5 features to look before buying a Sales CRM

Very often CEOs and CMOs of startups who are searching for a CRM for their Sales Team find themselves in a confused state. With numerous CRM applications available in the market, they are in a dilemma to choose from various available options.

To decide which CRM is the best for you, you need to list down the functionalities you expect from a CRM system. After my interaction with multiple people in sales on LinkedIn, I found a number of things which are being expected from a CRM.

Sales Manager [Image Credits]
In short, modern sales teams consider following 5 things to be must have functionalities in a CRM without which a CEO or CMO should never purchase a CRM from any vendor.

1. Deals or Leads tracker.

A Good CRM should have a Deals or Leads tracker within it as a primary functionality. With this functionality, your sales team members should be able to add Deals or Leads into your CRM system so that it can be tracked as it traverses through various stages of the sales process which might be analogous to sales stages of New, Contact Made, Meeting Scheduled, Presentation Made, Negotiation, Won or Lost Deals stage, etc. 

  • This gives a transparent view to the sales manager who can visualize as to which deal is stuck at a particular stage for long and need attention or follow ups. 
  • It also helps forecast the sales for upcoming months based on the number of deals or Leads which are present in the sales pipeline based on the conversion ratio of each stage. 
  • This helps you plan the number of deals required at each stage of sales process to have a steady flow of revenue every month.
  • This also helps Sales Managers prioritize the Deals based on multiple parameters like Deal size or Winning probability, etc.


2. Contact Management Functionality

Your CRM should have a Contact Management functionality which helps you organize the contact information of your clients whom you need to interact with regards to the various deals in your sales pipeline. A good Contact Management feature should allow the sales team members to not only add contacts of people but also contact details of a company with which the deal is in sales pipeline. 

  • Most importantly, the contact management functionality should have a sync with your Deals or Leads tracker rather than acting as a separate functionality in silos. 
  • This feature should allow you to visualize the relationship with contacts and deals. Hence, if you view a contact, your CRM should be in a position to give you information on which all deals you are interacting with that contact, the past conversations you had with the concerned contact and other information about the contact which can help you crack the concerned deal.


3. Sales Reporting & Analytics

Your CRM contains lots of data entered into the system about deals, contacts and associated activities happening on each of them. But as a Sales Manager or a CMO or a CEO, what you need to know is the status in terms of numbers. Hence your CRM should give a bird eye view of where do your sales team stand in terms of sales status. 

  • It can be in terms of numbers of upcoming deals in the pipeline, Deals Won or Lost in a specified time period, Reason for winning or losing the deals, Revenue forecast, Deviation of actual revenue from the forecast or sales goal, etc.
  • This helps Sales Managers act instantaneously as and when they observe any anomaly in the Real Time Reports & Analytics 


4. Multi User functionality

Since CRM is to be used by your sales team it should have functionality to support multiple users. Unlike shared spreadsheets shared among multiple users which has no logs of which user updated the excel file, your CRM should track activities of each individual user. 

  • It should enable the team members to stay accountable for their activities and not avoid accountability while entering status trackers which might happen when people are just editing a single excel file shared at a common location as it happens in a conventional companies which are yet to go Digital.


5. Flexibility in designing Sales Processes

Every business is different both in terms of the way they manage their sales process. Hence your sales CRM shouldn't force you to follow a rigid sales process which is difficult for your business due to complexities involved. 

I believe CRM should empower the sales teams rather than creating difficulties for your sales personnel. This means your CRM should be flexible enough to fit in your sales team within it rather than your sales team trying to fit their already established processes as per the CRM.

  • Hence your CRM should allow you to design and re-design your Sales Stages. 
  • Some Organizations might follow sales stages as New Deal, Contacted, Presentation, Negotiation, Won. 
  • While at the same time another Organization might want to design sales stages as New, Contacted via Phone, Proposal Made, Presentation, Demo,  Negotiation, Contract Preparation, Contract Approval etc. 
  • At the same time, some startup Sales Manager would like to experiment with different sales processes until they hit across a process which works out right for them.

Hence a good CRM should empower the sales managers with the flexibility to design their sales processes as and when they require.


Hence before buying your first CRM, do checkout these 5 must have functionalities for your CRM.