How to choose the right CRM for your business
Choosing a CRM platform is an important decision for a business.
The right CRM can be a powerful tool for your marketing and sales teams to use. It can align sales and marketing processes and allow you to measure and optimise pipeline performance. The wrong CRM can become a costly and time-consuming mistake which is hard to reverse.
The CRM market is crowded, heavy on jargon and full of 'promises’. Different CRMs suit different business types, sizes and challenges - as a result, choosing the right platform demands careful consideration.
In this blog, we’ll share practical advice which will help you document your requirements, find partners that can meet them and choose the one that’s the right fit for you.
If you are wanting a quick summary as to the secrets behind implementing the right CRM for your business do watch this short video.
Step one: Recognise your requirements
Before rushing into buying new technology, try to hold off on looking at any platforms until you’re clear on what your requirements are for your business.
Your requirements will lead you to the right solution. If you start looking at features too early, you may end basing your decision on what the platforms can do, rather than what you need them to do to achieve your goals.
- You may like: What does CRM really mean?
A CRM will touch many parts of the organisation. It will obviously be used by sales and marketing, but it may also need input from your website team, system administrators and customer service. Ensure that everyone who will be involved in the implementation or use of the platform contributes to your list of requirements.
It is useful to divide your requirements up into three groups:
- Marketing and sales processes
Here's a list of example questions you may look to answer within these:
Marketing and sales processes
- What is the overall new business approach?
- What key customer journeys does the platform needs to support?
- How do different teams work together to deliver and convert leads?
- How do you expect the tool to support and improve existing processes?
Write the points above down, create a chart if you can, it may help you identify gaps in your processes.
- Who could be involved in the implementation and operation of the CRM tool?
- What are their current roles, responsibilities and skill sets?
- Will any training or hiring be needed and can the supplier provide this?
- What level of ongoing support will you and your users need?
- How do you expect the tool to simplify or improve existing roles and responsibilities?
- What systems do you currently have in place that will be affected?
- What are the integrations that are required?
- Are there any existing systems that might get in the way?
- Is your customer data ready to be inputted into a CRM system? - for example, do you have ‘hard copy’ data that needs to be converted to digital? Or incomplete data that needs to be cleaned or enriched? This is a great opportunity to review the data you already have and determine whether you WANT to transfer it into your new system.
- What are the compliance requirements (such as POPIA)?
Step two: Your requirements need to be seperated into ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’
Take your list of requirements and divide them into essential and desirable. You may also want to include a reason why each of the requirements is on the list. This will help clarify your thinking and ensure that each requirement is justified.
You’ll find that some of your requirements are must haves, whereas others are things you’d like.
Separating your requirements will help you choose the platform that’s appropriate to your level of marketing maturity and the budget available.
You may also want to record the reason why each requirement is needed - if nothing else, this will help clarify your thinking and help you see which category it falls into.
Differentiating between essential and desirable requirements will help the vendors - the CRM platform retailers - focus on your essential needs, rather than selling features you which are nice to haves. The more preparation you’ve done, the more seriously the vendors will take you and the less likely their salespeople will be to push you towards a hasty decision.
Step three: Research and approach vendors
There are many, many potential vendors out there. What you will want is a long-term partner with a good reputation, a large user base and evidence of financial stability. New platforms may bend over backwards to get you to sign up, but startups can be a risky choice.
You need a serious company who won’t go bankrupt, taking your customer data with it. You also need one that can provide rapid support in plain English during your working hours.
The established platforms dominate search rankings, making Google’s organic rankings a good place to find safe bets. Start off by making a long list of 10 or so platforms that meet your essential requirements.
Look not only at at each platform’s features but also their terms and conditions, pricing model and customer feedback. Once you have your long list, dive deeper into your essential and desirable requirements to whittle your list down to a shortlist of 2 or 3.
Share this list of options with the project team for their input. Once you’ve all agreed, contact your shortlisted vendors directly to request a demo or free trial. Make sure you share your full list of requirements with the platforms. The more they know, the more targeted their demo and trial features will be.
General overviews can be useful, but make sure they show you how their tool can solve your specific use cases and requirements. Most platforms also have tiered pricing models, so give them an idea of your monthly budget to make sure they’re showing you features within your price range. But remember, this is a value purchase - a little extra investment that helps your business perform more successfully would be a positive decision.
Great customer service and support will be invaluable to your team when they’re learning and getting to grips with the tool.
Most businesses will use a range of different tools and platforms in order to deliver their core service. Some are more foundational than others. A CRM tool, used properly, will sit at the core of your business processes and be used by multiple teams. For this reason, getting the right one is important. Understanding your needs and approaching vendors with a clear set of requirements and available budget will help them to help you find the best tool for the job.