How to evaluate your CRM vendor demonstrations

After the demonstrations have been conducted, you will most likely need to go back to the vendors with questions about functionality and how the system will work for you. You then need to rank each vendor, putting together a final vendor selection list of just one or two.

Score each one

But when it comes to evaluating the CRM vendor demonstrations, how do you judge and score each one? Is there an easy way to rank each demo in order that you can isolate the best CRM system for you?  In order to avoid going with a CRM that will fail due to poor usability, you have to take the time to ensure that the solutions offered will integrate fully with your existing systems. Don’t rank the demos according to their function; concentrate on how well they will refine your business processes.

Recommended reading: get advice on CRM vendor demos and more using our step-by-step CRM selection survival guide

Make your decision based upon information provided

The CRM demonstrations should have provided you with plenty of information upon which to base your decision. You could make a list of key software features that are ‘must-haves’ and then score each one accordingly. A simple system is to rate them on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being perfect and 1 being not suitable at all. Here are just a few ideas but you can add your own:

  • Will the CRM get rid of bottlenecks when it comes to workflow?
  • How will it improve the processing of various transactions i.e. raising a new sales confirmation order, invoices etc?
  • Will reporting capabilities be improved?
  • How flexible is the software – can it be attuned to suit your business needs
  • How will the new CRM bolt onto your existing systems?
  • If the vendor is one that you have used before, think about your current relationship.  Do you fit well together and can you imagine working with them for the next few years? For the CRM to work well, the whole team needs to work in harmony, including your employees i.e. the end users

Any professional CRM vendor will understand that their demonstration needs to show that productivity will be improved in an immediate and measureable way.

Use POCs where necessary

Once you have whittled the list down to just a couple of suppliers, you may want to consider asking for a POC (Proof of Concept). This is a simple feasibility study that will help to verify that the concept will work in principle. Keep the costs to a minimum during this stage. If a vendor tells you they can do something, ask them to show you how. They may need to create technical links to your existing system so that the prototype can be tested. Now is a good time to get users involved. Get them using the system and trying it out in real time. If they have any problems or queries, they should make detailed notes. This is an essential stage of the process as once the CRM is in place and purchased, it needs to work well and improve the company systems, saving time and money.

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Jane Tareen

About the author…

An MBA-qualified professional, Jane specializes in all kinds of copywriting and creative content production. With many years spent working in advertising and publishing, she is also skilled in editorial production and proof-reading. Whilst writing, she has a constant companion in the form of one very large Fox Red Labrador!

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Jane Tareen

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