3 Simple Steps for Selecting the Right CRM

If you are embarking on a CRM software selection process, it can be a daunting task.  With all of the products and partners to choose from, finding a jumping off point can be a struggle.  We’ve compiled a list of tips to guide you through your software selection process and suggestions for “must-have” features and functionality that will ensure that you choose a CRM system that will support your needs now and into the future.

1) Start With a Plan and Ensure You Have Buy-In

  • Gather background information on the benefits, savings, ROI and cost justification of selecting and implementing a CRM solution.  Present this information to your organizational leadership and make sure everyone in your organization is on board with the project to help ensure success.
  • Determine who the stakeholders in the project are and work with them to establish a common, company-wide goal for the CRM system.  From these stakeholders, put together a project team that is headed by a true CRM evangelist.
  • Determine your budget, while keeping in mind the costs associated with the selection process as well as implementation, integration, training, and ongoing support.
  • Assess your business processes to determine what best practices you have in place and what areas could benefit from improvement through the new system.  Determine the pain points in your existing system, and map your current processes in all areas of the organization.  Then once you define your business requirements, you’re better prepared to select a software solution that meets your business needs.

2) Compare Your Options

  • Consider working with a partner that offers Software Selection Consulting Services to help you through the process.
  • Before you view a demo of any solution, make sure that the partner showing you the solution understands your requirements and is committed to showing you how their system will meet those requirements.  Don’t waste your time being swept away by impressive features that you will never use.
  • Be sure that your hardware and operating system can support the systems you are considering.  You don’t want to waste time seeing products that aren’t feasible options for you.
  • If you are looking at several options, establish a scoring system that tracks the various benefits and shortcomings of each product.  The scoring needs to reflect not only the features of the products, but the qualitative aspects of the solution and working with the partner.
  • Your internal CRM project team should be present for all demos and meetings with the partner.  They should be encouraged to share their concerns and feedback, as well as ask questions.  Use the partners responsiveness to the team’s concerns and questions as a factor when you are deciding whether or not to work with them, as it will affect your business relationship long-term.
  • Make sure that you are being shown the current version of the software.  Don’t make a purchase based on promises for future technology.

3) Find a Solution to Grow with Your Business

  • A true CRM solution will provide company-wide benefits  through marketing campaign management, sales force automation, customer care, contact management, task management, and scheduling.  Settling for anything less in the short term will cause you to repeat the software selection process in the long-term and cost you more to implement or integrate disparate products.
  • Make sure that the CRM solution you are considering integrates with your other business management applications.  It should be able to be deployed on different technologies as you needs change as well as support Web Service, have a strong API for integration and be able integrate with other technologies such as your phone system and website.
  • Your CRM system should support the ways you do business and be accessible from anywhere you do business, that means it should support all standard wireless devices as well as support interactive web chat with your customers and make a wide range of information available to them over robust web sites.
  • As a technical solution, your CRM software needs to be properly matched to your technical requirements and capabilities.  Therefore, you should look for a CRM solution that provides the capability to seamlessly move from a hosted solution to an on-site systemand vice versa as your technical abilities change.

By Socius, an Ohio Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner

by   Mark Christie