No matter the complexity of your business operations, it takes a lot to convert new prospects, deliver your products or services, and keep customers happy. A CRM will help you automate and streamline the tasks that are required to grow your business. But not all CRMs are created equal. A CRM that’s up to the job will have the following features.

Basic CRM Features

All CRMs share basic features that define the software as a CRM. These include contact management, a calendar with reminder notifications, task management, and reporting. These features allow anyone in the company (who has access) to see what activity has taken place with a particular prospect or customer. They also make sure no tasks fall of the radar and get neglected. Reporting gives management the data they need to make smart decisions.

Best CRM Features

But CRMs can do so much more. If you’re looking to get the most from a CRM in order to facilitate business growth, you’ll need additional features, like automation tools and more robust reporting. We consider the following to be among the best CRM features:

1. Email Integration

The majority of business communication today happens through email. Being able to see the emails sent from your team members to your contacts will improve your visibility into sales and customer service activity. It will also make your team more productive since they’ll be able to send emails directly from your CRM and won’t have to pull up their email software separately, switching from window to window. Email integration will also prevent your team from having to copy and paste text from emails into the CRM or type summary information about what was said. So be sure to look for a CRM that will integrate with your email system.

2. Interaction Tracking

Not all communication happens via email, however. Your CRM will need to be able to track other types of interactions, including phone calls and in-person interactions. If your sales cycle is fairly short and your customer service process is simple, you can get away with basic interaction tracking — the CRM provides your team members with the ability to enter the date and type of interaction, along with notes summarizing the interaction. However, if you have an especially long sales cycle, if multiple team members are interacting with the contact, or if you have a complex customer service process, you’ll probably want additional automation, such as the ability to automatically record phone calls. Consider what level of integration tracking would make a significant impact on your team’s productivity.

3. Mobile Device Access

If your team conducts business on the go, outside the office, they’ll need to be able to use the CRM on their smartphones and tablets. The ability to access the CRM from mobile devices will keep your team from lugging their laptops everywhere they go. While they may typically take a laptop to prospect calls or client meetings, it’s unlikely that they’ll always have a laptop with them. Giving your team the option of accessing the CRM via mobile devices will allow them to work at any time. They can maximize time spent waiting in lunch lines, record bright ideas or interactions they forgot to record earlier when they’re at home in the evening, and access important information in the few minutes they have available before going into a meeting.

4. Document Storage

Staying organized and being able to access documents and information quickly is one of the biggest contributors to productivity. If your team knows exactly where documents are stored and can easily access them directly from your CRM, you’ll save hours of wasted time in the long run. Good CRMs will allow you to search documents based on various criteria so you can find what you’re looking for quickly. Having document storage will also make your team look more professional and competent when they need to find a document while on a call.

Every CRM that offers document storage will have a slightly different capabilities. Some offer the ability to create folders for groups of files, some will allow you to view relevant documents within a contact record, and some integrate with document storage softwares like Dropbox or Google Drive. Consider your company processes to decide what functionality you need in a document storage system.

5. Quote and Proposal Management

In addition to the ability to store and access documents, you may also want the ability to manage them. Some CRMs allow you to create quotes and proposals directly from the CRM, which can then be modified if needed, attached to contracts, and signed by all parties. These documents can be emailed through the CRM to clients for their records.

6. Pipeline View

A visual view of the sales pipeline will help management create more accurate financial forecasts and make smarter decisions. A pipeline view provides a breakdown of each stage in the sales process and shows you how many contacts are in each stage. Pipeline views also typically give you the ability to drill down for closer views of individual contacts. With this feature, management can see where weak points are so that improvements can be made.

7. Robust Reporting

You may benefit from additional reporting functionality to give you a broader and/or deeper view of important data — information on your team’s activity as well as information on your contacts. Some CRMs allow you to create reports to see which salespeople are performing best and worst, demographics of your contacts, deal types, associated revenue and profit for deals, etc.

8. Integration with Marketing Automation Tools

Integrating your CRM with your marketing automation tools will allow you to track a contact from the time they entered your marketing system to the time they convert to a customer (and beyond). This data will provide you with valuable insights on which marketing tactics and campaigns are generating the most customers and the most valuable deals. Integrating with your marketing tools will also allow you to be more accurate in your lead scoring and provide your sales team with essential information about the actions each lead took up to the point of contact so they can tailor their messaging.

Consider a FileMaker-Based CRM Solution

FileMaker gives small and midsize businesses the ability to create a custom business solution with the exact functionality they need. And since FileMaker is a low-code/no-code Workplace Innovation Platform, development is much faster and more affordable than traditional software development. You can also purchase existing CRMs that are built on the FileMaker platform, like Jarvis CRM. These CRMs can either be used as they are, out-of-the-box, or you can easily customize them to meet your needs.

Learn how The Scarpetta Group has helped businesses become more productive and more profitable through FileMaker-based solutions.