Finding a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that’s perfect for your business can be overwhelming. The options are endless and it can feel like an overwhelming and time consuming process. When you consider the positive benefits to your daily business operations the stress and hours are well worth it. If you are searching for a new CRM, here are a few things you will need to consider.
Outline your goals and what you want your CRM to produce. Ask yourself what you want your CRM to achieve. Do you want it to be able to send a monthly newsletter and nothing else? Your goals will differ from the business that is looking for the CRM that keeps a sales pipeline, has robust reporting tools, and sends that monthly newsletter. Be especially honest with what you need the CRM to accomplish. You don’t want to outgrow it in a year, but you also don’t want to pay for features you’ll never use.
Research, research, research and then do demo calls. After you’ve identified your goals, follow up with an outline of your business and your budget. You will first need to identify how many staff members will be using your CRM because many CRMs charge based on the number of users. Next, pinpoint the industry you work in and how much you want to spend per month/year. Start googling and research your options that other businesses of your size or in your industry use. Create a list of 5 to 10 options. This list should be within your bandwidth to research and start scheduling demos. Have the sales rep walk you through the system and ask how you can accomplish your goals in that system. Have a list of the same, designated questions to ask every company so that you can compare apples to apples.
Be realistic about what you need your CRM to do. On the flip side, if you’re hoping that your CRM makes you a cappuccino in the morning while you go through the day's activities you may have unrealistic expectations. While it would be nice to take all your apps and have them run in one tool, it is not always realistic. Remember that, at the end of the day, you need to manage your relationships in the CRM, and not let the false belief that you will acquire one tool to do everything confuse that goal.
Encourage your team to get on board with the technology and implementation. Your data and reports will only be as effective as the information you put into it. Be honest with yourself about what your team can handle. If you have a fairly tech savvy team, then you can look into more complicated CRMs. However, if your team is currently running out of Excel reporting maybe you don’t need all the bells and whistles. Creating a point person in your team can also help get them involved early in the process to make sure it’s a good fit for everyone.
Prepare a timeline for user adoption and implementation plan. And then add a few weeks. Implementations take longer than expected due to numerous factors. This means that you shouldn’t pick your busiest season to switch or begin using a new CRM. Make a realistic outline of when you can import data, remove/combine duplicates from your system, get your custom fields and reports set, and get users using the system. Add extra time for training your team. Make use of any sales or technical support your CRM provides when making the switch.
There will be setbacks and roadblocks but at the end of the day, the CRM will make you and your team more efficient and organized. This is a great time to look at your team and processes to understand how a CRM is adding a puzzle piece to making it all work better together. Good luck!