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  • Writer's pictureDouglas Grays

The 12 Most Important CRM Software Features You Need in 2023

Updated: Jan 26


Douglas Grays Author
Douglas Grays Author

With over 25 years of experience in B2B sales and successfully onboarding major global brands as clients, I've seen firsthand how implementing the right sales strategies and tools can transform businesses. As an avid proponent of CRM and sales technologies for decades, I’ve adeptly leveraged AI in my sales process since 2022 to stay ahead of the curve. On my blog, I provide clear, step-by-step guidance to help sales professionals and marketers connect with prospective clients more efficiently - an often overlooked aspect of the process. My goal is to empower you to achieve your business development objectives with an optimistic, passionate approach. Drawing from my decades of hands-on sales know-how, I offer actionable advice so you can master outreach, build credibility, and boost productivity. With a professional yet approachable tone, I simplify complex sales concepts into easily digestible and implementable strategies. As a seasoned sales advisor, my aim is to share my experience and knowledge to help you take your sales to the next level. 


Introduction

Choosing a CRM software is one of the most important technology decisions your business can make. With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which platform is right for your needs.


The key is identifying the must have CRM features that will drive results for your sales, marketing, and customer service teams.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the 12 most critical CRM software features to look for and why they’re so important. With these capabilities, you’ll be equipped to streamline processes, strengthen customer relationships, and supercharge company growth.



CRM Software Features

Key CRM Software Features


1. Contact Management

Contact management is the foundation of any solid CRM system. Your software should serve as the central database for all your customer and prospect information.


Key contact management features include:


  • A searchable, organized contact database to store names, companies, emails, addresses, phone numbers, social media profiles, etc.

  • Custom contact fields to capture any additional data unique to your business.

  • Contact tagging and segmentation tools to group contacts based on parameters like demographics, interests, and engagement metrics.

  • Activity tracking to log all interactions with each contact in their timeline.


With robust contact management, your sales, marketing, and service teams will have the full context to build meaningful customer relationships and have relevant, productive conversations.


2. Account Management

While contact management focuses on individual people, account management provides a big-picture view of the accounts and organizations you serve.


Important account management features include:

  • A master account record with key details like the company name, industry, address, phone number, website, social media pages, and more.

  • Contacts are associated with each account so you can see all your points of engagement.

  • A timeline of every interaction across contacts at that account.

  • Custom account fields to capture data unique to the organizations you serve.

  • Hierarchy mapping to model the organizational chart of each account.

With account management, you can pursue strategic relationships with entire companies, not just specific buyers. This enables more alignment across your go-to-market teams.


Lead Management

3. Lead Management

For companies focused on sales, robust lead management capabilities are essential. Your CRM software should seamlessly track leads from first discovery through sales conversion.


Key lead management features consist of:

  • Adding leads to the CRM via forms, chatbots, manual entry, and more.

  • Lead scoring to automatically rank prospects based on characteristics like demographics, engagement metrics, and behaviors.

  • Workflow automation to assign leads to reps, trigger emails, schedule follow-ups, and more based on rules and actions.

  • Conversion tracking to monitor sales progression from lead to opportunity to customer.

With advanced lead management, your sales reps can focus on the warmest prospects and accelerate deal velocity.


4. Opportunity Management

While lead management deals with prospects, opportunity management handles active deals already in your sales pipeline.


Important opportunity management capabilities include:

  • Adding new deals to the pipeline, setting the stage, value, projected close date,and other key details.

  • Associating contacts and accounts with each opportunity.

  • Tracking deal progression through customizable sales stages.

  • Forecasting sales to predict expected revenue based on your pipeline health.

  • Automating sales processes with workflows like sending quotes, scheduling demos, or emailing contracts when deals change stages.

With rock solid opportunity management, your sales team can keep deals moving efficiently through the funnel for faster conversions and revenue growth.


Task Management

5. Task Management

Task management gives all your customerfacing teams a centralized place to stay organized. Your CRM software should enable users to create task lists, set due dates, get reminders, and mark items complete.


Important task management features include:

  • Shared team tasks visible to managers and colleagues.

  • Individual user tasks only visible to the assigned rep.

  • Assigning tasks to specific users or teams.

  • Setting task due dates and reminders.

  • Marking tasks complete to track progress.

  • Reporting on task completion metrics.


With streamlined task management, your entire organization can coordinate work and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.


6. Email Integration

Since email is such a ubiquitous communication channel, your CRM should tightly integrate with your email system.


Key email integration features include:

  • Associating emails sent and received with relevant contacts and deals.

  • Tracking email engagement like open rates and clicks.

  • Logging emails into contact timelines.

  • Saving email attachments to associated records.

  • Syncing email contacts with your CRM database.

  • Enabling users to send emails directly from CRM records.


With email integration, all correspondence becomes part of your centralized customer database rather than siloed in individual inboxes.


7. Calendar Syncing

Calendar syncing connects your CRM with your calendar application so all customer meetings, phone calls, and events are visible in both places.


Important calendar integration features:

  • Ability to view colleague and team calendars to coordinate schedules.

  • Integration with calendar apps like Office365, Google Calendar, iCal, and Outlook.

  • Automatic syncing of appointments between your calendar and CRM.

  • Adding calendar events to associated contact and account timelines.

  • Overlaying events from your CRM calendar onto other calendars.

With calendar syncing, everyone has full visibility into customer interactions across the organization.


CRM Dashboards

8. Reporting and Dashboards

Robust reporting provides invaluable visibility into the performance of your sales, marketing, and service efforts. Your CRM should offer custom reports and dashboards.


Key reporting functionality includes:

  • Visual, graphical reports and dashboards to spot trends.

  • Customizable report builder to pull any data combination.

  • Scheduled report delivery to relevant stakeholders.

  • Real-time report updates as new data enters the CRM.

  • Role-based reporting with unique views for different teams.

  • Ability to drill down into reports for deeper analysis.

With data-driven reporting, you can optimize processes, identify issues, and make better strategic decisions.


9. Mobility

In today's on the go business climate, a CRM solution must provide stellar mobile access. Sales reps and other field personnel rely on their smartphones and tablets throughout the day.


Important mobile features include:

  • A sleek, responsive mobile app compatible with iOS and Android.

  • Key CRM features and data fields accessible on mobile.

  • Ability to track emails, calls, texts, and meetings on mobile.

  • Offline access to sync data when internet connectivity is limited.

  • Geolocation integration to track visits to accounts and contacts.

  • Inventory management and barcode scanning (for field service teams).


With fully functional mobile access, reps can handle customer interactions anytime, anywhere.


10. Customization

Your business has unique processes and objectives. Your CRM software should be customizable so you can tailor it to your needs.


Key customization capabilities:

  • Adding custom fields to capture proprietary data.

  • Building custom workflows to match your sales, service, and marketing processes.

  • Creating custom reports and dashboards with metrics important to your company.

  • Modifying page layouts and application navigation.

  • Integrating with other apps your company leverages.


11. Security

Handling sensitive customer data with care is crucial. Your CRM platform should have rock-solid security provisions.


Essential security features:

  • Granular user role permissions to limit access to certain data and actions.

  • Data encryption at rest and in motion to protect proprietary information.

  • Two-factor authentication for extra login protection.

  • SOC 2 compliance and other security certifications.

  • Built-in data backup and recovery capabilities.

With airtight security, you can ensure customer data privacy and prevent breaches.


12. Pricing Model

And of course, pricing plays a key role in your CRM decision. Be sure to assess both the overall cost structure and scalability of pricing options.


Important pricing model factors:

  • One-time license fees vs recurring subscriptions.

  • Per user pricing vs tiered packages.

  • Limitations or minimum commitments.

  • Scalability to add licenses as your team expands.

  • Availability of discounts for nonprofits and educational institutions.


The right pricing model provides flexibility and value as your company grows.


Which CRM Features Are Most Important?

We’ve covered the 12 essential categories of CRM software functionality. But which specific features are most important for your unique business situation?


The best way to determine your must have capabilities is to:


Analyze your current tech stack. See which gaps a new CRM could help fill or redundancies it could eliminate.


Map your processes. Document your sales, marketing, service, and other customer-facing workflows. Note pain points and bottlenecks.


Interview stakeholders. Talk with sales reps, account managers, marketing specialists, support agents, and other users to learn their challenges.


Develop requirements. Compile a list of features that would solve your problems, streamline processes, and drive the best results.


Your priority requirements will guide you to the ideal CRM software for your company’s needs and goals.


CRM Implementation Best Practices

Once you’ve chosen the right software based on must have features, it’s time for implementation. Follow these best practices to ensure a smooth and successful rollout:

  • Clean up existing customer data before importing into your new CRM.

  • Develop a user adoption strategy and timeline with training resources.

  • Perform testing during each implementation phase before companywide rollout.

  • Migrate data gradually rather than all at once to minimize disruptions.

  • Address any process changes needed to take advantage of key features.

  • Provide ongoing training and support resources for users at all levels.

  • Track CRM adoption metrics and gather user feedback to refine the platform.


Conclusion: Choose the Best CRM for Business Growth


Hey Sales Warriors,


Selecting the right CRM software with the features you or your sales, marketing, and customer service teams need is one of the most pivotal technology decisions for enabling business growth. This guide outlined the 12 core functionality areas to look for and how they drive results.


Within each category, your CRM platform must have specific capabilities tailored to your company’s unique processes and objectives. Keep this list handy as you demo potential solutions, develop requirements, and make your CRM investment. With the perfect system in place, you’ll be set up for improved efficiency, maximized productivity, and more meaningful customer relationships.


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