Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

10 Features You Definitely Need in a CRM

There's a large variety of choices in today's market for CRM software solutions. Each with different sets of features completely unique to the platform. Here is a list of the 10 CRM must-have features you need in a CRM to help you choose the solution that's right for your business.

Think of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management software) as the sales foundation required for any modern business needs to build on to scale effectively and grow. Especially, if the product or service that you sell is a "considered" purchase, meaning the buyer's journey isn't immediate and the prospect may need to do some research or educate someone else before making the decision to buy. Just like your prospects, you'll need to do some research before choosing a CRM. Knowing which 10 features you need in a CRM will help you get started.

Using a CRM is also vital to your business if you offer several different products or services to several different customer types. Having a great CRM is also important if your company is new or just growing quickly. You'll need an efficient platform to manage all of the new inbound data associated with prospects, customers, and their associated activity.

Choosing the right CRM.

There's a large variety of choices in today's market for CRM software solutions. Each with different sets of features, some of the features are similar if not the same across CRMs and some are completely unique to the platform. Below is a list of  features to help you choose the solution that's right for your business.

10 CRM must-have features 

  1. Contact Management.

    This is the feature that you use to record all of your specific prospect and customer data. Start with the basics like their actual contact details including first name, last name, phone number, email address, and company name if you are in the B2B (business to business) space. You'll want a CRM that can automatically find and capture their social media information, and business website URL (if you sell B2b). This gives your salespeople the advantage of learning more about their prospects or customers and personalize their outreach.

  2. Contact Activity.

    Beyond the basics you'll want to know about the activities that led your contact to you, like which advertising did they respond to, which website page have they visited, did they download any content from your website and which form did the fill out. This means you'll also want a CRM that has customizable forms that you can add to your website to collect sales qualifying data in custom properties fields.

  3. Company Management and Activity.  

    If you sell to other businesses, then you'll need a CRM that can track the activity of a group of contacts associated with the same company. This allows you to see everyone from your prospect's company that visits your website, what their role is, and what their needs are based on the interaction they have with your website or salespeople.

  4. Automatic Logging.

    Traditionally, one of the biggest objections to adding a CRM to your business tech stack was adoption. After all, your CRM is only as good as the data that goes into it. This is why need a CRM that integrates seamlessly with your email server and calendar, whether you're using Outlook or Google. You want a CRM that automatically logs interactions across platforms and keeps the communication and contact activity in a chronological timeline.

  5. Advanced Email Management.

    Make sure you have the ability to create "personalized" email templates that allow your salespeople to communicate with prospects and customers with consistent messaging at scale. You'll also want to be able to schedule the emails sends to go out to individual prospects or customers at a time of day when they are most like to see and open your email. Another "must have" feature you'll need is "instant notifications" These are alerts that immediately notify you when a prospect opens or clicks on your email. This is an indicator that the prospect is actively engaged and is usually a great time to "reach out" by phone and connect with them.

  6. Lead Management.

    The ultimate goal of lead management is to convert your leads to sales at the highest possible ratio and maximize the return on investment on your marketing spend. A CRM with great lead management functionality gives you the ability to automatically distribute your inbound leads to the salesperson or sales team the instant the lead comes in. This will greatly increase your "speed to lead". Slow response time to contacting new leads is the number one reasons most leads don't convert.

    According to a recent study conducted by Marketing Sherpa, 79% of all marketing leads are never converted to a sale and another Lead Management Study found calling an inbound lead within the first 5 minutes increased the chances of converting that lead to a sale by over 1,000 times.

  7. Deal Management.

    The ability to visualize your sales pipeline allow sales managers to see what each salesperson is actively working on. You'll want to be able to customize the deal stages in the CRM to match your unique sales processes in each unique step in the journey. This helps every salesperson know where each sale is in your sales process and what next step is on the path to closing.

    According to HubSpot's recent "State of Inbound Report, 75% of sales managers surveyed say that using a CRM helps to drive and increase sales.

  8. Automation.

    Having the ability to automate steps in your sales process won't eliminate the need for salespeople but it will make them much more efficient. Salespeople are notorious for making busy work but that busy work is usually their own way to keep themselves organized. Some of the methods used are efficient but most just aren't. A great CRM will have the ability to automate the busy work by creating workflows that trigger a communication to prospects, sending customers the right information at the right time, and even scheduling common sales tasks based actions.

    A recent Inside Sales report showed that only 37% of a salesperson's time is spent selling.

  9. Customizable Reporting and Dashboards.

    Famed Management Consultant, Peter Drucker often said, “you can't manage what you can't measure.” The data you collect in your CRM database is only as good as your ability to aggregate and analyze it to make actionable decisions. Make sure the CRM you choose has customizable reporting functionality. Standard "canned" reports are good but reporting isn't always one size fits all. Your business is unique and so are is your sales process.

    Think of setting up your reporting like a diagnostic tool for a car. You'll want to be able to use your reporting to pinpoint the areas in your processes or performance that need improvement. This means setting up management dashboards to see the overall performance of the business or a team, KPI's to measure progress, and more detailed reporting to help diagnose specific areas of concern.

  10. Scalability.

    Lastly, you want a CRM that can scale with your business. Many companies make the mistake of over-investing too early. That's like buying an F-22 Raptor fighter jet to taxi up and down the runway. It may be cool to have in the hangar but you'll quickly get tired on making the monthly payments without seeing the ROI.

    HubSpot's Growth Stack has a CRM with enterprise functionality that lets you add up to 1 million contacts and it's absolutely free! This allows you to set up your CRM, and get your team trained on the basic functionality to gain adoption before you ever start making any sort of payments. It's a pay as you grow model that allows you to add the advanced functionality when you're ready to actually use it and justify the expense.

    With HubSpot's Growth Stack you can add state of the art functionality with 3 levels of sales tools, marketing tools, and even tools for your service team. The ability to grow within a singular platform makes growing and scaling your technology seamless.

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