Has this happened to you…
You have been researching a new tool for your business to use (oh, say a new CRM!) and decided to fill out the “contact us” tab on a company’s website. By the end of the day, you have three emails, two voice mails, and one calendar invitation from that vendor. Multiply that by ten if you’re researching competitive vendors.
You have been researching a new tool for your business to use and decided to fill out the “contact us” tab on a company’s website. By the end of the day, you have three emails, two voice mails, and one calendar invitation from that vendor. Multiply that by ten if you’re researching competitive vendors.
We’ve all been there: a simple inquiry becomes an information avalanche! Details from each company start spiraling into a tornado, and you suddenly find yourself becoming a Project Manager of vendors rather than a consumer analyzing which solution best fits your company.
How can you avoid getting stuck in the vendor’s marketing vortex? Better still, how can you ensure YOU aren’t giving your prospects a similarly unpleasant experience?
A CRM (Client Relationship Management) system will help your company organize lead processes to avoid overwhelming your leads. But deciding on the best CRM for your company, needs to start with a strategy.
A CRM should become an asset to the company and to effectively make it as such, time and energy must thoroughly be placed within the investigative stages. Reviews are great, but finding the best CRM is about identifying the solution that best fits your company, not solely based on what worked well for another company. More often than people would like to admit, their decision stems from a recommendation from a colleague, another department manager, or the hype surrounding a specific solution.
Before we dive into how to strategize and avoid creating your own vortex, let’s examine the factors that you shouldn’t base your choice of solutions on:
- The interface is cool or “sexy.”
- You heard it does all the work for you.
- Your sales representative is tossing in one-year subscription free!
- You are promised a completed implementation in one month!
- Your VP knows their VP personally.
Keep in mind that your goal is to select the best solution that fits where your company is now and where you plan to go in the future. With all the advancements in technology, it’s easy to get hooked on the look and feel, but technology is ever-changing in and of itself. The requirements for determining the best CRM system must be functional and sustainable for your company.
#1 – Know Your Needs
Determine the root issues that you are looking to solve by committing to a new CRM. Common reasons that businesses look towards purchasing a CRM is to track the sales funnel, track lead activity, create and maintain a customer base, determine opportunities, determine closing rates, manage customer relationships, organize operations, and increase productivity while increasing profitability. As with any goal, in order to effectively accomplish your CRM goals, it’s important to then break down your objectives. By prioritizing what you’re looking to solve with a CRM solution, you’ll be able to better analyze vendors. A lot of time and lost revenue comes with maintaining this information on spreadsheets. On the flipside, the ROI that comes with a new system is invaluable, especially if you choose the right one.
#2 – Analyze
After narrowing down your solutions from the vendor list, it is time to bring the discussion to your IT team and create a list of what the CRM must be able to accomplish that aligns with the company’s infrastructure. To avoid having your CRM simply become another piece of software, it’s important to determine how it will fit, as well as communicates with your other business solutions. Often times the IT team will be able to help distinguish possible obstacles and provide a greater perspective on implementation. For successful adoption, it’s important to also seek input from Stakeholders as well as end-users from within your company. Involving the team will improve the user adoption rate.
#3 – Assemble
Implementation is key to success. If you rush into a launch date without taking careful consideration of your end goals, you’re doing your company a disservice. Refer to the goals you’ve set and the analysis you’ve done. If your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and MA (Marketing Automation) solutions need to integrate, it’s time to piece together a timeline of what processes need to be involved. Working with a software partner or consultant can help you have a better understanding of the overall workflow. The goal with any CRM is to make your business intelligence more sophisticated. So in order to arrive at the best CRM solution for your company, doesn’t it make sense to then base your decisions on your unique needs?
#4 – Ask Questions
Here are some questions you should ask throughout your selection process:
- Has the vendor worked with databases similar to yours?
- Is the product Web-based?
- What CRM functions are included?
- How will data be migrated?
- Who are the integration partners for that vendor?
#5 – Assess
Now that you have your choices narrowed down, try the solution on for size. Vendors have trials for a reason. Make sure that you feel the functionality fits your company’s workflow. Although you’ll likely need customizations to ensure integration is optimized for your company and you don’t miss out on any features in the process, it’s nice to get a feel for the platform in advance. This will also help you ask the vendor deeper questions about the solution. Lastly, make sure that the software you’re choosing will not only fit “for now,” but that it also has the capabilities to grow with you. Since you’re investing in the future of your company, selecting the best CRM will keep scalability in mind, eliminating the need to switch software in the near future.
Does choosing the best CRM for your company sound like a full-time job? It certainly can become one. Seek out an unbiased party to filter through the promotions, reviews, and solutions that won’t be a fit for you. Not only can they be of help in the decision stage, but they will key to implementation. When you invest in your research, you save the company and yourself from future headaches.
To help you begin exploring your options, we’ve broken down the top CRM solutions on the market with a high-level overview.
Article reprinted from the Winter 2016 issue of Bellwether.
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