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The ever-changing business goals and success stories of top CRM software like ZenDesk, Salesforce, Monday.com, and Zoho motivate entrepreneurs to leverage the benefits of custom CRM development.
According to the Tech.co’s CRM Report, every dollar spent on a CRM provides an average ROI of 8.71$ and custom CRM solutions can boost conversion rates up to 300%.
These numbers are pretty attractive, but here comes the question: ‘how to develop a CRM software that will meet my business goals?’.
Today, we want to dive into this topic and cover the following aspects:
Let’s get down to business.
Before we start covering the advantages of fully customizable CRM solutions, it’s worth mentioning that there are several options of custom CRM software:
These options greatly vary in terms of the final custom CRM development cost, time-to-market period, support, and maintenance activities.
Thus, customizing Salesforce/Dynamics 365 CRM platforms allows you to take the existing functionality basis and build the required features and customizations on top of it.
So, this option is much cheaper and faster than creating a CRM from scratch as there is no need to build the infrastructure, architecture, and perform UX/UI design activities.
Also, CRM customization does not require constant technical support and maintenance from your in-house or outsourcing development teams as it’s held by Salesforce.com or D365.
We will compare these options in greater detail in the section related to the step-by-step development process.
Now let’s discuss the key benefits of custom CRM software.
Top packaged CRM software undoubtedly use the latest technologies and update their systems regularly, but you can still bump into the lack of performance depending on your needs in real-time.
For example, you’ve noticed a critical need in having a specific functionality right now or in the nearest future and everything you can do is to ping out a CRM provider and ask for improvements.
Nobody knows how much time it will take to provide you with the needed features and meet your demands.
For these reasons, custom CRM development is a great option to embed the required level of performance that will help you reach goals efficiently and avoid any limitations.
You can choose the preferred technology stack, IT infrastructure, and other technical aspects that will help keep your custom built CRM handy, relevant, and high-performing.
Despite the initial difference between packaged and custom CRM solutions pricing, you can save much costs in the long run.
First, custom CRM development allows you to build the exact features your company needs for successful operation. In turn, ready-made products provide additional features that you may never use but are enforced to purchase as well.
Second, CRM software providers can update and raise pricing plans any time complementing them with some additional functionality and you cannot make a difference in such situations.
In return, tailor-made CRM software development means that any system upgrades go hand in hand with your organization’s financial capabilities and happen only at your request.
Third, packaged CRM solutions mostly charge extra fees for any increase in the number of users. This transforms into large expenses when your team grows. For this reason, custom CRM development allows you to embed the required level of scalability beforehand and save much funds in the long run.
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Packaged CRM solutions mostly provide limited flexibility for your company’s needs. This is due to a large number of users that are fine with the ready-made features and don’t require additional opportunities in the long run.
Creating a CRM from scratch allows you to build a super flexible ecosystem for any needs in the years ahead. You have no barriers to create, modify, remove, or even restructure the CRM software you’ve built by adding new features, integrations, or even building new products for your company’s departments.
Despite the fact that top CRM software providers enable users to get the most widespread integrations with modern tools, you are still limited to integrate with other products you may need.
According to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, more than 45% of companies experienced hacking attacks including 17% of malware and 22% of phishing attacks.
What’s more, Cybint states that over 95% of cyber breaches take place due to human errors.
All these stats vividly demonstrate the possible risks you may encounter while purchasing packaged CRM products.
First, you cannot be immune to the mistakes and errors potentially made by ready-made CRM providers during the updates which make your cyber security more sensitive immediately.
Second, ready-made CRM providers also have chances to get hacked which means that your sensitive personal and corporate data stored on remote servers can be easily submitted to phishing.
For these reasons, custom CRM development is the perfect choice to minimize cybersecurity risks and keep your personal and corporate data in safety.
You have all opportunities to create robust security by using the top encryption protocols and the latest cybersecurity trends like:
Customer Lifecycle & Segmentation
Customer lifecycle management allows you to navigate a user through multiple sales funnels internally in order to have a vivid picture in real-time.
This feature is of utmost importance to evaluate your marketing and sales strategies, streamline the opportunity management process, and get insights into potential customers.
For example, a customer lifecycle pipeline allows you to analyze and identify the stage where your leads don’t convert into deals.
This way, you can come closer to the understanding of why a specific customer lifecycle stage is weak and define ways to improve it.
Besides, we recommend implementing segmentation functionality which would enable you to distribute leads and opportunities across groups with shared characteristics like demography, actions, requests, marketing activities, and traffic sources.
This greatly simplifies the way your teams will cooperate with certain opportunities knowing that a specific group requires the same demos, presentations, or just have other similar requests.
Insightful Analytics & Dashboards
According to Gartner’s Data and Analytics Report, over 90% of enterprise analysts and business professionals state that data analysis is the best way to reach digital transformation initiatives.
These statistics prove that analytics is crucial for every business and particularly for your custom CRM platform.
At Ascendix Tech, we always suggest our clients build advanced and insightful dashboard functionality that allows visualizing the results of the sales process, customer service, and marketing activities.
CRM analytics tools help you get lots of insights into such aspects as email open, lead-to-deal, deal win-loss ratios, open service requests, and others.
What’s more, creating a CRM from scratch and implementing powerful analytics means that you can get valuable insights into pre- and post-sales engagement activities like:
Below you can see the advanced analytics and dashboard functionality provided by Salesforce to its users.
Advanced Search With Filters
As we stated earlier, custom CRM development allows you to get unlimited scalability and performance opportunities in terms of large data volumes. However, these characteristics are senseless without the ability to find and process them instantly.
For this reason, advanced search with powerful filters are the must-have features for your custom CRM solutions.
Enhanced search experience enables your employees to find records in a fast and easy manner. By the way, you can implement an autosave feature that will help you automatically save search results generated and return to them later.
Advanced filters are super helpful to set multiple search criteria, add required values, or select default options from a drop-down list. All these opportunities help you greatly narrow down the scope and accelerate the search experience even more.
Right here you can see the search and filters functionality our CRM solution developers have developed for our own Ascendix Search product to extend out-of-the-box Salesforce search functionality.
According to Emma’s Industry Report, over 60% of marketers state that email marketing is the #1 source of ROI for the companies they’re working with.
These statistics confirm the fact that email integration plays a huge role in custom CRM development from a business point of view.
Custom built CRM is firstly about enhanced and seamless communication with leads and clients to nurture and provide them with relevant materials, follow-ups, and responses in the most convenient way possible.
This means you should be ahead of the game integrating with the most widely used email platforms like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, ProtonMail, and Zoho.
Apart from the direct communication process, email integration allows you to segment, manage contact lists, and create a centralized hub for cross-team collaboration.
At Ascendix Tech, we have built an advanced mass email tool which allows our Ascendix Search users to:
Keep reading the full case study to learn more on custom CRM development for Ascendix Search.
Powerful Document Management
Go Nitro Digital Transformation Report states that time spent on finding, handling, copying, and filing documents transforms into approximately an additional $20K per employee per year for companies around the world.
These statistics show how important is automated document management for business, especially for your custom CRM software.
As your workers find and process hundreds or thousands of documents daily, document management tools are of utmost importance to save much time, funds, and focus on major tasks like converting leads into deals.
For all these reasons, we strongly recommend implementing powerful document management for your CRM solution foremost.
What are the benefits of CRM document management?
At Ascendix Tech, we have greatly improved a document management system complementing it with a powerful data import/export tool for Jones Lang LaSalle.
Relationship Data Bucket
Customer relationship management is about large volumes of data and intuitive user flow to keep your employees high-performing and result-oriented. How can you achieve it?
Relationship data bucket is one of the must-have features which allows you to store all the required data in one place and access it remotely and quickly.
For example, this functionality becomes of great help when creating a new lead profile, filling in the contact personal information, and gathering lead preferences.
This way, your employees can save the required information in the database and access it instantly when needed to perform personalized conversations and making calls in a question-and-answer way.
At Ascendix Tech, we have extended and improved the default Salesforce functionality called relationship data bucket for our AscendixRE solution to empower real estate brokers with simplicity and high performance while working with their custom built CRM.
Easy-to-Use Data Import/Export
As we stated earlier, document management features are must-have to simplify routine tasks and interact with your leads and clients even more efficiently.
For this reason, we recommend implementing data import/export functionality to boost your workflow yet more.
This tool will enable your employees to upload/download the required records in the preferred formats like Excel/CSV and avoid conversion actions.
For example, you can upload new relevant document templates in the required format so that your users and admins save much time creating new proposals, presentations, and other materials manually.
This way, users can focus on strategic tasks and goals like client communication and deal closing processes having an easy-to-use Excel/CSV data import functionality.
Below you can see this feature in action developed by our Ascendix Tech CRM solution developer team during the custom CRM development for JLL.
As we mentioned in the previous section, templates are the accelerators that help employees streamline the workflow, speed up task completion, and improve their customer service level.
These reasons make a template library a nice-to-have feature during custom CRM development.
Simply put, this functionality stands for an automated and centralized hub for cross-team collaboration which helps team members to access the required documents instantly and customize them in an intuitive way.
Besides, your custom built CRM with a template library can even scale up to a project management tool through a wide range of scenarios offered by the created templates. In turn, this can help you avoid purchasing additional software and performing time-consuming integrations after custom CRM development.
Intuitive Report Generation Tool
At Ascendix Tech, we’ve taken a step forward in terms of a template library implementation and created an intuitive report generation feature.
This tool will help your custom built CRM users to create visually-appealing and informative reports for leads and clients in a fast and easy way.
We recommend implementing several options of sharing the reports with your contacts or internally.
For example, you can add an opportunity to send them via email or download a PDF version to a local machine for internal usage.
Below you can see a lightning-fast brochure generation tool built for Jones Lang LaSalle by our Ascendix Tech custom CRM developers. It includes multiple opportunities like:
As you already know the must-have features of a custom CRM software that meets your needs, let’s now find the detailed answers to the question ‘how to build a CRM that rocks’.
As we mentioned at the beginning, you should choose the preferred custom CRM software option before starting any development process. Let’s overview each method in greater detail.
Salesforce/Dynamics 365 CRM Customization
There are two top ready-made CRM solutions that offer extensive customization opportunities – Salesforce and Dynamics 365.
In case default platforms’ functionality works fine for your business, but you just want to add specific customizations and features, then CRM customization is your choice.
Wondering what CRM platform to choose: Salesforce vs Dynamics 365?
Here is the short comparison table which gives a better understanding of the key differences between these two CRM software like licensing, development/consulting costs, hardware purchase/support, and maintenance necessity, accessibility, and other aspects.
|Salesforce vs Dynamics 365 Comparison Matrix|
|Platform||Dynamics 365||Salesforce Enterprise|
|License costs||$110/user (estimated –need firm quote from MS LAR)||$150/user/mo. (list price likely to be lower, say around $125, perhaps $110)|
|Development/Consulting Costs Considerations||Greater accessibility to the applications increases efficiency in the project in terms of interacting with the environments and provisioning builds from environment to environment||Greater accessibility to the applications increases efficiency in the project in terms of interacting with the environments and provisioning builds from environment to environment|
|Hardware Purchase / Support and Maintenance||Not required||Not required|
|3rd Party Tool Eco-system||While more diverse and deep in offerings than D365 On Premise, the marketplace of 3rdparty tools pales in comparison to that of other platforms like Salesforce.com||By far, Salesforce has the most expansive eco-system for 3rdparty applications. The user community for SFDC is much more engaging and the amount of supporting documentation for this platform is far and away the best in the market.|
|Market Position||Ranked by most to be the 4th or 5th CRM in terms of market share.||Ranked #1 in CRM market share and have been in this position for the last 10 years.|
|Accessibility||Accessible anywhere via browser with connectivity||Accessible anywhere via browser with connectivity|
|Integrations (Tool availability)||There is a great deal of investment in tools that help to integrate and share data between cloud based systems.||There is a great deal of investment in tools that help to integrate and share data between cloud based systems. The popularity of the Salesforce platform has driven more ingenuity and diversity to the tools available for this platform.|
|Frequency of updates / cadence of new releases||There is a standard cadence of 2 releases a year but there have been some changes recently that may increase the frequency of those updates.||Salesforce has 2 major releases a year. The amount of documentation, lead time and preparation materials is second to none in the market.|
Now let’s discuss when CRM customization is better for your business comparing to building a CRM from scratch.
CRM Customization Benefits
Apart from creating a CRM from scratch, customization means taking the default Salesforce/Dynamics 365 functionality and architecture as a basis and adding the required customizations and opportunities on top of them.
This way, you can greatly save much time and funds as you avoid building the whole platform infrastructure and skeleton and finding in-house or outsourced software development teams.
It means you can start using the required customizations and functionality much faster in case you are fine with the default features of CRM providers.
As you saw in the comparison matrix above, both Salesforce and Dynamics 365 release major updates several times per year and constantly handle all maintenance issues that you may encounter.
So, you avoid having a stand-by technical team supporting your custom CRM software which saves you much funds as well.
Besides, these CRM providers have highly responsive customer support departments with thousands of specialists ready to process and solve your problem in real-time.
Despite the fact that most custom software development solutions go online, there are still many on-premises products that pay good money for hardware maintenance and support.
Creating a CRM from scratch is also no exception as this type of solution may have an on-premises basis that obligates its creators to pay sufficient funds to keep their products above water.
To sum up, CRM customization is a perfect choice for your company when you’re fine with default Salesforce/Dynamics 365 functionality and just want to add specific customizations and features on top of them.
This option may become faster, cheaper, and more efficient compared to creating a CRM from scratch in terms it fits your business needs well.
Creating a CRM From Scratch
From-scratch custom CRM development gives you the fullest range of opportunities and freedom to implement narrow goal-specific features tailored to your particular business model and goals.
For sure, this option is the most expensive one at the beginning, but it provides lots of benefits in the long run. Let’s check the key advantages of building a CRM from scratch.
a) High Performance
b) Cost-efficiency in the long run
d) Robust Security
e) Absence of licensing costs.
Everything starts with an idea and a key goal you want to achieve. Custom CRM development is no exception which means you should first come up with the targets you want to achieve building a CRM.
Create a list where you answer the following questions:
Once done, you will have a transparent vision and exact requirements for that will future development teams better understand how to build a custom CRM tailored to your specific needs.
When you get a precise understanding of the business goals, operations, and platform users, analyze your workflow to define the exact pipeline that perfectly fits your business model.
This will help you clearly define the must-have functionality you need and avoid wasting much time and funds on building a CRM with unnecessary features.
At this stage, you should also identify roles and permissions of your custom built CRM so that you embed the right architecture from the very beginning.
For instance, sales reps need to have the fullest range of permissions including:
Besides, you may want to select specific user groups that will have access to deep analytics.
We recommend coming up with these aspects beforehand. This will help you provide the future development teams with strict and clear requirements that will help better understand how to develop CRM application that meets your needs.
Once you have defined the business goals and analyzed your workflow, it’s high time to choose the proper customer relationship management platform type.
There are three options:
#1 Operational CRM
This platform type is designed specifically to automate the internal processes of your sales, marketing, or support departments.
The built functionality is focused on accelerating and simplifying such aspects as contacting leads, follow-upping contacts, using multiple channels to boost interactions with clients and increase customer loyalty.
Operational custom built CRM will become a perfect choice for your company if you want to automate workflow and put your employees into more strategic tasks like lead-to-deal conversions, meetings with clients, deep analytics, and so on.
#2 Collaborative CRM
These customer relationship management systems bring the most benefits to large enterprises having dozens of departments that need seamless cooperation within the communication with customers.
This platform type allows your company to collaborate even with external partners in a single ecosystem.
These custom built CRMs offer extra convenient in-place chat rooms and collaboration hubs to make communication with clients even more effective.
For example, we have developed and implemented powerful and secure collaboration rooms to help brokers interact with customers and discuss properties and availabilities in a fast and simple way.
So, the core benefit of collaborative CRMs is business unit synchronicity which offers unlimited opportunities to sync with other teams or companies located abroad.
#3 Analytical CRM
This type of CRM platform is focused on providing deep insights for your business so that you generate immediate data-driven decisions.
There are three cornerstones of analytics here:
Speaking more precisely, analytical custom CRM software provides such powerful components as data warehousing, data mining, and online analytical processing (OLAP) tools.
All of them help your business to collect, analyze, process large volumes of data automatically based on multidimensional information patterns.
Analytical custom CRM software is a great choice for your company if you want to boost your marketing and sales efforts by collecting and analyzing customer-related data.
In fact, custom CRM development is totally about mixing the required types of customer relationship management systems your company needs.
For this reason, give it a thought to choose the perfect combination that will help your company make the most out of sales and marketing.
Here we come to the question ‘how to build a CRM software’ in the pure state.
There are several ways to building a CRM depending on your requirements, budget, and time allocated. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Find a CTO/Technical Partner
A Chief Technical Officer is a perfect choice for you in case you are ready to spend much time searching not only for an experienced technical specialist but also a business partner having the same product vision and passion for building a CRM that rocks.
The most efficient ways of finding a CTO are buzz marketing and offline/online tech-related events.
In terms of custom CRM development costs, hiring a technical partner is pretty pricey as you can fully delegate everything related to the technical implementation of your custom built CRM and other recruiting and onboarding activities.
Hire Freelance Custom CRM Developers
This option may become cheaper than the previous one, but you can encounter such risks as:
Considering the benefits, we should mention reasonable custom CRM development costs, a wide talent pool, fast commitment, and avoidance of onboarding and recruiting activities.
Outsource to a CRM software development company
This option may seem the most beneficial for your business in case you find a reliable and experienced CRM development company.
First, this option mostly gives you extra high final product quality with a powerful transformation of your business requirements into advanced functionality.
Second, a CRM development company may have solid experience in building a CRM within multiple verticals. Always review the software vendor’s case studies and resources to find a custom built CRM that has similar functionality and architecture to yours.
This way, a company perfectly knows how to build a CRM platform that will meet your business goals relatively.
For example, our custom CRM developers have completed multiple projects related to building custom CRM solutions within multiple verticals.
Third, custom CRM development with a technology partner means you get full legal part support and can be sure your project data and source code are in safety due to the NDA document.
Wondering how to build CRM software yourself? There are lots of step-by-step guides on dev.to, HackerNoon, and other tech-related platforms that can help you implement an MVP version of a custom built CRM.
Ascendix has over 25 years of experience in custom CRM development working with such large enterprises as Jones Lang LaSalle, Colliers International, Transwestern, Flibco.com, Stiles, and others.
Such a long way of CRM development services allowed our CRM solution developers to build our own custom CRM software with additional features that boost the efficiency of sales, marketing, support, and other departments.
Let’s now discuss some of our custom CRM development projects.
Custom CRM software development for JLL
Jones Lang LaSalle is one of the biggest commercial real estate market players with over 100,000 global workforce as of 2020. They contacted and hired Ascendix Tech custom CRM developers back in 2010 and here is what we’ve done since then:
Here you can check what Chad Lisney, Vice President Global IT at JLL, said about our cooperation:
“ The quality of work Ascendix provides is second to none.
They’ve delivered custom CRM solutions that no one else has been able to. Their efforts have helped both our sales force and the dynamics of our practice. The technologies they’ve employed have significantly simplified our CRM usage.
Many of our locations require customizations that Ascendix has been able to provide solutions for not available in our previous custom built CRM.
Their CRM system development services have helped us drive our adoption, which has increased by about six times what it was before we started working with them. ”
Custom CRM Software Development for Colliers
Colliers International Indiana is a large company providing real estate services like brokerage and property management construction, valuation and advisory, capital markets, etc.
Colliers contacted and hired Ascendix custom CRM developers 13 years ago and since then we have been completing a wide range of tasks of any complexity related to CRM system development services, specifically:
Right here are some words from Saimir Qalliu, Chief Financial Officer and Managing Director at Colliers, considering the cooperation with Ascendix Tech:
“ We wanted to make better use of our data and present it in a format that our professionals and clients would find attractive and easy to access.
This required a new custom CRM software, hence the engagement with Ascendix on this latest project. The idea of presenting data in an easily accessible and pleasing way to the consumer was not new.
We just wanted to have our ability to execute it within our space, with our own data, for our professionals and clients. ”
If you want to learn more project details first hand, keep reading the full interview with Saimir Qalliu.
MarketSpace Custom CRM Development & Design
As we stated earlier, we have been building and improving our own custom CRM solutions for many years and MarketSpace is one of them.
Simply put, our custom CRM developers have delivered an advanced property listing tool designed specifically to empower brokers with powerful marketing and sales features and streamline their communication processes with leads and clients.
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Here is a list of MarketSpace custom CRM development features:
Let’s check what Todd Terry, CTO and Managing Partner at Ascendix, said about MarketSpace CRM development:
“ A lot of our customers are in commercial real estate. They have many, many listings that they win from their customers and they need to provide these options to their customers.
MarketSpace is a way for our users, who are brokers, to use this search engine to find the right listings for them, add them to what we call a collaboration room, and bring the customer into this collaboration room to provide these options.
The customer can ask questions, they can chat, they can share documents in a secure way. It takes a traditional sales model that’s usually done in email.
We take all of that transaction out of email and move it into this collaboration platform and so far, our feedback reading from our customers has been amazing. ”
We’re here to help. Just fill in the form and we’ll send an estimate.
Custom CRM development is a complex and thorny process that pays off in the future in case of building a CRM that perfectly meets your business goals and automates most operations.
At Ascendix Tech, we provider 25-year expertise and experience in custom CRM software development services. We will transform consider your business problems and project requirements for creating a CRM from scratch that will boost lead-to-deal conversion rate and other business aspects.
If you want to discuss your project idea, feel free to check our case studies and contact us. We will be glad to engage in a discussion to better understand your goals and objectives and if appropriate, provide you with a free estimate of your project development requirements.
Daniil specializes in content marketing and has a deep knowledge of promoting the company's products and services through high-quality content. On the Ascendix blog, Daniil shares his tricks and tips on custom software development, provides technology trends and insights, and helps you get valuable content to make your business even more successful and profitable.
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