Complete CRM buying guide explained in 5 simple steps

If you are a Sales Manager having a team of Sales reps working under you. Very soon you would realize, you are unable to get any meaningful insights out of your Sales Deal tracker Excel sheet.

You might be already facing various problems like the below ones:

  1. You are unable to scale up your Sales Development efforts because your Sales Reps are required to do more clerical paperwork or data entry work in multiple excel trackers instead of focusing their time on pursuing sales leads. 
  2. When you are trying to scale up your Sales development operations, you feel like you are losing track of many things on your plate and unable to focus anywhere. Earlier when you used to hit 10 conversions per month, now even after scaling up with a target of 100, you are still struggling to make the old 10 conversions like earlier.

These are some of the visible signs, that you have reached a high time where you need to buy an effective CRM solution that can solve your team’s growing problems.

Step 1: Why are you buying? – Identify your team’s key pain point.

  • You need to investigate the pain points well before buying any readymade CRM solution in a hurry. 
  • Identify what is it that your team is facing challenges in:
  1. Some reps might be facing challenges that they are spending more than 1/3rd of their time on manual data entry-related tasks and updating numerous trackers instead of getting time to speak to their leads.
  2. Some reps might be facing challenges that their work involves a lot of traveling, due to which they are looking for some Mobile CRM like solution which they can quickly open on their smartphone and update the follow-up work.
  3. Some reps might be facing challenges that due to an increase in the number of leads, they are unable to recall the important mail or telephonic conversation they had with the clients in order to make the next follow up call and tend to postpone talking to that lead thinking that they will search those details later and follow up.
  4. Reasons can be many, talk to them, find out, and list them down.

Step 2: Identify a CRM solution which solve most of the problems of your team.
  • Never try to push-fit a CRM to your team just for the sake of having a CRM. CRM should help your team, instead of your team helping the CRM to stay. Most of the time a misfit CRM is forced upon a team and it tends to become a failure, with the tool being left abandoned incurring lot of IT costs & wastage of license fees.
  • Based on the list of problems you identified in Step 1, go to the market and search for a CRM which solves all of the key problems faced by your team.



Step 3: Estimate your CRM Budget.
  • Most of the Sales Manager’s initially do not have any specific CRM Budget in mind. One of the reason behind this might be non-familiarity of CRM apps & their market pricing; and second reason is that they never gave a thought about the real perceived value of a CRM which suits their team.
  • In that case, you may need to do a budget estimation instead of directly going by the available prices in the market. Remember that, every organization is different and the best CRM which solves all your problem can cost you either zero dollars or may also cost 1000$ per license depending on the complexity of highly focused & customized service bundled in it. Hence instead of buying anything directly, estimate your budget first.
  • You may estimate your budget in the following ways:
  1. Estimate how much of team member’s time can be saved if a CRM is enabled for them.
  2. Relate the team member's time saved to the compensation they get for that amount of time. 
  3. Now that you have an estimate of money you lose every month on the salary which is not productively generating any revenue due to wasted hours, you may now decide how much to spend to make effective use of the salary spending to improve your revenue top line.
  4. Alternatively, instead of Staff Salary, you can also reference that time wasted in terms of the conversion they could have made during that time and the revenue that could have generated. That should give a more fair idea of how much your sales rep’s time is valued.
  • In addition to budget, you need to estimate your potential payout upon using a good CRM. This is usually the top line, the revenue which you tend to generate by saving the precious time of your sales rep and getting the right sales insight at the right time from the CRM solution.

Related Reading: Estimate your budget for buying a Sales CRM


Step 4: Take a trial

  • If the upfront entry cost of buying a CRM solution is high, you should never buy a software without ever actually trying it out for some days. If the entry level license cost is low, you may be able to take such risk of actually paying without any trial. However when stakes are high, you must insist for a trial.
  • While doing trial, ask for your team member’s real feedback instead of just doing couple of demo clicks on your own.
  • When you feel the tool is fit to solve your pain points and is good on pocket, you may go ahead with payment for paid license once your trial gets over.

Interested in trying out a CRM: Try out Toolsoncloud CRM, Its free


Step 5: Adoption

  • Your CRM initiative will fail if the actual user i.e. your Sales Team will not use it religiously.
  • A CRM is as good as the accuracy of the data it possess so that you can derive some insights out of it. A new tool may result in change in few processes for which team may show some amount of reluctance or lack of interest. However if your team doesn’t use the tool, the data provided by software may become outdated, incomplete or incorrect thus rendering your massive investment to become a failure.
  • Hence evangelize the CRM which you brought for your team. After all, you did so much of ground work before actually putting it in front of your team. Lead by example, if you use the tool religiously, so will be your followers and your subordinate. 



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.

Related Posts:
 5 Key Benefits of using a CRM Software

In the current fast paced business environment, a good CRM software plays a critical role in the growth story of an organization poised for hyper growth. In this post, Let us learn about 5 Key Benefits of using a CRM Software for your business.


1. Better Customer Segmentation and Personalization:

CRM Software helps you centralize your data by bringing all the contact information into one single platform. With all the data in a single place, you are now more equipped to segment your contacts effectively. 

With better segmentation, your communication with your contacts are now more personalized. This ultimately helps the organization improve conversion rate thus helping reduce sales cycle duration and increase revenue.


2. Improved Customer Satisfaction and Retention:

Overtime, the CRM Software becomes a repository of your interaction with your customers from multiple sources such as past Email communication, Chat conversations, past Incident history, Interests, past Purchase history, etc. This data helps your Sales, Marketing and Service teams better serve the contact so that they can provide them more contextual solution to their problems. This helps improve customer satisfaction ultimately helping increase customer retention. 

More satisfied and happy the customers are, more are the chances of them referring your products and services within their networks, which ultimately increases your business prospects. Remember that a prospect is 20x more likely to buy a product or service from you if it is recommended by one of their friends. Your satisfied customers become your product evangelist and become your free sales army advertising about your products and services with free word of mouth marketing.


3. Automation of key Business Processes:

There are many business processes performed by Sales, Marketing and Services teams. Some of the commonly expected business processes are listed below.

  • Sales: Lead Management, Account Management, Cross Selling, Up selling, Quote Management, Sales Activity Management, Invoicing, Report & Sales Analytics, etc.
  • Marketing: Customer Segmentation, Campaign Management, Activity based workflow Management, Reports and Marketing Analytics, etc.
  • Service: Request Tracking, Ticket Assignment, Knowledge base Management, Chat bot, Performance Reports, etc.

A Good CRM Software is equipped to automate all of the common business processes. This can significantly bring down the time taken to do the same tasks manually. Now, the team can achieve more in lesser amount of time.


4. Productivity Improvement of Sales, Marketing and Service Teams.

With the help of a CRM Software, your team members in Sales, Marketing and Service teams would now spend lesser time on data entry and operational tasks. This would help them focus on more important tasks. 

  • Sales team can spend more time interacting with customers and closing deals rather than spending time scrambling through multiple mail chains and their rolodex. 
  • Marketing team can focus on increasing customer engagement with more personalization instead of working on low ROI marketing techniques which is usually the case in absence of any organized data about contacts. 
  • Service team can now focus on solving more complex customer issues rather than spending time on smaller repetitive queries whose resolution response can be automated.


5. Real Time Reports and Analytics

One of the primary reason why businesses fail is because they fail to take right corrective action at the right time. This usually happens when the leaders do not get timely insights on the whereabouts of their business and the KPIs which decides the fate of their business. 

In conventional organizations, they still tend to rely on periodic (Quarterly, Monthly or Weekly) reports prepared manually by an Analyst in their team. Rarely do they realize that by the time they would uncover certain issue in the numbers, the data would be stale by that time. 

Modern businesses need fast paced solutions to keep tab on their numbers in real time. Modern Cloud based CRM Software helps them achieve that by providing real time reports and analytics so that they can keep track of the status of their business on real time and take strategic action instantly to meet their business objectives.


I hope you liked reading this post. Feel free to share the post if you found it useful. 


Calculate your budget for buying a Sales CRM Software
Have you been lately trying to finalize a CRM software for your team but unable to figure out how much should you be spending for CRM?

As Businesses differ in size and type of deal value they deal in, It is complex for you to figure out the exact numeric estimate of how much of your allocated budget you must spend for taking up a CRM. Market is filled with CRM which charges from 9 USD per month per user to 500 USD per month per user based on the feature complexity of the Software and Value add provided by the service as per the needs of the Sales Team.

But How much should you as a Sales Manager be allocating your budget for CRM Implementation within your organization?

The answer is difficult and complex! 



But Let us try to find a simple solution to it.

Get an Estimate of Cost incurred by Sales Executive doing Non-revenue generating task:

  • Get an estimated figure of the amount you spend paying your Sales Executive's Annual Salary.
  • With that, try to find your hourly cost rate of your executives.
  • Guess the average amount of time each Sales team member spends in a day doing manual entry of his sales figures into an Excel file to be shared to his Manager or to Reporting analyst who will consolidate it further for the whole team. This could be roughly around 30 minutes a day out of 8 working hours of the resource.
  • Guess the average amount of time each Sales team member spends in a day trying to search or recall or figure out some of the past conversation history with some Client documented in some random email or document which is important for his follow up call. This could again be roughly around 30 minutes to 1 hour per day.
  • Sum up both the time.

Get an Estimate of Cost incurred by Reporting Analysts doing Non-revenue generating tasks:

  • Sales Reporting Analysts doing the task of Reporting and Measurement Analyst is redundant and detrimental for their career. Most of the time these resources are over burdened with the dirty work of following up with each sales executive and getting the sales figures, plugging it in spreadsheet application and drawing pivot tables, bar charts, pie charts, line chart etc and prepare a dashboard for the Senior Management. 
  • By the time Analysts complete this task for a particular week, the next week very soon arrives and his task keeps repeating week over week without an end. This is unproductive since Sales Analysts should be spending time trying to get important insights from Sales numbers which can help them beat revenue targets instead of trying to become a data gathering guy of the Sales Team.
  • Now get an estimated figure of the Salary you pay to your Sales Reporting Analyst annually.
  • Note: Do this step only if your team's sales analyst is involved with the above non-revenue generating activities. If your Sales Analyst is involved with other productive work, you may skip this step, or try to find the hours spent by him doing these non-productive tasks and get estimated Salary getting spend on that part.

Get the Total Estimate:

Total Yearly CRM Budget (Annual Salary of Sales Executive * (Total Time Spent per day doing Unproductive work/ 8 hours per day) *  Total Number of Sales Executives in team) (Annual Salary of Reporting Analysts * Total Number of Reporting Analysts in your team)


The above amount would be the yearly estimate of how much should you be spending on your CRM which is going waste in the Salary of resources doing non-revenue generating tasks.

How much should you be spending monthly per sales staff?

CRM Budget per User per Month = Total Yearly CRM Budget / (12 Months * Total Number of Sales Executives) 

This figure would give you a rough estimate of how much should you be ideally spending per team member on a CRM.

Let me know your thoughts on this.