Why You Need to Create a Feature Shortlist When Selecting CRM Software

By: on September 23, 2019

After months of vendor research, you’ve selected your customer relationship management (CRM) software. However, you quickly realize it’s missing some crucial features you didn’t originally think you needed, and your team isn’t using some of the features you thought you needed.

Without taking the time to consider which features are crucial to your business’s success and growth, you run the risk of purchasing a CRM with too few or too many features. This either hamstrings your ability to succeed or ends up costing you more money each year.

Don’t worry though: We’re here to provide you with a list of the core, common, and unusual features offered by vendors in order to help you make your feature shortlist.

That way you can feel confident that you’re making the most informed software selection.

Key takeaways:

    • By making a shortlist of crucial CRM features necessary for your business to succeed and grow before doing vendor research, you’ll find software better suited for your company and won’t overspend on unnecessary features.
  • Look through our list of core, common, and optional CRM features to begin your research.
  • Vendors often have different names for similar features, so knowing what you’re looking for before searching will go a long way when finding the right software for your business.

Why worry about CRM features?

Our advisors talk to hundreds of business owners looking to purchase software each day to help them find the perfect software solution for their company.

In 2018, 25% of callers looking for CRM software were looking to switch to a new system, and many of those business owners were switching because their CRM either didn’t have the right features for their business or had features their team didn’t use.

When selecting a new CRM system, there are a ton of criteria you have to keep in mind, and some aren’t quite as obvious as others. Unlike things such as cost and which features you need, usability, service concerns, vendor viability, and what (if any) technology you might need might not be as clear and are just as important to consider.

crm criteria

Speaking of usability, services, and cost, if you want more guidance about selecting your CRM, check out our articles on those topics; we got into a lot more detail about why you should consider them and what you should be on the lookout for.

Select the right CRM features for your business

In order to choose which features you need, it’s important to first consider why you’re looking for a CRM in the first place.

If you’re struggling to maintain consistent contact with important clients using manual methods (like pen and paper), or you find your team is making errors due to bad data entry into your homemade spreadsheet, start by looking for core features such as contact management, interaction tracking, and lead management.

If your team is more focused on making calls and sales rather than customer success, consider workflow automation or pipeline management.

If you’re losing customers because of a poor customer experience, you might want to find a CRM with customer experience management functionality.

You get the point. Your business has its own list of problems you’ll need to solve to continue to succeed and grow, and only you know where to start your search.

You want features? We got ’em

We could keep going through use cases, but your business is unique, so you’ll have to figure out exactly which features are most important.

Don’t worry though, we’ve done the leg work for you and have come up with a list of core, common, and optional features that you’d find on vendor websites.

It’s not an exhaustive list by any stretch, but it’s a great place to start your search.

Core CRM Features

Feature Short definition
Contact management Stores contact information such as names, addresses, and social media accounts in a searchable database.
Interaction tracking Add notes and track history to document conversations with specific contacts.
Lead management Manage the process of converting prospects into potential customers (leads) by identifying, scoring, and moving leads through the pipeline.

Common CRM Features

Email integration Integrate with email such as Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.
Document management Collect, upload, store, and share all documents in a centralized location making it easier for everyone involved to access information.
Quotes/Proposals management Create and send a quote or proposal to a customer.
Pipeline management See an overview of the entire sales pipeline and bucket deals based on stages in the sales funnel.
Workflow automation Automate repetitive tasks by creating workflows that trigger actions or send follow-up reminders for next actions.

Optional CRM Features

Territory management Organize customer data and accounts by user or geography.
Forecasting Form predictions for future sales figures or projected revenue based on past and present data/trends.
Reporting and analytics Get summary reports of sales figures or sales rep performance on a daily, weekly, monthly, etc. basis.
Marketing automation Execute marketing campaigns for lead generation by tracking prospect behavior and targeting leads in different stages of the sales cycle.
Email marketing Create and send email blasts/campaigns for lead generation and nurturing.
Social media integration Integrate with social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn for prospecting, with the ability to add social profiles to contact details.
Calendar/reminder system Notifications/alerts for upcoming events or tasks.
Task management A running list of action items and their respective status.
Mobile access Get access to contacts, leads, and deals in a mobile version of the software, either via a dedicated app or mobile website.
Customer experience management Cater to customers’ needs by allowing customer service representatives to document, route, track, resolve, and report on customer issues via a trouble ticketing system, using tools such as live chat, customer self-service and multichannel management.

Next steps

By spending the time to really figure out which features your CRM needs, you’ll save yourself the headache of having to go through the process all over again when you realize things might not work out with the CRM you initially selected.

If you want to look through vendor websites, keep in mind they might have different names for some of the features you’re looking for, so it’s especially crucial for you to know what you’re looking for ahead of time.

Once you’ve narrowed down your shortlist of crucial features you can start looking for vendors either on your own or with the help of our advisors by calling us at (855) 998-8505.

You may also like:

CRM Trends for 2019: A CRM Buyer Analysis

How to Save Money While Buying CRM Software

3 Usability Criteria Essential to CRM Selection

Learn more about CRM software