What is CRM Software?
CRM is a central database to store everyday company data & activities. That includes data on your customers, leads, projects, anything your team are working on and more. It a place that the whole company shares, so you have a full picture of the interactions and status of things happening in the business. CRM can brings order and one place to look for everything and everybody within the business.
But in 2021 CRM does so much more than that.
What does ‘CRM’ mean?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management
Most people regard it as a customer centric database system that provides a 360 degree view of all your interactions with a customer and that data can be shared with other CRM users in the organisation who have access to the CRM database.
So CRM Software is ideal in situations where companies have either lots of customers or lots of product or services (moving parts); so the CRM Software is the central source for this data and it can be shared among people in the company through one system.
The more useful way to think about CRM software is its one system that bring together information / data that can be held in multiple places and or systems. This data can be any activity relating to customers, suppliers, staff regarding sales, marketing efforts, stock, projects, tasks, communications and much more.
The power of CRM isn’t just that the data centrally stored but that data can be queried, shared and used to initiate Actions (especially if your CRM software has a Workflow engine…more on that later).
History of CRM Software
What CRM Software is today is different from how it started. It started as a concept in the 1970’s, but you have to go as far back as the 1980’s to discover the origins of the modern CRM system; back to when Dr. Jagdish Sheth at Emory University introduced the phrase ‘CRM’.
It’ll be no surprise that back then CRM software was a standalone mainframe application.
One of the early CRM software (1986) was ACT which is still around today which was a basic contact manager. Roll on a decade later the focus shifted to marketing and customer Acquisition side of the business. Plus some CRM system were going into the backend processes of the organisations with enterprise resource planning functions; think Oracle and SAP.
The CRM software had two other big phases. One the open source CRM software model SugarCRM being the lead player here. The other development was CRM software in the cloud. Today the leading CRM software vendor Salesforce is the ubiquitous player in the Online CRM software space.
According to Forrester released report that on-premise CRM Software vendors such as Micosoft and Netsuite were also in the top 8 for CRM Software as the most significant.
Insider Guide to CRM
There is a lot written about CRM software, but not much is written by an Australian company with local knowledge of the CRM software market in Australia.
If you want to have this Guide in an Ebook Form to read at your leisure Go here.
Below we attempt to give the answers to the following questions;
- Benefits of CRM
- Examples of types of CRM (On-Premise verses Cloud CRM)
- Why buy CRM Software
- How to buy CRM Software
- Who are Top CRM software vendors in Australia
- How to successfully implement CRM Software
- The Future of CRM
As a software development company we were pulled into the CRM software world due to the lack of CRM software systems that our clients loved. The main issue was that the CRM systems were built for a mass market, which is why they have a lot of users and reviews and seemingly universal appeal. However, most mass market CRM software is not very customisable and can have quite rigid and stifling structures.
The other issue was very few CRM Software products, actually integrated with Australian accounting systems (especially directly or deeply). The same went for the other business software that Australian businesses were actually using everyday.
In addition, very few CRM Software companies have local support, and those that do, are usually through a reseller, who has no real power or control of the CRM software you are buying. Most Resellers rely on you paying for their time to implement the CRM software, so by definition you’ll pay more.
Top Line Benefits of having CRM Software
- One system to unite us all – Sharing Data
- Who doing what and with whom – Accountability
- Better Team work and Collaboration.
- Better Customers Service and insightful Data
- Do More with Less (Efficiency and Productivity)
- Automation of Tasks that before were done manually or just got forgotten
Examples of different Types of CRM Software
Desktop CRM Software (also known as On-Premise CRM Software)
Desktop CRM software installs in your office on a server. It is centrally managed and administered, and because it’s on premises it will be fast to access data. It may also be able to connect with other programs that you run, so your CRM Software could connect for example with your phone system to give you call pop-ups. If your business operates in an area where there is limited internet connectivity, Desktop CRM Software is often the only sensible choice.
It’s also possible to run desktop software on a cloud-based server, making it accessible from everywhere.
Online CRM Software / Cloud CRM Software / Web Based CRM Software
Online CRM software (or Cloud CRM software) runs in your web browser and is hosted and managed by the CRM company. A significant advantage of Web Based CRM software is that it can be accessed from any location on a variety of devices.
When considering what type of software to purchase, you need to consider if Web Based CRM Software will work for your business – Australian internet is often not very fast outside of major cities, and don’t yet have high quality reliable internet then Web Based CRM Software may not be suitable and desktop CRM software could be more appropriate. This is all the more important in cases where you are asking the CRM software to run large parts of the business – in the event of an internet outage your operations could be crippled.
However, for companies that have mobile staff; businesses with offices in different states or reps on the road Web Based CRM software is often a smart choice. Web Based CRM software is often simpler than Desktop software offering fewer features or less possibilities for customisation.
Hybrid CRM Software (Desktop and Web CRM together)
Hybrid CRM software is when you have a desktop crm software which is connected to a web CRM, or has a web CRM component as part of. This arrangement can give you the best of both worlds – a mobile CRM solution for your on the road team or remote office, and a desktop CRM with all of the performance characteristics of a locally installed piece of software.
Custom / Bespoke CRM databases
Another option for CRM is a custom CRM software, which is often written as a simple web page or as an access database. A good advantage of such a solution is that you have complete control over what gets done, and it can be intimately tailored to suit your business needs.
However, unless you are a very large (or unique) organisation this can be a risky strategy. The downside of a custom database software development is that everything you want – you pay for. Features that would be included off the shelf in CRM Software all have to be written especially for you. Things that you may take for granted in CRM software such as accounting integration, working with Outlook or Office 365 or your phone systems are potentially very costly pieces of work. This road can be fraught with danger if you pick a single person to write it for you, or an offshore development company.
CRM Software within Accounting Software
Various accounting companies offer CRM add-ons to their software. They’re usually an afterthought and not very good, because they’re developed by accountants for accountants. Nobody doubts that accounting is an important part of business – but CRM is more of an operations-based software than accounting based software. A good CRM will allow you to properly manage all interactions with the customer in a realistic way.
CRM Software within ERP Products
Just ask anyone who has used an ERP system that has CRM function and they will probably cry because noone does it well. A lot of ERP customers we know have given up trying to use EPR’s inbuilt CRM and either junked the ERP altogether or added a best of breed CRM like Tall Emu to do that part for them.
CRM Software in Outlook
Before we get started Outlook is not a CRM but some people do think it is and more correctly a CRM is like Outlook. Obviously you can tell from my tone neither is true. There are addon to Outlook that professes to be the inbuilt CRM for Outlook. Its a poor cousin to what CRM is and I wouldnt suggest it to anyone with ambition to build their business to scale. Its isnt really much of an improvement to were you started out. Avoid is my recommendation here.
Verticalisation of CRM Software
There are CRM software that have been built for a particular industry and they are called Vertical CRM Software.
They can be very appealing and the marketing message is one that talks your language which in turn can make one feel secure that others in the industry are also using it. In addition the collective of that vertical by all using one system, will have a greater say in the development road map of the CRM software.
Here are a few examples of Verticals that have dedicated CRM software.
- CRM Software for Real Estate
- CRM Software for Financial Planners
- CRM for Builders
There is two reasons why this doesn’t often work for everybody. One, the CRM software is too focused on the industry and they can lag behind the innovations that are happening in the wider CRM / software world.
Lastly, the other businesses using this CRM software are your competitors. If you influence the CRM Software development then they are getting all your great ideas. Its tough enough out there as it is, why give your competitors a leg up.
What is an ERP system and do I need it?
ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning, although I do think this name is ill fitting but you can’t argue with using Enterprise in the name because it’s a whole of enterprise system. We agree that a business needs a master system where all data can be used and viewed and actioned.
Do you need an ERP System?
It depends. ERP is a lot more expensive the ERP market is not as dynamic as the CRM side. It is also the fact that some CRM Software is practically a mini ERP anyway without the cost. Tall Emu CRM is a case in point.
Most companies select ERP when they either wants a system that have an embedded Accounting system and/or HR function. However, traditionally ERP were the choice for multinationals or large businesses with manufacturing and distribution requirements.
We actually think that ERP struggles in its CRM capabilities and more and more CRM systems are doing more of the functions that ERP use to do solely.
Starting your CRM Software buying journey
Buying CRM Software is getting harder because there is just so much CRM software to choose from. Plus its not a small deal if you are looking to CRM to get the business fighting fit, which basically means well organised and what process can be automated or removed. Even if you go for the cheaper options, implementing CRM software will for a time impact your business while you do and that requires resources in your business which cost you money.
We like to give you an idea of the journey you and your business is about to go on and how you make the best CRM software choice and how you can help to ensure the best chance of it succeeding.
Here the main steps that you will need to take if you buy CRM Software:
Understand what CRM Software is and can do
CRM is much more than a contact manager or for simply sharing calendars. CRM software can run your business. It can be and should the single point of truth inside your business. Its the central platform that everything else speaks to. Not all CRM software providers have workflow or automation abilities, or can capture your phone activities. So first not prejudge what CRM is by what you think it is because you’ll be surprised what the breath of CRM might be.
Secondly, because not all CRM are the same, you should start with your blue sky list of requirements and business issues etc and rather than looking at CRM features and then building your case that way.
That is another reason why you should have conversation with the CRM vendors because they might be able to highlight a feature or capabilities that not listed on their website because a lot very good CRM vendors would have built customisation for customers that might fit your requirements.
Understand what the business case is for buying CRM Software
Like we mentioned above you need to get your business requirements together and we’d suggest you start with the blue sky list and then against each set a priority.
A technique that you could use to work out what the priority is to add another two columns; one for “impact” on your business and two the “effort” to get the outcome. It may be the case the a business requirement that the CRM is to address is something that you are not able to access the effort involved in getting. Especially, if the business requirement doesn’t line up with out the box features.
Understand what implementing CRM Software involves
Write down what Your Selection Criteria for buying CRM software
This is really key to making your decision. Some things matter more than others so you may want to categorize your list in order of “can’t live without” to “nice to have”
Checklist for selecting your CRM Software:
- Is the CRM software to be Installed on your Server (On Premise CRM) or in purely in the cloud
- Do you want or need your Data in Australia or Overseas
- Are you after a Basic CRM or do you want business transformation
- Which departments / teams are going to use the CRM software; Sales. Marketing, Operations or company wide adoption.
- Do you want Local Support
- Are you happy to buy through a CRM reseller or would you prefer to deal direct with the CRM software vendor?
- What are the number of seats needed (now or in the future)
- Are your staff on the road or always in the office
- Do you want to do quoting and invoicing out of CRM
- Do you want to Link you CRM Software to your Accounting system
- If so does the CRM Software integrate with Australian accounting system or the one you work with?
- Is the CRM software customisable
- Do you want to link your telephones to your CRM to capture this activity automatically
Read Reviews of CRM Software
CRM Software that has a big user base, will have the most amount of reviews. CRM Software that are big in overseas markets usually the USA will nearly always have a lead of others because even before they ever got here to Australia they been operating else were.
Don’t just be impressed by the number of reviews. All the review websites are pushing vendors to get reviews because for them review directory that has the most reviews for the most number of Software categories WINS!! They make their systems reward CRM software vendors for soliciting reviews.
The average rating matter when the volume is high and less so when the volume is low.
Here is a list of the CRM Software compare and review website that have popped up in Australia.
Best Reviews are from current customers
I’d be very skeptical of the review directories as the only source of “social proof” that the CRM Software you’re contemplating is any good. The best way to get a review is by a current user of the system and we recommend getting more than one. If you are working in a particular industry say “wholesale and distribution” it makes sense to talk to a business like yours about there experience with the CRM software your interested in.
Always Get a Live Demo of the CRM Software before you buy or Try.
You wouldn’t buy a car without seeing it unless you are from Nigeria and its a scam. So why would you buy a critical peice of software for your business without a proper demo. Get the CRM system shown to you, even before your trial it, because you can use this an an opportunity to a) get training on how to use the CRM software b) you get a level of appreciation of the people behind the software.
If you can’t get a live demo in your time zone then what do you think we happen if you got a critical support issue? If they cant show up when they are making a sell then dont expect them to show when you really need help.
Play before you pay for CRM Software
Most cloud / online / Web based CRM software provides a way to trail the software. You need to do this but if you are struggling to make sense of it or your time poor then a live demonstration is a must. You need to dedicate proper time to this trail. Get data into it as that will make more of the CRM light up.
With installed CRM software (desktop / on premise CRM) you may not be able to get a trail at all or you’ll need to do a paid trail as the Software needs to be installed.
This is worth it if your CRM requirements are beyond the basic CRM / contact manager level.
All software takes time to feel comfortable so be patient and ask questions. However, not select a CRM because it looks pretty. Revert back to your CRM criteria from before and see if this CRM satisfies those.
Which Type of Business Need CRM Software
We would say all businesses should use CRM software just so that the data is centralised and shared. Having individuals working purely out of their email inbox, calendar and the dredged black box…the Excel spreadsheet, will hamper your business. It results in poor communication among yourselves and customers. Things falling between the cracks, key person dependency, lack of accountability and so on.
However, the type of companies that get the MOST out of CRM software are those that have some of the following baseline characteristics.
- More than 3 people
- More than 10 customers
- Send or receive 10 or more quotes or invoices in a month.
- Receives or make phone calls
- Growing or wants to
- Using excel spreadsheets to workout price, commissions, profit, conversion rates etc
- Has a website that generates leads
- Shopping cart that takes orders or Sales
- Has one off or ongoing projects
- Has more than 10 meetings a month
- Has a membership to look after
- Does outbound marketing like Email or Telemarketing
We could go on… but the use case to have CRM software installed in your business is far greater and more frequent than the idea you don’t need CRM software.
Traditional CRM Software Features
Total Contact Management
Every business has people or entities they deal with; they could be suppliers, customers or staff. The CRM provides a single place for managing this relationship and the key data that needed to do that.
Group Calendars and Information Sharing
CRM can be an information silo buster between staff and departments.
Targeted marketing to your customers
CRM is collecting data on your customers all the time and a great CRM can help you add to that automatically and from sources you’ve never considered. CRM enables you to make better sense of your customers so that servicing and selling to them.
Australian Accounting software integration
Not many CRM actually do this but it is a key integration for CRM because it does two things. Ist it fills up your empty CRM with data; this makes you CRM useful day one.
Secondly, it joins the financials data with the pre sales activity.
Business Analytics / Big picture Data
Integration with Outlook or Mail Client
Multiple ways to access your information remotely
HTML Email, SMS, Word and Fax Merge
personalized HTML emails, word merges, SMSs and faxes. Each communication method offers full merge details capability allowing not just name and address, but data from other sources such as product information based on their buying preferences or purchase history.
Security Roles / Data Security
Comprehensive security settings control which users can modify records and how they can modify them, including per user, per group, or per team options. Also where your data is stored is critical.
Linking to Websites and Shopping Cart
If you have a website that you use to acquire leads or an ecommerce shopping cart like WooCommerce then you need this data going straight into your CRM Software.
Next Gen CRM Features…The Future of CRM Software in 2018 and beyond
Humans like order …and will again
CRM software will become the ubiquitous business software for business of all sizes. It has become clear there is real advantage and savings for businesses that has unifying system to work from
There is a stampede of Apps and software coming on to the market. There are lots of choice. The barrier to entry has been removed with the ability to build an App for a particular task, so more and more people are rely on multiple Apps or cloud based to run their business.
However, they all require you to pay for a subscription and together the total cost can more much more than one very powerful CRM software.
The issues with the App’afication of software is that most of them don’t talk to each other or they just wither on the vine because some shiny new app comes along and get traction.
Our prediction is that as businesses move out the start-up phase they will need to have less standalone system or Apps.
Voice Driven CRM
We also see “Voice” being much more embedded in Software generally and with the amount of Data stored in CRM Software it make sense that Voice commands and prompts will become the norm. What we are talking about is using your voice to talk to your CRM either requesting information or capturing and transcribing your “Voice” into notes or to trigger “actions”
Big Data and CRM
If you imaged the that every there was a network of CRM databases that could share resources and data and be accessible from within the CRM then you are part way to discoverying what and what you’d be sharing.
Tall Emu CRM are well advanced in this area so other than the bare concept we wont be going into details here. T
Popular Cloud CRM Software in Australia
Biggest CRM vendor in the world. Lots of users but does get more expensive per user the more users you add. They are American and your data is there too. Very slick at the marketing that’s for sure and there a few big resellers here in Australia. There are loads of reviews on them and they speak for themselves. A lot of the integrations are through third parties which can be a problem.
Tall Emu CRM
This is the perfect choice for small to medium size businesses looking for a cloud based CRM software. Tall Emu CRM is a cheaper alternative to Saleforce, nearly as powerful as an ERP software, but built and supported right here in Australia.
Another USA company that spent huge amounts of money on the marketing and there was a time you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing them. We’ve never come across a business who uses them which is very weird. So we have very little 2nd hand experience. I would question their local presence being less than ideal.
We come across these guys a bit. Expensive and heard a lot of qualitative feedback that says that they are not for everyone. Again, another CRM from the states.
Very much about the look and feel. Very focused on sales and therefore doesn’t stack up to fully fledged CRMs’ apparently. Another USA company…see a pattern here? Expensive for what they don’t do.
These guys have a free CRM version which gets a lot of people in as you can imagine. We do come across it but we never seen a business that’s got complexity go with it. So Tall Emu CRM hasn’t every gone head to head with it. There big fans but a lot of hate for this product out there if you read through the reviews. …We nearly forgot to say…they are from the USA.
Popular Desktop / On Premise CRM Software in Australia
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
This is a desktop CRM that is well established here in Australia. Its mostly implemented by resellers which a variable in how the implementation will workout. Its pretty powerful but ridged and customisations can be impossible to do or expensive.
Act! (previously known as Sage ACT!). One of the originals Was quite popular hear in Australia when the CRM market was a lot smaller. Don’t bump into to it that much these days and when we do people are on the old outright version looking to move away.
Le Grand CRM
Le Grand CRM, was developed in Australia as a desktop application in 2003 by Alun Le Grand. It is known as a basic desktop CRM software solution. They are a very small player in the CRM market due to the other CRM companies redefining what CRM and left these old CRM in their wake.
CRM Software Implementation
What are the Needs of your Staff / business Units around CRM
There are lots of stakeholders in any CRM implementation. You need to decide who within the organisation that’s going to be most affected by the CRM or who could benefit the most. To ensure that they needs are met or at least understood it best to find that out up front.
The needs of the Sales team / person:
- View assigned accounts/contacts
- Track Leads and opportunities
- Customers Historical & interactions
- View of their pipeline
- Shared Calendar & Collaboration
- Potentially Data on Mobility when out an about
- Reporting & KPI
- Lead tracking
- Segmentation of Leads and Customers
- Omni Channel Marketing Management
- Reporting & KPI
- Marketing automation
- Channel Attribution
- Day to Day Accounts management & Records
- Manage Invoice Sending
- Account payment history
- Accounts Payable & Debt Collection
- Payment Reconciliation (so that goods can be released or services provided)
- Credit Control
- Insights to manage cash flow
- Complete view of the customer and history of interactions
- Individual/personal notes to track enquiry
- Access to workflows to solve issues/distribute escalate/allocation of resources
- Top level view of all areas of the business
- In-depth reporting tools
- Track cash flows
- Metrics/KPI of individual/departmental team performance
- Permissions/data security
That’s not even to mention Project Managers, Call Centre Staff, Technical departments and anyone else within your business who might need access to customer information.
The point is that to make sure that a CRM is used and that it’s efficient to do so, there needs to be an interface that enables that person to easily store and use the information that they need, simply. Any resistance and people will look for shortcuts around it, losing data and insights that could be used by other areas of the organisation to provide an amazing customer experience.
Prospects’/Customers’ Needs from CRM
The most fundamental benefit and reason for being for CRM Software is provide a better platform for supporting your customer’s experience of your business. CRM software after all is a Customer centric system above all else.
CRM Software helps you provide a consistent customer experience however they interact with the business. .
So in the real world the example would be that a lead or customer that had previously interacted with the business, say the customer services team, and would not have to educate you on who they were beyond their name and perhaps the organisation they work for. So no matter how they reach out to your business again, they shouldn’t have to go through the same questions and procedures more than once.
CRM Centric consideration are as follows
- What is the pathways a customer or lead journeys through your businesses
- Understand who are your customers these are called customer personas
- Understand the key messaging / marketing content that you deliver throughout your sales process
- Create follow-up strategies so nothing falls through unattended
- Survey your customers and front line sales staff to see what issues or FAQ are coming up.
Providing your customers with a tailored response will make them feel valued.
This is the first steps towards customising your CRM to suite your customers and your business processes; every organisation is unique. You need to step back and ask yourself if you’re serving your prospects’ and customers’ needs effectively.
Why CRM Software implementations can fail
Here are the top reasons why CRM software implementation fails.
- Lack of commitment from the executive and owners. Either because they were never the sponsor so don’t have a proper understanding of why the CRM software is being implemented. Or worse they buckle under push back from staff.
- Staff resistance – Usually this is when the decision has been put upon staff that were never brought along at the planning stage and the benefits to them have not been communicated. Sabotage from staff who fear change is very common.
- Poor understanding of outcomes either by the business who bought the CRM software or by implementor / CRM Reseller.
- Didn’t provide the right budget – doing it right can be expensive, cutting corners like not paying for adequate training means in reality that you’re putting the CRM adoption at risk and therefore your investment.
- Need to have a plan and stick with its broad aims. There is always disruption, change hurts – not always correct first time. If it helps do the project in phases. Get small wins first and that will help the business and the longterm project.
- Unskilled or inexperienced implementation team (you think you’re getting MICROSOFT when you buy Microsoft Dynamics? In reality you’re getting a CRM software reseller of varied quality. Some good some awful.
To make your CRM software work for you, take a look at our CRM success tips.
CRM Software Stats from around the Internet to support the benefits of CRM
Keep track of your leads with CRM software
You can increase and retain your leads with CRM; here are some statistics that we found:
- 80% of marketing automation users saw an increase in the number of leads, and 77% had an increase of conversions. (VentureBeat)
- 59% of businesses with marketing automation are able to target their prospects with triggered content. (Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups 2013 Lead-Generation Marketing Effectivness Study).
- CRM are known to improve customer retention, by as much as 27% (Trackvia)
- Social CRM improves retention by 26% (Nucleus Research)
- Nurtured leads spend approximately 47% more in their purchases when compared to non-nurtured leads. (Kapost)
Impact of CRM Software on business productivity
With CRM Software, there is a notable increase in workplace productivity, efficiency and sales. The streamlined service allows you to complete your tasks in a fraction of the time, and share your progress with the team.
- 5% increase in sales productivity, and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead. (Nucleus Research)
- CRM gives businesses a 65% boost in sales quotas (Innopple Technologies)
- Labor costs overall decreased by 20% (Forrester Study)
- A recruitment service had an 87% increase in new hires after switching from an excel spreadsheet and a diary to a dedicated CRM. (Employability Galway)
- 50% of teams improved productivity (Forrester Study)
- Sales productivity and uplift was 5% (Forrester Study)
- Consultation time is reduced by 10% (Forrester Study)
- Customer service labour cost was reduced by 40% (Forrester Study)
Customer satisfaction Stats with CRM Software
The benefit of streamlining your business with CRM Software means that you can concentrate on the customer. It is easy to cultivate a good customer relationship with.
- 74% of CRM users said their CRM system offered improved access to customer data (RingLead)
- Customer service can improve by 47% with CRM (Capterra)
- Overall, 74% of businesses using CRM report better customer relationships (Software Advice)
The ROI (return on investment) stats with CRM Software
Using a CRM system can increase your conversions drastically. Moreover, a study has shown that a well-integrated CRM system can increase ROI by 245%.
- The ROI on CRM is approximately $5 to every $1 invested (Baseline)
- Without CRM, 79% of leads fail to convert (Pardot)
- A 41% revenue increase is realized with CRM (Trackvia)
- Conversion rates can improve by 300% with CRM in place (Cloudswave)
- Average purchase value can improve by 40% with CRM (Cloudswave)
- Lead cost is reduced by 23% with CRM (Cloudswave)