Business CRM: definition and selection criteria | Sidely

Business CRM: definition and selection criteria

Alexis Lecomte
May 7, 2024 - 5 min reading

Any company wishing to optimize its sales and marketing activities needs a CRM (customer relationship management) system. But there are many options available, which can make it difficult to choose the ideal solution. Among the criteria to take into account is the specific nature of your industry. In fact, standard software may not be adapted (or not well).

In this case, you need to opt for a business CRM, i.e. a solution designed specifically for your sector of activity. These are available in a wide range of sectors, including healthcare, real estate, automotive and, as we'll see in a detailed example at the end of this article, retail.

What is a business CRM?

A business CRM is a software application designed to meet the specific needs of a particular sector or industry. Unlike general-purpose solutions, a business CRM is equipped with customized functionalities and modules to meet the unique needs of a company's business processes and environment. This may concern the environment in which the activity is carried out (working at height, nomadic use, offline work, etc.), the distribution channel (customized sales cycle, multi-stakeholder), or even the type of information to be filled in (customized forms).

Business CRM aims to optimize customer relationship management in a specific business context. That's why it's also known as vertical, sectoral, specific or specialized CRM. In all cases, it's a genuine customer relationship management (CRM) tool. 

Finally, we should point out that a vertical CRM can be developed at the express request of a project owner who can't find a solution adapted to his or her business issues, but there are also companies who specialize in a single industry-specific solution, responding by default to any player evolving within it. Such is the case with Sidely, a SFA (sales force automation) software application dedicated to mass retail brands.

Business processes designed to optimize profitability 

Let's take a look at the benefits to be expected from a business CRM : 

  • Responding to the unique needs of an industry : the primary objective of a sales management tool is to centralize data from different sales and marketing channels. An industry-specific CRM is designed to facilitate and streamline the integration, entry and use of industry-specific sales data;
  • Operational efficiency gains: this means optimizing the company's sales and marketing performance processes, as well as its internal and external collaborative processes;
  • Strategic steering : adapting sales software to the structural reality of a market enables more detailed analysis of trends and facilitates strategic decision-making;
  • Simplified integration: business CRM is generally designed to integrate more easily with other systems and software used in the industry it covers;
  • Specialized support: business CRM providers often specialize in a specific sector, which means they have in-depth expertise in the needs and challenges faced by their customers, and can offer tailored technical support and advice.

📚 Also read : Why invest in a CRM

Things to watch out for before investing

But choosing the wrong business CRM can also entail constraints and limitations.

⚠️ This is particularly the case with specific developments. To secure your future investment, here are the points to watch out for: 

  • Initial cost: business CRMs can be more costly to set up, when they require custom developments;
  • Customization: in addition to being adapted to your industry or sector, a business CRM must also be adapted to your company and its organization. Try to understand the complexity of your needs, and whether these are based on internal or external factors; 
  • Vendor dependency: choosing a business CRM can create a strong dependency on the software vendor (updates, technical support, upgrades, etc.). This can be problematic if your needs change, in which case a business CRM can make it harder to evolve your information system;
  • Market limitations: vertical crm systems sometimes have a limited user base, due to the niche markets they address. Many customers prefer to work with financially robust partners.

To avoid these pitfalls, opt for a leader in its vertical market, such as Sidely for sales performance in the retail sector.

Vertical or horizontal CRM: making the right choice

For some, the question also arises of whether to opt for standard sales software. These tools are often referred to as horizontal or transversal CRMs, as they address all industries without distinction. However, these solutions can be relatively adaptable, for example by modeling the sales pipeline. However, their initial structure does not allow for the specific circumstances of certain very specific industries, and the customization effort often proves to be either impossible or very costly for the client.

With hindsight, companies often realize that they have invested in tools that are ill-suited to their business. In this case, the cost can be assessed at different levels: 

  • Time wasted on user input; 
  • Unsupported or unusable data formats ;
  • Information not reported due to lack of fields for ;
  • Inability or complexity to produce reliable and relevant analyses;
  • Etc.

Switching to a new CRM can be a complex operation, as it involves cleansing and formatting all data without sacrificing the company's sales and marketing history.

Finally, a cost that is often poorly estimated by companies is the cost ofnot using CRM: users are reluctant to use applications that are not adapted to their day-to-day reality. As they gradually abandon the CRM's ability to fill in the gaps, the value of their sales and marketing activities diminishes proportionately. Conversely, an application that solves business problems is immediately and unconditionally adopted by its users, as it enables them to improve their daily lives and their results. That's why we talk about team inclusiveness when drawing up specifications!

In short, as you may have guessed, it's best to make the right choice at the outset!

Example of business CRM for retail brands

B2B2C sales is undoubtedly the case that best illustrates this trend towards CRM verticalization.

Let's take the example of a brand that sells its products to supermarkets. Selling its products is a more complex process than it might seem, with two sales phases: annual negotiations (agreements) once a year, and additional sales (picking) as the year progresses. 

In many cases, agreements between brands and retailers commit the latter to purchasing a certain volume from the central distribution network, and to carrying out a number of product listing, display and promotional activities.

But in practice, how do you know whether contractual agreements are being respected at the point of sale? Faced with this dilemma, manufacturers generally send their sector managers to visit supermarket shelves to record all the elements and measurement indicators specific to supermarkets: number of facings, good merchandising presence, digital holding, price displayed on the shelf...

This process proves tedious, regularly generates omissions or data entry errors, and tends to amplify the pre-existing problems of traveling sales reps (updates to the mobile crm application, poor connection, need for synchronization, data entry time in supermarkets, unsuitability of data entry forms for items to be reported in real time, etc.). But beyond that, many CRMs don't allow them to carry out all these actions, because... they're not adapted. 

What's more, in regular sales with a recommender system, where the majority of sales CRMs follow a single "sales pipe", tracking sales and customers can prove difficult. 

That's why many brands tinker with generalist CRMs, at the risk of missing out on important data or wasting a considerable amount of time. In this case, we can see how crucial the choice of a gms business CRM is in this industry, since it fulfills all the objectives that can be expected of such a solution: 

  • In app and custom statement forms ;
  • Offline operation ; 
  • Mobile app and UX optimized for the field;
  • Immediate and automatic synchronization (if connected) ;
  • Centralization of sales and marketing data;
  • Optimal sales tour planning ;
  • Optimization of time, and therefore profitability.

Of course, if such a custom development had to be carried out for a single customer, the ensuing cost would be prohibitive.

Sidely is a CRM / SFA solution designed for brands that sell their products in supermarkets. All the above-mentioned functionalities are already included in the default SAAS solution. All that's left is for you to try Sidely free of charge and see how easy it is to set up any field or form without any knowledge of code!

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Ready to conquer the field? 
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