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The top eight things to ask when buying CRM

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13th Mar 2015
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So you have decided to actually do it! Your management team have bought into a CRM strategy and they want to improve business results and associated customer experience as a result. There is probably still some work to do about what that strategy means for your company, how you will improve it and measure the changes in your business and your customer’s life. In the meantime, you need to short list some CRM systems that could provide the tools to execute this strategy. But where do you start? The biggest? The cheapest? The most expensive?

Buying a CRM solution might seem daunting but it does not have to be. By asking these eight questions it can help you clear the mists of content rhetoric and focus on what you really need your CRM solution to be. Cut through the available information and get yourself a shortlist.

1. Be unique – How will it become your CRM?

Making sure your CRM can be adapted to your needs and your business processes is crucial. The ability to adapt your CRM through a mixture of personalisation by users, configuration or full customisation is essential for the long-term success of the project and improves the speed of software adoption. Ensure your CRM is flexible enough to be your CRM.

2. Beat your competitors by asking: why do you win and how can you win more.

Be different! Think about your customer experience and use CRM to enhance the customer and prospect journey from discovery to becoming a long term customer. Try to relate everything to your business advantage and try to exploit that in how you implement your CRM project.

3. What changes will you make to your business and how will you measure that?

Adopting a new CRM system is a chance to consider what is working and what is not within your business. Deciding what you will change is the first crucial step, but then how you will measure the success of those changes and what does your CRM need to do to manage those changes? The visibility of key metrics is important so you can easily spot when things are going well, allowing you to further exploit that success; and when things are not, so you can take quick, corrective action.

4. Future proof your implementation, can you keep your options open?

Choosing a CRM provider can often be a long-term commitment, so it’s crucial your software provider can give you different deployment options over time as your IT, security or payment requirements change. For example, can you easily change from Cloud, to on-premise, to a hybrid approach? It’s also worth investigating how much of a priority software development and client feedback is to each CRM provider, while looking into how much their system has evolved over time.

5. What licences options do you need?

Can your CRM provider supply the options you need? For example, you might want to own the licences or subscribe to them. You might find concurrent users more cost efficient than named users. You might want to only pay for mobile access for certain people and full access for others. A supplier who provides a level of flexibility when it comes to licensing can save your organisation money in the long-term.

6. Can you access your vital information anytime, anywhere?

Whether you in the office, or on the road, you need access to your customer data. Ask what options are available for offline working, mobile, remote office locations and find out what different platforms your CRM provider supports.

7. Do you have powerful integration capabilities to deliver a full view of your customers?

Review the options to integrate your CRM into key systems and desktop applications that are important to your team. These can range from email platforms such as Outlook or Gmail, as well as ERP or Accounting packages. Where sales and marketing departments are concerned, direct integration with social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter can evolve powerful social selling strategies. Does the CRM system integrate into a marketing automation platform that suits your needs too (for example Salesfusion), so you can efficiently create and nurture leads, whilst get sales and marketing working closer together.

8. Finally, and most importantly does your team like it?

The software your business chooses to use will ultimately be a success or failure depending on actual usage. The end users of a CRM system are the lifeblood that make it work, so to select the optimal solution for your organisation you may want to set up workshops for end users to review software functionality. Conduct “side-by-side” reviews of the same everyday CRM tasks in each option, such as viewing all the information employees require about customers. Reading through case studies and testimonials can also give you a great insight into how well received certain CRM systems have been in other organisations that are similar to your business.

I hope that helped clear your vision to target a CRM solution that will be a good fit for your business!

Duncan Wood is marketing manager at Infor CRM. He can be reached on Twitter:@DuncanCRM.

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