How To Choose The Best CRM: A Comprehensive 38-Point Checklist
If you’re struggling to choose the right CRM solution for your business, you’re not alone.
A quick search on G2 shows over 600 CRM products on the market. In 2019 alone, the CRM market was worth over $40.2 billion and rapidly growing.
Salesforce is the #1 CRM on the market (Source)
Of course, all of this choice makes it harder for you to pick the best one. And there are other reasons for struggling to settle on a CRM solution.
For starters, it’s hard to switch CRM products once you’re locked into a yearly contract.
There’s also the hassle of having to export and re-import all your lead data into a new CRM solution.
Fortunately, we’re here to help. This article will give you a 38-point checklist you can use when deciding which CRM solution is right for your business.
We’ve broken down the checklist into 10 sections:
- Contact management
- Task management
- Pipeline management
- Communication features
- Sales automation
- Setup and maintenance
- Technical support
- Mobile capabilities
Let’s dive in.
#1 Does the CRM offer unlimited contact records in all subscriptions?
As your marketing efforts expand, you’ll quickly add new leads to your database. The ideal CRM platform shouldn’t cap the number of contacts you can store — especially if you are growing fast.
#2 Does the CRM offer unlimited data storage in all subscriptions?
Your contact data takes up space, especially when coupled with meeting notes, spreadsheets, and Drive or Dropbox files. Pick a plan that won’t cap your storage space when you need it most.
#3 Can you quickly and easily import contacts from email, spreadsheets, and other CRMs?
Data portability and migration both make life easier for you, and your final choice of CRM software should make it easy for you to move from one solution to another.
#4 Can you add new contacts by scanning business cards from your mobile phone?
Manual data entry wastes time. Pick a CRM tool that lets you scan and store new customer data easily.
#5 Does the CRM automatically populate information about new contacts from their social media channels?
Enriching your leads helps you form a complete picture of your prospective customers and their work context. The best CRMs auto-populate your lead data with publicly available information they can find on social media.
#6 Can you find people and companies in the CRM even when your search terms aren’t an exact match?
Intelligent search means that “Ashley” and “Ashly” should return the same set of results instead of throwing an error on the 2nd phrase. This sounds trivial, but you’ll wish you had such functionality when your database reaches 10,000+ leads and you need to quickly find customer data.
“Your CRM platform should pull information from all your calendars to give you a unified look at your schedule.”
#7 Does the CRM provide a summary of your daily tasks upon login?
When you arrive at your desk, your CRM platform should present all your daily tasks in a handy list to help you get started quickly. This feature boosts your productivity and helps you focus on what you need to accomplish.
#8 Can you set up recurring tasks and reminders in the CRM?
If you need to follow up with a lead every 2 weeks or generate a report every month, your CRM software should make that easy to set up with recurring reminders and tasks.
#9 Does the CRM sync with your Gmail or Office 365 calendar so you can see upcoming meetings in both places?
One big benefit of CRM software is being able to see everything in one place. Rather than checking your Outlook calendar, then confirming availability in your Office 365 calendar, your CRM platform should pull information from both calendars to give you a unified look at your schedule.
#10 Does the CRM automatically log your emails, phone calls, and internal notes with team members?
Your call logs and meeting notes provide a rich source of information you can reference later. The right CRM tool should automatically log your team communications to enable this.
“A CRM that lets you view, drag, and drop tasks and leads between different stages makes life so much easier.”
#11 Does the CRM allow you to filter and view your leads by value, assignee, age of the lead, stage, confidence, and other attributes?
When dealing with a sizable database of leads, it’s essential to filter your leads by specific attributes. Spring for a CRM tool that lets you filter by things like value, funnel stage, and more to help you make decisions faster.
#12 Does the CRM offer an interactive map to view and filter your leads geographically?
Sales reps working with leads in different locales need to view their sales footprint across the map.
If the CRM platform you are considering offers this feature, consider investing in a subscription.
#13 Does the CRM offer a drag-and-drop board to view your leads’ status and move deals between stages?
If you’ve worked with software tools like Asana and Trello before, you’re probably familiar with the Kanban style of data visualization. A CRM that lets you view, drag, and drop tasks and leads between different stages makes life so much easier and should factor into your decision.
#14 Does the CRM automatically advance leads between stages when stage goals are met?
Even better than lead stage visualization is automatic lead advancement when specific tasks are accomplished. For instance, the CRM platform should move your lead from the Awareness stage to the Interest stage after detecting that they’ve opened your sales booklet email. That kind of workflow automation streamlines your sales process.
#15 Can you configure multiple pipelines to manage distinctly different sales efforts?
Not all sales are created equal. Different pipelines might have different lead types, teams, processes, and project management requirements, and your CRM platform should ultimately recognize and enable such flexibility.
“Your CRM tool should let you save and send reports with no restrictions.”
#16 Which reports are included in the CRM out of the box?
Some CRM products only allow a limited set of reporting features out of the box while others offer everything under the sun. See if your CRM choice offers any of the following reports from the jump:
- Sales report
- Activity report
- Product report
- Forecast report
- Territory report
- New leads report
- Total funnel report
- Profit & loss report
- Engagement report
- Lead source report
Compare different pricing packages to know how much extra you might need to pay for advanced reporting.
#17 Can you save and download reports for easy sharing?
Some CRM products let you generate reports but charge you an extra fee before you can save, download, or export your reports via email. Ensure your CRM tool lets you save and send reports with no restrictions right out of the box.
#18 Can you customize your dashboard to display essential stats like your pipeline health, quota progress, and team leaderboard?
You don’t always need every piece of information in your sales CRM dashboard. Sometimes you just need specific data columns to work with, and your CRM software should let you customize your dashboard to what works best for you.
“Pick a CRM tool that lets you filter your list of leads and email all of them with one click.”
#19 Can you tag your team members to share information and request assistance?
Customer relationship management is a team effort. Being able to tag, notify, and loop your teammates in when needed is an important feature that you should include in your CRM comparison.
#20 Can you sync your email account to send emails directly from your CRM?
This goes back to the earlier point about syncing all the mail providers you use. Sending an email to a lead should work the same whether sent from Gmail or your CRM platform.
#21 Does the CRM offer two-way sync with Gmail and Office 365 so that any messages sent or received from your email software are automatically attributed to the right contacts?
Attribution is critical to tracking email communications with a specific lead across different mail accounts. Your CRM software should track and link emails to the right senders and recipients.
#22 Can you place domestic or international phone calls directly from the CRM for free?
Here’s a scenario:
A lead indicates that they’d like to jump on a call with you to get clarification around your offer.
You need to call them right there and then, because responding within 5 minutes boosts conversion rates by up to 900%.
However, if you’re using a CRM platform that doesn’t allow you to place domestic or international calls from within your dashboard, this could cost you a very lucrative deal.
What’s more, if calls placed from within your CRM platform cost you money, this could eat into your sales budget and potentially raise your customer acquisition costs (CAC), depending on how often you need to call your leads.
To solve this, ensure your CRM software allows you to place domestic and international calls directly within it for free (or a tiny fee).
#23 Can you create email templates and share them with your team?
As you advance in your lead generation efforts, you’ll naturally hit upon a winning email template that boosts your conversion rate.
The right CRM tool should let you package this template as a resource and send it to your team members to increase their ROI and bring in more revenue for the company.
#24 Can you mass-email a filtered list of contacts with a single click?
Manual entry is cumbersome, and you have better things to do with your time. Pick a CRM tool that lets you filter your list of leads, select the ones that apply to a certain criteria, and email all of them with one click. That’s the power of workflow automation.
#25 Can you create personal email sequences that trigger based on the pipeline stage and automatically stop when your contact replies?
Marketing automation significantly cuts down on how long you spend nurturing leads manually.
This then lets you focus on other, more productive tasks as your leads move through the different stages of your funnel automatically.
Because of this, it’s crucial to pick a CRM tool that lets you create personalized email sequences that trigger based on specific stages your leads are in. These sequences should automatically stop when your contact either replies or converts.
“A useful CRM tool lets you create and send follow-up messages to dormant prospects.”
#26 Does the CRM guide you through building a sales process if you don’t have one?
When dealing with a new lead category, market territory, or particular sales campaign, it helps to have a quick guide to plan out your approach.
A great CRM platform will give you all the necessary tools and templates to build an effective sales strategy.
#27 Can the CRM automatically assign leads to reps and distribute leads into the correct pipelines, based on the criteria you set?
Another win for sales workflow automation is the ability to hand off leads to the appropriate rep based on triggers you’ve previously set.
For example, if a new lead based in the UK with a value of over GBP 100,000 arrives, you might set your CRM software to assign it to Emma — the senior account manager — and to add it to the “EMEA Pipeline.”
This ensures that leads are assigned to the right reps and categorized correctly in the CRM dashboard.
#28 Does the CRM automatically subscribe and unsubscribe leads to marketing email lists depending on where they are in your sales process?
This powerful feature helps improve the customer experience for your leads and prevent a mass exit from your list.
For instance, if a lead came in from a PDF download and got added to the “Case Study Nurture” list, you might set them to be taken off that list after the 3rd case study email.
You might then want to move them to the “Sales Call Nudge” list, where they’ll receive 2 more emails encouraging them to contact Sales. This ensures a seamless transition from one funnel phase to another.
#29 Does the CRM allow you to create and automate follow-through tasks for won, lost, or canceled leads?
The end of a transaction (or user engagement) is not the end of the road.
With the right messaging sequence, you can reactivate a previously closed or lost lead to engage with your posts once more.
A useful CRM tool lets you create and send follow-up messages to dormant prospects.
“The pricing of your CRM tool should be comprehensive.”
Setup and Maintenance
#30 Does the CRM require extensive user training before implementation?
You want a CRM that’s intuitive and easy to use right out of the box — not one with a deep learning curve that requires hours of webinar training to master. Pick a CRM that you can get up to speed with quickly.
#31 Are there additional costs required for implementation or setup?
The pricing of your CRM tool should ideally be comprehensive, but some products have hidden implementation costs separate from your subscription.
Scrutinize the pricing terms and conditions to ensure you’re not going to be liable for additional set-up fees.
#32 How long does the onboarding process take?
With more complex CRM software or larger teams, onboarding might take a while before everyone can start using the platform.
However, this onboarding period should be short enough to minimize disruptions to your team’s sales process.
Check user reviews to see how long the onboarding process usually takes, and confirm the details with a customer success or sales rep from whichever CRM platform you’re considering.
#33 Does the CRM require an on-site admin or IT department to manage it?
You generally want a self-managed CRM that you can configure by yourself. On-site tech assistance may cost you extra, so pick a CRM solution that offers a self-managed platform.
“Check whether the CRM product you’re considering has a knowledge center.”
#34 Does the CRM offer free phone support, live chat support, or email support?
Many CRM products promise customer support in the following order of increasing priority:
- Email support for free or basic tiers
- Phone support for mid-level packages
- Live chat for premium users
If it is a fairly intuitive CRM platform, you might not need much support beyond emails or phone calls.
But if you are an enterprise client that needs quick solutions to your problems, then a CRM package with live chat may be more appropriate for you.
#35 Does the CRM have an up-to-date knowledge center?
Prefer to learn and fix things yourself? An expansive and well-structured help center with FAQs and a user forum might be just what you need.
Check whether the CRM product you’re considering has a knowledge center you can learn from if need be.
“Your preferred CRM tool should be mobile-enabled.”
#36 Does the CRM offer native iPhone and Android apps at no additional charge?
Work happens on the go, and you need a CRM platform that lets you access all your contacts and deals from your smartphone.
Your preferred CRM tool should also send you mobile alerts when you’re tagged in a conversation, assigned a new lead, or needed to join a sales call.
#37 Does the CRM offer Chrome and Outlook extensions so you can manage contacts and leads from your email inbox?
Browsing the web is a large part of prospecting, and your preferred CRM tool should have a browser plugin that lets you collect and sync potential customers from your email client(s) to your CRM pipeline.
#38 Does the CRM integrate with the business software tools you rely on the most?
Your business uses more than one tool to get work done.
Integrating with everything from your email client and storage service to your social media accounts and sales enablement tools is key.
For example, sales reps can connect their Salesforce accounts to Slack via Momentum and view and update their entire deal flow in Slack.
Here’s what that looks like in action:
Try Momentum out for free today and see how fast it helps you sync your customer data (plus close deals more quickly).
Choosing a CRM tool can induce analysis paralysis due to the sheer number of options out there.
From pricing and flexibility to customer support and integrations, selecting a CRM tool can feel like a never-ending process of finding the “perfect product.”
Fortunately, we’ve just distilled the top 38 questions most sales managers ask when choosing a CRM software solution to make the decision easier for you.
At the end of the day, a flexible, affordable, and scalable CRM solution can catapult your company’s growth.
Meanwhile, a lousy, expensive, and restrictive CRM tool can hamper even your best sales efforts.
After using our guide to pick the best CRM tool for your business, tweet us @dealmomentum and let us know how it’s working for you!