The Right CRM – Review, Select and Implement
We recently extended our CRM software advice service to include the USA and Canada. To support this change we updated our CRM categorisation and re-evaluated hundreds of CRM applications, resellers and add-ons. Stepping back, we can clearly see that a growing and high percentage of CRM vendors provide good core case management and CRM capabilities such as SFA and marketing automation. Forrester’s Kate Leggett described this development as “commoditization in the CRM landscape”.
From a buyer perspective, the key challenge is to understand what distinguishes the great and the good, and what is the most suitable CRM for their specific organization. Below are a few suggestions.
Avoid CRM “overkill”
You should choose the right solution to fit your business size. Evaluate your requirements first and search for solutions that match those requirements, allowing for future needs and growth. As a mid sized or smaller business you might not need that heavy weight, complex CRM solution with specialist business functionality that larger organisations thrive on.
Review CRMs for your industry
The market is now replete with vertically focused solutions and modules. Find the right solutions for your sector. There are now specific specialist solutions for restaurants, bars, churches, schools, financial services, telecom, life sciences, non-profits, higher education, real estate, construction, bars, government agencies, health clubs and medical practices.
Don’t forget TCO
The total cost of owning and operating your CRM software includes the license cost, training, maintenance, upgrades, customization, configuration, integration and more. The key thing is that you consider all costs when comparing CRM systems.
Look out for your users
Your users will determine the success or failure of your CRM project. Our expectations as software users are high – we demand intuitive user interfaces and excellent user experiences across multiple platforms and devices. Make sure that you understand user requirements because this will have a major impact on acceptance and adoption rates.
Do evaluate implementation partners
Unless you have already decided which CRM software to adopt, the next task is to ensure that your implementation partner is independent and unbiased. Excellent communication, resources (to support ongoing needs quickly) and technical skills are entry level requirements. Therefore, think about supplier accreditations, product knowledge and their ability to provide meaningful product comparisons.
Your implementation partner must understand your business, including your aims, objectives and culture. They should also have a formal CRM project methodology. They must provide clear milestones, project structure, responsibilities, risks and more to reduce your risks, minimise costs and ensure that you maximise the adoption of the CRM software across your organization. Finally, your ideal implementation partner should have direct experience across your industry or sector.
Take some time to get to know your implementation partner, calculate the total likely cost of your CRM, and ensure that it will support your current and future needs. Evaluate the degree of customization that might be required and make sure that you evaluate reviews, case studies and other references to gain independent insight into the suitability of each vendor for your needs.
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