Compatibility with Outlook
Statistics show that most businesses, especially small to medium sized ones, use Outlook for the majority of their customer contacts. The address books and tracking features within Outlook make it ideal for this application. If you have spend hours customizing your contacts within Outlook, choosing a web CRM program that does not integrate with Outlook simply does not make sense. Instead, search for a program that either works within Outlook or allows you to transfer your information from Outlook to the CRM software in just one or two steps.
Ease of Use
CRM programming does not have to be complicated, but unfortunately it sometimes is. If you choose a complicated program, you will struggle to get it to work for your business. Not only that, but if you cannot understand the programming, your team members will not be able to either, and you will have a difficult time getting it in place and working across your business.
Support for Implementation
No matter how easy a program is to use, implementing it may be challenging. Look for a web CRM option that comes with support when you are setting up the program. Whether you are working to connect it to your network, sync it with your existing Outlook or email client, or customize the software for your business's needs, having someone who is experienced in using the program help you with the set up will ensure that you are up and running quickly.
Training for Team Members
CRM software brings many benefits to your business. With it you can track customer responses to a particular sales pitch, evaluate conversion numbers, track contact information, manage sales reports, and even generate quotes for your customers. However, if your sales force does not understand how to use the program, it is going to hinder your business, rather than help it.
When shopping for web CRM programming, choose a company that not only offers initial training, but also offers ongoing seminars you can use to teach your people how to better use the programming. Web sessions are ideal, because they allow for the greatest flexibility and are also an affordable training option.
Even if you are not currently using Windows Vista in your business, look for a program that is compatible with Microsoft's latest operating system. You may need to switch to Vista someday, and spending the money on a CRM program that is not compatible with it means you are obligating yourself to upgrade your CRM software when you upgrade your operating system. Similarly, if you are using an older version of Windows, make sure the program is compatible.
Compatibility is not just an issue for your operating system. You also need to make sure your office suite is compatible with the CRM program you have chosen. For instance, not all CRM programs work with the older versions of Microsoft Office, and some will not work with the latest version, so do your research before you buy.
Functions to Look For in CRM Software
Training, support, and ease of use are all important features of a good web CRM program, but there are also some features within the program itself that you will want to have. Of course, these depend largely on your business's needs, but some of the best functions to look for as you shop include:
If you can find a program with these functions, you have found a great option. The functions that are most important to your business are different than those valued by another business, but as you implement the program, you will likely find a need for each one of these features.
- Training, support, and ease of use are all important features of a good web CRM program, but there are also some features within the program itself that you will want to have. Of course, these depend largely on your business's needs, but some of the best functions to look for as you shop include:
- Tracking Opportunities – Your goal is to make sales, and your web CRM program should help you track opportunities and keep them from slipping through the cracks. You should choose a program that allows you to assign an opportunity level to a contact and track them using this information.
- Sales Reporting – Sales reporting is essential to CRM, but you want to be able to customize the reports to match your business's objectives. Choose a program with flexible sales reporting and graphic report options that you can use to give your team members a visual representation of your success as a business.
- Product Import Function – If you have a large product or service list for your business, make sure that it is easy to import these. A product import function keeps you from making a mistake as you set up the CRM software. You simply select your products, import them to the program, and it is ready to go.
- Email Functions – A great CRM program will allow you to do more with your email than you can with just Outlook. For instance, you want a program that allows you to send bulk emails based on opportunity level or group assignment within your contact list. You also want to be able to track both incoming and outgoing emails with your program.
Prophet, a CRM program developed by Avidian, has all of these features. It is a highly customizable, easy to use CRM software designed for the ever-changing needs of a growing business. In order to meet the needs of small to medium sized businesses, Avidian has recently launched Prophet OnDemand, a web CRM program that offers all of the features of Prophet, with the affordability and functionality of a hosted web CRM software platform. If you are in the market for a new CRM program, or are ready to start using one for the first time, consider one of Avidian's Prophet CRM products.