While choosing a CRM system, companies concentrate on evaluating vendors and partners before analyzing their own business needs and priorities. Unfortunately, it’s one of the biggest mistakes they make.
Before starting to evaluate CRM vendors, you should do the following:
Analyze your business processes and discover inefficient ones that need to be improved.
Find out what workflows your business lacks and what should be added.
Decide how many employees are going to use the CRM system actively and how many licenses you need.
Think about what other solutions you currently use and which of them should be integrated with the CRM.
Plan your budget.
Consider mandatory features the CRM system should have without which it wouldn’t have any value for your business.
After you have done all these activities, it’s time to consider several points important for choosing the right CRM system.
1. Cloud vs. On-Premise CRM System
Both cloud and on-premise CRM solutions have their advantages and drawbacks. For example, the implementation of cloud CRMs takes less time and resources since you don’t have to install anything on your computer or server. On the other hand, the on-premise system requires an IT infrastructure and a competent IT team.
Having a cloud-based CRM system in place, you can access your data whilst you have a stable Internet connection. While with an on-premise system, you have uninterrupted access to your data since the software is hosted on your local servers. To maintain them, you should have an in-house IT team to check the functionality of hardware and fix software vulnerabilities.
Though maintaining such equipment and personnel is costly, it doesn’t require annual license renewals. In the case of cloud systems, on the contrary, you have to pay subscription fees but don’t need an IT team to keep your system up and running.
To choose the right CRM system, every business should analyze the pros and cons of each type and decide which one fits its business processes.
2. CRM Features You Need
Every industry and business has unique processes, workflows, and growth dynamics. Therefore, it isn’t reasonable to assume that all CRM systems have the same default features necessary for all businesses. It’s also unwise to purchase a sophisticated system with a wide range of tools and features you don’t need.
To choose the right CRM system, start with the question of whether your employees are really going to use all those additional functions. The same applies to the number of licenses you need. I am sure you don’t want to waste thousands of dollars per year to acquire extra licenses that no one uses. Moreover, it isn’t reasonable to acquire the same license types for all your teams. For example, your sales team that actively uses the system may require enterprise licenses while the marketing team will operate quite all right with the basic plan.
3. Integration with Other Software
How many applications and software do you use? Do you want to use them independently or integrate them with the CRM system and streamline your processes?
Before choosing a CRM solution, check whether it can be seamlessly integrated with an ERP system, accounting and HR software, website, and eCommerce platform. Moreover, you should be able to easily import your existing data from this software into the CRM system. Also, make sure that you can export your data from the CRM.
4. Work with Local Partners and Industry-Specific Vendors
It’s always a good idea to check whether the CRM vendor has provided a solution to companies in your industry. It’s particularly crucial if your industry is very specific. To get such information, just study the vendor’s website, read case studies and success stories to learn what types of companies mainly use the CRM system. If you think this information could be biased or exaggerated, go to third-party websites to read customer testimonials and reviews.
Next, to choose the right CRM system for your business, check whether the vendor has local business partners. They should be able to carry out the CRM implementation project, provide support and business consulting. To choose a good implementation partner check their portfolio, learn about how successful their projects were, and how many certified consultants they have.
5. Availability of Customization and Training
You will never be able to acquire a CRM system whose default features perfectly cover your needs and require no customization or configuration. Every company has unique sales, marketing, and customer service processes and workflows. While choosing a CRM system, you should consider this fact to acquire a system that can be easily customized.
Usually, CRMs are sophisticated systems, and employees need appropriate training to be able to use them. Therefore, the CRM adoption process will go smoother if your consulting partner provides staff training sessions. Hence, always make sure that the partner you are planning to work with has the training on the agenda.
To sum up, there are many CRM systems in the market designed for different industries and businesses. Before acquiring one, do your homework and research what features it has, how suitable it is for your industry, or how easily customizable it is. Then comes the question about CRM vendors and consulting/implementation partners. Ensure that the vendor has a wide network of local partners that can carry out the implementation and provide post-implementation support and training.