Which CRM to choose?

  • This is a guest post by Martin Zeman of Data Driven Era. The original article can be found here.

    Which CRM to choose?

    This is one of the most common questions I get asked in relation to sales.

    I love this question. It shows a genuine interest of business leaders to take a better control over their sales. It’s an acknowledgement that what worked before is no longer working as it used to and is unlikely to work going forward.

    As companies grow they realise they need to introduce processes and systems in order to sustain their growth and they are absolutely right.

    So how do you choose the best system for your company?

    This article is not an ultimate buyer’s guide rather it’s a signpost highlighting key points to watch out and links point to further reading.

    I’m currently working on a buyer’s guide to help companies choose the best CRM for them. The outcome of my research, interviews and demos will be an e-book “Which CRM to Choose?” If you are interested in this guide, make sure you sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of this post and I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

    Key points to keep in mind when choosing a CRM:

    1. One size doesn’t fit all

    Despite what you might hear from some sales reps of CRM vendors there is not a one size fits all CRM. Different CRM systems have different pros and cons, different features and different pricing. So choosing the right one is important.

    2. Switching is not as easy

    To implement a CRM properly takes time and effort, quite a lot and it is a major change for your sales organisation. It’s not as easy as turning one system one month and switching to another the next month.

    Keep that in mind and rather take more time ensuring you’ve made the right decision in the first place. I’m a big fan of Agile but in this case I would be more careful.

    3. Systems AND Processes

    The important part about CRM is that it’s not just about systems it’s also about processes. I feel many companies tend to focus on systems alone before considering their sales process.

    This can easily lead to a situation when they choose a system and discover it doesn’t deliver the expected benefit. However this might not be the fault of the system but a consequence of not having enough clarity about their own sales process.

    Clarify your sales process first before deciding on a tool as it should inform your choice.

    4. Questions to ask

    Here are some of the most common questions that might affect which CRM will be suitable for you. The answers will also help you to narrow the tools down.

    • What is your budget?
    • Which departments will use it? Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, …
    • Who in your organisation will own it?
    • How many sales people will use it?
    • Do you have an internal IT resource to implement and customise your CRM? How many people and for how long can you dedicate to it?
    • How does your sales process look like?
    • Do your sales reps often travel and need to use the CRM on the go?
    • Which email solution do you use? Outlook, Gmail, something else?
    • Do you already have a CRM or sales data that you will need to import in your new solution?
    • What are your primary communication channels? Is Social very important to you? Telesales (phone integration)? Automated Email marketing?
    • What other key features and integrations do you need?

    5. Which CRM to use?

    There is a lot of interactive guides online. I’m not a big fan as they all require you to sign up to get the results and it’s not easy to know if they are truly independent or if they will push the solution they are affiliated with or get the highest commission of.

    However here is a nice overview of CRM systems that seems quite trustworthy by Zapier which is a company that helps connect various applications to each other. The benefit of their recommendations is that these tools have open APIs which means that if you need to, you can integrate it with other applications and you should be able to get the data out.

    In addition to this guide I would browse comparison websites that list various tools, here is an overview of the tools by Crozdesk.

    6. How to choose the CRM?

    When you go through the selection process, I would suggest you list your must haves and nice to haves and then shortlisted 2–4 tools based on these requirements.

    For the shortlisted, arrange for demos and further shortlist down to two and trial them out. Most CRM tools offer a free trial period of 2 weeks or a month and if you ask them they can eventually extend it.

    Ask the vendors to help you populate the trials with your existing data or if you don’t have it, with rich test data so you can see it fully in action — often times companies do testing on a tiny sample of data which won’t uncover the potential issues. It’s truly best to use your own data and have one or two of your sales reps to actually use the tool.

    Definitely include your users in the selection process. If they are part of the selection process, they are much more likely to embrace the tool afterwards and become its ambassadors within your sales team. Getting your users on board is one of the most common issues with implementing a new system, so help yourself here.

    One thing to watch out for when selecting a tool is the commitment, some providers require you to commit to 2–3 years despite the fact you pay monthly. I’ve heard that Salesforce sales reps often use this tactic, so don’t get yourself bullied into a situation that’s not beneficial for you — after all you are the customer and these days that means that you’ve got the power.

    If the volume of CRM systems and various features makes you feel a bit overwhelmed or if your time is simply too precious to invest in the necessary research get in touch with us and we can get you referred to Martin at Data Driven Era.

    Related reading

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