Choosing a CRM: Considerations for making the right choice

Considerations before choosing a CRM

Once you're clear on what a CRM is and what it's for, it's time to look for the right CRM system to support your sales team with contact management, sales management and productivity. Having the right system will impact the chain by reducing costs, saving time and even boosting morale.

Here are some of the main questions to consider when choosing the best CRM for your company, so you can turn the answers into a clear decision.

1. Determine the problems you need to solve

In a previous article we saw why it is important to have this solution. The best CRM software for your business depends entirely on what you need to do. The first step in choosing CRM systems is to be clear about what you want to achieve and the problems you want to solve. Pinpoint and analyze any weaknesses in the sales and marketing process, and then consider the impact it has on business operations.

There are four key areas to consider when determining whether you need a CRM system:

Contact management.

You need a system to manage customer information. It should be accessible to the entire team so that everyone has access to the most up-to-date information possible. If one member of the sales team leaves the company, the rest can pick up where they left off.

Opportunity management.

Make sure that all parts of the sales process are transparent within the organization so that their impact on the rest of the business can be more easily seen. Agreements established with customers and their progression should be the first thing to look at. If agreements are not progressing, it should be easy to identify what steps need to be taken.

Reporting, forecasting and analysis.

Informed managers make better decisions. Give them the right tools to manage the business profitably and efficiently. The key is to stay on top of targets.

Sales management.

Think about what the benefits would be of having a single system that can manage work locations, performance, coaching, workflows and collaboration. If the benefit outweighs the cost of a CRM Software, make the investment.

2. Choose a CRM according to the size of your company.

You need to plan where you are now, but also where you think you will be in the future. On-premise systems don't allow for rapid growth. By the time they are fully implemented, you already have more needs. Not all businesses are the same, so look for a CRM that will grow and adapt to your business.

Small businesses.

If you have a small business with few users, any new software you introduce should be affordable now and flexible in the future, so you don't have to start from scratch and learn a new system when you need more functionality. Imagine the benefits of not having to change systems after going from 20 customers to 20,000.

Midsize companies.

Because you're competing with larger companies while defending your position against newcomers, the sales force automation features offered by CRM solutions can be a lifesaver for midsize companies. Look for CRM Software that can eliminate repetitive administration tasks and free your team to worry only about sales.

Large companies.

Most large companies probably already have a CRM system in place, but it may be time to upgrade. An updated system will better meet your needs and evolve with the business. Fortunately, CRM software has evolved. Marketing automation, customer service solutions, business intelligence and a platform to build virtually any functionality you need are all part of a modern CRM. Your CRM vendor should work with you on the implementation you need, including scalability and customization, so that your goals can be achieved.

3. Consider which areas of the business can benefit

Many companies introduce CRM in the sales department, but soon discover that the benefits of providing better customer information can be transferred to other areas. For example, linking the customer service department to the CRM system can help the company develop a more customer-centric approach, providing useful information to improve and enhance the offering. And, unlike even the best specialized customer service software, an integrated CRM system can help you ensure that the information generated is shared with all departments in the company.

4. Choosing an on-premise or cloud CRM

A key decision you will need to make is whether you want a cloud-based CRM solution or a system hosted on your company's servers. This depends not only on the type of business you are currently running, but also on the type you want to run in the future.

Trends are moving towards cloud-based CRM solutions as businesses become more mobile, global and adaptable. Backup and disaster recovery, low capital costs and cross-platform support as standard are typical features of quality cloud-based CRM systems.

In contrast, on-premise CRM systems mean that sales people have to update the information obtained when they are in the office. A cloud-based system is more intuitive, with the ability to be updated via apps on cell phones or tablets from anywhere a data connection is available. This way, sales staff can easily perform an update at the end of each meeting, reducing delays.

Another consideration to keep in mind is whether your company uses a combination of PCs and Macs. With on-premises solutions, the best CRM Software for Macs will not necessarily work best on PCs and vice versa.

With a cloud-based CRM solution, it will be the vendor that takes care of maintenance, backup and security, saving you technical work.

Choosing a CRM on the basis of the necessary features

Based on your answers to the above, it's time to define your needs. Start by prioritizing and categorizing your needs by thinking about the pain points.

The must-haves

What is essential in a CRM Software to implement it successfully?

Example: A cloud-based CRM system provides flexibility to grow the business.

They should have

Important, but possibly not as time sensitive as business must-haves.

Example: Mobile functionality is a plus, but not essential.

Could have

There are likely to be features that would benefit all employees but would not spell catastrophe if not included from the start.

Now that you have your list of features, you can start comparing the solutions available on the market. You will need to make sure that the potential software meets all your needs. It is likely that the best CRM Software will also offer many of the features that you have not set as must-haves.

Choosing the best CRM

Now you need to dig into the details of the shortlisted solutions to see which one best fits the requirements you set. They can help you make a decision:
  • Analyst and expert opinions.
  • Online buyer reviews
  • Free trial periods