Choosing the right Customer Resource Management (aka CRM) system for your business should be easy, as long as you follow a few simple do’s and don’ts. The below points are all lessons I learned the hard way growing my past businesses. Hopefully, they will help you expedite the process and engage on the path to growth.
1. Do take the time to properly identify your requirements and objectives.
Having the best tools is one thing, but if you haven’t properly defined your sales process and playbook, your fighting a lost battle. It’s really key to map out your target market or sweat spot, identify how best to reach them and what are the steps to climb before closing a sale. In some cases, identifying the key decision makers and timeline for the purchase is also critical. Your CRM needs to facilitate your process and adapt to it, not the other way around (which is too often the case). Finally, what are your objectives? What KPIs will you be monitoring post-implementation of your CRM to ensure it is helping you grow your business?
2. Don’t choose a CRM before spending some time asking questions to your sales team.
In step 1, you took the time to properly identify your requirements. But did you validate these with your sales team? Did you ask them what were their biggest pain points with the current sales process? What they expect from a CRM to be more effective? All their answers to these questions will provide you with better insight and most importantly, get their buy-in right from the start. As you know, any change in an organization can be difficult so getting your sales team involved early in the process will help.
3. Do ask around, especially other successful businesses, what CRM they chose and why.
Getting advice from other successful entrepreneurs can be quite valuable. They might tell you about how they fined-tuned their system or had to change CRMs before they found the right one. Or they may suggest a great consultant who can help you with your CRM implementation and save time and money.
4. Do consider the mobility needs of your sales team
Is your sales team primarily office-bound or road warriors? Mobile teams will need a CRM that provides an easy, customizable and intuitive mobile app in order to stay on top of all of their leads and opportunities. This can be a real game changer for your business so map out how you expect the sales team to interact with the CRM while on the road meeting with customers.
5. Do ensure the CRM supports workflow automation and customization based on your sales process
Your CRM should automatically remind your sales and marketing team to follow-up with a potential lead or opportunity on a timely manner. You should be able to easily define rules for follow-up such as “call this lead 48 hours after he has downloaded our white paper” or “call this customer 7-days before his purchase committee meeting”. Every business is different and custom rules for workflow automation is a must in this highly competitive world.
6. Don’t forget to consider important factors such as:
Does the CRM support custom reports? This is a must. Having an up-to-date report of the health of your business (e.g. sales pipeline) will allow you to take better decisions and react promptly.
Offer APIs to link with other systems such as email?
Allows easy capture of leads from your website?
Role-based user access and auditing
Security features to protect customer data
Real mobile support
Access from anywhere with an internet connection, not just inside the office
7. Do choose a provider with email/phone support or a community of partner/integrators
Time is money. Make sure you can get fast support if any issue arises or to adapt/customize your implementation. This service can be offered by the CRM provider or from partners/integrators who specialized in CRM services. Allocate some support-budget since a CRM implementation is an evolving/iterative process, just like the rest of your business.
8. Don’t limit yourself to just a sales tool.
CRMs today are much more than just a sales tool to manage your leads, opportunities and pipeline. A good CRM will allow integration of customer support and marketing activities. Ensuring your sales staff is aware of current customer issues and complaints can be the difference between a great customer visit or a walking into a trap. And actively monitoring your marketing campaign and linking them to your sales process can really give a boost to your top line.
9. Don’t choose the least costly solution but opt for a SAAS offer with a monthly fee.
It’s always easy to go for the cheapest solution thinking it will be good enough. But you should really take the time to evaluate the real cost of not choosing the right solution. Take the time to calculate how much time the right CRM will save you and your time each week. Multiply that by the average wage. You may be surprised how much you might save vs the cost of the CRM. But even more important, how many more opportunities will you close each month with the right tool? Furthermore, by opting for a SAAS offer with a monthly fee, you are removing the need for a large upfront payment and ensuring you can adapt your CRM easily in time (adding more users, new features etc).
10. Do plan for training of your staff on the CRM
Training is an essential part of a successful CRM implementation. Make sure you figure out what training will be required, to who and the availability of training courses or material. In most cases, identifying a key internal stakeholder who will manage the CRM for the company is a good idea.