As face-to-face meetings decline, 65% of sales professionals say they’re increasingly relying on CRM tools.

Which begs the question: what is a CRM system?

More importantly, what can you do with it? And how do you pick the best one?

In this article, we’ll define CRM software, explain why you should use one, outline 7 elements of what to look for in a CRM platform, and answer a few questions about CRM software in general.

Let’s get started.

What is a CRM system?

CRM stands for customer relationship management, which may sound complicated, but the concept is actually pretty simple.

Customer relationship management software is technology that helps manage all your company’s interactions and relationships. Companies use it to track customer data, keep up with lead generation, track each sales cycle, and maintain every customer relationship on file.

If that’s confusing, try thinking of a CRM system as a digital filing cabinet. Every conversation you have with potential customers or actual customers gets its own file, so you can refer back to it later or create reports that help you make better decisions.

Companies that use CRM technology are often looking to streamline their processes, stay connected with prospects and customers, or improve profitability.

With all that customer data and marketing automation built-in, you’re able to scale your team’s efforts and gather insights like never before.

You’ll stay closer to your customers, colleagues, suppliers, service providers, and yourself since in-depth reporting and communication tools are the biggest benefits.

Why use a CRM system?

Using A CRM solution is primarily for creating and maintaining relationships. But what does that actually mean?

The monday.com CRM makes it easy to track all your leads and customers.

monday.com is a Work OS that you can build a custom CRM on top of, specific to how you do business. In action, a CRM solution like monday.com could help you track incoming and active leads (like in the screenshot above).

With each lead, you’ll have an assigned rep, a status update, and details like deal size, demographic information, and contact info.

The information isn’t as important as what you can do with it. CRM’s provide a slew of benefits ranging from:

  • Better customer service by notating customer preferences that are easily accessible
  • Higher efficiency and productivity since the marketing automation can send emails in bulk, automatically log calls, and trigger actions based on criteria you’ve set
  • Improved customer segmentation by grouping customer information with tags and specific fields
  • Streamlined internal communication tools that keep everyone on the same page and able to make more informed decisions

With benefits like that, it’s no wonder companies are so keen on adopting a customer relationship management tool. But not all CRM systems are created equal.

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7 elements to look for in a CRM system

Choosing the right customer relationship management software varies based on a lot of factors.

Sure, it has to store customer information and make your life easier, not harder, but those are baseline features.

To help you on your search for the right CRM, here are 7 elements to keep in mind.

1. Automation capabilities

The word “priority” entered the English language around the 1400s and was singular.

That’s right. It meant one thing.

Not until the 1900s was the word pluralized, and everyone began talking about “priorities.”

There’s a good chance your plate is getting fuller each day, not lighter. As your priorities grow, so will your need for high-quality marketing automation. We’re talking about the kind that frees up your time and makes you more efficient.

The automations center lets you streamline lead assignments, notifications, and communication.

monday.com automates your busy work, eliminates human error, and gives you the bandwidth to do what you do best.

That means marketing automation, customer relations, and status updates on autopilot. It’ll cut down on the amount of email you send and provide an all-in-one source of truth that the entire team can rely on.

2. Plenty of integrations

Your business can’t function on a CRM alone. There’s a good chance you’re using an email client, Excel, Zoom, and a multitude of other software systems. In an ideal scenario, your CRM system would integrate with all of them.

The right CRM integration can save countless hours and resources, since there’s no need for manual entry of data from system to system or paying for other systems that fill gaps.

monday.com has dozens of integrations ranging from marketing software and software development tools to project management tools. A CRM integration can provide visibility in real-time that isn’t possible with traditional software.

3. Quick search functionality

Your data is only good if you can quickly find what you need. If it requires a ton of clicks or digging to find what you’re looking for, you’d probably be better off storing data in a notepad.

When looking for the right CRM solution, pick one with a quick search that’s intuitive and keeps you informed.

monday.com prioritizes speed across all your boards, so finding what you need feels quick and natural. You can search by people and relevant tags. The software even allows you to search through the history of your work because nothing is ever truly lost or erased.

That means sales activity, status updates, and communication logs are all just a click away.

4. Communication tools

Very few organizations operate in a silo. You’re probably no different. You rely on others to do their jobs so you can do yours and vice versa. The CRM software you choose should enhance your ability to collaborate and communicate.

If your sales managers can’t get timely updates or sales reps lack the ability to prioritize customer engagement, you have a problem.

Unleashing the power of communication with monday.com is as easy as tagging people, following tasks, and automating emails.

Tagging and notifying teammates is a crucial feature. So is integration with your favorite instant messaging and video conferencing apps.

monday.com, for example, gives you all those integrations and has native communication features like real-time messaging, inviting members via email, and tagging.

5. File storage

File storage may seem like a no-brainer in customer relationship management software, but it’s critical enough to mention.

Some companies limit your attachments or size. Many others lack the proper integrations, which limit your ability to attach the files you need from where you need them.

monday.com’s file column makes it easy to attach files to any contact’s record. You can attach files from your desktop, OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, or Dropbox account. Supported file types include PNG, JPEG, PDF, GIF, Word, Excel, MP4, SVG, TXT, and AI.

monday.com even supports file annotation on image files, so it’s easy to provide feedback to colleagues.

6. Ease of use

Some CRM systems require a certification to understand. Here at monday.com, we want you to see the value from day one. We make that possible with almost no CRM implementation services needed. Our software is intuitive right out of the box.

A useful feature you’re sure to love is our world clocks, which makes it easy to see the customer’s timezone at a glance. There’s a location column for similar purposes.

You can easily keep up with the last time you contacted them and when you plan to follow up, thanks to the date columns.

Seeing deal size, probability, forecast value, and other sales activity details in real-time also helps sales reps and sales managers make more informed decisions and prioritize their days.

7. Cloud-based options CRM

Here in the 21st century, cloud-based CRM systems reign supreme. Accept no substitutes.

Staying mobile is a critical feature of the best CRM systems and monday.com takes it to the next level.

Cloud-based CRM systems are invaluable to the busy professional who is always on the move and needs the flexibility to work from home or on the road.

Operating in the cloud provides your entire organization with greater flexibility since all your customer information is accessible from any computer or device.

Data recovery is a breeze since everything is stored off-site in multiple locations. There’s also very little software maintenance required. Plus, you get increased security for your data, which should help your peace of mind.

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Frequently asked questions about CRM systems

Now that you have a better understanding of what a CRM tool is and what features are crucial, let’s take a look at some other frequently asked questions:

What are the 4 stages of the CRM cycle?

At its core, the CRM cycle comprises:

  1. Marketing
  2. Sales
  3. Product
  4. Support stages

The marketing team focuses its efforts on ensuring the CRM program is helping with lead generation. The sales team is responsible for keeping up with said leads and ensuring they move through the sales cycle in an efficient manner.

Product and support teams focus efforts on the existing customer base by communicating product updates, improving customer loyalty, and aiding customer retention.

The CRM strategy your company sets in motion will likely have some features for each stage of the CRM cycle. They all boil down to improving customer satisfaction.

Is it hard to learn how to use CRM systems?

Not if you pick the right one. Here at monday.com, we keep our CRM simple yet powerful.

We know that everyone learns at different paces, so we offer a comprehensive knowledge base that’s full of articles and videos that’ll take you from amateur to pro in no time. Our daily webinars offer a real-time learning experience.

If that doesn’t do the trick, you can feel confident knowing we have support staff on standby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to answer any questions or help you learn about exciting new features.

What is the best CRM system?

The best CRM for your business will depend on a lot of things, including your team size, budget, customer volume, requested features, and more.

But, if you can’t tell by now, we think we’ve built something pretty special here at monday.com.

The monday.com CRM system is perfect for startup companies and well-established organizations alike.

Your marketing team, sales managers, support staff, and every employee in-between are sure to love the automation and flexibility that monday.com provides.

As a Work OS, monday.com extends the reach of your CRM by offering top-tier customization options you’ll have trouble finding anywhere else.

Our automations free your team from the burden of endless administrative tasks.

The integrations connect your tools, so you’re not constantly transferring data and missing out on real-time insights.

Plus, all our boards offer highly customizable views and can even integrate together on beautiful dashboards to provide real-time reporting so your team can make better decisions.

Making the right decision

The CRM market is set to hit $113 billion by 2027. It’s safe to say that CRM software will only get better and provide organizations with more value as time goes on.

Choosing the right CRM tool comes down to a lot of factors, including integration capabilities, automation possibilities, mobility, and the ability to customize your workflow. It should also be easy to use and solve more problems than it creates.

monday.com checks the boxes and then some, but don’t take our word for it. Try it out for yourself. Check out our monday.com CRM Template. You can literally start seeing value in minutes.

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