January 23, 2023
11 Best Sales Automation Software Tools for 2023
Sales automation software lets users complete sales activities, such as entering data, assigning tasks, and sending emails, through automation rather than manual completion. Automation allows sales reps and managers to maximize efficiency by putting repetitive, tedious tasks on autopilot and prioritizing building customer relationships. While many specialty marketing and workflow automation products exist, most automation solutions can be deployed using customer relationship management (CRM) software. We evaluated dozens of sales process automation tools and CRMs with robust automation capabilities. Based on our evaluation, here are the 11 best products for automating sales tasks: Best for end-to-end sales process automation: Best artificial intelligence (AI) features: Best for automating sales call tasks: Best for deal management automation: Best for automating business-to-business outreach: Best for automated lead qualification: Best for email automation: Best for omnichannel automation: Best workflow integration system: Best for advanced lead insights: Best low-priced prospecting automation: Best Sales Automation Platforms Compared *Based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for slightly higher rates. CRM Sales Automation Platforms CRMs often come with automation features that let teams centralize and automate sales workflows in one platform. They come with sales process automation, where users can update data, assign tasks, and send communications based on triggers such as updates to deals or when a new lead gets generated. There’s also sales activity automation, where users complete repetitive tasks without manual requirements. This is common for obtaining sales analytics, creating revenue forecasts, identifying qualified sales opportunities, and inserting data into a proposal in real time. 1. HubSpot Sales Hub: Best End-to-End Sales Automation Software offers a popular CRM system that runs simple automated workflows, such as notifying a user or creating a new task when a deal stage changes. It also handles complex processes, like auto-assigning new leads to a sales rep based on customer attributes such as deal size or industry. HubSpot lets teams put the entire sales process on auto-pilot as it allows for data capture from web forms to auto-generate leads in the CRM. It also has lead scoring to qualify the best opportunities and nurturing through automated sales follow-ups via email or LinkedIn. HubSpot Sales Hub Monthly Pricing at a Glance* Free: Unlimited users Starter: $45 for two users Professional: $450 (up to five users) Enterprise: $1,200 (up to 10 users) Free trial: 14 days *Pricing based on annual billing, monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. Like what you see? Learn more about HubSpot’s features and other product modules in our HubSpot review. 2. Pipedrive: Best Automated Insights Features is a sales-focused platform that lets reps set up CRM automations to assign or generate sales tasks, send emails to prospects, and update data records. Users can do one-click data enrichment from the Smart Contact tool, which automatically compiles recent contact data and insights found online or on LinkedIn profiles. There’s also the sophisticated Sales Assistant tool. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze CRM data, where it can provide automated suggestions for how to improve performance and which deals to prioritize. Pipedrive Monthly Pricing (per User) at a Glance* Essential: $14.90 Advanced: $24.90 Professional: $49.90 Enterprise: $99 Free trial: 14 days *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. Learn how Pipedrive can help your small business grow by checking out our Pipedrive review. You’ll get insights on pricing, usability, and best-for circumstances based on its features and integrations. 3. Agile CRM: Best for Call Automation Features lets businesses automate lead scoring, marketing campaign deployment, data management, and customer support communications through chatbot tools. Despite these excellent capabilities, the most notable workflow automation enabled by Agile CRM is for telephone calls. Sales reps who do a lot of cold outreach and nurturing through the phone can use Agile CRM to automatically mass drop voicemails to CRM leads, Users can also log call notes, create tasks, schedule meetings, and send follow-up emails after a prospect call. Agile CRM Monthly Pricing (per User) at a Glance* Free: Up to 10 users Starter: $8.99 Regular: $29.99 Enterprise: $47.99 *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. Agile CRM gives small businesses an all-in-one tool for overseeing sales, marketing, and customer service operations. Find out if it's right for your small business by checking out our full Agile CRM review. 4. Freshsales: Best Deal Management Automation is equipped with tons of sales automation, including customer profile enrichment, lead scoring, sales email sequences, and invoice updating capabilities. Each module even lets teams auto-assign new opportunities, such as contacts, accounts, and deals based on location or product line. The main focus for Freshsales automation, however, is overseeing deals in the sales pipeline. Users can receive automatic insights on how to move a deal forward, and whether it is trending, rotten, or solid enough to commit to the next sales forecast. Freshsales Monthly Pricing (per User) at a Glance* Free Plan: Unlimited users Growth: $15 Pro: $39 Enterprise: $69 Free trial: 21 days Add-ons Configure, Price, Quote: $19 for quote document templates, invoicing, and document activity tracking Additional bot sessions: $75 for 1,000 bot sessions per month for automated customer or lead support *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. Explore the features of this CRM tool to determine if it’s the right solution for your business in our comprehensive Freshsales review. 5. Overloop: Best for Automating Business-to-Business Sales Campaigns is both a CRM and sales automation platform. Built for business-to-business (B2B) sales, Overloop offers sales management features and connects with LinkedIn. The LinkedIn integration lets users create CRM records from profiles, deploy mass message and connection request campaigns, and use Sales Navigator from the CRM. In addition to LinkedIn automation, revenue teams can manage automated email campaigns. The contact lists are formed using email finder credits the provider accepts for email address data. Overloop Pricing at a Glance** No Brainer (Base Price)*: $82 per user, per month Free trial: 14 days Email Finder Credits $39 per month for 250 credits $59 per month for 500 credits $99 per month for 1,000 credits $299 per month for 5,000 credits $499 per month for 10,000 credits *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. **Base plan automatically includes 250 email credits per user on a monthly basis. 6. Keap: Best for Automating Lead Qualification is an elaborate CRM excellent for B2B teams. It has features for contact management, appointment scheduling, quoting, invoicing, and the ability to track contacts related to company records. For automation, users can capture leads through web forms, assign them to reps, send recurring invoices, and deliver email and text campaigns automatically. Lastly, while other CRMs can automate lead qualification with lead scoring, Keap extends the capability with email and task automation based on those lead scores. Keap Monthly Pricing at a Glance* Pro: $129 Max: $199 Max Classic: Contact for pricing Free trial: 14 days *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. Keap is an excellent CRM option for businesses seeking robust sales automation and email marketing capabilities. Find out other great use cases for this platform in our Keap CRM review to see if it's right for your business. Marketing Automation Platforms Marketing automation platforms focus on the communication aspect of generating business. These systems allow users to design marketing campaigns through email, text, online ads, or social media channels, then distribute them to a contact list or preset audience. The automation component becomes useful for drip and redeployment. Users don’t need to keep sending or posting content because the automation platform will do it for them based on conditions, such as time intervals or audience behaviors like clicking a link or making a purchase. 7. Mailchimp: Best Email Marketing Automation Features is one of the best email marketing software tools to put brand development and lead generation on autopilot. Users can access prebuilt emails and automated journey templates to design mass emails and automate lead nurturing. Teams can also create landing pages and web forms as destination points, and automate contact segmentation based on built-in, predictive analytics tools. Finally, the platform offers A/B testing to optimize campaigns and a creative assistant to import brand pallets into your campaigns. Mailchimp Monthly Pricing at a Glance* Free: One user Essentials: Starts at $13 (up to three users) Standard: Starts at $20 (up to five users) Premium: Starts at $350 (unlimited users) *Pricing based on monthly billing and 500 contact records. Additional contact records will be more expensive. Did you know Mailchimp integrates with many popular CRM systems like Pipedrive, HubSpot, and Zoho CRM? See where else you can connect your Mailchimp system when you read our guide on the best Mailchimp CRM solutions. 8. ActiveCampaign: Best for Automating Multiple Communication Channels offers a marketing platform, a CRM, and the option to bundle both into one. This software is a powerful solution for engaging customers and leads on numerous channels. Users can manage email, short message service (SMS), and Facebook ad campaigns from the system. Additionally, ecommerce businesses can integrate to oversee marketing outreach on WooCommerce, Shopify, Square, and BigCommerce. In addition to the omnichannel channel capabilities, ActiveCampaign has drip options to automate customer journeys. ActiveCampaign Monthly Pricing (per User) at a Glance** Lite: $9 (up to one user)* Plus: $49 (up to three users)* Professional: $149 (up to five users)* Enterprise: Contact for pricing (up to 10 users) Free trial: 14 days *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. **Pricing is strictly for the ActiveCampaign email and marketing automation product. The CRM and sales product can be purchased separately or bundled for an added cost. Workflow Automation Integration Tools Workflow automation integrators refer to a system that connects two or more applications and runs automations between them. For example, you can add a contact record in Zoho CRM and notify a sales rep through if a new lead submitted their information on a Facebook ads form. With three apps in this ecosystem, you could easily use an integration to create this workflow. Because of the platform’s unique capabilities, only made the list for this type of sales process automation software. 9. Zapier: Best for Creating Workflows Between Apps is the ultimate do-it-yourself automation creator. It lets small businesses connect their favorite applications, including , , and , so they can deploy automations between apps. This allows users to get other functionality out of their software, such as notifications or data syncs through connectivity. Zapier uses the trigger-action system to create “Zaps” workflows. So if something happens in one app, like a deal stage changes in HubSpot, then an action occurs in another app, such as DocuSign sending a proposal to a lead. Zapier Monthly Pricing at a Glance* Free: Up to one user Starter: $19.99 (up to one user) Professional: $49 (up to one user) Team: $399 (unlimited users) Company: $799 (unlimited users) Free trial: 14 days *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. Data Intelligence Tools Data intelligence software and services take the manual labor out of online research. Instead of spending hours on prospecting, sales teams can use intelligence platforms to purchase lead data or contact lists for cold outreach campaigns. Investing in these services lets you automate the prospecting stage, early parts of the lead generation process, and even intelligence activities like data enrichment. 10. DemandScience: Best for Advanced Prospect Insights is a prospecting service that offers lead intelligence and outreach solutions. Users can create their own B2B lead list using desired criteria like industry, revenue, title, and the technology the business uses. There are sophisticated features for identifying buyer intent where you can see which leads are most interested based on signals like email engagement, keyword searches, and ad clicks. Finally, DemandScience offers outreach services where sales reps will place calls on your behalf to generate leads. 11. Lusha: Best Cost-friendly Lead Database is a B2B database businesses can use to automate prospect research and lead list generation. The free plan is a great starting place for sales teams to construct their contact list and begin outreach campaigns. They can also keep the data automatically up to date with the free LinkedIn enrichment features. Users can upgrade as they need more contacts and users to a paid plan, which starts at $29 per user every month for 480 annual credits for up to five users. Lusha Monthly Pricing (per User) at a Glance Free: Up to one user for five credits per month Pro: $29 (one to five users for up to 480 credits per user, per year) Premium: $51 (one to five users for up to 960 credits per user, per year) Scale: Custom plan, must contact for pricing *Pricing based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for a higher cost. How We Evaluated the Top Sales Automation Software To evaluate the best sales automation tools, we limited our product list strictly to software products that can complete workflow automations for the sales process, during marketing campaigns, or while managing projects. Once established, we narrowed it down to the top automation tools using these attributes: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What is sales automation software? Sales automation software is a function, often found in CRMs or specialty tools, used to complete repetitive workflows for a user, such as sending communications or updating a data record. It often uses a trigger, condition, and system, where if an event takes place that meets certain criteria, then the action happens. For instance, users could create a workflow that IF a deal stage changes to “closed-won,” THEN that lead record is updated to “client” status and assigned to an account manager who receives an email notification. What is the best sales automation software? There is no “best overall” sales automation software. Instead, there is sales automation software that’s “best” for the user, because products have their own use cases. CRMs, for example, combine data storage, lead management, communication tools, and workflow automation for an all-in-one automation platform. However, if you need something specific, like email automation, look to a specialized product like . Additionally, product attributes like price and usability will also dictate which sales automation tool is best for you. What are the benefits of adopting a sales automation software tool? Employing sales automation helps businesses scale their operation. Because workflows, specifically repetitive ones like data entry or lead nurturing, are put on autopilot, it's like having another employee at your disposal. This lets you do more in less time so you can focus on the interpersonal parts of sales and close more deals. Automation, in general, also reduces human error since a computer is completing the work for you. Bottom Line Sales automation software helps businesses maximize efficiency during the sales process by putting tedious data, communications, and task management activity on autopilot. As a result, they can focus on building customer relationships and closing more deals. While often found in CRM systems, sales automation can also have narrower use cases. Users, for instance, can access automation in specialty tools like email marketing platforms, app connectors, and database services.
January 20, 2023
CRM Team Training in 7 Steps for Small Business
Maximizing the use of customer relationship management (CRM) software is only possible when team members know how to use its various functionalities. It is crucial they understand how the use of the tool fits into their day-to-day business processes. In this guide, we share seven steps for CRM training involving planning, utilizing various resources, and holding refresher courses to ensure your team is up to date with using the system. We explore each essential step in detail to guide you through the process. You can create an effective CRM software training and implementation plan offline by downloading and completing our free training checklist. 1. Determine Which Members Need CRM Team Training Before planning your training program, determine who will be involved. By identifying the right people, you will also identify how to conduct the training, when, and what the scope will entail. The “who” should account for the personnel managing the CRM software training and the trainees. When referring to CRM (trainees) users, most people initially think about the sales teams. However, depending on which CRM system you will use, other departments, like the marketing, customer service, and accounting teams, should also be part of the onboarding process. Below are a few examples of other departments outside of sales that should be involved in the training process if you plan on using features other than sales tools. You can also learn more about why these other departments need to be included in a training plan in our CRM software ultimate guide. Assign your core CRM team to select who will take the lead in the training and designate a CRM project manager—the person who knows the CRM tool in and out. The project manager can then work with the heads of each department to help them roll out the CRM training, so the needs of each team are properly addressed. We discuss how to build your core CRM team in our guide to CRM implementation. 2. Identify the CRM Training Resources You’ll Use Once you’ve determined who is in charge of rolling out your CRM sales training, it’s time to identify the resources you’ll utilize. Choosing resources for the CRM team training heavily depends on your organization’s budget, goals, and the tools offered by each CRM. Below are some questions to consider when selecting a training route: Do your employees prefer individualized training or a group setting? Do employees want a more hands-on approach or a straightforward lecture approach? Should we focus more on job-specific or general-use training? Should we do more training through an online course or in a live setting? After answering these questions, determine the potential training resources. Below are the most common choices: 3. Create a Strategic CRM Training Plan Creating a thoughtful plan is part of a comprehensive CRM strategy. It should outline segmented timelines, assignments of trainees, and the overall objectives for each training area. 4. Determine CRM Procedures & Standards To keep a uniform set of rules and best practices, set standards for using the CRM and ensure they are followed. This is primarily about how lead and customer data should be entered, which permissions should be set, and how the system should be maintained. Examples include requiring periodic system checks to avoid double-entry and mandating all new leads to have lead source information every time a new entry is made. You must only enable select team members, such as managers, to access certain data in the system. Proper CRM procedures and standards ensure a smooth process so your CRM reporting analytics are as accurate as possible. 5. Schedule & Conduct Training Sessions Once you’ve determined which training resources will be utilized and which data entry standards should be enforced, it's time to schedule and run the training sessions. These sessions should include a chance for trainees to gain firsthand experience with the platform and feature processes that are part of their day-to-day jobs. Consider setting up a fictional customer in your software so individuals can practice adding contact records or tracking deals. For live sessions run by the CRM vendor, outside consultant, or employee, find times in advance that work for all stakeholders. Business calendar applications, such as or , are convenient for scheduling and organizing sessions. One or two hours a day is optimal for training as attendees should be able to remain attentive and still manage most of their daily workload. 6. Evaluate Training Results Once the training is completed, evaluate training results to ensure your team is on track with immersing themselves in using the system by requesting feedback. Evaluating the effectiveness of the training in the early stages of using the CRM helps you identify modules your team finds easy to understand, as well as areas they need more help with. It also enables you to increase CRM adoption within the company. Below are some areas you can request feedback on: Apart from the areas above, getting general feedback about how the training was rolled out is essential. Ask your team what areas they found most useful or interesting in the session, which areas need improvement, and which items they can do without. Doing so will help you identify areas to include the next time you hold refresher training sessions. You can get feedback via one-to-one meetings, surveys, or group discussions. 7. Repeat the Training Process for Updates & Knowledge Retention Continual training is a step often neglected in the CRM training process. CRM software involves constant updates, and many organizations don't take the time to learn about new available functions. Some also forget to review the items discussed in the initial training that may have been missed. Below are some instances that require refresher CRM training: CRM Training Best Practices Introducing a new system for your team typically requires a significant adjustment period—especially if it’s something they haven’t used before. Hence, it is essential to ensure they understand the value that it adds to their day-to-day work and make them feel involved in the process. Below we share some best practices to observe while training your team on how to use your CRM: Itemize the tool’s benefits. Everyone on your team needs to understand how using the CRM to the best of its ability benefits the company and, ultimately, the employees. Make sure the company's decision-makers take the lead in the training process. If employees see that management is committed to the plan, they will also get on board. Ensure the training plan is enforced on all employees. By setting requirements and not giving an employee a pass, they know the training and transition to the new CRM is mandatory, not voluntary. Respect the trainees' time and effort. Keep the sessions relevant to the objectives and try to find a way to reward employees who are actively involved in each session to promote a positive learning environment. Bottom Line CRM software is exceptionally valuable when used to its full potential because it helps save time and generate revenue—so providing proper training for your team is paramount. Requiring your team to learn how to use CRM tools entails planning, executing, and evaluating results. In addition, a proper CRM training program enables your company to achieve specific business goals by allowing you to measure results in real time.
January 19, 2023
Daylite CRM Review 2023: Is It Right for Your Small Business?
Daylite CRM is one of our top recommendations for freelancers and businesses looking for a customer relationship management (CRM) system for Apple devices. We evaluated this provider, and it scored high in pricing, general features, and help and support. However, it got lower scores in ease of use, specialized features, and our expert score because of its steep learning curve and lack of native email marketing features. Daylite CRM at a Glance , by Marketplace, is an all-in-one CRM system made for professional services and agencies that use Mac devices, iPhones, and iPads. This platform allows teams to monitor and manage communications, client details, follow-ups, deals, projects, and tasks in a single platform. It is best for individual users, small businesses, and midsize teams that need an all-inclusive CRM solution for Apple devices. Daylite CRM Review of Deciding Factors Daylite Alternatives While is an all-inclusive CRM, it may not fit your business needs. You may want a feature-rich CRM for large sales teams or a lower-cost option that includes specific tools and reporting capabilities. Below are some of the best alternatives to Daylite based on use case: *Based on annual billing; monthly pricing is also available at slightly higher rates. Daylite earned a score of 3.75 out of 5 for pricing. It offers a free plan for a single user and a paid plan that costs $35 per user, monthly, when billed annually ($42 per user, monthly, when billed monthly). The main difference between the plans is the limit on the number of items in your database. This includes the number of users, file storage, contacts, projects, opportunities, and tasks. You can sign up for a 14-day free trial of its paid plan before committing to a subscription. For more information on Daylite plans, select a plan from the drop-down menu below: Daylite CRM Features Daylite combines CRM and project management capabilities in a unified platform. Its general features include contact management, interaction tracking, email integration, and document management. It offers specialized features such as lead and pipeline management, reporting and analytics, mobile apps, and integrations. In this Daylite review, we gave this provider a perfect score for its general features. This platform’s contact management capabilities allow you to capture and organize contact details, schedule meetings and calls, and view a chronological history of client interactions. In addition, it lets you attach documents, such as contracts or photos, to your online files and folders. Below are some general and standout features that offer the most value from Daylite: Contact management Interaction tracking Smart contact segmentation Email integration Calendars and reminders To-do tasks Access and permission control Meetings Document management Workflows This CRM platform scored 3 out of 5 for its specialized features. It offers features for managing leads, pipelines, and projects. Its other standout features include iOS-supported mobile apps, sales forecasting, lead prioritization, and sales tracking. We gave this platform a score of 4.63 out of 5 for its customer service. Daylite Free plan users can access the support team via email and chat. It has a help center with a knowledge base to find answers and instructions for common queries and basic troubleshooting. The company also assists with the setup, configuration, implementation, and data migration processes. You can also submit a request for assistance if you encounter a technical or account subscription issue. Remote, on-site training and webinars are available for those who want to customize their workflow and get the most out of their subscription. Paid plan subscribers have access to phone support from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time from Monday to Friday. Onboarding packages are available at a one-time fee that starts at $300. Daylite Onboarding Packages at a Glance got a score of 3 out of 5 for its ease of use because of its intuitive interface that makes navigation a breeze once you overcome the initial learning curve. It offers files containing detailed instructions on how to leverage its features according to your industry. Most users find its data migration process complicated and would usually require assistance from the support team. Advanced support and training are available for those who want to learn about deeper customization options. We gave this provider a rating of 3.13 out of 5 for expert score based on CRM reviews online. We found most users are delighted with its comprehensive CRM and project management features. They also find its smooth Apple integration and offline access helpful in keeping their contacts and sales pipelines organized. In addition, they find its support team responsive to queries and efficient in solving issues. At the time of this publication, we noted the following comments posted on popular user review sites: G2: 4.5 out of 5 based on 160 reviews Capterra: 4.6 out of 5 based on 349 reviews TrustRadius: 8.9 out of 10 based on 35 reviews Among the common points for improvement mentioned in Daylite reviews is its steep learning curve. However, they also said that the app is worth its cost once they become familiar with its interface and navigation menu. Some mentioned requiring help from the support team for its complicated data export and migration process. Others noted the need for add-ons and third-party integrations to access features like email marketing and time tracking. Methodology: How We Evaluated Daylite To evaluate this program against other CRM solutions, we test each system ourselves. We examined crucial areas, such as pricing, core CRM features, quality of customer support, and ease of use. We also looked at recent CRM ratings about this platform from credible review sites. Click through the tabs below for our Daylite evaluation criteria: Bottom Line offers a comprehensive CRM with contact management and lead management features in a single platform made exclusively for Apple devices. It is ideal for freelancers and boutique agencies looking for an all-in-one CRM with great mobile capabilities. Sign up for Daylite’s free trial for 14 days, or get started with their free plan to see if this provider works for you.
January 18, 2023
SugarCRM Review: Is It Right for Your Business in 2023?
is enterprise-level customer relationship management (CRM) software. We scored it high in areas like general and niche features. It provides users with essential CRM functionalities, including reporting, customizable pipelines, and integrations. It also offers lead scoring and workflow automation. We scored it lower in areas like ease of use as it requires in-depth technical experience to set up and operate. is a CRM system that provides users with specialized marketing automation, sales automation, and customer service tools. It offers fundamental CRM features like lead and opportunity management and advanced tools like lead analysis, scoring, and prediction. It is best for businesses that need robust sales automation tools—given that they have a budget to spend for a CRM subscription. SugarCRM Deciding Factors SugarCRM Alternatives If software doesn’t meet your business needs, below are some alternatives you can consider: Interested in learning about other providers that might prove suitable for your business needs? Check out our guide on the best CRM for small businesses. SugarCRM Pricing We didn’t give pricing a corresponding score as it doesn’t provide a free plan. Its pricing plans are significantly higher than the average, and it only offers annual plans. SugarCRM price plans (Sell, Serve, and Enterprise) also require a minimum of three users per subscription, further driving the costs up. SugarCRM costs vary greatly and are based on a business’ specific needs and priorities. The four paid plans start at $49 per user, per month—all billed annually. The increase in pricing doesn’t necessarily mean that all features in the lower-priced plan are included. For example, SugarCRM’s Sell plan is its general-purpose plan and is the most affordable. Its Serve and Enterprise plans are mid-range plans and almost have the same pricing. However, Serve focuses on customer support, while Enterprise focuses on customer experience tools. Market, its most expensive plan, has features mostly designed for marketing automation. Click on the drop-down menu below for more information on its plans: SugarCRM Features Regardless of your chosen plan, includes various features for contact, lead, and project management, managing sales opportunities, and automating repetitive tasks. Its CRM mobile app is also downloadable and accessible for all users—regardless of plan subscription. We gave general features a score of 5 out of 5 as it offers all fundamental CRM functionality—from managing to nurturing customer relationships. These include tools to track leads and deals, monitor pipelines, analyze sales, and manage customer service activities. Below are some of the general features of SugarCRM: Contact management Account management Project management Lead management Customizable CRM dashboard CRM reporting CRM analytics We gave it a score of 5 out of 5 for its niche features as it offers specialized and advanced features like lead scoring and email marketing. It also offers workflow automation, which is instrumental in streamlining sales processes and assisting agents in ensuring nothing falls through the cracks. Third-party Integrations has native CRM integration capabilities with select marketing automation and customer experience (CX) tools through its Sugar Integrate functionality. This allows users to synchronize all their customer data with the platform. Users get a 360-degree view of their customers’ profiles where they can sync their marketing data between systems. SugarCRM’s native integrations include: SugarCRM earned a 3.13 out of 5 score for customer support because it only provides email and live chat support. Users who need phone support can purchase it as an add-on for customized pricing. Users can also refer to its community page, SugarClub Community, to answer their questions. We scored 2.75 out of 5 because it requires some level of technical knowledge and experience to navigate. However, while beginners and new users could experience some degree of a learning curve, there is a rich pool of resources they can refer to on its SugarClub Community page. It also offers extensive tutorial videos on its YouTube channel. We gave the software an expert score of 4.25 out of 5. Features users highlighted include its robust sales and marketing automation tools as well as its ability to handle and manage a high volume of leads on a daily basis. Users who left negative reviews said the pricing options are expensive. They also said that it requires some level of technical know-how to operate. At the time of this publication, SugarCRM had the following review scores from popular user review sites: G2: 4 out of 5 based on 655 reviews Capterra: 3.8 out of 5 based on 386 reviews GetApp: 3.8 out of 5 based on 386 reviews Methodology: How We Evaluated SugarCRM Reviews As part of writing our software reviews, we test each system ourselves. We look at crucial areas, such as pricing, the core set of features every CRM should have, and the level of customer support and ease of use. We also looked through existing CRM ratings about from credible review sources. Click through the tabs below for our SugarCRM review evaluation criteria: SugarCRM Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Who will benefit most from using SugarCRM? SugarCRM is ideal for larger companies and enterprises, mostly due to its price points. Users who also need highly specialized plans should consider SugarCRM, especially those who need CRMs that offer features made particularly for marketing automation and customer support. When should I use a SugarCRM alternative? Users who need a free CRM tool should consider other options, as SugarCRM only offers paid subscription options and has higher pricing plans. Check out our guide on the best free CRM software to learn about possible alternatives. Users running an online store. Since SugarCRM doesn’t offer specialized features of ecommerce, interested users should consider alternatives from our list of best ecommerce CRM instead. Bottom Line is an extensive and sophisticated CRM tool that provides specialized features for particular areas of focus—particularly sales and marketing automation, as well as customer support. For small businesses, their lowest-priced plan is more than enough to manage leads and opportunities. However, businesses needing highly advanced marketing automation tools must spend more on their Market plan.
January 12, 2023
What Is Customer Intelligence?
Customer intelligence (CI) is the process of gathering and analyzing data from various customer interactions to generate actionable insights. It helps businesses understand their customers’ behavior, allowing them to personalize or adjust selling strategies. Customer intelligence data comes from customer relationship management (CRM) analytics, customer service data, purchase history, and web activities. Customer intelligence can empower you to create more data-driven business decisions. In this article, we explore why your business needs it and give examples of effective ways to use it. Defining Customer Intelligence & Its Importance Customer intelligence offers highly personalized insights into your customers’ behavior, preferences, and actions. It answers the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where”—and most importantly, the “why” about your customers. Understanding your customers on a deeper level gives you a profitable advantage because you can adjust the different aspects of your business. It empowers you to design your selling approach in a way that best resonates with them. Data collected from various client intelligence sources are crucial in building your customer persona. Customer intelligence influences strategies when developing products, creating campaigns, crafting marketing messages, and discovering your customers' pain points. Collecting client intelligence data and translating it into your business operations will enhance your customers’ purchasing journey. It can also contribute to business growth, as well as increase customer retention and loyalty. Client intelligence is instrumental when creating content in the various stages of your customer’s journey. Types of Customer Intelligence Data Below are the types of customer intelligence data you need to collect to understand your customers or target market better: Sources of Customer Intelligence Data Actionable, insight-driven, and well-rounded customer intelligence data comes from an ecosystem of available customer data sources. Insights from these sources contribute to enriching customer profiles, so businesses can tailor their services, products, marketing, and customer service in the most effective way. Below are samples of data sources where you can get insights to contribute to your client intelligence collection strategies. How to Leverage Customer Intelligence Understanding your customers’ demographic, behavioral, psychographic, and transactional profiles enables you to improve different aspects of your business. Below are some ways to leverage and maximize your customer intelligence data: Bottom Line Customer intelligence strategy is a crucial part of running a company. In a business landscape saturated with players competing for the attention of potential customers, standing out from the crowd is a must for your business to grow. To do this, offer products and services that address their specific needs and develop content that engages them. Having access to accurate customer intelligence analytics helps you hone your message and best serve your customers.
January 11, 2023
Salesforce Review 2023: Is It Right for Your Small Business?
Salesforce is one of our top recommendations for businesses looking for highly customizable customer relationship management (CRM) software with advanced sales tools. We evaluated this provider, and it scored high in general features, specialized features, customer service, and expert score. However, it got lower scores in pricing and ease of use because of its expensive plans and the technical skill necessary to set up and operate the platform. is one of the most advanced CRM systems on the market. Highly sophisticated sales tools allow businesses of all sizes to manage sales outreach, marketing, and customer service in a centralized platform. Salesforce reviews show users are especially impressed with the robust reporting and integration capabilities. It is best for organizations looking for advanced, feature-rich CRM software. Salesforce Deciding Factors Salesforce Alternatives While is a powerful CRM, it may not fit your business needs. You may be looking for a feature-rich CRM that lets you start with a free plan or want a lower-cost option that includes specific tools and reporting capabilities. Below are some of the best alternatives to Salesforce for small businesses based on use case: *Based on annual billing; monthly pricing is also available at slightly higher rates For this review, this provider earned a score of 1.75 out of 5 for its pricing. It offers four paid plans that start at $25 per user, per month when billed annually. The Essentials plan is the only one that can be purchased month-to-month ($35 per user, monthly). All the other plans require an annual contract. However, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial to test the platform before subscribing to a paid plan. Select a Salesforce plan below for more information: Salesforce Features offers a wide range of features in one powerful platform, giving sales teams a centralized system to manage leads, deals, and opportunities. It also provides advanced tools for salesforce automation, workflows, CRM reports, inventory, and emails. In this Salesforce review, we gave the provider a perfect score for its general features. This platform offers features fundamental to effectively managing sales performance and nurturing customer relationships. These include tools for tracking deals and opportunities, automating sales processes, monitoring pipelines, forecasting sales, and qualifying leads. It also has robust reporting and analytics capabilities as well as third-party integrations. Below are some general and standout features that offer the most value from Salesforce: Deal management Lead management Contact management Opportunity management Lead scoring and routing Sales forecasting Email marketing Sales reporting CRM analytics Territory management This CRM platform scored 4 out of 5 for its specialized features. It offers features for lead and opportunity management as well as for territory management. This program also boasts an artificial intelligence (AI) tool called Einstein, which provides smart recommendations for your sales and marketing activities. Its other standout features include mobile apps with an AI voice assistant, email marketing, and sales forecasting. scored 4 out of 5 for customer service. It offers three levels of support under its Success plans: Standard, Premier, and Signature. All types of licenses offer Standard Success support, which gives users access to self-guided resources, online learning, and a help portal for case submission. You can also access its Trailhead product learning platform and 24/7 phone support for business-stopping issues. The Premier plan is priced at 30% of a user’s subscription costs, while the pricing of the Signature plan is customized based on an organization’s needs and requests. With the Premier Success plan, you get added 24/7 chat and developer support, plus expert coaching sessions for Salesforce best practices. The Signature plan allows you to access proactive services, such as 24/7 system monitoring, annual technical reviews, and key event management. Salesforce Success Plans at a Glance scored 3 out of 5 in ease of use because it is best suited for users with prior experience using CRM platforms or who have intermediate technical skills. Since it’s feature-packed, advanced, and sophisticated, new users may require some time to understand the interface and navigation as far as how the tools are organized. However, this platform provides self-help resources and demo videos to help users learn how to navigate the software. Based on reviews online, users appreciate the platform's automation tools, which help them streamline day-to-day sales tasks and processes. In addition, it allows them to generate customizable and robust sales reports for various sales activities like sales forecasts, target versus actual revenue, and won and lost leads. They also like that it can be integrated with a handful of third-party business tools, such as and . At the time of this publication, we noted the following comments posted on popular user review sites: G2: 4.3 out of 5 based on 13,349 reviews Capterra: 4.4 out of 5 based on 17,513 reviews Google Play: 3.9 out of 5 based on 41,900-plus reviews App Store: 4.6 out of 5 based on 268,500-plus reviews In less favorable Salesforce reviews, some users said navigating this platform is confusing for beginners because it is too feature-packed. They also mentioned the interface could look more modern and sleek, and some suggested using a larger font size to make menu options more readable. Others noted its mobile app does not work as well as its desktop version, citing a clunky interface, lags, and limited available functions. Methodology: How We Evaluated Salesforce To evaluate this program against other CRM solutions, we test each system ourselves. We examined crucial areas, such as pricing, core CRM features, quality of customer support, and ease of use. We also looked at recent CRM ratings about this platform from credible review sites. Click through the tabs below for our evaluation criteria: Bottom Line Based on our review, this platform stands out for its sales force automation, lead outreach, and business performance analysis capabilities. For these reasons, it is best for businesses that need advanced sales tools and can afford to increase the budget when they need to scale, as its pricing is on the higher side, especially for smaller teams. Sign up for Salesforce’s free trial for 30 days before committing to a subscription plan.
January 10, 2023
13 Best Sales Management Software for 2023
Sales management software refers to any tool that can be used to oversee sales personnel or enhance or monitor the performance of your sales operation. While it includes customer relationship management (CRM) systems, sales managers and executives can also use other project management, sales enablement, and data analytics tools to understand and improve their team’s sales process. We’ve reviewed dozens of software products to identify the top 13 sales management systems: Best customizable sales management software: Best for enabling teams with lead automation: Best for overseeing account management teams: Best free reporting features: Best simple project management software: Best for dynamic project management: Best contact center management platform: Best for pipeline management: Best business-to-business lead source: Best for analyzing account and pipeline health: Best simple sales forecasting tool: Best for enhancing all-around sales rep experience: Best sales coaching platform: Best Sales Management Software at a Glance *Based on annual billing; monthly billing is also available for slightly higher rates Best CRMs for Sales Management CRM systems help businesses manage leads and sales activity while acting as a database of customer and contact information. Due to their built-in features and integrations, CRMs serve as a central platform to oversee the sales cycle, track team performance, and improve the production of sales reps. Additionally, CRM platforms often come equipped with tools for goal setting, quota management, and gamification to boost performance—making them some of the most effective sales management tools available. Best Project Management Software Project management software is used to track, assign, collaborate on, and visualize operational activities or tasks. These systems are highly customizable and can be used as a CRM alternative for sales, marketing, projects, and customer service functions. Managers use these products as sales management tools for pipeline activity and tasks outside the typical day-to-day, such as training campaigns, data migration projects, and content development tasks. Best Sales Enablement Solutions Sales enablement solutions are implemented by sales managers to improve productivity, efficiency, and, ultimately, sales performance. While the enablement process can include training, creating additional marketing assets, or adjusting operations, these solutions specifically refer to sales technology and online services that help teams reach their goals. Best Sales Analytics Tools Sales analytics tools let managers convert stored data into actionable insights. They centralize, analyze, and interpret sales information, such as lead profiles, pipeline activity, and sales performance, for intelligence purposes. Any insights a sales manager gathers, either through artificial intelligence (AI) or other analytics tools, can be used to improve team performance and operational efficiency using appropriate enablement solutions. Best Performance Management Tools Performance management tools are a subcategory within sales management software. These solutions aim to improve sales rep effort and engagement through sales gamification tools and material motivators such as gift cards, cash prizes, or additional days off. Many performance management software products also have a system for administering sales training and coaching to individual reps. How We Evaluated the Best Sales Management Systems Sales management consists of various responsibilities, like monitoring deal activity, managing individual rep performance, and supplying team members with resources to succeed. That said, we divided our evaluation into categories of sales management systems that can assist managers in overseeing and optimizing their operations. Once divided, we made a more direct comparison of products within each category regarding the following criteria: Pricing: The availability of a free plan or free trial by the provider, as well as cost-friendly and scalable paid plans with flexible billing options. Features: The functional capabilities of each product through built-in features or third-party integration options, specifically ones relevant to its category. CRMs, for example, should offer sales reporting tools, forecasting and analytics, activity monitoring, and sales automation tools. Customer support: The options for customer support personnel to help users with product issues. We considered the selection of support channels through live chat, phone, email, and self-service resources, as well as customer service hours of availability. Expert score: The perception of how real users feel toward each product based on their reviews. These helped us evaluate how they like the product’s features, the value users have extracted for the price paid, and the ease of use when operating the features and navigating the interface. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What is sales management software? Sales management software is a platform a sales manager or executive uses to keep sales data organized, improve operations, monitor activity, and discover insights to help optimize performance. Due to a sales manager's wide range of responsibilities, many of these solution capabilities are often found in a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Alternatively, users could access sales management capabilities in specialty tools, such as project management, sales enablement, or data analytics software. What is the best sales management software product? Because sales management software can take many forms depending on the features offered, there’s no “best” sales management system. Rather, some products offer more value and benefits depending on the user’s needs. For example, if you only need sales intelligence, invest in data analytics tools like Gong.io for insights about your sales process. If you need multiple sales management functions in one platform, look to a CRM for your software needs. Bottom Line Sales management software is the broad term for technology that helps sales professionals understand and improve their sales operations. It can include various product types, such as a CRM system, gamification tool, project management platform, performance management system, data analytics tool, or sales enablement solution. Depending on your use cases and purchase preferences, one (or a combination) of these sales management products will help monitor activities and get the most out of your sales force.
January 5, 2023
How to Create a CRM Strategy in 6 Steps (+ Free Worksheet)
A customer relationship management (CRM) strategy is an organization’s plan of action to leverage available customer data to improve their relationship. Successful implementation of CRM strategy requires reviewing your business strategy, mapping your customer journey, understanding your team dynamics, and selecting the right tools needed to facilitate the implementation. If you are developing your CRM strategy and don’t know where to start, download our free CRM strategy template and use it to take notes while you follow the steps below. It’s a worksheet you can use to list the elements to consider in developing a sound plan. 1. Review Your Overall Business Strategy Before creating an effective customer relationship management strategy, revisit your overall business strategies first. This helps you craft a clear vision of the results you want to achieve, which may include growing your revenue by a certain percentage, retaining your repeat customers, or increasing your workforce by 10%. You must also determine how to execute your plan and who will be part of the process. Below are some elements of a business strategy to consider: 2. Establish Your Sales Channels & Sales Processes Sales channels are the avenues your organization utilizes to distribute your products or services to a market. Some businesses use a business-to-business (B2B) approach, while others use a business-to-consumer (B2C) approach. Establishing and ensuring your sales channels and processes are streamlined means guaranteeing a good experience for your customers—from making a purchase down to post-sales activities. Below is a quick comparison of B2B versus B2C: Define the Sales Process The sales process is the set of steps needed to move a prospective buyer from brand awareness to the stage of a closed sale. It is essential to define your sales process because it is crucial for the growth of your business. You can also leverage your CRM software’s capabilities to track a prospect’s movement through the nine stages of the sales pipeline. 3. Map the Customer Journey The customer journey map is a visual representation or a diagram of a customer’s interactions and experiences with your business across all touchpoints. To map your customer journey, envision their interaction with your company from their perspective—from the first touchpoint, such as an advertisement, to consideration and actual purchase. When creating this visual, include your business touchpoints, stages of customer engagement, and the goals you want to measure. Mapping out the journey of your customers helps you identify stages in your sales process that need improvement, which we will discuss in the next section. The customer journey starts with awareness and ideally ends with a purchase. Different factors affect a buyer’s decision-making at each stage. 4. Select the Right CRM Software When choosing the right CRM platform for your business, consider a wide range of factors, including pricing, features, capabilities, and integrations. Talk to your sales, marketing, and customer service teams to determine their required CRM tools. Ask them if they need features, such as auto-profile enrichment, email marketing, or social media platform management. Based on their answers, look for CRM options that fit those needs. After identifying potential providers, sign up for free trials or schedule free demos to see firsthand what each CRM looks like and how it works. Doing so allows you to experience its features and determine its ease of use before signing up and paying for a subscription. In our guide on how to choose the right CRM software, we break down the process into six steps: 5. Plan for CRM Implementation CRM implementation is the process of setting up and deploying CRM software. It needs proper planning to maximize your investment and make sure that the software gets utilized. Things to consider when mapping out your CRM implementation roadmap include evaluating cultural readiness and identifying CRM roles. You also need to involve your sales, marketing, and service teams in the entire process, as well as conduct proper training. Explore our guide on how to implement CRM in eight steps for more information. 6. Define Team Goals & Set KPIs Setting individual goals for your sales, marketing, and service teams helps set employee expectations and gives them something to work on as they move ahead. The goals you establish for these teams should align with your overall company objectives, as each team member’s goal must contribute to the growth and success of the business. To make the process more organized, use the SMART model to guide you in coming up with your team’s goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, the marketing team’s use of the CRM system must contribute to an increase in mailing list subscribers, while the sales team’s use of the tool must generate more high-converting leads. You can also set a goal for your service team to improve the overall customer satisfaction rate, as they have the CRM to help them streamline their communications with your customers. Establish Key Performance Indicators Key performance indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable elements that measure your company’s performance against your set goals and objectives. They could include growth in revenue, net sales, average conversion time, number of contracts signed, and monthly website traffic. You can track these metrics and generate reports using CRM analytics. A CRM tool like can help you track metrics, such as the number of meetings an agent needs to set to close the number of deals required to hit the quarterly quota. Other KPIs you can track using these tools include pipeline deals, individual sales, conversion time, and lead qualification percentage. Another provider you can consider is , which has strong sales performance measurement capabilities. The system can track an array of metrics, such as average win rate, average deal size, average sale cycle, sales per agent, and sales by region. Benefits of Having a Robust CRM Plan Maintaining strong relationships with your customers is paramount to keeping them engaged with your business. Whether that is turning them into repeat buyers or making them ambassadors of your brand—either way, it helps your business grow. Below we list some of the most common benefits of having proper customer relationship management strategies in place. Helps you reach your business goals: Your business goals should be your main guide when coming up with a CRM strategy. Reviewing your goals will remind you of things you must consider in the process, such as revisiting your targets, deciding on your sales channels, and profiling your ideal customer. Provides a clear idea of what your customers want and need: Creating a proper CRM strategy will require you to look at existing trends and data to understand your customers’ behavior. If you map your customer journey in creating your CRM strategy, you will understand their obstacles when it comes to making a purchase, which will help you create solutions to address their pain points. Enables you to choose the right CRM for your business: Coming up with a CRM strategy helps you identify your business goals and review your sales processes. Once you’ve done these, it will be easier to identify the features and functions that you would like from your chosen CRM system. Allows you to measure the success of your efforts: The best way to know if your strategy is working is to see if it helps you achieve your goals. One of the easiest ways to do so is to see how they measure up against the metrics you’ve set to determine your success. Bottom Line Creating robust CRM strategies is essential in nurturing customer relationships, growing business revenue, and improving the customer experience. Plus, it will help you come up with an effective CRM process. In addition, it strengthens the collaboration between your sales, marketing, and service departments. It also provides your company with metrics and data insights to guide you in creating future business strategies.