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How to choosethe best CRMsolutionfor your businessLearn how to select the right solution that will help youpunch above your weight when it comes to findingnew leads, following up on prospects andproviding a better service.

How to choose the best CRMsolution for your businessWhile CRM solutions come in manyshapes and sizes, they all haveessentially the same aim – to help youcollect, organise and understand keyinformation about existing and wouldbe customers so you can do more andbetter business with them.Much more than just a means of storing contact details,a Customer Relationship Management system is apowerful tool that enables even the smallest businessto ‘punch above its weight’ when it comes to findingnew leads, following up prospects and providing abetter service.However, these significant commercial benefits are lostif you fail to select the most appropriate CRM softwarefor your business in the first place.So how do you choose a CRMsystem that’s right for you?

Levels of functionalityIt’s important to prioritise your requirements right at thestart, to help you decide if the CRM software on offeractually has the functionality you are looking for, nowand into the future.interests, personal preferences or other relevant criteria,you won’t be able to segment customers for marketingpurposes or get the detailed insight you need to targetthem effectively.Failure to set out your needs and priorities can mean youend up with an under-performing system, bloated withunnecessary features which, rather than helping you,actually have a negative effect on day-to-day usability.Because it can be difficult to figure out exactly whichCRM solution your business actually needs, we go outof our way to work with our customers to define theirrequirements, so we can help select the best Act!product for them.So, for example, if a particular CRM tool doesn’t allowyou to ‘slice and dice’ your database by demographics,Challenges with current CRM systems** Source: Software Advice, CRM Software UserView 2014

Expandability createsflexibilityWhile it’s important to have a CRM tool that works foryou right now, you also need one that has the ability togrow with you, or every few years you will have to gothrough the whole selection process again.That makes third-party integration another keyelement of any CRM software, as ready availability ofadd-ons, extensions, plugins, themes and templatescan increase functionality and capacity. Without thatthird-party integration you won’t able to connect withother applications, which means you won’t be ableto streamline workflows, for instance, by removingrepetitive tasks. However, if you can link your CRMsystem with other apps, you won’t have to manuallyexport or import data to and from your accountingpackage, for example.That’s why we developed Act! Connect — an APIthat makes it easier to integrate Act! with hundredsof popular business tools, so you can work smarterand faster.Act! ConnectAct! Connect puts integration with hundreds ofpopular business apps at your fingertips! Quicklyand easily set up connections between Act! andOutlook , Slack, PayPal , Wufoo , QuickBooksOnline, and more! Enrich your Act! data andtrigger actions that save time and accelerateyour sales and marketing efforts.

80% of businesses using aCRM system find that enduser adoption is a challenge.*Usability is keyWhether it’s bespoke or off-the-shelf, you need aCRM system that’s easy for your staff to use. By theirvery nature, overly complex systems take longer tolearn and are harder to work with, so any CRM solutionyou choose must have a clean and simple interfacethat’s intuitive to use. That’s why Act! is specificallydesigned to allow new users to get up to speed in justa few hours.Because it is so easy to learn and use, Act! hasbecome the first choice Customer RelationshipManagement tool for smaller businesses that don’thave the time or resources to spend on long-windedsoftware training. That greater usability also means thatmore people can learn how to use the system, creatinga more responsive workforce who can answer andrespond to customer queries, even when an accountmanager or salesperson isn’t around.You can read how one mortgage broker, who’s a soletrader, chose Act! to manage and grow his business.Click here to read the case study.Steep, long learning curves are something to watch outfor, particularly with bespoke systems, which generallytend to be more complex. So, if you do go down thisroute, ensure that the vendor is strong both on the initialtraining they offer and their follow-up support.* Source: Software Advice, CRM Software UserView 2014Support when you need itOf course, no matter how good the system is, a littlehelp will always be needed at some point, which is whyyou should think of the CRM product and its supplier asa package.That’s the reason we provide a range of supportoptions. For example, with our digital self-help service,you can watch a range of training videos, take Act!feature tours and tap into our online Knowledgebase.Or, if you need more specific help, you can phone orlive chat with our Technical Advisors as part of yourAct! subscription. And if you need morehands-on advice, there are Act! Certified Consultantswho can take you through everything from initial set-up,customisation and integration of your system to ongoing training.

Do you really need acustomised solution?If you have a unique business model, then a more costlypurpose-built solution, shaped to your business, may bethe way to go.With a customised solution, its vendors should be willingto work with you to analyse and assess what specificfunctions you need and build them into your system.However, don’t forget that off-the-peg software, whichyou can tailor to your needs to some extent, couldprovide pretty much all the functionality you need morecost-effectively than a custom-built CRM system.So, while a bespoke CRM system can be shaped mostclosely to your business needs, if a generic producthas lots of customisable fields, it’s possible to createyour own highly-tailored solution that gives you theinformation you need, when you want it.Act!, for example, has over 60 fields that can be shapedto your specification. From emails, addresses, phonenumbers and social media accounts, through to relevantdocuments, purchase history, preferences, and thelatest interactions, you have total control of the system,which enables you to zero in on relevant data.CRM customisation is a majoror moderate challenge for56% of businesses.*Devices used to access CRM systems*(Percent of sample)* Source: Software Advice, CRM Software UserView 2014How important isaccessibilityIf you need remote workers to have access to yourCustomer Relationship Management data, you need acloud-based solution that enables them to connect fromwherever they are, which they won’t be able to do withon-premise solutions.Act! Premium Cloud uses secure cloud hosting, whichmeans there’s no software to install and you don’tneed to worry about managing any IT, as all technicalelements and updates are dealt with by us.For many smaller businesses, a cloud-based CRMsolution will be the first choice, given the minimal capitaloutlay and upfront costs, as well as the greater flexibilityto expand going forward.Similarly, if you want access via your smartphone ortablet, you need a solution that has its own mobile app,or which can easily be viewed using your mobile webbrowser.It should go without saying that since your CRM softwareis at the very heart of your business, whether you areusing a cloud or on-premise solution, it should possessrobust security, so you can be confident your data isprotected from loss or attack.

How much does aCRM solution cost?Typically, vendors of CRM products work tosubscription-based pricing, though some may chargea flat monthly fee for a set number of users, thenrequire you to pay extra for additional services andusers, which can come as a surprise. There may alsobe other hidden or set-up costs to look out for. So,before committing, do a reality check on both upfrontand on-going costs, as well as potential contractlock-ins that could see you having to stick with aproduct for longer than is ideal.To make sure we meet the needs of smallerbusinesses, we have created a range of Act!products to suit every size of business budget, eachwith transparent pricing so that you know exactly whatyou are getting and how much it will cost.Take Act! for a spinOf course, if you’re not sure whether a particular CRMis right for you, many vendors offer trials or even free,cut-down versions of their product, which will give youa sense of what might suit. So if you haven’t done soalready, it’s easy for instance to try Act! at no cost.Put all of this together and you should be able to find theperfect CRM solution - as one of our customers puts it,“Act! is simple and makes life much easier!”.8 key things to watch out forwhen choosing a CRM solutionEase of use for staff membersTraining and ongoing supportThird party integrationCustomisable fields that can suit your businessCloud based solution accessible from anywhere,on any deviceRobust security and data protection for peaceof mindTransparent pricing, terms and conditionsSign up for free trials and free cut down versionof vendors productStart yourfree trialtoday!“Act! offers a total servicepackage that has helped usgrow, so I can wholeheartedlyrecommend it to others.”Micha Martin LauterjungCEO of Münchner Versorgungsmanagement AG

About Act!Act! is the #1 best–selling Customer & Contact Manager. Affordable and easy to use,Act! is the trusted solution to help individuals, small businesses, and sales teamsorganise prospect and customer details in one place, send emails, market productsand services more effectively, and drive sales results – in the office and on the road.To learn more about Act! visitwww.act.com/ukOr call us on0845 268 0220Connect with Act! 2016 Swiftpage ACT! LLC, All rights reserved. Swiftpage, Act!, and all the Swiftpage product and servicenames mentioned herein are registered trademarks or trademarks of Swiftpage ACT! LLC, or its affiliatedentities. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.Q15 Quorum Business Park Benton Lane Newcastle upon Tyne NE12 8BU 0845 268 0220 act.com/uk