Key Features of Most Popular CRM Software Solutions

HubSpot: No. 1 CRM Solution


Selling to existing customers is cheaper than finding new ones. Studies differ on how much, ranging from 5% to 25%, according to Harvard Business Review (2014). But they all agree retaining customers brings in more profits.

If you haven’t used any customer relationship management or CRM software yet, you’re missing on the goldmine under your feet. So, to bring you up to speed, we’re here to explain what the key CRM features are and how exactly they can benefit your company.

While many CRM solutions differ in their specific value propositions—depending on your business size, priority function, or industry type—they usually share some core features. These, in fact, are the foundation of any top CRM software, without which you might end up using an inferior app or an over-rated address book.

So, let’s discuss the key features you need to look for when figuring out the best CRM software for your business.

1. Contact management

A top CRM software isn’t just an address book that only organizes contact details. It manages customer data in a centralized place and gives you a 360-degree view of your customers. You should be able to organize customers’ personal information, demographics, interactions, and transactions in ways that are meaningful to your goals or processes.

You will also be able to set rules to save, access, edit, or delete contacts. Likewise, this feature closely integrates with lead management; contacts that are associated with leads are synced across the sales pipeline. For example, in HubSpot CRM, once a lead is assigned a priority the associated contact also reflects this update.

When integrated with social media, contact management becomes even more powerful. It can give you a “social network view”, that is, associate customers with each other and pinpoint who have mentioned your brand.

Moreover, a good contact management feature lets you personalize your outreach campaign. By collecting personal, social, and purchase data, it will help you to segment target audience groups in different ways.

2. Reporting and dashboards

This feature allows you to use analytics to interpret customer data. Reporting is very useful if you want to consolidate disparate data and churn out insights in different visualizations. This lets you make better decisions or proactively deal with market trends and customer behavioral patterns. The more visual widgets a CRM software has, the better you can present reports.

But reports can be overwhelming with details; hence, dashboards are handy for quick lookups. Dashboards help executives, managers, and team leaders to surface key insights without having to sort through heaps of reports.

And since different users have different reporting priorities, having multiple dashboards are essential. For instance, Zoho CRM not only provides a standard dashboard, but lets you customize visitor-specific dashboards based on various customer interactions. The marketing director may be interested to see campaign results, while a sales manager will find a weekly summary of his sales reps’ performance more useful.

Furthermore, a top CRM solution will generate real-time data, making reporting more accurate and timely. Reporting also keeps you tab on sales opportunities like upsell, resell, and cross-sell, especially when integrated with e-commerce platforms.

3. Lead management

Thess features let you manage leads all the way to win-loss stage. They pave a clear path to conversion, so you can quickly assess how the business is performing. One of the main three legs that comprises a top CRM software (the other two being contact management and reporting), lead management unburdens the sales team from follow-ups, tracking, and repetitive tasks.

Lead management is the fuel that keeps your sales pipeline running. Sales feeds the CRM with leads and the software kicks in to automate admin tasks like email follow-ups, contact forms, and order fulfillment. Meanwhile, sales can focus on opening new prospects, pushing your lead velocity further for a more stable month-to-month performance.

You should be able to track prospect status and sales rep activities and move them across sales stages. A good lead management also lets you customize the stages beyond the usual discovery/qualifying/negotiation/closed stages.

Likewise, this feature works with contact management to sync updates and quickly access customer data. For instance, Insightly lets you convert contacts into leads by matching customer data with product pitch.

4. Deals and tasks

Deals and tasks are closely associated with leads. Deals are leads at the negotiation stage, so it’s critical to keep a close eye on their associated tasks for a higher chance of conversion. The best CRM solutions like HubSpot, Freshsales, and Zoho lay out a straightforward timeline reflecting the start, progress, and end of each deal and its tasks.

Likewise, these CRM solutions let you track deals with real-time data and synced with the associated contact’s latest interaction with you. This helps you to further engage the prospect based on his current interest or buying mood.

CRM software should also let you track both deals and tasks in their respective windows or across the sales stages. Whether you’re viewing a contact or analyzing the sales pipeline, you should be able to immediately check the deal’s tasks and details.

Deals and tasks should also have user permissions to protect leaks of sensitive data. For instance, Salesforce CRM can restrict access to tasks to assigned users or teams only.

Similarly, alerts are critical to tasks so deadlines are met. Notifications are usually sent via email or prominently displayed on the user’s dashboard.

5. Campaign management

Solid CRM software will integrate this feature to enable marketing processes from outreach concept to A/B testing to deployment and to post analysis. This will allow you to sort campaigns to target segments in your contacts and define deployment strategies. You will also be able to define metrics for various channels, then plow back the insights generated by post-campaign analytics into planning more campaigns.

The campaign structure is easier to plan, manage, and measure with all sales and marketing data points consolidated in one platform. Recurring outreach efforts can also be automated. For instance, you can set to instantly appropriate content to contacts based on their interest or send tiered autoresponders based on campaign feedback.

Moreover, if you’re into e-commerce a good CRM like HubSpot gives you inbound marketing tools such as site keyword, SEO tool, and landing page builder. You can run campaigns on preset schedule while you work on future outreach.

6. Email management

By integrating with popular email clients like Gmail and Outlook, CRM solutions can capture email messages and sort important details that can be saved in contacts or synced with leads. They can also track activities like opened emails, forwarded emails, clicked links, and downloaded files.

Emails can also be qualified for prospecting. For instance, Base CRM processes email communications through sales analytics for lead scoring. Emails with sales potential are funneled to lead management.

Aside from automating routine email tasks, CRM solutions also provide templates for recurring scenarios. Furthermore, specialist CRMs like HubSpot let you A/B test which email templates bring in more leads.

Email marketing can also be pre-built in CRM. HubSpot integrates a mailer for a more consolidated and smooth workflow to send mass emails and automate a multi-tier response based on prospects’ feedback.

7. Social media management

Best CRM software solutions feature an integrated social media management where you can view different social media pages from the CRM’s interface. This is a convenient way to post, reply on, and manage all your pages.

Likewise, this feature gives you a better perspective on how customers are interacting with your brand. A glean of their likes and dislikes, interests, shares, and public conversations helps you to assess customer biases and preferences.

Customers are also increasingly using social media to contact companies; hence, a good CRM should alert you for brand mentions.

8. Collaboration tools

Collaboration tools are important in CRM to keep inter-department communications tight. Sales, marketing, support, and management are kept in the loop across myriad activities and projects using a centralized customer database.

Some of the essential collaboration tools to look for include activity stream, discussion posts with the handy @mention tool, and document sharing. Likewise, email notifications, chat, and remote access are important to give everybody visibility and promote transparency.

Some CRM solutions may not feature in-app collaboration tools, but at the very least, they should integrate with third-party collaboration apps to promote teamwork.

9. Mobile access

With more users accessing apps via mobile devices, many vendors have been prioritizing mobile-first platforms. Emergence Capital Partners study found over 300 mobile-first apps so far and CRM is definitely one their targets. Many CRM solutions have both Android and iOS apps.

Mobile access works in two ways to be highly appreciated: accessing data and inputting data while on location. Field sales with the latest sales information on hand may be able to interest prospects better. Conversely, sales reps can quickly update deals across the pipeline even as they come off a client meeting.

Factors to Consider When Checking CRM Features

Aside from key features of most popular CRM software, the following aspects will define the solution’s value-for-money worth:

  • Ease of use – setup should be fast, the UI neat, and navigation intuitive. The tools should also be accessible at any location within the app.
  • Customization – sales stages, contact forms, and workflow approvals, among others, should be customized to match your company’s processes. Likewise, control over data access and communication is important.
  • Scalability – the features should grow with your needs. Check cap on number of users, contacts, and extensibility of features.
  • Integration – CRM encompasses multiple business processes that impact on customer relations. Some of the key apps to integrate include: help desk, email, salesforce automation, collaboration, and ERP


A clear picture of the key CRM features is your foundation to choosing the right solution. The feature you need the most or want to prioritize should dictate your purchase decision in your hunt for the best CRM software.

Category: B2B News

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