5 Keys When Shopping for a CRM

It’s extremely likely, especially in the increasingly digital world in which all companies have to operate, that every business will face a decision about what Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution they are going to deploy.

Oh, have mercy!

The myriad number of ways to skin this cat will have you boggled, really. Here’s the cold truth that no major provider wants you to embrace; there is no one-size-fits-all solution out there. None. In fact, there’s probably not a perfect solution. The only thing you can find is the solution that’s right for you.

In no particular order, here are some of the things you have to consider as you shop for a CRM that fits your business:

1. Seamless integration with web forms.

Can the CRM, via some technology, automatically take the data submitted to a contact form on your site and place it in the CRM? Do you need it to? Is your volume slow enough, or your process such that you’d rather have human intervention?

2. Work flows.

Do you operate on strict, mandated work flows? Do you need flexibility so you can apply general principles? Is your sales cycle predictable and repeatable? Can you just automatically apply a set of rules to every lead?

3.Automation.

This goes hand in hand with work flows. This often comes down to the volume of leads you are dealing with and how “warm” they are when you bring them to the CRM. There are definitely times when you can make the life of a sales team much easier by automating some tasks. On the flip side though, “no touch” can mean “no attention” from a busy sales team.

4. Plays well with others.

Chances are good you’ve got some legacy systems in place already. Those may be homegrown. Perhaps they are another 3rd party solution. Consider how much you are going to want to integrate those systems with your CRM. Do you have to tie into a ticketing/support system? Maybe billing? It will be important to have a sense of how easy (or difficult) it will be to pair up the systems.

5. Support.

I believe this is one of the most important. And all too often I think it gets pushed to the bottom of the list. At some point though, you will absolutely need help in supporting the CRM solution. How much depends on your own size and organizational structure. If you have IT support, you might be fine with Knowledge Bases and Forums. If, on the other hand, your organization or unit is strictly sales with very limited direct technical support, you’ve got to consider email and phone support. Not just the availability, but the responsiveness and ease of use. Best way to find out is to test it. Try working with support while you put the CRM through a trial. Granted, the response may be a little quicker as they woo you in the sales process, but the team will be the same.

These really only scratch the surface.

As every business has challenges that are unique, the priorities will be varied. This, at the very least, establishes a baseline. As you dig, you’ll realize there are many more things to investigate.

A couple of other things I’ll point out to you as you start shopping CRM; pay attention to work “style”. It’s important to understand how your front-line teams work today, before you implement a new system. You’ll need a solution that doesn’t stray too far from what they know. Everyone is resistant to change. The less dramatic you make that change, the better. And if you watch the style, you’ll get further on the last point – Adoption. Once you choose a solution, you have to have an adoption plan. How will you convince your team to get on board? What will you do to reduce the learning curve? If no one uses the new CRM, you’ve lost a huge amount of time and you’re wasting money every month. Plan, prepare, and then execute.

Core ideas, really, but easy to lose sight of while you are trying to get yet another project off the ground.

Good luck, and happy hunting!

I’ve helped Oneupweb navigate through more than a couple of CRM changes. If you’d like to talk about how a CRM can make a difference for your marketing efforts, feel free to reach out to me. I’m on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or you can just catch me here. 231-922-9977 X112 or tim@oneupweb.com.