Many people want to pull their hair out when it comes to selecting a CRM system. With so many out there, how should you go about selecting the right CRM and sales productivity tool for your business?
I ran a little experiment. Entering “CRM” into Google’s search bar returned 43,200,000 results. OK, what about narrowing it down a bit and trying “CRM Tools” instead? That yielded 45,400,000 results. That’s millions folks! I tried to narrow it down to those that are focused on small business so I entered “SMB CRM Tools” – that helped. Down to only 10,400,000 results! OK, I entered “Solo Entrepreneur CRM Tools” and that returned 11,300,000 results.
It became clear that narrowing down the choices using Google was of little value.
So, how can you cut through the massive volume of data and find a CRM that will be helpful to you and your business? This post is meant to simplify the process and explain why the current market is so damn confusing by exploring these 5 questions:
- What are others of similar size and industry using?
- What are customers saying about the CRM that they are using?
- What are your goals for your CRM tool?
- What is your budget?
- What devices will you use to interact and where will you be using it?
Criteria #1: What are others of similar size and industry using?
Makes sense to check with others that have already been down this path. Check with industry associations, LinkedIn Groups, Google + Communities and online forums. If you do not belong to these groups yet, it might be a good time to join. They can provide guidance and experiences on a host of topics including this one.
Criteria #2: What are customers saying about the CRM that they’re using?
Customer testimonials can yield a valuable source of information to help you. I personally learn the most from those that offer customer success stories as they typically include the key benefits that the customers’ business has experienced rather than simply a features and benefits listing from the developer. Other ways to learn about customer evaluations about a specific CRM tool include asking a question for help on Twitter, soliciting direct answers to your questions. LinkedIn Groups and Google + communities within your industry can prove to be a good source for answers. Or, if you’re looking for a CRM that’s mobile-friendly, what about checking the app store? Look for customer reviews there too. Once you’ve narrowed down a few CRM vendors you want to vet, you can also ask your salesperson or account rep to provide you with relevant case studies.
Criteria #3: What are your goals for your CRM or sales productivity tool?
The biggest mistake you can make in this journey is to go into it without a written set of goals and expectations you expect from your CRM. Do you have something that is currently in use like a spreadsheet? If so, write out what you want to improve on. This can include topics like ease of use, training available, flexibility and stability of the provider. How do you want to change your current process? Who will require access to the tool itself and even to the data stored within? Does it interface easily with other tools that you are using like your website, your email service and even your accounting system? You can see why getting these questions written out in advance can be a big help when you begin the evaluation process.
Criteria #4: What is your budget?
You will find that pricing is all over the map. Monthly, per user, one-time fee – it can all give you a massive headache. At the early stage of your business, when it is just you or a very few people involved the use of CRM will be just those few. What happens when you grow? How will pricing be affected? Many CRM tools look to be a bargain for a single user, but become burdensome in price and setup when you start adding more than a few new users. It’s important to be mindful of your budget right from the beginning.
Criteria #5: What devices will you use to interact and where will you be using it?
Often overlooked, and many times not a criteria just a few years ago, this one question can make all the difference in the world in determining whether your choice will prove successful or a disappointing failure. Keep in mind that any CRM tool that was built before April, 2010 (date the iPad was available) was probably not designed for tablet use and interaction. There is a big difference between a CRM tool modified to “work” on a tablet vs. one that was built with the native tablet environment in mind, like Base.
Consider these five criteria in advance of starting your search for your first or next CRM tool. Get them in writing and make sure that every vendor can answer the questions satisfactorily. Talk with existing customers directly by searching for their websites. Most owners will be happy to tell you their experiences.
If you’re currently in the market for a CRM and sales productivity tool, learn more about how to choose the right CRM.