Learn How to Choose the Best CRM Solution
By Susan Saldibar
If you’re still using Microsoft Excel for everything from sales funnels to financial statements, then you’re getting left behind by your competitors who are using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Excel can do a lot, but it can’t do everything.
Five Things CRMs do better than Excel
#1 Eliminate most manual entry
How many hours of your professional life have you spent entering data into spreadsheets? Or cleaning, coding, and formatting that data from raw output to usable information? CRMs connect to nearly any data source and pull that information into their databases. They can also use rules and conditions that you set up to automatically organize data. Finally, they can push the organized data where you need it, including out to other applications.
Automating data entry reduces errors. It also frees up you and your staff to spend more time on higher value activities. Finally, automatic data entry ensures your data will always be uniform and organized.
#2 Make campaigns and programs easier to manage
From set up to management, campaigns and programs are a ton of work. It can often feel as if you’re reinventing the wheel with each new program or campaign. Trying to decipher if a campaign is working or not is usually more art than science. CRMs help by allowing you to create program and campaign templates that you can reuse. They will also track your key performance metrics as you go, giving instant feedback.
#3 Visibility for every user
How many times has something important fallen through the cracks because you were running from one emergency to the next? A quality CRM will give your organization instant visibility into prospects, clients, and your sales team. Most CRMs will also flag incomplete tasks, helping managers stay on top of issues before they become problems.
#4 Meaningful and fast reporting
No more boring monthly reporting meetings devoid of insight or actionable recommendations. With a spreadsheet, an analyst has to work hard to figure out what the appropriate next steps are. With CRMs, deeper understanding is at your fingertips with flexible, customizable dashboards and reports.
Because all your data is available, CRMs also help make connections between different data sources easier to find.
#5 Onboarding, support, and troubleshooting
When you buy a spreadsheet software program, you’re pretty much on your own. Sure, there are lots of resources on the internet to learn how to do almost anything you want to. But wouldn’t it be better if a trained professional w able to help you set up your software and help you troubleshoot as you get going? And to be available when you need them for everything from outages, updates, to integrating new data sources?
Many CRMs provide onboarding training, ongoing support, and help troubleshooting. Some CRMs have dedicated account managers, while others provide access to support centers and knowledge bases. And some CRMs even have certification paths to identify people with the skills to help you get going.
No software is going to solve all your problems. Even a great CRM can’t align marketing programs and sales activities. It can’t make decision-makers understand reports or act on them. So, make sure that before you begin you have at least a clear idea of the benefits you’re hoping to gain from adopting a CRM.
Once you’re ready to compare, here are six features that are must-haves in your CRM.
Must-Have CRM Features
- Ease of use: The best tool in the world isn’t very helpful if no one uses it. A good CRM should make it easy for your team to access and interact with it.
- Automation: At a minimum, a CRM should save you time, reduce errors, and improve efficiency. It should log all communications and provide the ability to do things like create branded email templates.
- Integrates with key systems: CRMs should be able to pull data from your website’s forms and applications, your email system, financial software, and other key systems.
- Syncs with calendar: CRMs should make it easy for your team to organize their calendars by automatically identifying open times for them to engage with prospects.
- Customized for your organization: a good CRM allows you to use the terminology you’re familiar with instead of forcing you to learn a whole new language just to interact with the system.
- Robust Analytics Suite: Good CRMs make it easy to understand where your best leads are coming from and how to nurture them. They should also be flexible enough to help you create compelling, appealing reports to drive home important data in meetings.
Four more CRM Features to look for
The six features above are common to most CRMs. But they aren’t the only factors to consider. Here are four important features to look for that may bring added value to your business.
- Automatic activity capture. Going a step further than automatic data entry, when a CRM can understand what a lead has done and what to do next. This feature brings your business intelligence into the software and makes the sales process sing.
- Seamless transition between platforms. Being able to call, email, add to a mailing list or other nurturing activity from the CRM itself. A CRM that has things like “click to call” or similar is a game changer, saving you time and increasing efficiency.
- Access from anywhere: Doesn’t it make sense that your CRM be available when you’re in the field? A CRM that allows mobile access from anywhere is a real plus.
- Industry expertise: Senior Living is a unique, complex field. We have a lot of specific needs as professionals that don’t match those of other industries. While many CRMs are flexible enough to be adapted to senior living communities, it might be worth the effort to find one that was developed from the ground up with senior living and assisted living communities in mind.
Choosing the right CRM for your organization
The supplier you select for your CRM is as important as the platform itself. Here are some things to look for as you consider different CRM providers:
- Do they have all the features you need in your CRM?
- Are they active in the industry and engaging with clients and thought leaders on a regular basis?
- Do they have an aggressive integration roadmap to keep up with a rapidly expanding application landscape?
- Will they be a collaborative partner for you, or will you be just “another account” to them?
- Do they have the stability to be around for the long term?
- What’s their track record with companies like yours, and would they be willing to provide references?
Our Favorite CRMs
WelcomeHome is a customer relationship management (CRM) software that helps assisted and senior living organizations communicate with prospects and clients through multiple channels, including email, phone, and instant messaging. It enables staff members to track daily plans and schedule activities with information such as prospect details, sales counselors, important dates, and relevant notes.
Continuum CRM is a sales, marketing, and census management system created specifically for the senior living industry. A continual presence in your business, Continuum CRM is about maintaining functionality across your service lines.
Enquire CRM is a cloud-based customer relationship management solution that helps businesses in the healthcare industry capture leads, manage referrals and streamline sales operations. It allows enterprises to manage social media campaigns, create landing pages and send bulk emails to multiple contacts.
MatrixCare is the complete solution for growing organizations that need to successfully manage risk in care delivery across the LTPAC spectrum. Trusted by more than 13,000 facility-based care settings and more than 2,500 home care, home health, and hospice organizations, MatrixCare’s solutions help ACOs, skilled nursing and senior living providers, life plan communities (CCRCs), and home health organizations to connect, collaborate, and prosper as we migrate to a fee-for-value healthcare system.
PointClickCare Technologies Inc. helps long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) providers gain the confidence they need to navigate the new realities of value-based healthcare – achieving preferred status in competitive and shrinking networks, optimizing financial and operational health, attracting and retaining the right staff, and connecting to the right partners and insights needed to effectively manage and mitigate risk.
RealPage, Inc. is a leading provider of on-demand software and software-enabled services to the rental housing industry, providing an enterprise-wide senior living solution that integrates Care Management, Community Management, and Marketing Management into a single offering.
Yardi is a software vendor that makes applications for all sizes of property management and real estate companies. The company makes software suites for property management, marketing, commercial applications, senior living, and investments. Yardi’s software consists of cloud-based tools that work on both desktop and mobile platforms.
Sherpa is an interactive sales and CRM platform that includes sales tracking and coaching. It revolves around the concept of “prospect-centered selling” with tracking of best practices to measure the effectiveness of each sales activity. It also includes sales training.
The giant customer relationship management tool is fully customizable for any industry and business model. But it doesn’t come cheap. You can integrate it with almost any EHR or EMR for a price. You can also create custom contracting and inventory options, so you will definitely need to contract with an experienced coder when rolling out this mega-force of a CRM.
An up-and-comer on the CRM front. It started as a marketing automation tool with CRM capabilities. Now you can choose to use it as a CRM, but it is not as fully integratable with EHR (especially Matrixcare) as most would like it to be. It is something definitely to keep on your radar.
The pace of change in the senior living industry is only getting faster each year. As you work to bring in a new generation of residents and their families, you will need to put in place a better way to keep track of all those interactions. To do this, you will need an easy-to-use and cost-effective system; one that relieves the pressure on sales. And the time to act is now. Your competition isn’t waiting. Neither should you.
If you know of a CRM that is missing from the list please let us know.