRM and the more comfortable it will be, the more it will save you time and therefore money.

Training your team is therefore essential to understand how the tool was designed, how it was configured and how it should be used. Needless to say that if your teams have been involved in the decision-making and configuration process, training will be greatly facilitated.

Also remember to properly document the initial training and possibly appoint a “power-user” who will know the tool like the back of his hand. Your sales teams are evolving and this will be very important to better integrate your new recruits.

Ensure the proper functioning of your CRM software

A CRM can be maintained , always make sure that the data it contains is accurate and that all the data you have is correctly entered in the tool. A good technique is to do pipe reviews with each salesperson every month to ensure that current projects are always up-to-date and complete, that the contacts for each project are well identified and that the projects won are well. been noted.

By relying on the tool to facilitate this meeting, we gain in efficiency and we create a tacit agreement with our team. We are evaluated on what exists in the CRM, so keep it up to date.

It is also important to regularly clean your CRM. Does an inactive contact need to be in your CRM for the next 100 years? No. Do not hesitate to delete obsolete data and to archive this data regularly.

CRM software of the future?

I'm not going to talk about mobile CRM , it's already for yesterday. I'm also not going to talk about artificial intelligence and other buzzwords that only make sense if they bring concrete gains, and honestly that is all too rarely the case.

Today, in my opinion, there is a real limit to be crossed for CRMs. These are still far too many monitoring and reporting tools. The CRM of tomorrow must serve commercial performance and it will only be able to do so by supporting those who are its architects much more effectively: the salespeople.

There is progress, NoCrm and its appointment script generation tool for example is going in the right direction. We can also note the Pipedrive add-ons which are real tools at the service of sales (and marketing).

But this is all too shy. We have very effective sales techniques at our disposal and our knowledge around the modeling of customer journeys is now much greater. Is there not here something to go further to support salespeople in their activity and help them to close?

FAQ: Choose your CRM software

It is a customer relationship management tool that allows you to structure and monitor your business development process.

CRMs are not just gimmicks. Your sales team will be able to track their activity much better and speed up your sales cycle. Besides, it is a very good tool to capitalize on long-term business data the impact is immense.

The costs are very variable and depend in particular on the number of users of the solution. We can count from 10 € to 50 € per month and per user depending on the solutions. Free solutions are rarely a winning bet over time.

There are many, but they can be summed up in one thing. Do a real job of producing specifications. Do not neglect the definition of needs and especially involve those who will be the main users of the solution.

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