Choosing a CRM is a strategic move that can generate a significant amount of benefits. It is therefore crucial to thoroughly analyze your needs, your resources and the options available to you before undertaking an implementation process.
Most importantly, you must think long term when making your decision. Opting for an intermediate solution knowing that it will need to be replaced within one or two years is rarely a cost-effective option. Your employees will be less committed in its adoption. Two implementations will not only cost you a significant amount of resources, but you also run the risk of having errors and losing data.
How to choose the right CRM? Here are 8 essential criteria when doing your evaluation
1. Your implementation budget
You will quickly realize that there are CRMs for all budgets. These range from free solutions like Zoho and Hubspot to more expensive ones like Salesforce or Dynamics 365.
The budget criterion must be subject to a complete cost vs benefits analysis. This includes the cost of the time spent implementing the solution and the profits made by it at the operational and sales level. A free solution requiring an implementation that lasts several weeks and that only covers your sales force could be more costly than implementing a solution that can bring significant gain to sales, marketing and customer service all at once.
Remember, a CRM is not just an expense. If a CRM is implemented correctly, it becomes an investment that triggers the growth of your company. It is also crucial to ensure that software costs will not explode should the number of users increase or if your needs evolve and require more advanced features.
2. Your real needs in terms of a CRM
This might seem obvious but ask yourselves, for what reason do you need a new CRM? Moreover, what other needs can you meet with this new tool?
While some solutions enable performance increase in most areas of your company, many CRMs focus on a single key industry whether it be sales, customer service or marketing. It is important to choose a solution whose strength corresponds to the most critical areas of your business.
3. The growth capacity of a CRM solution
Your company changes as it grows. You must ensure that your CRM can evolve alongside your company. The flexibility offered by modular CRM is an advantage that cannot be ignored in the medium term, it avoids having to change the solution should the original plan no longer meet your needs.
Beyond this flexibility, make sure that your resources or your implementing partner can reap the full benefits of this potential. A solution requiring a customized development to evolve with you or the need to purchase an additional license for each new module could cause project costs to explode quickly.
4. The type of solution, On-Premises or SaaS
There are two main categories of CRM: On-Premises solutions that provide more control but often involve bigger up-front costs and increased lability and cloud solutions (SaaS) which is most often offered through an annual license.
While most companies choose SaaS solutions, the question remains important. Some companies prefer having full control over their data for legal or IT reasons. For others, the flexibility, support and peace of mind that a cloud solution usually offers is an important advantage.
5. The integration with your existing sofware
The goal of a CRM is to improve your productivity. Thus, the software must integrate itself to your existing processes and make them better. As presented in our analysis of Dynamics 365 and Salesforce solutions, the integration of your CRM with your other technology tools represents a key advantage. You can avoid reviewing all the habits of your employees and maximize the potential of the tools already being used. If you use the Office 365 suite for example, its integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 will allow a smoother implementation for your employees.
6. The reputation and track record of the supplier
We are repeating ourselves, but choosing a CRM is a long-term decision. Thus, it is important to ensure that the chosen solution will not be discontinued and that the updates that come with it will remain accessible. Ensure that the chosen provider is financially stable and has a proven track record. Established companies such as Microsoft, Salesforce and Hubspot will not disappear anytime soon.
Furthermore, avoid developing too many customized features which may no longer be supported by other possible versions of your CRM. You would then be forced to start this whole process over again or to deprive yourself of updates potentially essential to the well functioning of your CRM.
While it might be the best on paper, a software is still a bad choice if it isn’t being used by anyone. You must therefore ensure that the selected CRM is easy to use in the work context of your team. A mobile version is an example of a major advantage for employees on the road.
At the same time, your implementation team will need to ensure that your employees are supported and trained in using this new tool. A system that already offers training is an additional benefit to your business.
8. The offered and available support
To finish, be sure to choose a solution that provides effective support for your teams. Some software companies will charge you additional fees for this service, but it is an investment that can quickly become profitable. In other instances, you can count on a local implementation partner such as our team at XRM Vision who will bring you its expertise and will respond to the requests of your teams.
The evaluation of these 8 criteria is essential when choosing a CRM. You should however, extend your assessment to all your company’s key needs. Our experts are available to discuss your needs with you and help you select the best platform for your needs.