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101 Guide to CRMs

Updated on August 22, 2014

Basic CRM Guide

Anyone with their own business has likely heard the term CRM, but oddly many of these same people don't fully understand what it is. CRM is an acronym for Customer Relationship Management, but that doesn't really describe the full potentials or scope of a CRM solution. Here's what you should know:

Key features of CRM software

  • Customers are the cornerstone for any business, and a CRM solution is a way of organizing, managing, and tracking current and potential customers for greater business results. Key features include integrated email marketing, project management, and enhanced reporting tools.

The Benefits are Real

  • CRM solutions eliminate inefficient practices by consolidating all sales, employees, and customer service tasks into one quick, user-friendly place. This allows more efficient and streamlined invoicing and quoting, ensuring that no customer gets overlooked and all documents are sent on time. Customers will appreciate the greater customer service, while employees will have greater organization and be able to stay on top of tasks in an easy and efficient manner.

Choosing the right solution for your needs

  • There are many CRMs available today, and it's important to research the pros and cons of each to find a solution tailored to your needs.
    • SalesForce. Quite possibly the most well-known, this CRM is highly recommended to sales-heavy organizations, but is less flexible to meet business-specifc needs. This CRM solution offers easy-to-use tools with enhanced sales force automation functionality, but it's lack of options for smaller or more industry-specific businesses may not make it the best option for you.
    • Sugar. This CRM must be self-hosted, but offers a number of common CRM tools. Sugar was designed on an open source model that gives a basic CRM platform. Companies then use their own IT resources or add-on products and apps to build on this platform and customize it better to meet their needs.
    • Dynamics. Consider the industry-standard for business productivity, Dynamics is built on the .Net platform, making it the ideal choice for companies already using Microsoft tools. Its extensive network of partners, resellers, and ISVs ensure that there's plenty of solutions for more specific companies.

In summary, not every CRM solution is right for every business. But CRM software is an excellent way to get better control and organization of many of your business aspects. Research the different solutions available, and find the most appropriate solution for your needs.

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