A Common-Sense Approach to CRM Selection

Selecting the right CRM software for your business can be challenging. This common-sense approach can make your life and selection process a lot easier.

Advice for CRM Buyers: Get the tool that gets the job done. | Commence CRM

Step one is to simply document why you are looking for a CRM system. What problem(s) are you looking to solve? You may have heard the old adage: People don’t buy a drill because they want a drill. They buy a drill because they need a hole.  CRM is just a tool; it’s the drill. You need to buy the CRM solution that will address your specific problem(s).

Once you have determined what you want to achieve you can narrow down the options very quickly because despite the number of solutions available they all fall into one of three categories.  At the most basic level there are a myriad of low-cost out of the box solutions. These are for small businesses that may be tired of using an Excel spreadsheet to run their business.  They are designed as one size fits all, so typically what you see is what you get. But if you are simply looking to capture, track and share customer data such as company names, contacts, notes, activities and perhaps generate a sales forecast then these products may be perfect for you.  Keep in mind that they are cheap for a reason.  There are typically limitations with regard to the number of accounts or contacts you can store, reports you can run or the customizations you can make. Once again this may not matter if you are a small business with limited requirements.  I do recommend that you ask the vendor where your data is stored and what kind of customer support they provide. Remember the majority of these solutions are cloud based and due to their low cost the solution provider cannot afford to provide best-in-class data hosting.  If you comfortable with who is storing and backing up your data and that you can get to it in case of an emergency that’s fine, just check it out. Also, make sure you are ok with customer support which is typically self-service and e-mail only. Products in this category range from free to about $20 per user per month.

The next level up are CRM solutions that offer more robust functionality and flexibility.  They are scalable to support a larger number of uses and can manage a high volume of data and transactions.  Let’s call these mid-market solutions. In addition to the basic account and contact management features found in low end solutions, these products help automate the internal business processes that impact sales, marketing and customer service.  The advanced functionality allows you to capture, manage and qualify leads; manage the sales pipeline from introduction to closure; generate marketing campaigns; and keep track of the experience your customers have had with you via automated ticketing and problem resolution. These programs also offer advanced reporting and analytics that provide a graphical snapshot of sales, marketing, and service activity. In addition, the ability to customize these solutions for your business is significantly greater than lower cost products and customer service is very good as companies at this level have highly qualified personnel on board to ensure that you realize exceptional value from their product.  In fact, the entire business relationship with the solution provider is different at this level.  You are not just buying a software package over the internet that you can use and pay for on a month by month basis.  You are buying a solution coupled with the expertise that ensures the product is properly implemented, tailored to your requirements, and that your staff is well trained on how to use the software to manage your business.  You can find good quality products in this category from $25 to $65 dollars per user per month based on the applications you select.

Lastly, you have enterprise level solutions. These products are traditionally differentiated not by their CRM functionality, but by the fact that they are highly scalable and capable of supporting several hundred to several thousand users.  In addition, enterprise level CRM systems are often a component of a total solution that includes Accounting and or ERP functionality.  Those that do not offer this have built integration capabilities to the leading Accounting and ERP systems.  These programs traditionally start at $75 per user per month and can end up as high as a few hundred dollars per user per month when all is said and done.

So, there you have it. Chances are you fall into one of these categories.  If you are a small business with very limited requirements the world is your oyster as there are several hundred basic low-cost solutions to choose from.  Because the functionality of these programs is so similar, the level of service they provide coupled with their data hosting service could be a good way to differentiate one from the other.

My choice for companies of 10 to 100 users (i.e., mid-market) is Commence CRM. This is because Commence offers a robust set of functionality the rivals several enterprise level solutions at half the cost. In addition, the company continues to introduce new functionality that differentiates them from the competition. A new fully integrated Project Management module is a recent addition that is getting very good reviews. Commence also has a reputation for providing outstanding customer service and has been in business for two decades.

In the enterprise space, Salesforce.com is the recognized leader for those businesses seeking a feature rich scalable CRM solution. However, Oracle and SAP or NetSuite would be better choices if you are looking for a CRM solution fully integrated with Accounting and or ERP functionality.

Compelling Reasons to Select Commence as your CRM Provider

2 Reasons CommenceCRM is a Top Choice for SMBs

There is a lot to consider when selecting CRM software and with several hundred options, choosing the right one for your business can be a grueling exercise. While the press typically highlights industry giants Microsoft Dynamic and Salesforce.com, recent news has been about an up and comer that is quietly gaining market share. That company is Commence, makers of Commence CRM.

The company is firing on all cylinders and was recently listed as one of the Top 20 Most Popular CRM products for small and mid-size businesses by Capterra, who periodically reviews industry software products. Commence CRM also made the Gartner’s FrontRunners Quadrant for CRM solution providers and is listed by Business-software.com as a Top Choice for small to mid-size businesses.

Commence CRM is targeted at businesses that need more than the traditional low cost, one-size-fits-all solutions can provide, but who do not need or want the cost and complexity of higher end enterprise level systems. The company offers a number of compelling reasons to select them as your CRM solution provider.

First, the product offers a comprehensive suite of applications that rival enterprise level products at half the cost. In addition to the traditional Contact Management and Sales Automation found in most CRM solutions, Commence CRM offers:

  • Marketing Campaign Management
  • Group Calendaring
  • E-mail integration
  • Activity Management
  • Help Desk Ticketing system
  • Knowledgebase and FAQ
  • Customer Portal
  • Reporting
  • Built-in Analytics

Commence CRM also recently added a fully integrated Project Management application that is getting much fanfare.

Furthermore, the applications are all modular in design, which means you can select only the functionality you need for your business today and add functionality later. Commence CRM is an all-in-one that you will not outgrow.

Commence CRM also includes administrative functions for easy management of the product, multi-level security permissions, and a high degree of customization that is simply not found in competitive products at similar price points. Add a top tier best in class data hosting service, outstanding customer reviews, and customer support that is provided by an assigned account manager and you have a solution that is tough to beat. Visit commence.com for more information and ask for a free trial.

The Winning Formula for Increased Sales

 

Behind every winner is a top-notch crew.

Are you looking for the “Winning Formula” for improving how you market, sell, and provide service to your customers?  Well it’s going to require more than just a good CRM solution.  CRM is just a tool. It doesn’t run your business and it won’t automate internal business processes that don’t exist.

Many small to mid-size businesses have struggled to realize any measurable improvement in business performance with their CRM software. In fact, 73% have failed to get their software properly implemented and utilized.  Here’s why.

Very often small to mid-size businesses are challenged by a lack of resources or experienced personnel who can develop internal business processes for creating effective marketing campaigns, managing the sales cycle and efficiently responding to customer inquiries.  Buying a CRM won’t address this requirement. It’s like having the fastest race car on the track, but without an experienced driver and pit crew you’ll never win the race.

Commence Corporation has addressed this challenge by combining our top rated CRM software with a set of best practices created by a team of highly experienced professionals with more than 15 years of sales, marketing, and customer service expertise. The software automates key components of the business such as lead qualification and management, marketing campaigns, sales pipeline execution and forecasting, performance monitoring and reporting. Experienced mentors help to define, implement, and reinforce the internal processes that drive sales execution and business performance.

This is what differentiates Commence CRM from the competition. We don’t just sell CRM software. We provide the value added services necessary to deliver measurable results.  In fact, while we prefer you use our CRM solution, our best practices and experienced staff can help you to achieve measurable results with whatever CRM product you are using today. Call us at 1-877-COMMENCE to learn more.

All in One CRM is the Way to Go

There is a new catch phrase in the CRM software industry and it’s called “All in One CRM”. It’s a clever term that does a very good job at differentiating the myriad of CRM solutions that are available today. While most CRM solutions provide you with the ability to manage accounts and contacts, capture notes, and produce a sales forecast, All in One CRM systems offer fully integrated departmental solutions for managing leads, documents, marketing, and customer service. A few of the mainstream CRM solutions like Commence CRM even offer an integrated Project Management application.

Simply stated, All in One CRM solutions offer more functionality than those designed for a specific purpose like contact management or sales opportunity management.

Popular CRM review sites such as G2Crowd.com have created two separate vendor quadrants to help customers with their selection process. There is a quadrant for general-purpose CRM solutions and one for All in One solutions. You will notice there are far fewer vendors in the All in One category.

All in One CRM Quadrant and General Purpose CRM Quadrant | G2Crowd.com

The benefits of going with an All in One CRM Solution are numerous assuming you need more functionality and flexibility than what the basic solutions offer.

Comprehensive Solutions

First, you will not have to worry about outgrowing an All in One CRM system because these products are robust and offer comprehensive functionality.

More Customization

All in One CRM systems are also much more customizable than general purpose ones which means they can more easily adapt to changes in business requirements.

Personalized Service

All in One CRM solution providers traditionally offer a variety of services simply not available from general purpose suppliers such as on-boarding and training to assist with third party system integration.

Flexible and Modular

The majority of All in One systems also offer a variety of packages or product editions so you can start small and grow into the other applications at a later time. This is quite appealing to businesses that are anticipating growth, but are not ready to implement the full suite of applications offered by these products.

I think we will see more organizations using All in One CRM as a classification to differentiate CRM product offerings. It’s a simple, but effective way to categorize CRM software.

 

Sales Enablement is Key for Improving Sales Execution

Every business needs more sales and wants to improve sales execution. Achieving this requires a commitment to first define your sales process, automate it, then manage each phase of the sales cycle. This is one of the core features of CRM software, but CRM tools by themselves are not the answer to improving sales execution. The tools need to be complemented by strong sales management and a sales team that appreciates having a structured sales process in place. This will result in quicker sales cycles and closing more business.

Step 1 – Lead Qualification

First, the sales organization needs to define what a highly qualified prospect looks like for their business. Start by simply asking a few questions such as:

  1. What customers do we serve better than anyone else?
  2. What are these customers’ competing alternatives?
  3. How can we efficiently convert prospects into new customers?

Incorporating these questions into your CRM will automatically qualify each new opportunity based on a set of predefined criteria or questions as illustrated below. In flexible CRM solutions, these questions can be customized for your business.

commence-crm-lead-qualification-sample-questions

Based on how each sales representative answers the questions, the system will then rank and color-code each lead. [Red for hot or highly qualified; yellow for warm – there is an interest but more work to be done; and blue for cold or just starting out.]

This automated business process ensures that each sales representative is laser focused on the most promising opportunities based on the company’s qualification criteria and not their gut instinct, saving your business valuable time and money.

Step 2 – Sales Cycle Management

The next phase of sales enablement is to define the steps in your sales process. The screen below highlights a sample of the sales stages for each new business opportunity.

commence-crm-sales-cycle-management-sales-stages

The ability to monitor deal flow will provide your organization with substantial value. Sales managers can monitor where each new business opportunity is in the sales cycle, determine if it is stalled or moving through the process as expected, and assign the proper resources to help win the business at the right time.

Step 3 – Sales Reports

Using a CRM for forecasting will help optimize your selling process by improving the timeliness and accuracy of your monthly and quarterly sales forecast.

commence-crm-report-30-day-sales-forecast

The CRM system organizes each forecast based on the sales stages you have entered within the system. In addition, you can review each opportunity in your sales funnel and drill into both pending and completed activities to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

The pathway to your success in improving sales execution will be based on:

  • the commitment of your management and sales team to devote the time and resources necessary to define your sales processes
  • adopting a CRM software application that will enable you to automate and optimize your sales process
  • and taking advantage of best practices your solution provider can offer to ensure the proper implementation and use of their software

To learn more about how you can maximize sales enablement and optimize your sales process contact Commence CRM sales at 732-380-9100.