7 Things To Consider When Evaluating Sales and Marketing Automation Software

    7 Things to Consider When Evaluating Sales and Marketing Automation Software for Your Business

    Sales and marketing automation software can boost your teams' performance by helping them improve client relationships, turn contacts into leads, gain insights into team and individual performance, and much more. However, specific needs vary from one business to the next. 

    Here are seven things to consider when evaluating new sales and marketing software for your business.

    1. Determine Your Goals for CRM

    To a large extent, your goals with software for customer relationship management (CRM) should be shaped by the people who will use the software. For example, your marketing team might want to increase its workflow efficiency, launch better email campaigns, and hone in more effectively on social media by responding to users’ questions on all major social media platforms from a unified space.

    Perhaps your sales department is currently concerned with enhancing its cross-selling and upselling opportunities. Other goals of the sales team might include streamlined invoicing, better access to sales data, and the ability to schedule meetings through smartphone apps, for instance.

    2. Assess the Pain Points You’re Dealing with Right Now

    If your company hasn’t started using sales and marketing software yet, you probably know full well the inefficiencies that go hand in hand with trying to manage sales and marketing with post-it notes or spreadsheets. If you’re not entirely new to CRM for sales and marketing, you might have experienced other pain points.

    It could well be that the amount of money you’ve been spending on sales and marketing platforms outweighs any efficiencies you’ve obtained. First-time CRM buyers often overestimate how many features they actually need.

    Software complexity can be a bugaboo, too. Even if users do need a specific type of functionality, they’re much less likely to use it if they have a hard time figuring out how the software is supposed to work. In fact, attempting to put difficult features to use could even slow their productivity.

    When analyst firm Software Advice surveyed 200 SMB software buyers, 39 percent cited organization or efficiency as a pain point, while 20 percent named “tracking” as a challenge. Only 10 percent complained of limited features or options.

    Still, as a company grows, so do its needs for sales and marketing software. Thus, it’s important to choose a CRM solution that's easily upgradable to meet increasing requirements.

    3. Explore Cost and Pricing Structures 

    Sales and marketing software vendors leverage a variety of different business models and purchasing options. Some CRMs sell one-time buys of multi-year licenses while others use cloud-enabled software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscriptions.

    SaaS provides a lower barrier to entry with a monthly or yearly fee, which is treated as a capital expense rather than an operating expense for accounting purposes. Over time, though, it can become more expensive to use a subscription-based CRM than to purchase long-term licenses.

    Certain CRM companies, such as HubSpot, follow a freemium approach, offering basic CRM functionality free of charge along with paid premium plans for customers who opt to purchase additional features.

    4. Don’t Overlook Hidden Costs

    Some license plans can lock businesses in to contracts of three years or more. Beyond the upfront costs for CRM software, businesses running the software on-premises must also purchase server hardware and have IT staff available to operate the system.

    Also, whether you’re using on-premises or cloud-based software, if it isn’t easy enough to use, your company can incur hefty costs for training and customer support. In assessing those expenses, look at how much it costs for personalized training sessions as opposed to “canned” online tutorials.

    5. Take Integration Capabilities into Account

    As an SMB, you may need to integrate your sales and marketing solution with an assortment of other software applications. HubSpot’s CRM software is specifically built for smooth integration with its other tools as well as with software from many other vendors. HubSpot offers its own workflows solution along with intelligent data syncing tools obtained through its recent acquisition of PieSync. 

    Other software you might want to use with HubSpot CRM includes Microsoft Office, Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), and multivendor solutions you already have in place for HR, ERP, and billing, for example. HubSpot has a network of partners that can provide SMBs with any needed assistance with configuration, customization, and integration.

    6. Make Sure the Vendor Has "Staying Power"

    New CRM companies keep popping up all the time. Therefore, longevity is very important from the standpoint of stability, reliability, and risk mitigation.

    When you choose a reputable software vendor with proven staying power, you don’t need to worry that the company will go under and support for your software will vanish. For its part, HubSpot has been in business since 2005, and it’s consistently ranked among the top CRM vendors by publications ranging from PC Magazine to businessdaily.com.

    7. Ask for a Demo and Try Out the Software

    Many vendors let you request live demos of their software. They even help you build out content marketing strategies, calendars, and collateral to get the ball rolling. During the demo, a salesperson will give you a walkthrough of the software and how to use it. You can also ask questions specifically related to your own business.

    Vendors that don’t offer freemium options tend to provide trial versions that will give you a sense of the software’s functionality and ease of use. With freemium software like HubSpot, the free software you receive will be more than just a trial version—it will be the real deal.

    Implement the Right Software for Your Unique Business Needs

    GSI, a HubSpot Certified Partner, focuses on integrations, configuration, customization, and additional implementation services for HubSpot and other select SaaS vendors. 

    For information on how we can help with sales and marketing software implementations that align with your business model, contact us to learn more.