5 Characteristics of a Strong CRM Software

by Melanie, on 29 Nov 2019

First published on the Marketing Interface blog on April 5, 2016.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM ) is far from a new tool in sales and marketing, but it is something many companies still do not do well. We see three common reasons why CRM software implementations fail to live up to expectations:

  • An organization is using the wrong tool.
  • There is a lack of process or failure to follow the process.
  • The CRM runs in isolation from other tools, such as a marketing automation system, customer support records, or accounting software.

You should select a CRM system that meets your company’s specific needs. Don’t be distracted by systems with the most bells and whistles. Even a simple CRM is not easy to set up in a way that lets you take advantage of its full power.

A lot of companies default to Salesforce. While no doubt an extremely powerful, top-of-the-line CRM, Salesforce isn’t the right tool for every company and requires extensive implementation. In our view, the biggest problem with Salesforce is that it can quickly become so complicated that your team doesn’t want to use it. Your CRM is only as good as the data it contains. If your people aren’t using it, it becomes completely useless.

So how do you find a solution that is easy enough for your team to use but powerful enough to help your company grow?

When shopping for a CRM system, there are five characteristics every candidate system should offer. If you are considering an option that is missing any of these features, steer clear!

Integration with Other Tools

This is by far the most important element of any good CRM system. Clean data is an imperative! Clean data = accurate information with no duplications. With 20% of data a year becoming inaccurate once entered into a CRM this is easier said than done!

Cleaning your data can be one of the biggest challenges when first implementing a CRM. Data may be scattered in various places across the organization and you may not have consistent information for every lead, contact, and opportunity. A CRM with multiple integration methods will ease the setup process.

Later, it will allow rich data collected by your marketing automation, customer service, and other key tools to pass directly into your CRM, arming your sales team with even more valuable customer information.

Data Field & Workflow Customization

No two companies are the same and there is no one-size-fits-all way that sales teams and marketing teams work together. A strong CRM should help align the sales and marketing functions so that they support each other.

Your system should be flexible enough for you to specify the data you want to collect, how the data is displayed, and who has access to this data. Maybe you don’t need any customizations today, but down the road, this may change. You should find a CRM that provides you with flexibility as your organization grows.

(Extra tip! Before setting up lots of customization, ask why it is needed and be VERY clear about the metrics you want to measure. Working with a CRM expert can help streamline this process.)

Remote & Mobile Access

Remote access refers to being able to use your CRM on a computer not located in your office. Mobile access refers to using your CRM on a handheld device. Both of these elements are crucial to the way we do business today. Whether someone from your team is at a trade show, airport, off site client meeting, at home, or out to lunch, they need the ability to access and update the CRM at all times. This will help to ensure the previously discussed clean data, and give them the tools they need to close sales whenever and wherever they are working.

List Management & Follow-Up Tracking

These features fall in the work smarter not harder category. Your CRM should allow real-time list management so that your sales and marketing teams can segment contacts and leads based on demographics, firmographics, end goals, and past or current interactions with your organization.

Look for a CRM that features automated follow-up with leads and customers. Your sales team should be able to set up auto-reminders to complete tasks, taking the pressure off having to remember everything on their own.

Setting up auto-reminders and automating follow-up helps standardize your sales process, ensuring a certain level of quality is maintained across all interactions. Data collected via automation tools and interactions with your sales team can help you identify processes that are most likely to convert an opportunity into a sale or deliver a larger sale. Consider converting these processes into a set of automated workflows so that the buyer’s experience is guided toward the most successful outcome.


Great CRM systems don’t just collect data – they also provide user-friendly ways of analyzing it, so that you can understand what the market is signaling and apply it to future business plans and strategies. Both sales and marketing teams should have access to this data and the ability to run reports, analyze target customer groups, and measure results across different channels.

Again, one of the keys to success with a CRM is knowing what you want to measure. Here are some of the questions you should be able to answer with your CRM:

  • How many opportunities are in my pipeline? How many opportunities are in each stage of my sales funnel? (At company level and individual rep level)
  • What is the total dollar amount in the funnel? What is the dollar amount in the funnel weighted by sales stage? (At company level and individual rep level)
  • How long does it take for us to close a deal?
  • Who are my top ten customers? How much revenue are they contributing?
  • Which accounts have my reps not contacted recently?

CRM Bonus feature

Look for a CRM that will pull in data about the contacts in your database from social media. Regardless of your industry, understanding your customers’ social interactions will create new opportunities to interact with them. This will become increasingly important as more and more businesses harness the full power of social media.

In the end, you need a system that is easy to use, and built for quick adoption by your team. It should have proven features and functions to not only get the job done, but make everyone’s job easier in the process. Do not rush into deciding which CRM to purchase. Do not rush the setup. Take time to do your homework, make sure the system is setup correctly for your business, train your users, and continue to adjust the system as your needs change.