Choosing the best CRM software for your business is not easy. It is an important decision to make and there are numerous factors to consider so that you buy the right solution.
Choosing CRM software is broken down into four easy steps.
- Assess your business needs
- Research solutions
- Test solutions
- Decide on a solution
1. Assess your business needs
Don’t skip this part. Answering questions and discussing your needs internally helps you narrow down your options quickly. If you don’t have your own method for recording information, a simple spreadsheet works. It helps organize your thoughts and justify your decision to the executive team.
- Create a spreadsheet and insert each question below into one cell within the first column. Enter your answers in the second column.
- Enter the name of each CRM software solution you want to investigate (see the list below to help you get started) in the other columns.
- As you start researching software, enter notes in each corresponding cell for each CRM software solution to make it easy to compare strengths and weaknesses.
- Prioritize the questions based on importance to your business: high, medium, and low.
- What are your business requirements and objectives?
- What is your budget?
- What are your company and staff growth projections?
- How many people need it now?
- Evaluate current processes - where are your process bottlenecks?
- Can implementation and administration be handled by current staff or do you need to hire someone?
- Do you want a cloud (SAAS) or on-premise solution?
- Is building it in-house an option?
- What are your required features?
- Pipeline management, data quality management, forecasting, workflows, sales performance tracking, marketing automation, reporting and analytics, lead scoring, other?
- What is their industry experience?
- Do they have a good reputation in the industry?
- Are they financially viable?
- Do they work with other companies in your industry?
- Do they have local partners for international offices?
- What customer service do you need and do they provide?
- No-touch, low-touch, or a dedicated account representative?
- Do they have consulting services available for custom projects?
- What product support do you need and do they provide?
- Help center, call-center, ticketed support, chat?
- What product training do you need and do they provide?
- Instructor-led, on-demand video, e-learning courses?
- Is there a free trial available?
- What are their pricing options?
- Do their pricing options fit within your budget?
- Do the features match your business needs?
- How often are new features released?
- Is it missing any of your required features?
- Will the system scale to meet your future needs?
- Is it user friendly?
- Can it be customized?
- Is it easy to administer?
- What automation is available?
- What kind of analytics and reporting are available?
- Does it enable you to comply with major data and privacy laws such as the EU’s GDPR?
- Can it integrate easily with your current systems or do you want it to replace what you currently use?
- Does it have third party productivity apps or services available?
- Is it mobile friendly?
- Is it easily accessible from any location your employees may access the system?
- How does the vendor communicate system issues and upgrades?
2. Research solutions
There are numerous CRM options available in the marketplace and below is a list of some of the top CRM vendors. As you start your search, look at companies that are financially viable and have a track record in the industry. New companies may not be financially viable and having them going out of business halfway through your contract could be disruptive to your business.
Be sure to record your notes if you created a spreadsheet.
For each solution, compare question results by priority outlined in step 1. Focus on high priority questions first and work your way down the list. It is likely that several vendors emerge as good candidates.
3. Test solutions
You should have enough information available to narrow your search to several vendors you think fit your business needs. Arrange for the free trial and test the functionality with your sales and marketing teams.
Get input from the people who will use the system. You can have the best CRM software in the world, but if your sales and marketing teams don’t use it, you won’t maximize the return on investment.
Continue to make notes on usability factors for each vendor to help narrow down your list of candidates.
4. Decide on a solution
You have done your due diligence and tested several CRM software solutions. For some of you, there will be a clear winner, while for others, you may have a top two list of vendors.
If you are still deciding between vendors, here are a few tips to help you make a decision:
- Look at your business priorities.
- Are there any “must-have” features that one CRM software has that another CRM software doesn’t have?
- Does one CRM software cover more of your high and medium priority items than the other CRM software?
- Consider any future features you might use.
- CRM software with features you need a year from now might be a better option than CRM software that doesn’t currently have those features.
- Make sure the vendor has tiered pricing for features based on your current needs.
- Paying for features you won’t use is a waste of money.
- Get the best deal.
- If the vendors are essentially equal, let them know you are deciding between them and their competition and see which one gives you the best pricing.