The CRM Buyer s Guide. for Humans

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1 The CRM Buyer s Guide for Humans

2 In today s technology-dependent world, nearly every company needs software to gain a competitive advantage and achieve success. Specifically, the need to efficiently and effectively manage relationships with clients has become vital. Most companies try to address this problem with a CRM (customer relationship management system). However, the sheer volume of available options can quickly become overwhelming to those in the market for a CRM. A CRM should be easy to use and provide relationship insights and proactive intelligence to your relationship managers, whether they re salespeople, customer service reps, or executives. But how do you find this ideal combination? This guide aims to help you decide on the CRM that is best suited to help you boost sales productivity, win more business, and improve your customer relationships. Of course, much of your decision will be dependent on your company s industry and its established day-to-day processes. But an excellent CRM provider will work with you to accommodate your company s particularities. CRM 2

3 Tracking long-standing, complex relationships with clients is crucial to your company s success. While your current relationship-tracking processes help to maintain some semblance of order, it isn t enough staff members get bogged down in manual procedures, sales reps don t know which leads represent the best opportunity for your company, and you have limited insight into deal timelines and pipeline health. In all the confusion, different employees have even called the same lead twice in the same day and you ve lost potential business. As a result, business has slowed significantly. Is there a solution that can help? The essence of the business cycle is your client base. Your business performance depends upon a series of conversions: leads must become opportunities, opportunities must become closed deals, closed deals result in clients, and clients become sources of ongoing revenue. A customer relationship management system helps your business to excel in each of these areas. The functionalities that a CRM system offers are critical to your company s success. 3

4 The best CRM systems on the market are designed to eliminate tedious procedures and increase ease of use by employing efficient, intuitive workflows. By automating account management, allowing for sales process configuration, and streamlining opportunity development, a customer relationship management system dramatically improves your sales team s effectiveness. A CRM also helps your sales team convert leads and opportunities into both new business and repeat business for your company while allowing you to effectively manage your business pipeline. 4

5 Your CRM should offer real-time visibility into your most important relationships. With relationship tracking technology fully integrated into a CRM, the system can mine vast amounts of interactions and communications history to deliver information to your staff about your company s relationships with the stakeholders within your accounts. Driven by proactive intelligence, a CRM that uses and phone records to provide visibility into which employees have the highest-quality relationships with certain customers or which representatives are engaged most deeply with a contact gives you a roadmap for customer interactions, taking away a great deal of guesswork and allowing your employees to close deals more quickly and maintain a better client experience over time. 5

6 Without accurate reporting from a quality CRM, business leaders can be left guessing as to what s going on at their accounts, who their most engaged contacts are, and where revenue opportunities lie. CRM reporting should tell a personalized story of what s going on in your world and give you control of data on sales activity, pipeline health, and demand generation so that you can increase your team s productivity. CRM reporting should help you not only measure what s working, but also identify issues before they lead to lost revenue. With reports measuring engagement levels, conversation activity, and more, a CRM should give you complete visibility into what s happening within your organization. 6

7 CRM technology has the power to dramatically improve the way your business works, but it can t get to that point unless your team reacts positively to its introduction. And according to Forrester Research, only 47% of companies that implement CRM come away from the adoption process with their expectations met or exceeded. Today s CRM software should be just as easy to use as today s consumer technology. No one wants to use technology that s difficult to use or requires tedious data entry. Your CRM should meet you more than halfway so that you don t have to spend your time manually entering data or sorting out confusing interfaces. 7

8 TRUE CLOUD ARCHITECTURE With multiple data centers, a Software-as-a-Service software platform can assure business continuity for your company with both physically and logically redundant architecture that s built to withstand any threat to your data. With an on-premise solution, on the other hand, your company could find itself paying for server space or purchasing its own server, and security protocol is dependent on each company s server particularities. And while a provider should never take ownership of a client s data, with an excellent Software-as-a-Service solution, you won t have to worry your provider will simply handle your data and take on the burden of responsibility associated with its care. SaaS solutions average 25 times less downtime per year than on-premise solutions and cost 46% less over a 7-year period. Additionally, while upgrades to on-premise software systems require slow, individual updates introduced to each of a provider s customers, Software-as-a-Service providers that provide a true cloud solution can roll out software updates to their entire customer base at once because they all work out of the same shared software instance. ACCESSIBILITY AND MOBILITY CRM software might come loaded with every possible bell and whistle, but if its interface is too clunky or complicated, its effectiveness will suffer. The best solution for your company should be radically easy to use and work the way you already work every day. With a modern, intuitive CRM, your employees can focus on their daily workloads while their software does the rest. A CRM should also offer its desktop platform s accessible functionality to those using it on any mobile device. With a robust set of features, a high-performance, easy-to-use mobile CRM will ensure that its users, who aren t always in front of their computers, can perform their roles from their smartphones without a hitch. Your staff can benefit a great deal from the ability to view records, analyze relationship health, and create and view notes before, during, and after meetings. In today s world, if your CRM provider doesn t prioritize mobile functionality, you re simply not getting the best available technology. 8

9 API Access No matter how excellently constructed a CRM system is, the product simply can t be designed around the specific needs of your company. That just wouldn t be a good business model. But with the right connectivity built into a CRM, your company can add any functionality it needs to the base system. With open APIs (application programming interfaces), the tools and protocols that provide the building blocks for developing software applications, an excellent CRM provider can build and extend its software to grow as technology grows and improves. When various applications can be seamlessly integrated into a CRM, your firm can focus on business rather than waste time on independent solutions that address a single problem in a solitary program. A fully extensible CRM provider will have an ecosystem of partnerships with a variety of 3rd party software providers that can contribute invaluable pre-integrated applications to fulfill critical business needs. Additionally, your firm may have exceedingly specialized needs, and you should be able to work with a provider that uses open APIs to build custom applications to fit these individual needs. Security and Privacy In order for your company to run properly, it has to hold a large quantity of people s personal information in its database and prevent that data from being released in any way. An excellent CRM provider will have high-level certifications like SSAE 16 SOC1 Type II compliance to prove the validity of its security procedures. The provider should also exhibit sustained effort in its devotion to security by using encryption for data transfers and limiting the amount of personal information that can be collected. Disaster Recovery Simply put, any CRM provider that doesn t have multiple backups of your data ready for immediate use in the case of a disaster isn t worth an investment. It is imperative for the success of your business that you be able to complete your daily operations, even if the primary source of your data is compromised by extreme circumstances. With multiple state-of-the-art data centers, a quality CRM provider will be able to fail your data over from its primary location to an alternate data center in near real-time, providing your company with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your data is safe and in good hands. 9

10 Ultimately, buying the right CRM for your company is up to you. But with a thorough search process, you can separate the best solutions from lesser options. Follow these guidelines to find the solution that makes the best fit for your business. Document your current processes and workflows. Determine the difficulties that adoption of each potential CRM will present for your company. Ask for a live demo of each CRM you re considering so that you can see it and use it in real-time. Check references for each potential CRM provider and read as many reviews of each CRM as you can find. Go to industry conferences and tradeshows to get informed, network, and learn about your options. Ask each potential provider about hidden costs, upgrade pinches, and implementation timelines. Make sure that the CRM your company chooses to invest in covers every relevant aspect of your business. 10

11 Bullhorn has the product suite, infrastructure, and expertise to help your company grow by optimizing your business processes and generating revenue. Bullhorn s mobile-optimized CRM comes locked and loaded to elevate your business to the next level, and Bullhorn s Pulse customer intelligence gives your employees addressable intelligence on relationship strength at a glance. And with Bullhorn CRM, you ll also have access to the full complement of useful business applications in the Bullhorn Marketplace. Bullhorn is a 15-year-old SaaS CRM company with 350,000 users across 150 countries, and Bullhorn CRM has 99.99% uptime and can search 100 million records in half a second. Most importantly, Bullhorn CRM can help your company increase retention, expand relationships, optimize sales processes, and maximize revenue. Learn More CRM for Humans 11

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