Knowing how to choose the best CRM Software for your business is one of the important things you need to do to run your business efficiently.

As your business grows, you can no longer manage your customer database through spreadsheets, moving from one sheet to another to find lead or customer data.

Such business processes are tiresome and prone to errors. That’s where using a customer relationship management (CRM) solution can come in handy.

It can help you better track and manage data for your customers and leads.

Wondering how to choose the best CRM software for your business?

Well, that’s what this post will help you with. But first, let’s understand the importance of CRM for your business.

Why is CRM Important and What are its Key Functions?

Considering how important customers are to a business, CRM software is now a must for every organization, irrespective of size. The best CRM software will help you record customer information, track user interactions, and follow up with clients.

A HubSpot research found that 62% of high-profile businesses use CRM software to manage their relationships with customers. If you’re still not using CRM software, you are missing out on a tool that will help you improve your productivity and boost customer satisfaction.

But before we get started on how to choose the best CRM software for your business, you first need to understand the capabilities of CRM to make your selection process easier. Below are the key functions of CRM software.

Contact Management

This is the top function of CRM and involves recording user details, such as their name, email address, phone number, social media handles, etc., in a searchable database.

Besides recording customer details, the customer data management feature also captures user interactions in the contact database to help you build a comprehensive customer profile.

With these CRM features, customer-facing teams don’t have to remember individual user details since everything about a client is available in the contact database.

Ask your CRM vendors the following questions as you figure out how to choose the best CRM software for your business to gauge if a tool has the right contact management features for you:

  • What is the maximum number of contacts I can store in the database?
  • Which user details does the software allow me to capture?
  • Are there additional costs for exceeding the limit on contact storage?

HubSpot Pricing - Contact Restrictions

Image via HubSpot

Lead Management

Every sales cycle begins with lead generation. A CRM system can simplify this process for you by helping you capture valuable leads from different channels, such as social media, web forms, emails, and phone calls.

This CRM feature ensures that businesses don’t miss out on crucial leads. It also scores and qualifies the leads to help businesses pursue only the high-quality ones.

Once the leads enter the sales pipeline, the lead management feature tracks their progress through each stage of the sales cycle and recommends appropriate strategies to nurture them.

Ask the vendor the following questions to determine if the tool has the right lead management features for you:

  • What’s the maximum number of leads I can store?
  • Can I visualize and analyze leads from the software?
  • Can I design custom conditions to qualify leads?


Most businesses use emails to communicate with prospects and customers. The email management function of CRM software allows businesses to send bulk emails to their contacts.

They can also track email communications with clients, start drip campaigns, and send automated emails when recipients perform certain actions.

Most CRM applications integrate with existing email marketing tools to help business personalize their communication with clients.

CRM tools capture individual user data that businesses can use to send personalized messages, such as wishing them on birthdays and other special occasions.

You want to ask your vendors the following questions when choosing your CRM software to determine if the application has the right email marketing features for your business:

  • Do you offer customizable email templates?
  • Does the tool integrate with the common email clients?
  • Does the software come with predesigned email campaigns?

Reporting and Analytics

Many of the functions that CRM supports, such as sales, marketing, and customer service, require constant reporting to track progress.

The reports dashboard of your CRM tool allows you to track sales funnel metrics like customer retention and progression along the sales funnel. These help you gauge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

This CRM feature also allows you to share the report with other team members to enable collaborative decision-making.

Here are a few questions that will help you pick the right CRM software with adequate reporting features:

  • Which reporting and analytics features can I access on the free version?
  • Is the reports dashboard interactive?
  • Does the software solution provide drill-down options?

Zoho CRM Reports

Image via Zoho CRM


The marketing-related functions of CRM involve the ability to classify and nurture leads. The best CRM software will help you prepare and launch campaigns to convert leads into customers by recommending the right content to share at different stages.

By automating most of these functions, this feature helps brands cut costs and improve the efficiency of their marketing operations.

Some of the questions you need to ask the vendor to ensure you're getting a CRM system that suits your needs include:

  • Are the marketing features native to the software solution or are they offered through integrations?
  • Which marketing tasks does the tool support?
  • Does it offer integrations with other marketing tools?

Workflow Automation

With workflow automation, users can automate repetitive tasks by creating intelligent workflows using conditional logic statements and rules. Some of the tasks that can be automated include sending emails, following up on leads, and raising invoices.

Users receive notifications when the automated tasks are completed or when they are required to input certain data.

Workflow automation has many benefits like helping organizations save time by avoiding duplicate jobs and ensuring the right actions are performed at the different stages of the sales process.

To determine if a CRM software solution has the right workflow automation features for you, ensure to ask your vendor the following questions as you learn how to choose the best CRM software for your business:

  • Is workflow automation available in the free plan?
  • What conditions can I set when creating workflows?

Sales Forecasting

The best CRM software will help you estimate future sales based on past and present data trends. It allows you to test different sales scenarios to improve the efficiency of your forecasting model.

Insights from this will help you make data-driven decisions to improve your business. For example, data from the forecasting feature can tell you that there is a new channel that’s popular with your target users.

With this information, you can choose to invest more in high-performing channels.

Some of the questions to ask your vendor to ensure you get a CRM solution with excellent sales forecasting capabilities include:

  • How robust are the forecasting models of this software solution?
  • Can I create custom forecasting models?
  • Does the forecasting feature use AI or machine learning?

How to Choose the Best CRM Software for Your Business in 6 Steps

Now that you know why you need CRM software, it’s time for you to learn how to choose the best CRM software for your business.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to choose the best CRM software for your business.

Step 1: Define Your Requirements and Goals

The first thing you need to do as you learn how to choose the best CRM software for your business is to set your goals. Chances are you are looking for CRM to solve specific business challenges.

These could include monitoring your sales or tracking your leads effectively.

To find a CRM system that solves your specific challenges, you need to set your objectives and think about how the CRM will address your pain points.

Review your performance reports and assess the goals you’ve set for the business moving forward. These can include short-term goals like improving sales and expanding your product line.

After defining your goals, identify the CRM features that can help you accomplish them. For example, if one of your goals is to make your sales team more efficient, then a CRM solution with workflow automation capabilities is the best for you.

On the other hand, if your goal is to improve your sales in the near future, then you need a CRM that can perform sales forecasting.

This step will help you define your CRM strategy and lay the foundation for you to choose the best CRM tool for your business.

Step 2: Collect Feedback from Different Team Members and Departments

Since CRM software is used by various teams in an organization, you need to gather input from the teams who’ll be using it.

The department that uses CRM the most is the sales team. However, it’s important to get feedback from other teams to ensure you get a CRM that benefits your business as a whole.

Identify the key functions of a CRM and ask the different departments in your business to indicate if they want them or not. Some of the key features you should pay attention to include:

  • Invoicing tools
  • Email marketing capabilities
  • Marketing automation
  • Mobile apps
  • Business app integration
  • Sales forecasting

For example, your accounting team may need invoicing tools but the sales and marketing teams may not. The marketing people in your organization need email marketing capabilities but the accounting team doesn't.

To ensure each department performs to its level best, you should get a CRM solution with the features and functionalities they need to do their work effectively.

Getting feedback and suggestions from all teams that will use the software solution will ensure your teams work together in harmony to achieve your business goals.

Step 3: List the Essential Features You Need

After reviewing your goals and getting feedback from your teams, you can now create a list of the features you want in a CRM system. You can even come up with two lists, one for the must-have features and another for the nice-to-have features.

As you create your feature list, there are two things you should not compromise on—customer support and data security.

The key function of CRM software is to help you manage your relationships with customers effectively.

As such, the tool should have superior customer support capabilities to make it easy for you to engage your customers, such as email, live chat, and phone support.

The tool should also come with features to keep customer data safe, such as advanced user permissions and two-factor authentication.

Must-Have CRM Features

These are the mission-critical features you need to pay attention to as you figure out how to choose the best CRM software for your business. Without them, it’ll be hard for you to perform critical business functions to achieve your goals.

Some of the CRM features that may make it to your must-have list when assessing CRM software include:

Must-Have Features for CRM Software

  • Contact management: To record and manage customer data
  • Account management: To help you keep track of your interactions with customers
  • Analytics and reporting: For reports on your sales and marketing activities
  • Workflow automation: To automate tasks using event triggers
  • Lead management: To organize and prioritize your leads to ensure you only pursue the right opportunities
  • Email marketing: For individual and group messaging and email campaigns
  • Sales forecasting: To get sales predictions based on past data trends
  • Customization: To create custom fields to achieve specific sales or marketing goals
  • Integrations: To connect the CRM with third-party software to extend the capabilities of the tool

Take into account suggestions from your teams during the research phase when creating your must-have feature list. While it can be difficult to accommodate all requests, creating a list will help you ensure all the teams are considered adequately.

Nice-to-have CRM Features

This list includes useful features you’d want in a CRM solution, but they won’t stop you from reaching your goals if they are missing. For example, it would be nice to have a CRM with a large storage capacity but the lack of it will not stand in the way of your goals.

Bear in mind that most CRM software solutions have tiered pricing, so the nice-to-have features that are not available in your current plan may be found in a higher-tier plan.

One of the nice-to-have features in the Sendinblue CRM software, for example, is phone support. The Starter plan doesn’t have this feature but users can enjoy this feature when they upgrade to the Business plan, as you can see in the image below.

Sendinblue pricing

Image via Sendinblue

Step 4: Decide the Type of CRM That’s Ideal for Your Business

We have talked about defining your business goals and the role it plays when choosing a CRM from the available CRM solutions like HubSpot. Based on your goals, choose the type of CRM that’s ideal for your business.

Businesses have three options when choosing their CRM:

3 Key Types of CRM Software copy

  • Operational CRM: Operational CRM will help you automate your sales processes to help your customer and sales team save time and effort.
  • Analytical CRM: Analytical CRM focuses on collecting and analyzing data to help you make informed business decisions.
  • Collaborative CRM: Collaborative CRM brings your teams together to make your collaborative efforts more efficient.

Besides choosing among these types of CRM, you should also determine if you need an industry-specific CRM. If you do, then many tools will be out of contention since they may not provide the features and functionalities you need.

Industry-specific CRM software solutions provide niche tools to help businesses in a particular sector meet their objectives.

For example, Buildout is a CRM software solution for the Real Estate industry as you can see in the image below. Professionals in this field are better off getting this CRM as it has features that are relevant to the real estate industry.


Image via Buildout

Similarly, HubSpot is a great CRM solution for marketing agencies as it offers a whole suite of CRM and marketing tools. Check out some HubSpot alternatives if you’re looking for a CRM tool with marketing capabilities.

Step 5: Research CRM Software Solutions That Match Your Needs and Budget

Armed with your business goals and list of desired features, the next step in this guide on how to choose the best CRM software is to make a list of ones that your needs.

The following three-pronged approach will help you narrow down your options and identify the best CRM tools to try:

  • Ask for referrals: Reach out to your colleagues in the industry and ask them about the CRM software they’re using. Ask them to give the pros and cons of the tool and if they would recommend it to you or not.
  • Read industry magazines and publications: Trade publications are a great source of information to find the best CRM software for your business. They’ll give you an idea of the CRM tools that are popular in your industry.
  • Check user reviews: One way to check if a CRM is good for you is to go through reviews from its current users.

This exercise will help you identify a few CRM solutions that are worth considering. The next step after this is to sign up for their free trials so you can experience their features firsthand.

Most CRM vendors offer free trials to prospects so they can try the software to determine if it’s right for them.

Ask other team members to sign up as well so you can get well-rounded feedback about a software solution from different users. Some of the things you should look for during the trial period include:

  • Do the CRM features work as advertised?
  • Is the tool easy to use?
  • Is the mobile app fully functional?
  • Is there any lag?
  • How interactive is the user interface?

Another consideration you need to make as you choose the best CRM software for your business is the cost of the tool.

Find out if the CRM has a one-time flat fee or a tiered subscription model. You should also find out if they charge based on the number of contacts so you can know your usage limits.

Ontraport, one of the best HubSpot alternatives, charges for its CRM based on the number of contacts one wants to manage. Users specify the number of contacts and are informed how much they need to pay to manage that number of users.


Image via Ontraport

Step 6: Choose the Right Software Solution and Start Implementation

The last step after exhausting the free trials is to select the best software from your options and start implementation. Bring everyone on board so you can configure the CRM settings and integrate the CRM software solution with your other business apps.

Once everything is set, you can now start using the CRM to achieve the goals you have set for the business.

Pro Tip: Choose a CRM solution that has prebuilt integrations with most tools in your tech stack to make the implementation process easier for your business.


Q1. How do I choose a good CRM system?

A. To choose a good CRM system you have to first understand your needs and business goals. A clear understanding of your goals will help you choose the best CRM software solution to achieve those goals.

Q2. What factors should I consider to choose the best CRM software?

A. The factors you need to consider as you figure out how to choose the best CRM software include:

  • Understand your requirements and goals
  • Collect feedback and suggestions from team members
  • List the essential features you need
  • Decide the type of CRM that’s ideal for your business
  • Research CRM providers that match your needs and budget
  • Choose the right software and start implementation

Q3. What are the 3 key types of CRM systems?

A. The three types of CRM software are:

  • Operational CRM – Automates sales processes to help customer and sales teams save time and effort
  • Analytical CRM – Focuses on collecting and analyzing data to help brands make informed decisions
  • Collaborative CRM – Brings teams together to help brands make their collaborative efforts more efficient

Q4. Which is the most critical aspect while selecting a CRM software solution?

A. The most critical thing when selecting a CRM software solution is to understand your goals and needs. This helps you identify what features you need and select a solution that will help you achieve your goals. That’s why it is the first step in this guide on how to choose the best CRM software.

Q5. How do I know if a CRM software solution is good for me?

A. You can know a CRM software solution is good by asking for feedback from other professionals in the industry who have used it in their businesses. You can also read customer reviews to see what people have to say about their experience with the tool.

Nurture Your Customer Relationships Using the Best CRM Solution

CRM has many benefits for your business but you first need to know how to choose the right one for your business. There are so many options to choose from and factors to consider.

Hopefully, this guide on how to choose the best CRM software for your business has made things clearer for you. Follow the step-by-step process mentioned above to choose a tool that matches your business needs and goals.

Have any further questions on how to choose the best CRM software? Feel free to leave them in the comments and we’ll get back to you.