A CRM is more than a way to track sales. It allows you to see what types of leads are converting to customers, uncover what activities are driving sales, automate tasks, provide better customer service, and streamline your business processes to boost profitability. A CRM is the hub of your business, the tool that provides you with the data you need, when you need it, while simultaneously increasing productivity.

Choosing a CRM is can be a difficult process because you don’t want to end up with a system that doesn’t quite fit your business, resulting in inefficiency. Or worse, end up with a bad fit that means you have to scrap the CRM, lose all the time and money you invested in setup and training, and start from square one.

To get the most from a CRM, no matter what type of business you run, you’ll need several key features. In this post, we’re sharing the essentials to look for when considering which CRM to choose and the features you should look for if your business could benefit from additional streamlining.

1. Simple Setup

If your CRM is difficult to set up, requires extensive training, or needs a dedicated admin, you’ll be wasting resources that you don’t need to. Look for a user-friendly CRM that’s intuitive to use. Your team should be able to quickly learn how to use the CRM and be eager to adopt it because it makes their lives easier — rather than avoiding it because it’s cumbersome to use.

2. Ability to Use It on Mobile Devices

Your team is on the go, and they shouldn’t have to lug around laptops in order to use the CRM when they’re away from the office. A good CRM will work well on smartphones and tablets and will include key functionality in its mobile app. You’ll see a higher usage rate by your team if they can access the CRM quickly and easily from their mobile devices.

3. Company-Wide Access

Your sales team will need to send information and share documents with others in your organization. Be sure that your CRM allows tagging or other functionality to share with other team members without having to buy more seats.

4. Syncing

Data entry takes time, and if your team is doing a lot of it, you’re draining productivity. A good CRM will automatically sync between systems, so you don’t have to do more manual data entry than necessary. Find out what will sync, with what systems, and whether the sync is one-way or two-way.

5. Sales Tools

In order to maximize productivity, at a minimum, your sales team needs to be able to create quotes, proposals, and contracts, generate PDFs, email prospects and clients, and utilize e-signatures. Create a list of all the tasks your team engages in and see how many of these tasks can be handled within the CRMs you’re considering.

6. Project Planning

If your business produces work or provides services, you’ll need project planning capabilities. While you can always use a project management software alongside your CRM, having this functionality integrated will reduce the amount of time you spend entering data. Look for time tracking, tools to keep project on budget, collaboration tools, and Gantt charts. You should also be able to schedule tasks to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

7. Integrations

Some of these tasks may be able to be addressed via integrations. For example, you can integrate calendar syncing, QuickBooks Online and MailChimp for email marketing. Explore each CRM’s integration capabilities. Do they integrate with all the systems that you need them to? The more your team can do from one place (your CRM), the more streamlined their workflows will be. Also find out how easy those integrations are to set up. If you have to pay a developer for significant development time to set up the integrations, you’ll want to factor that cost into your analysis.

8. Data Intelligence

Your CRM should provide you with insight into every area of your business. You should know, with a glance at a dashboard, what deals are in the pipeline, how far along each deal is, when each is likely to close, what deals are in production or fulfillment, which customers have just received delivery, who on your team has been and is communicating with each customer, and any details about each customer that are necessary to provide excellent service. Depending on the nature of your business, you may also need to know project details, production schedules, logistics, and more. Be sure that the CRM you choose can provide you with all the insight you need to run your business optimally.

9. Detailed, Visually-Appealing Reports

The CRM should also be able to generate reports on any of the information described above. You should be able to drill down to view detailed intelligence on any of your business processes. The reports that the CRM creates should look professional and be visually-appealing, especially if you need to share reports with investors, board members, customers, or others outside your immediate team.

Additional CRM Features to Consider

If your business is complex, with many moving parts and systems, you’ll want to look for a few additional capabilities:

Easy Customization — The most obvious is easy customization. If an out-of-the-box CRM doesn’t work for you, you’ll want to customize a system to fit. You shouldn’t have to pay high fees for customization or wait long periods of time. You need to start utilizing the system as soon as possible to see ROI and start realizing the benefits.

CRM/ERP Functionality — Some CRMs are CRM/ERP combinations that allow you to fully run all aspects of your business via the software. Rather than trying to integrate your CRM with another ERP system, which may not work exactly as you intend, using just one system will simplify the process. Using two separate systems can also result in overlap of features, meaning you’re paying twice for some of the functionality.

Scalability — If your company is small but growing, you want a system that will grow with you. Make sure that the CRM can be expanded when you’re ready, without costing more than makes sense.

Consider a FileMaker-Based CRM Solution

FileMaker offers small and midsize businesses the ability to easily and affordably create a custom software solution that functions precisely as needed. Since FileMaker is a low-code/no-code Workplace Innovation Platform, you won’t need to pay for extensive development time, and you won’t need to wait long for your finished product. Additionally, existing CRMs built on the FileMaker platform, like Jarvis, can be used out-of-the-box or easily customized to create an exact fit for for your needs.

Learn more about how The Scarpetta Group has helped businesses boost profitability through FileMaker-based solutions.