The right CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution can be instrumental in the growth of your company. Therefore, choosing CRM software for your business is an important, yet often undervalued endeavour. Like other significant business decisions, a hasty or ill-informed choice can result in immense amounts of wasted time and money. While there are dozens of individual features and benefits that come into play, the following are the top eight criteria you need to evaluate when selecting the best CRM for your business. Consider these wisely.
User adoption and training is the most important aspect to consider yet, surprisingly, is the most often overlooked. The success of any CRM solution hinges on quick adoption and consistent utilization; it must be easily learned and quickly embraced. Clean, modern CRM’s have simple and intuitive interfaces, and some will be better than others. Choose a product that encourages easy, trackable learning goals and includes engaging online learning systems. Avoid CRM solutions that resort to vast pages of text; these resources are hard to consume and invite expensive consultant engagements to customize and train your staff.
Your business will have its own sales process, stages, triggers, and client information sets. A CRM solution that is easy to customize is of immense benefit, as it will better mesh with your existing processes. Review pre-built options such as plugins, themes, and templates that you can use to tailor the software without having to create workarounds or hire software developers.
Ideally, your CRM will integrate into your existing ecosystem – email systems, accounting systems, marketing services, business intelligence, websites, or another line of business software. Selecting a CRM that already interfaces with the tools you use will increase its value to your organization and drive efficiencies in your day to day business activities. Most modern CRM solutions will publish their available integrations on their website, but it’s also worth inquiring about the CRM vendor’s integration roadmap to gain insight into what will be possible in the future.
Is your business focused on a specialized industry? If you work in finance, construction, legal, healthcare, retail, or real estate, CRM options exist that are specifically designed to accommodate your vertical. These specialized solutions offer best practices, processes, and unique feature sets devised explicitly to complement your trade. Such solutions can be extremely appealing but typically come at a higher cost and lack customization and flexibility. If your company plans to spread its wings to other sectors, you will require a CRM that is up to the challenge as well.
One of the key advantages of a modern CRM system is the ability to enhance lead generation and marketing automation. Even if marketing has not been a key initiative in the past, a new CRM system can be a great starting point. Developing and managing campaigns, drawing more prospects to your website, and advancing your business’ social media footprint are just a few of the things a CRM can help out with. Each CRM has different approaches and strengths in this area, and understanding how this can fit with your organization is often neglected.
Security of your business data is vital, regardless of where it resides. A CRM system is a central information hub, containing not only your customer details and history but often financial and other potentially sensitive data. Be sure to ask any prospective CRM vendor what their security posture is regarding multi-factor authentication, measures against cyber attacks, and data loss remediation. In some industries, there may be specific privacy and security standards to which you must adhere.
Reporting has moved from a management requirement to a critical tool every user of the system needs. Selecting a CRM with customizable reports, dashboards, and security levels will ensure your team’s activities, and results are easily measurable. Also, there may be opportunities to have your CRM system integrate with other Business Intelligence platforms, such as Microsoft PowerBI, to take advantage of converged reporting with your other datasets.
Here’s a bonus tip: be sure to engage a trusted IT advisor or Managed Services partner in the process. They can be invaluable in the selection of a CRM solution by bringing expertise around internal and external integrations, security options, and their experience with other effective CRM implementations.
Good luck, and happy hunting!
Associate Partner, IT Business Analysis