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How To Build A CRM System from Scratch: A Complete Guide

Krunal Shah

Sep 17, 2020

10 min readLast Updated Jul 25, 2023

How to Build a CRM System from Scratch

Building custom CRM software from scratch is a lot of work and needs considerable resources. When we have established CRM software like Salesforce and Oracle in the market, should you invest time and money in building a new one? In this detailed blog post, I explain the benefits a custom CRM software has over pre-packaged software. We will also dive into how to build a CRM from scratch.

Benefits of Using a Custom CRM Software

Benefits of using a custom crm software

Some of the most common advantages of building your own CRM software system are:

1. You don’t have to pay for what you don’t use

A major limitation of using pre-built CRM software is that their packages may not suit your needs. Sometimes, the basic package doesn’t include some of your needed features. To avail of those, you have to upgrade to a higher version, leading to inflated costs.

What’s worse? Most of the features of those expensive versions may not even be very useful to your business. Hence, building custom CRM software from scratch will be much more cost-efficient for you in the long run.

2. You can integrate your CRM system with your existing workflows without any interruption

Pre-packaged CRM systems like Salesforce are built with a generalized distribution of marketing, sales, customer support workflows, etc. It may or may not be the exact fit for your unique business needs. Adopting it may force you to rearrange your workflows to integrate them across the organization.

With custom CRM software development, you can design your system in a way that smoothly integrates with your existing workflows. Moreover, you have the liberty to automate only those workflows that you deem fit.

All the departments can continue to function as they do and still make the most of your custom CRM software.

3. You have full control over the customer journey and access to useful customer data

A huge advantage of using custom-built CRM software is the kind of control you have over the customer journey. From placing and tracking orders to generating bills and resolving issues, you can optimize how your customer interacts with your system and people.

The same goes for customer data and insights. Sure, enterprise CRM systems provide information like your customers' demographics. However, they can’t yield the exact data you need to understand your customer completely.

By developing your own CRM software, you can create a combination of filters to get precise custom reports.

4. You can get your own CRM app ecosystem

We know a CRM system is nothing but a collection of tools that lets the users do their jobs respectively. When you build your own CRM, you can create apps that different departments can use for their convenience.

Having your own internal ecosystem of such apps will enable you to test certain features and their impact. You can thus add department-specific apps per their needs and change or remove those as per the results.

At the organizational level, such a flexible CRM system can go a long way in empowering departments to maximize their efficiency.

How to Build a CRM System Software from Scratch

Build a custom crm software

Building a CRM system isn’t just about coding the necessary requirements. Custom CRM development also has a full life cycle like any other software.

Step 1: Identify your business goals for building a custom CRM software

Of course, the broader objective of implementing a CRM system is to increase profits. However, you must identify how your CRM system will help your business grow.

Do you need custom CRM software for automating tasks and thus reducing costs? Or do you need it for the insights that will help you understand your customer and, thus, increase your sales?

All CRM software has different functionalities for different departments. If you focus on reducing operational costs, you don’t need to spend much on developing sophisticated marketing features and vice versa.

Based on your business strategy, it is possible that you don’t even need to build a full-fledged CRM system catering equally to all the departments. Thus, developing a CRM system from scratch gives you the liberty to build only the needed parts.

So, to build a CRM system from scratch for your business, define what goals you need the system to achieve for you.

For your quick reference, I have listed some of the most common goals organizations aim to achieve through their custom-made CRM software.

  • Maximizing customer satisfaction (and loyalty)
  • Accumulating and organizing stakeholders’ data in one place
  • Detailed insights on customer behavior
  • Generating reports to optimize the performance of one or multiple departments
  • Assessing marketing campaign results and optimizing ROI on the same
  • Managing leads and analyzing where they come from
  • Managing the customer base and getting valuable data about the customer journey
  • Improving internal communication through tools like notifications, automated emails/texts, etc.

Step 2: Study the types of CRM systems and choose the right one for your goals

Based on the goals you defined in Step 1, determine the type of CRM system that will help you achieve those goals. All CRM software indeed provides different functionalities to some extent. However, they are categorized based on which department they are specifically designed to help.

Thus, there are three types of CRM software. Depending on each type's purpose, they fall under operational, collaborative, or analytical CRM.

1. When should you build a custom Operational CRM?

If your main goal is to automate and integrate marketing, sales, and customer support, you should build a custom Operational CRM. With the help of dashboards and custom reports, it helps you keep a close watch on routine operations and monitor how they contribute to generating leads.

Operational CRM is a common choice for businesses in the financial, retail, real estate, healthcare industries, etc.

2. When should you build a custom Analytical CRM?

An analytical CRM system is the best option if your goal is to maximize customer acquisition. It’s ideal to build your custom analytical CRM with the reports and filters you need on your customer data.

By analyzing these reports, you will better understand where your target customer is coming from, their preferences, what aspect of your product or service appeals to them the most, and much more.

A custom-made analytical CRM system is greatly helpful for targeting the right kind of audience at the right place and time.

3. When should you build a custom Strategic CRM?

Strategic CRM, or Collaborative CRM, is a very niche system that yields information about the customer journey in your business operations. Its main goal is customer retention by understanding when customers leave the sales funnel.

A custom strategic CRM will help you make incremental changes in certain workflows across various departments.

With these changes and synchronized customer experience data, you can improve customer interaction, and satisfaction, and keep them from ending their relationship with your business.

Step 3: Determine the features to include in your custom CRM software

features of a custom crm software

You have the clarity of your business goals and know which type of CRM system you need to build to meet those goals. Taking these two aspects as guidelines, you need to figure out which functionalities you will need to build in your CRM system.

The most important component of building a custom CRM software is understanding which features to include and which ones to exclude. If you go wrong here, you may elevate your CRM software costs.

To help you at this stage, I will briefly introduce the kind of features your CRM system may need.

6 Core Features of a CRM Software System

Regardless of the purpose or type of CRM software, every business needs certain core features in its system.

1. Contact management

Contact management is the foundation of any CRM software. It is a functionality to store customer data, maintain records, and manage contact details like phone numbers, email addresses, etc.

2. Lead management

This feature is essential to keep track of your potential clients. Your custom CRM software should be able to organize your leads in one place. It should help you monitor when and how your leads move toward a conversion.

3. Task management

Running a business is a complex task that involves numerous sub-tasks under various departments. To keep things planned and systematic, you must build a task management functionality in your custom CRM system.

A basic task management feature should enable your team leads to create tasks, add relevant members, and leave comments whenever necessary.

4. Calendar and reminders

Whether it’s lead management, task management, or any other process, team members must work together to meet business goals. Schedules and meetings become an integral part of business operations then.

Thus, functionalities related to the calendar and reminders to concerned team members are an indispensable part of customer relationship management.

5. Dashboards and reports

Just like project management software, CRM software, too, needs dashboards to provide an overview of the work in progress. Additionally, reports are important for the team to gauge the effectiveness and effectiveness of each department in various parameters.

6. File sharing

To reiterate, teamwork necessitates collaborative work. A quick file-sharing feature in your custom CRM software will save you time. Without this feature, all team members must repeatedly upload and download the same files.

6 Advanced features of a custom CRM software system

You must know your business needs and the above basic features to build a CRM system from scratch.

Here is a list of commonly used advanced CRM software features:

1. Mobile Access

Almost everything is beginning to become “mobile-first” now. With distributed remote teams and work-from-home getting popular now, mobile access is a feature that makes the CRM system more accessible to all stakeholders.

2. Pipeline view

If maximizing sales and growing revenue is your objective, the pipeline view should be an important consideration in how to build custom CRM software. A pipeline view visually represents a prospect’s journey from being led to becoming a customer.

In a single dashboard, you can create various tabs to track the status of your leads as “new,” “proposed,” “qualified,” “rejected,” and “contract.”

3. Invoicing

An advanced invoicing feature in your custom CRM software will make it extremely easy to generate invoices, check their status, track invoice history, and more.

4. Third-party integrations

As I mentioned earlier, building your own custom CRM software allows you to build an internal app ecosystem. That will be possible only if you develop functionality to integrate your CRM system with third-party tools.

5. Custom reports

Custom reports are especially useful for analytical CRM software, where you can learn and understand everything about your target audience. Clubbing a couple of parameters and applying a combination of filters can generate a gold mine of customer insights for you.

6. Chatbots

The quicker you respond to your customers, the better your chances of customer acquisition and retention are. For that reason, chatbots are increasingly being used in a lot of CRM software.

Unlike an auto email, auto-responses by chatbots feel more human and provide an engaging customer support experience.

Step 4: Specify access levels for each functionality

Access levels for each functionality

While deciding how to build custom CRM software, make sure you don’t just stop at prioritizing CRM features. You must also clearly define which parts of the CRM system will have what features. Moreover, you must also specify who has access to what features.

Set up access permissions in your CRM system to maintain orderliness and business secrecy. Only those who have been given access should be able to look at certain data and parts of the system.

Step 5: Create a budget for building your CRM system from scratch

budget for building your CRM system

Finally, it’s time to create a budget because, well, what’s the point of making plans if you don’t have the resources to execute those? So you need to estimate how much it costs to build a custom CRM software. And for that, you need to understand how much your desired functionalities will cost you.

Development of a custom CRM software from scratch usually consists of the following phases:

Based on the kind of design you want to build and the features of CRM, the collective costs of building your custom CRM software can vary from $5000 to $50,000.

However, there is a way to determine how much your CRM will cost. You must aim to create budgets for each module separately.

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Custom CRM Software

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We can help you build cost-efficient CRM software for your business!

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Q1: Can CRM system software be customized to suit specific business needs?

Yes, most CRM system software can be customized to align with the unique requirements of a business. This customization may involve adapting workflows, adding custom fields, or integrating with other business applications to create a tailored CRM solution.

Q2: Is CRM system software suitable for small businesses?

Absolutely! CRM system software is beneficial for businesses of all sizes. Small businesses can use CRM software to efficiently manage customer interactions, track leads, and optimize sales processes, improving overall customer satisfaction and business growth.

Q3: How does CRM system software help in sales and marketing?

CRM system software provides valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, and interactions. This helps sales and marketing teams to target the right audience, personalize communication, and optimize marketing campaigns, leading to higher conversions and improved sales performance.

Q4: Is CRM system software secure for storing customer data?

Reputable CRM system software providers prioritize data security and employ robust encryption and access controls to safeguard customer data. Choosing a trusted CRM vendor with a track record of maintaining data security and compliance with industry standards is essential.

Q5: Can CRM system software integrate with other business tools and applications?

Many CRM system software solutions offer integration capabilities to connect with other business tools like email marketing platforms, customer support systems, accounting software, etc. Integration streamlines data flow and improves overall operational efficiency.

Q6: How can CRM system software improve customer service?

CRM system software provides a centralized customer database, allowing customer service teams to access customer history, preferences, and previous interactions. This enables them to provide personalized and efficient support, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Q7: Is CRM system software user-friendly and easy to implement?

The user-friendliness and implementation process of CRM system software can vary depending on the provider and the complexity of customization. Many modern CRM solutions offer user-friendly interfaces and intuitive setups, making it easier for businesses to start and adopt the software.

Q8: What customer support is available for CRM system software users?

CRM system software providers typically offer various levels of customer support, including online documentation, video tutorials, email support, and phone support. Some providers may also have dedicated customer success teams to assist users with questions or issues.

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