10 core CRM features and reasons why your business needs them

Customer Relationship Management is undoubtedly one of the most important success factors in a company. At the same time, it is a time-consuming and tedious task that is prone to human error.

Almost all of us have experienced what this can mean on the customer side, being passed from one support representative to another while having to answer the same annoying questions each time.

Experiences like that can leave a very bad first impression on your potential clientele, and that's something your small business can't afford.

But luckily, there is software that can prevent that from happening.

What is CRM software?

CRM (customer relationship management) software is used to automate and manage the customer lifecycle for sales and marketing departments. CRM software brings together customer information into a centralized database, making it easier for teams to maintain and organize customer relationships, automate processes, and monitor performance and productivity.

Why do I need CRM software?

With good CRM software, your company can better manage customer interactions and provide support and strengthen customer relationships with reliable systems and processes. In addition, organizational processes in marketing, sales, and customer service can be integrated with each other, and many CRM functions can advance the goals of different departments equally.

CRM software offers three key benefits to your business:
  • Easy access to customer data: CRM features include searchable databases that let you access customer and prospect information during customer meetings, for example. With some software solutions, you can sync information across multiple devices, giving you access to the most up-to-date customer information from anywhere.
  • Streamline processes through automation: CRM software can help you standardize workflows and processes across sales, marketing, and customer support to improve coordination between different teams.
  • Actionable insights into business performance and customer behavior: CRM features often include analytics for your customer data, including customizable dashboards and reports. This helps you segment customers, track sales, and manage marketing campaigns.
To reap these benefits, you need the right tool. The choice is huge and CRM tools vary in features as much as in price.

In this video, we'll introduce some of the most important CRM features and show what they can do for you and your business.

Before you invest in CRM software, you should take a close look at the various solutions available. To help you make an informed decision, in this article we'll introduce you to ten key CRM features - from essential to optional.

10 core, common, and optional CRM features

CRM core functions

Core functions are those without which a tool would not even belong to the CRM category. These functions should be standard in any CRM software.

Core functions of any good CRM solution are:

1. contact management

Store contact information such as names, addresses, and social media accounts in a searchable database.

Important considerations: All CRM software solutions offer contact management features. When comparing, make sure the layout and operation is intuitive and coherent for you. How are the fields arranged? Is contact management logical and easy to use?

2. interaction tracking

Add notes and track interaction history to document conversations with specific contacts.

Important considerations: Consider how many teams or people in the sales funnel will be dealing with prospects. Choose a CRM platform where all stakeholders can collaborate.

3. lead management

Convert prospects into potential customers (leads); identify, evaluate and move leads through the sales pipeline.

Key considerations: Similar to contact management, it's important that the lead management process in your CRM tool of choice fits with your company's and your teams' workflows. Ask a member of your sales team to look at the feature with you on any software you're considering.

Common CRM features

By common features, we mean features that are present in most solutions available in the CRM market, but not all. By the presence of these features, you can often tell if it's a more solid, comprehensive CRM system or a simpler version that offers more basic functions only.

Software offerings vary widely in these common CRM features. Consider which of the following five features are important to your business:

4. email integration

Integration capabilities with email tools such as Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc. to manage and segment contact lists, as well as a centralized location for internal collaboration.

Key considerations: Consider how your team primarily communicates. If it's not used to communicating within an app, it might make sense to prioritize CRM software with email integration capabilities.

5. document management

Capture, upload, and store documents in a central location so all stakeholders can access information more easily.

Important considerations: Document management is especially helpful when you have a large team involved in your marketing and sales funnel. Having a central location for important documents helps keep all team members up to date and your clientele experiencing a smooth service experience.

6. quote management

Create and send quotes or price proposals to customers.

Important considerations: How important this CRM function is to your business depends heavily on what your business consists of and what products and services you offer. If creating and negotiating contracts and quotes is an important part of your work, it's worth centralizing this process in your CRM software.

7. pipeline management

Gain an overview of the entire sales pipeline and the status/progress of each stage in the sales funnel.

Important considerations: If you have a long sales funnel, this feature can be very helpful. It allows you to get a bird's eye view of the entire funnel and better avoid leads losing interest or being forgotten.

8. workflow automation

Automate repetitive tasks and create workflows that trigger specific actions or send reminders for pending actions.

Important considerations: Workflow automation is available as an upgrade in many CRM solutions. Calculate how much time your teams could save by automating common tasks in the sales funnel. Is this benefit worth the additional cost?

Optional CRM features

Optional features are unique to some CRM systems and differentiate them from other tools in the category or set them apart as the best solution for a particular niche.

If one of the features below is a must-have for your business or niche, you should adjust your software selection to it from the start.

9. reporting/analysis

Receive regular summaries on sales numbers or sales team member performance (e.g., daily, weekly or monthly).

Key considerations: With reporting and analytics capabilities, you can generate detailed reports based on factors such as the geographic location of leads, funnel stage, or individual sales reps. Such detailed information helps you troubleshoot issues quickly and effectively and keep a close eye on your sales process.

10. sales forecasts

Using current or past data and trends, create forecasts for future sales and revenue.

Important considerations: Do you want to be able to forecast upcoming quarters or even new markets based on your existing data? Forecasting capabilities make your data work for you and help you make objective, informed decisions about the future of your business.

Choose CRM capabilities strategically

Every business is different. Before you choose CRM software, consider how your sales team works and the details of your sales process. Also pay attention to how you can integrate the CRM tool of your choice with your existing marketing automation, email marketing and social media marketing software solutions. CRM solutions that already provide these integration capabilities are ideal.