Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tools - Are you ready yet?
The first thing a business must ask of itself before deciding on which CRM platform to buy is “Are we truly ready for a CRM system?”
Introducing CRM can affect business processes and require organisational changes and choices on CRM systems are usually technology driven rather than the company and executives taking time to establish the needs of the departments.
The key to the introduction of a successful CRM system is therefore a making your technology decisions on a careful definition of your business requirements. What is the business need? What is the problem? And, what functionality do you need to resolve the problem? Once you have the answers to these questions, you will be able to identify a list of products that can be mapped to your required functions.
Identifying which system has the functionality you need is also only one part of the equation. How the system delivers that functionality can be an entirely different issue. One system may be more automated than another so it really is important for you to research thoroughly and trial your choice for extended periods.
Here are my top 5 tips for choosing the right system for your business:
1) Know your costs & set your budget
Knowing the upfront cost is just one factor in determining the eventual and long term costs. When looking at potential CRM systems, consider also whether there are training and on-going support costs from the provider. Do they charge for upgrades? Will you need to make adaptations to your existing infrastructure or any additional hardware purchases to support the new system in your business?
2) Clearly define your business objectives
Understand how departments currently generate, access and store data. Involve all departments by asking them to produce a prioritised list of mandatory functions and a wish-list.
3) Cloud based or on-site solution?
Consider which option is best suited for your business. An organisation with an army of field sales people may want to consider a cloud based approach. Security, third party service level agreements and water-tight contracts are also aspects which may affect your eventual choice.
How well will the new CRM system suit your business as it grows? Are there other data costs from the provider to consider here?
5) Provider feedback and reputation
There is no substitute for research on your potential provider. Discuss your requirements fully and be satisfied with their level of expertise in answering your concerns and specific needs. Ask to speak to their existing clients, and discuss the systems strengths and weaknesses as well as the providers support of their product. Check out their social accounts for feedback.
Taking the time to set out your objectives and doing the research before you make your final purchasing decision will really benefit your business in the long run, you will end up with a system that provides all your required functionality both now and in the future, a provider that is proactive and supports your business throughout your business relationship, and a very happy team behind your decision!