Today’s consumer is no longer content with simply getting the best product at the best price. With a large number of choices available to them now, they are far more demanding than that. Today’s consumer is seeking more than a product but an experience. More so than any other generation of consumers, they are also looking to confirm their identity through their purchases and through brand loyalty. Marketing departments, sales teams, and customer service representatives can no longer afford not to take advantage of all the tools such as CRM software systems that are available to them.
Trying to handle – let alone optimize – all the various elements that go into customer relationship management without the help of software simply isn’t an option anymore. However, that still leaves us with the all-important question: Which CRM software?
In this short article, we’ll compare 3 of the leading CRM software system providers.
Our CRM comparison will take into consideration a variety of factors:
- Scaleability (Will the software evolve along with your company and your campaigns?)
- Price points (Are you getting good value for what you need out of CRM software, or are you paying for features you won’t ever use?)
- User Experience (Is it overly complicated to use and you feel you are overloading your IT department with CRM issues when their time and effort could be put to better use elsewhere?)
- Onboarding (Are you able to get up and running quickly? How steep is the learning curve?)
- User Feedback (What do users say about their experience using the software? What do they say about the developer’s customer service?)
What to Expect From a CRM Software System
The fact that today’s consumer is looking for more than making a smart purchase rather they are seeking an experience is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, this means creating more work for the company as they need to provide more personalized communication and shopping experience. On the other hand, as the consumer is interacting with the brand online and is even making the purchase online, they are providing the company with a lot of data to help them to personalize the experience.
The CRM software system you choose to optimize the sales and after-sales processes should have as its ultimate goal to enhance the customer experience. The CRM software system you choose should enable your marketing and sales team to work more efficiently and increase customer engagement while decreasing basket abandonment.
With the way purchases are carried out nowadays and the ways consumers interact with the brands they support, the sheer volume of data collected from these interactions means that today businesses have the ability to know a lot about their customers’ behavior, habits, and preferences. In contrast to prior generations, today, marketing and sales have become intensely data-driven fields.
Is AI taking over? To a certain extent, maybe. But this should be embraced as good news. AI should take over the menial and repetitive tasks and free up your team members to put their time and talents to better use. Relieving your team of menial or repetitive tasks and allowing them to focus on more personal and creative endeavors are great employee engagement ideas to help motivate your team.
The CRM software system you choose should allow your sales and marketing teams to:
- Collect, store, and analyze data on the behavior and preferences of your customers
- Collect, store, and analyze data on the performance and effectiveness of the various members of the teams
- Rely on targeted automation to ensure the smooth execution of potentially menial or repetitive tasks
- Provide additional ways for the customer to interact with the brand
- Ensure quality follow-up either through reminders, AI, or automation
The CRM software system you choose should be:
- Fully integrated and allow you to engage with your customers across a variety of platforms and on any type of device
- Scalable, meaning that you won’t pay for features that you aren’t using but instead your subscription to the software will grow as your needs grow
- Clear and intuitive enough to provide actionable data. The information you collect on your customers is only useful to the extent that you are able to take precise and targeted action based on that information.
Trappings of a CRM Software System
Link to the royalty-free image by Robert Anasch here
Like with nearly any type of software system, adding options is relatively easy. What’s not easy is getting developers to resist adding those options. The end result is often software that is far more complex than it needs to be. Depending on the scope of your marketing campaigns, unleashing the full potential on your customer database could be akin to lighting a candle with a blow torch.
Just because you can do it doesn’t mean that you should do it.
Because CRM software systems are so powerful, the greatest trapping they represent is the temptation for overkill. In order to effectively avoid this temptation, a good CRM software system should provide your sales and marketing teams with analytical data about the marketing campaigns you launch and the various AI and automation you implement.
By lying on A/B testing and collecting feedback from users and customers, you should be able to weed out the strategies and methods that are not yielding the desired results. Remember: more contact doesn’t necessarily equate to better contact.
The very popular CRM platform is aimed at small businesses. If you are only beginning to explore the possibilities CRM software can provide and if your user database is under 1,000 users, HubSpot can be a great place to start.
For mid-sized or larger companies, taking advantage of premium features and using the CRM platform for a larger user database can quickly become quite expensive (compared to other similar platforms though designed for larger companies).
- Competitively proceed for smaller companies (They even offer a free version that unfortunately comes with HubSpot branding on emails and pop-up forms.)
- Relatively easy and intuitive to use with lots of complimentary tutorials and marketing courses (ideal for people with limited experience using CRM features, automation, and AI)
- A trustworthy, innovative company that is at the forefront of CRM technology, HubSpot has earned its reputation as a leader in the field, and they show no signs of slowing down.
- Designed for small businesses, HubSpot can grow with your company. But it quickly becomes overpriced (compared to similar CRM systems on the market) for companies using a large user database.
- Designed as an all-in-one platform (CRM, marketing automation, sales, and service), if you want to use HubSpot in collaboration with other platforms, you are likely to run into problems.)
- Designed to be easy to use with nominal onboarding does come with its downside. Compared to other CRM platforms, HubSpot leaves a bit to be desired in terms of customization.
HubSpot is an excellent “starter” CRM platform. More experienced users or larger companies working with a user database of well over 1,000 users are likely to get a better deal with more flexibility looking elsewhere.
One of the highest-rated CRM platforms on the market, SalesForce receives stellar recommendations and lots of positive feedback from its users. In addition to being the gold standard for CRM platforms, they continue to innovate by expanding their platform to help companies with back-office applications.
- Designed for small and mid-sized companies, SalesForce renders collaborating on campaigns by multiple agents relatively simple and effective.
- They offer a free 30-day trial (with no need for a credit card to begin the trial)
- Intuitive set-up with quality customer support makes for relatively smooth and easy onboarding
- A large third-party app marketplace ensures that there will never be any shortage of add-ons and innovation
- The amount of customization options and the multiple ways it allows teams to organize their data means that users need to spend considerably more time learning how to best take advantage of all the options. So, it’s not ideal for companies with limited IT or tech support.
- SalesForce is designed for small to mid-sized sales and marketing teams. For larger teams (in excess of 12 people), the product quickly becomes significantly less than competitively priced.
If your company consists of a relatively small sales and marketing team (under 12 people) but you have some IT or tech support, you are unlikely to find a better, more competitively priced, flexible, and customizable CRM system than the one SalesForce offers. They are industry leaders for a reason.
As a relative newcomer to the CRM marketplace, User.com is an automation-focused all-in-one CRM platform. It is also a good example of “developing it because we can”. This means that some of their features may not be practical but are nevertheless impressive from a software engineering perspective.
As a relative newcomer, User.com hopes to gain more and more market share. Additionally, they are implementing a two-pronged strategy to reach this goal. First, design the best automation on the market, and second, price their product at or below that of their competitors.
- Highly scalable (meaning you pay for what you use and not more)
- Fast and easy migration (under 24 hours), User.com aims to make it attractive for businesses to switch from a competitor’s CRM platform to theirs
- Competitively priced (User.com is especially interesting for companies working with a large database of customers and potential customers)
- There is a relatively steep learning curve. (The focus of the company has been on creating innovative automation and dashboards. Less of their focus has been directed at making these innovations intuitive or easy to grasp for the non-experienced user.)
- Limited customer support. (This is often the case with newer companies. The product has grown more quickly than the support infrastructure behind it. They do offer customer support, but it has yet to reach the level of quality of their competitors.)
For a company working with a large database of customers, users, or visitors to their website (in excess of 5,000) User.com offers a competitively priced all-in-one, automation-focused CRM platform. While there is a steep learning curve (perhaps steeper than their competitors), for larger marketing and sales teams that benefit from a bit of tech support, User.com can be a good solution for automating customer engagement.
The Bottom Line
To decide what CRM software system is best suited for your needs, you will need to consider the following:
- How large of a customer database do you wish to optimize
- How many members of your sales and marketing team will use the platform
- How much IT and tech support do you have available and wish to allocate to your CRM
While all three of the CRM software systems reviewed in this article are excellent products with excellent reputations, they are each designed with a specific kind of user in mind. Regardless of which CRM software system you decide to use, there will be a learning curve (some steeper than others).