Web-based CRM can be quite a mysterious beast, even for tech-savvy business owners.
Let’s start with the basics: What exactly is a CRM software service? Put simply, CRM stands for customer relationship management. So, it essentially is software engineered to help you better manage your client relationships.
Many web-based CRM systems include extra features such as web integration, business forecasting and database management. You can even get ‘total solution’ systems that have CRM capabilities, inventory management and accounting rolled up into a neat little package. These systems are arguably the most obvious choice for managing all your business affairs from one system, since they prevent duplication of information and lost minutes, while also enhancing communication.
So, what are the differences between a web-based CRM and the more traditional CRM options?
In the early days of CRM development, the most commonly used solutions were desktop solutions. Desktop CRM software was a module that used to be installed on an individual system (such as a desktop or laptop) to store and organize your client data. Those systems worked just fine if you had a small sales team, but anything larger than that and things would begin to get real messy real quick. These systems were, and usually still are, just like any other application you store on your local computer – there was no way to share data between the team members and constantly keeping the data up-to-date became a steady struggle.
As a result, many companies made the switch to internally-hosted CRM systems. This is, as the name says, a CRM software service that is hosted on an internal organizational server. This made it easier for companies to ensure that all sales team members were kept in the loop, so they could access the same data from the centralized system via their own computers. This eliminated a lion’s share of the communication issues and duplicated data; however, it raised a whole host of other issues.
Such specialized servers often cost a company large amounts of capital for getting it initialized and running. They could also often be extremely unreliable, leading to excessive down-time, reduced productivity and high potential for data loss. Apart from these concerns, some other problems can also arise, depending on the particular software service that was adopted and how frequently it was updated. Unfortunately, many internally-hosted CRM providers did not update their yearly licensing fees, leaving companies to pay top dollar for their outdated software.
Owing to improving internet speeds and the emerging shift towards mobile (or outsourcing) workforces, a new type of CRM system began to emerge – web-based CRM. With a web-based CRM, your sales executives can access the customer database from anywhere – whether they’re outside the office, on the field, or even in another country – and all you need is a reliable internet connection.
Your web-based CRM provider takes care of the hosting, so you do not need to invest in expensive server equipment and pay for exorbitant maintenance prices. Web-based CRM systems are also more reliable, since they come equipped with peerless security, strict back-up procedures and climate control to prevent server down-time.
In addition, a lot of the available web-based CRM systems provide regular updates, which means that you will always have the latest software at no additional cost. This is becoming more instrumental as CRM functionality is moving ahead in leaps and bounds. Simply having a CRM software service isn’t enough to stay competitive. You need to also have the right type of CRM.