How to Choose the Best Enterprise CRM Platform

Any successful sales rep knows the importance of timing. As such, most of the digital technologies that are developed for the purpose of customer relationship focus on being efficient and fast. This can come in many forms, from easy-to-use follow-up templates, powerful analytics to give insights into customer behavior, or active lead nurturing campaign creation.

The best customer relationship management (CRM) platforms have all of these features and more. CRM platforms were originally designed to help businesses build and manage a database of customers and leads. What started out as a simple contact management system has transformed into a robust multifunctional tool that accommodates sales and marketing departments along the entire customer lifecycle.

The first step for most businesses looking to implement CRM is looking at industry leaders, namely Salesforce, NetSuite, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics, & SAP among others. However, it is important to know that note that some of these platforms were developed for very particular enterprises. Some companies will never be able to even afford a full-scale SAP or NetSuite solutions. And these aren’t exactly CRMs, but rather platforms with CRM capabilities and/or modules, so those will not be included in this breakdown.

With all the data that you can gather and filter within your enterprise CRM software, you can start developing new, more effective nurturing campaigns, find hidden market patterns and run more efficient marketing campaigns.

The real value of CRM is evident in its ROI. If we take a look at Nucleus Research, about 70% of the companies that purchased CRMs in 2016, received a $8.71 return on every dollar spent. Another study by Foresters showed that with the use of CRM some companies saw a 40% decrease in customer service labor cost.

The 7 Questions You Should Ask About Your Business before Choosing CRM Software

Choosing the right CRM is a big endeavor, and you need to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all system. Just like with all things in business – your best fit depends on a variety of factors. So instead of simply going through a Top 10 list and picking number 1, you’ll be better off spending a bit more time discussing with your team what exactly your business is looking to get out of CRM.

When choosing CRM software, you should always look at the following aspects:

  • Reporting;
  • Implementation;
  • User Adoption;
  • Mobility;
  • Customization;
  • Compatibility;
  • Your Goals.

Depending on your established business processes and overall architecture of the IT environment at your enterprise, the importance of each will vary. So here are just a couple of questions that you need to consider before making the final decision.

How many people are going to be using it?

Since most enterprise applications run on a subscription-based model, the number of people who will be using CRM will determine the cost. Another consideration should be the long-term. Try to evaluate how you see your business growth over the next year or two. Add up the total number of internal users and multiply it by the per-seat cost.

Who will run the CRM software?

Any CRM needs an admin. Some platforms can be run entirely by your own staff, others will require a full-time administrator. At OMI, we’ve already discussed the process of choosing a Salesforce Admin in one of our previous guides, most of the rules there can be applied to other CRMs like HubSpot or Microsoft Dynamics.

If you have no immediate admin available, you can always use third-party CRM administration as an ongoing service or as a temporary measure, while your staff is undergoing necessary training.

Who will train your employees?

This is probably the most overlooked aspect in choosing CRM altogether. Most of the time, sales reps are very reluctant to change their ways. Take into account about 5-hour onboarding for each individual rep and reserve also some time for group training. The training can be internally managed by your own team, handled by the CRM’s employees, or outsourced to a certified partner company, with experience in user-adoption.

How will you measure success?

Depending on your business model, you’ll be interested in a particular metrics. Obviously, you’d want to measure standard KPIs like leads, accounts and conversion rates. However, if, for example, your enterprise relies heavily on social selling, measuring the dynamics of social network’s following will be a must. You need to setup CRM to generate meaningful data that you can use.

What other IT assets you would like to integrate with your CRM?

More than likely, you have at least one enterprise-level application that your business relies on. You might have financial or marketing software that has to be integrated with sales data and therefore – CRM.

How will your IT infrastructure be integrated?

You have to think about how your IT infrastructure looks and how each module interacts with one another. Proper integration will heavily affect the overall functionality of your CRM. There are different types of integrations, and thinking about those in advance will make your life a whole lot easier. If you are eager to know about various integrations, you can find a brief guide at OMI’s blog.

What are my goals?

And finally, you have to establish your goals clearly. Why does your business need enterprise CRM?

  • I need to have visibility into my sales performance and see which areas are lacking.
  • I need to adopt a better lead nurturing process.
  • I need to improve my customer retention rate.
  • Etc.

If you know the why – the how becomes just a matter of implementation.

The Main Characteristics of Enterprise CRM Software

Just like with all emerging enterprise network applications and systems, CRM is not just a one-trick pony. Some treat CRM as a glorified contact manager, but there is an entire array of tools that can you help boost sales productivity and establish better marketing campaigns.

For most CRMs, all these features are as follows.

  • Lead management and sales. This is a first and primary aspect of any CRM – helping you find new customers by gathering and aggregating data from multiple sources. In 2018, advanced customer relationship management software is capable of taking in data from social media, website, calls, newsletter sign-ups and more. Furthermore, it is able to follow up with automatic email responses, creating immediate tasks and directing you.
  • Marketing. Built-in marketing tools have become a high demand feature. There is nothing surprising here, since both marketing and sales work for the same overall goal and are interconnected.  Enterprise marketing applications are used to create email templates, email marketing pipelines, and some even have sales forecasting and up to BI (business intelligence) level of analytics.
  • Reporting. Any CRM would include some reporting and dashboard functionality. Although it typically does not live up to more high-end reporting software, such as Quickbooks, usually it is sufficient enough. Take, Salesforce Einstein, it is a full-scale AI application, capable of building smart reports and forecasts. But if you require a more advanced data analytics, you might want to consider integrating it with CRM.
  • Customer support. CRM is not all about acquiring new clients, it also assists you in customer retention and ongoing support. Such features as call centers, for example, are not supported by low-cost systems. If it is paramount for your enterprise, then it might be worthwhile to consider CRMs that have in-built all center capabilities.
  • Project management. And finally, we come to the administration and management part of enterprise CRM. Most SaaS applications in this industry include customizable workflows, task management, and other PM features. However, in comparison to some dedicated applications, the functionality provided by CRM does look limited.

Some of the Top Enterprise CRM Software on the Market

Now that we’ve discussed what goes into enterprise CRM, and looked at the main consideration for choosing one, let’s discuss your options. Obviously, there is no shortage of options on the market, but some clearly stand out as being universally better than others.

Microsoft Dynamics

Microsoft Dynamics is an extremely powerful CRM that is built for large businesses. It allows you to produce actionable insights in a manner of seconds. There are multiple modules available, but where Dynamics really shines is in data acquisition and visualization. CRM provides some of the best customer segmentation and, unsurprisingly, it can be integrated with an entire Microsoft package with one click.

On a negative side,the functionality provided on a lower price end is not particularly robust. So small- and medium-sized businesses cannot benefit from it as much. It also acts best, when you have vast fields of data to work with. UI can also be somewhat a problem, as with all Microsoft products it allows you great functionality and customization at the cost of user experience.

Nimble CRM

Nimble CRM is a relatively young player on the field but has already managed to overcome completion in certain areas. Where Nimble excels is social selling. We’ve written quite a few articles, regarding the possibilities of Nimble CRM and its various applications in business.

Nimble is geared toward smaller enterprises but with its dynamic lead prospecting tool, integration to marketing automation with pushback, and low pricing, it is the best value proposition by far for the small-to-midsize business market.


Salesforce is pretty much the king of CRMs. Whatever you need from your customer relationship management system, Salesforce provides it. Its reach customization capabilities along with flexible integrations and numerous enterprise applications available make it probably the most well-balanced CRM on the market.

Unlike the previous two, Salesforce can be applied to small and large businesses. The company offers numerous modules and tools to choose from, which make this CRM the most flexible.

There are of course certain disadvantages here. At times, incredible customization of Salesforce can make it kind of easy to break or make it too overwhelming. And with all of its automation features, it’s really tempting just to put the system on autopilot and forget about it. As a result, some sales reps lose a personal touch sometimes.


HubSpot has grown from indie-system to one of the most recognized names on the market and one of the most user-friendly. The best part about HubSpot is the fact it has sales and marketing aligned by default. Also, it allows you to dive deep into customer behavior in a very nice and accessible dashboard. The aesthetic side is great and can be very robust when leveraged properly.

The main drawback here is that HubSpot is not as flexible as other CRMs, which makes it easy to use but at the same time limited in functionality and scope.

Enterprise CRM Consultation & Implementation Services

Choosing the right CRM for your business is an extremely challenging task, and without sounding too dramatic – the fate of your company depends on it. It is not only about the investment in software, but it’s also valuable time and restructuring of already established business processes. Many people do not realize that the CRM needs to be integrated and crafted to fit the company and serve its goals, it cannot perform on its own.

If your company requires a consultation, regarding the selection of CRM that will facilitate your existing IT infrastructure, or you require third-party implementation services for a particular CRM platform, you can always count on Outsource Management Inc. (OMI) as your trusted Partner. We are first-class experts in CRM integration and implementation services. OMI is the go-to resource for emerging mid-size companies that embrace CRM, Marketing Automation and Sales enablement platforms to grow and dominate their niche.

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