Five tips to make researching new CRM software easier

With so many CRM systems on the market, how do you choose the most suitable one for you? By putting in place some initial research, you can be sure that whichever you opt for, it will do the job well, save time and increase productivity.  

1. Define your goals

To kick off your research, you should begin by looking at your business goals and key CRM requirements. If you don’t know what you want the CRM to do, then you may end up going in circles. How do you want the system to improve your customer service offering?  Should it look at making overall performance more efficient as well as keeping notes with regard to customer liaison and product details? For example, will entering new customer information into the system be much faster and will accuracy and enhanced when it comes to producing sales confirmations and orders? Will the amount of records that you deal with stay the same or are you looking to expand once the new CRM is in place?

This CRM requirements template contains over 100 feature ideas for your next software purchase

2. Clarify cost

You should also take time to look at the potential costs of a new CRM.  Depending upon the size of your business, your budget may be restricted.  If you already know suppliers that can supply the CRM and with whom you have an ongoing relationship, your research may start with them. Don’t forget to look at training costs, set-up fees and annual costs for maintenance etc. Most essential, will the new CRM link in with your existing systems or will other equipment and software need to be upgraded?   

3. Check what others do

Always choose an experienced vendor that is either known to you already or who has been recommended. Whether you carry out the bulk of your research online or via trade magazines, it might also be worth finding out what companies similar to yours use. If they can provide you with leads, you might save a lot of time. Your research can not be complete without looking at reviews, both of vendors and their CRM systems. These are a great way of getting an idea of user feedback and satisfaction ratios.

4. Think about your users

Another question to include within your research is whether or not you need your new CRM to be accessible via mobile devices. Will your sales representatives in the field need to get into the CRM whilst making sales calls on location? If employees will need to gain access off-site, then a mobile version will be essential.

Look for CRMs that appeal to your employees with a practical and clear user-interface.  It would be a real waste of money if some employees steered clear of the new system due to it being too unfamiliar and causing them to be worried about using it. Reassure them that it will come complete with a full training package and that the vendor will be on call to assist with queries and teething problems. By doing this, you will lose far less productivity time and obtain excellent results even in the early days.

5. Flexibility is essential

Whichever CRM you favour, make sure that it is very flexible, adaptable and will integrate with all current systems that are presently used to raise sales orders and invoices.  Don’t make the mistake of going with an off-the-shelf package which only fulfils a few of your needs.

With the onset of many cloud-based systems, you may want to look at these alternatives compared to having to purchase new hardware and software.  Cloud-based CRMs can be implemented quickly and frequently upgraded whereas on-site systems tend to require more customization.  Which one you go for will depend upon your needs and preferences.

Think of this research period as time well spent.  A new or replacement CRM will be a long-term investment so don’t rush into purchasing until you have answered and evaluated all questions.

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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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