Today, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions are everywhere. It has been suggested in recent data that CRM systems have been deployed in 90 percent of companies with more than 11 employees. The percentage drops to below 50% in enterprises with less than 11 employees. We must take into account, however, that just because a company has implemented a CRM solution doesn’t mean they have done so successfully, or even that the CRM application was selected wisely.
This article is aimed at providing help to businesses who have not yet implemented a CRM solution or are considering replacement of their current system.
Before choosing and implementing a CRM, you should first establish your goals. While not exhaustive, the suggestions below should be included in your goals.
Goals of CRM
- Contact Management – you should have the goal of having a safe and consistent system to capture clients and prospects that are transparent across the organization.
- Opportunity Management – you should have the goal of managing all opportunities in a system that reflects your sales process as well as your clients’ buying process. (Many companies confuse CRM with the sales process. They aren’t the same.)
- Client Management – you should have the goal of having full visibility and understanding of what your clients currently buy (and will buy) and why.
- Forecasting – you should have the goal of understanding and more importantly of accurately predicting revenue.
- Reporting (dashboards) – you should have the goal of building and implementing key metrics that allow senior leaders to make strategic decisions based on clear and concise sales data.
Now that you have your goals for CRM defined, how do you select a suitable CRM system? I suggest you consider the following as you begin your journey.
Criteria for selecting your CRM
- Business process
This is critical in any CRM selection process. The CRM software needs to be flexible enough to reflect your clients’ buying process and your sales process. It is less than ideal to build your business process after you purchase a CRM. Do this upfront, prior to considering the type of system or the vendor of your CRM. As I said earlier, don’t confuse process with your CRM, they aren’t the same.
- Ease of implementation
If it requires a protracted implementation and significant training, you should count that in the cost. Also, consider opportunity cost. The longer it takes to implement and get your sales team using the CRM the higher the opportunity cost. Complexity doesn’t always correspond with value.
You already have other systems in place such as marketing automation, accounting software or email. To get even greater value from your CRM you should consider your integration needs. Most small businesses don’t need extensive integration, but you should put some thought into it before selecting a CRM.
Small businesses may only need a way to prospect, create contacts, manage follow-ups and complete the sale. Most CRM systems have modules that allow you to scale up o account management and client services as well. However, consider your need for additional modules before you select your CRM. Don’t pay for what you don’t need.
- Web vs. on-site
There is no question that Cloud-based software has been growing at a rapid pace. Almost all CRM sold is now cloud-based software. There are advantages to cloud software such as lower upfront cost, shorter implementation time and (generally) ease of making changes. However, if you have concerns about data security, ease of integration and total cost of ownership, on-site software may be a better fit.
There are of course other factors to consider such as training time and costs, price, mobility, ease of use, and more. But these guidelines should help to get you started. etc.