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Vital Information on Selecting a CRM
Blog / All About CRM / Jun 4, 2019 / Posted by Nikolaus Kimla / 384 

Vital Information on Selecting a CRM

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Continuing our series on corporate CRM strategy from our last article, we’ll now take up the topic of CRM selection. There are things you should do when selecting a CRM solution, and things you definitely should not do.

What You Shouldn’t Do

In my opinion, the main thing you shouldn’t do in selecting a CRM is hire a consultant to do it for you. There is plenty of information out there to assist you in making your own decision, including sites that compare CRM features and functionality side-by-side.

It makes as much sense to hire a consultant to shop for your CRM as it would to hire a consultant to shop for your new car. Given all the information available online, car comparisons would be fairly fast based on your requirements and price range.

I do agree that selecting a CRM takes a bit of work, and there are a lot of perhaps “worthless” CRM applications that you’ll have to wade through and throw aside as part of the selection process. But hiring a consultant to make the evaluation for you is factually a waste of time and money.

What You Should Do

To start with, you and your company’s concerned stakeholders should create a “short list” of possible candidates. This list is whittled down based on the core functionality that you absolutely must have.

Today CRM applications are sprouting up like mushrooms, and many of them are trying to be “all things to all people.” Creators of these systems aren’t very good at precisely defining them. Turning back to cars for a moment, if you’re shopping for an SUV, you know that an SUV is not a sports car. But some CRM systems are trying to be a traditional CRM—plus a telephone system, a social media platform, contact management, marketing automation, and (supposedly) much more.

There are two ways of looking at the various software applications available for a company: “best of breed” or “all-in-one.” Because of the cloud, today you can truly choose the best of breed when it comes to applications. “All-in-one” or the “suite” concept can cause all kinds of problems, especially when it becomes incredibly bloated in an effort to be the “everything” application. We recently saw how far south this can go when Salesforce went offline for an entire day. They have so many intertwined applications that it became a mess.

Core Functionality

What is the core functionality that you really need in CRM? You should sit down with your team and figure it out. In my opinion, CRM key functionality should include lead management, account management, contact management, activity management, and reporting.

Once you’ve isolated the core functionality that you should have, you should investigate how well your various candidates integrate with your other applications, because today everything within an enterprise needs to be interconnected.

I would advise gathering the needed requirements, taking care to “keep it simple” and map the core features.

Make Sure to Have a Budget

The worst thing that can happen is that you conduct a lot of research into CRM requirements, arrive at a short list of solutions you want—then find that when you approach the financial decision-makers that the money isn’t there.

Make sure you have a budget and a price range before getting very far with your selection process.

Selection Criteria

Now that you’ve got your list firmed up, you should invite people within your company into trials of these various solutions or, alternatively, you should do a detailed presentation of each possibility to your company stakeholders.

The criteria for making the final decision of selecting a CRM should consist of these points:

1. How easy is the system to use? While this may sound a bit cliche, we know that the most important factor in CRM implementation is adoption. If people won’t use it, or use it begrudgingly, adoption rates will be low. You want adoption rates to be high—and in fact, you want your users to really like the software (as an aside, this is what we’ve been aiming for with Pipeliner CRM since the beginning, and according to our case studies, we’ve achieved this goal).

2. How complex is the CRM solution to implement? Are you depending on the CRM developer or an implementation consultant, or can you do it yourself? (Again, with Pipeliner CRM, we’ve made it as easy as possible for a company to implement it themselves–and Pipeliner can actually be onboarded in a fraction of the time of other systems.)

3. How complex is integration with other systems, and what is the integration cost? (Pipeliner CRM easily integrates with a wide variety of a company’s favorite applications.)

4. And finally, what is the cost of the CRM system?

Utilizing these four criteria, selecting a CRM should be easy.

Our next article will focus on the last important part of a CRM strategy, implementation challenges.

    About Author

    A 30-year veteran of the computer industry, Nikolaus has founded and run several software companies. He and his company uptime iTechnology are the developers of World-Check, a risk intelligence platform eventually sold to Thomson Reuters for $520 million. He is currently the founder and CEO of Pipeliner Sales, Inc., developer and publisher of Pipeliner CRM, the first CRM application aimed squarely at actually empowering salespeople. Also a prolific writer, Nikolaus has authored over 100 ebooks, articles and white papers addressing the subjects of sales management, leadership and sales itself.

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