Selecting the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can be challenging, especially if you require high functionality and specific CRM functions to derive value from the selected platform.

Here are some criteria you should consider before making a decision:

Market research: When comparing CRM software, look for solutions that will support a number of different types of intelligence and market research information. An ideal platform will also offer methods for capturing customer feedback, including surveys and questionnaires (offered both off- and online) as it is simply adding more value to your business intelligence data.

Marketing: Sales and marketing rely on each other for success, therefore you need the ability to personalize campaigns, as well as execute and manage those campaigns. Besides, it is important to design, analysis, and report marketing campaigns, since the sales team has to be able to act on any marketing activities appropriately.

Sales: Compare what the CRM platform will offer to your sales department. You want the solution to not only support sales strategies, enable territory management and allow account configuration, but also support contact management, integration with communications systems, support sales processes and methods and incorporate incentives. And if you don't forget forecasting and business planning to build a strong business case, the sales team will definitely benefit from management tools relating to proposals, quotes and contracts, providing easy access to pricing, order processing and invoicing. Further, a direct portal to customer communications and integration with the website is critical for sales representatives to interact with customers in the processing stage, too, and make sure that an access to electronic payment tracking is given to meet a growing demand for that.

Customer support: If you are extending customer support capabilities to your sales teams, you're tying their hands, affecting customer issue resolutions. Compare CRM software that offers tools to manage accounts, contacts, support, tickets, defect tracking, product returns and tracking, a knowledge-base and a customer support portal. The customer experience is greatly enhanced when their main contact – the sales rep – can also resolve issues immediately.

Contact center functionality: Whether you operate a contact center or not, the ability to integrate with a contact center is still an important function as you compare CRM software. If your business is on a growth path, implementing a virtual contact center could be in your near future. Investing in CRM software that won't support this customer service platform could render it quickly obsolete. Compare CRM software that allows for this functionality now or as an add-on later, depending upon your current needs.

System-Wide Functionality: No CRM solution can deliver value to your organization, if it won't integrate with your current technology deployments. You not only need to extend access to your sales team, but also other departments that can benefit from the information captured and contribute to building out the database. Compare CRM software that delivers complete compliance and integration across all platforms you currently use, as well as extended support for the desired workflow, alerts, employee and manager self-service and Web-enabled capabilities. (Source:

By MediaBUZZ