In our previous article, we discussed the key considerations when choosing a CRM – The Price, The Fit, and Security. This month, we dig deeper into the capabilities that you should examine when reviewing CRM software. You can use this as a ‘checklist’ to help make the selection of your new CRM easier.


A good CRM should at the very least be able to hold records of all your customers. The key features to look for are:

  • Relationships: the ability to relate contacts to their companies and companies to accounts are all important features
  • Record keeping: your CRM should be able to hold pertinent contact information along with individual and company details
  • History: your CRM must be able to record all interactions on all instances of contact with the customer
  • Organization: your CRM must be able to organize all your contacts into groups (e.g. prospects, active clients, follow ups, newsletter sign ups, etc.)
  • Others: extra features such as links to the contact social networking pages, display maps of client locations with travel instructions,


A CRM is not simply software, it is a business tool that helps you automate both sales and marketing and, importantly, speed up the buying cycle.  Look for these functions:

  • Invoicing: the ability to print and email invoices and statements
  • Account alerts: during sales, inform you if a customer is in arrears so you can make an informed decision regarding incurring more risk
  • Direct marketing: create automated email campaigns and produce mailing labels for direct marketing campaigns
  • Customer segmentation: identify customers by any number of categories, the products they buy or location, so that special marketing and sales activities can be better targeted


The biggest difference with a run-of-mill CRM and a leading-edge solution is how much raw data it can crunch and turn into meaningful information that will help you make business decisions. At the very least, a CRM should be able to show you where your sales and marketing efforts are most effective.  Look for the following features:

  • Sales tracking: Allow sales performance reporting
  • Targets: Manage sales targets by salesperson or team
  • Customer segmentation: Identify groups of contacts for specialized marketing programs
  • Product reports: Provide product sales trends analysis and recommend stock reorder quantities
  • Profitability reports: Produce reports that help you strategise how to maximize your profits


Of course it would greatly help your staff CRM had features that could enhance their productivity as well. Look for the following:

  • Email: the ability to capture all email between your staff and customers
  • Calendaring: daily schedules and to-do lists and  integration with staff calendars (i.e. Google Apps or Microsoft Outlook)
  • Mobility: the ability to access contact information via a tablet or mobile phone
  • Telephony: A ‘click to dial’ ability that lets staff simply select a phone number on a CRM record, and have it automatically dialled on their phone, while simultaneously recording the details of the call. Also, links to phone systems so that an incoming brings up the appropriate customer record automatically


Like all software, CRMs can be obtained in a number of ways. As discussed in previous articles, a cloud-based CRM deployment will allow your staff to access the CRM from anywhere and on any device. However, cloud-based solutions require a reliable internet connection. If you are an in an area where broadband is patchy, you may wish to consider an on-premises solution instead.


Use the free demos that are available from most CRM vendors. Frequently, these free trials allow you to experiment with a small set of your customer data, so you can test how well each solution works for your business.  Be on the lookout for small, add-in features that really make a big difference.  Ask yourself “How does this tool help my business?”