How to create the ultimate CRM vendor shortlist

By the time you get to the stage of sending out RFIs you will be ready to start narrowing down CRM vendors to create a final shortlist. Depending upon how many vendors you may have on the original list, you will want to reduce this to a manageable amount. If you aim for a figure of 10 or less, then you will be well on the way to making your final choice.

But some people do struggle at this stage and find that they have difficulty shortening their  CRM vendor shortlist.  If you find yourself stuck at this point, here are a few pointers to help you on your way.

Stick to your key requirements

Make sure that everything you need is provided by the new system. Go through each supplier list and tick off the areas that meet your needs. If some fall short, remove them. You may need to be ruthless about this but it will save you a big headache in the long run. Where you have duplicates of the same systems, reduce this down to just one. Remember to concentrate on the core software offered and not the various add-ons. Where there are too many supplementary additions required, you may be better off just excluding these.

Use this CRM requirements template to rank vendors on how well they meet your key requirements

Identify your technology requirements

Select the systems that match what you are looking for and remove the rest. Many companies make the mistake of going with older technology that is on the brink of becoming outdated. This is a definite no-go area as once it ceases to be supported you will be forced into a major upgrade situation.  

On the opposite end of the scale, also be wary of brand new technology that has not been proven in everyday use for a good period of time. Similarly, be extra careful about selecting trendy startup CRM vendors - be thorough about checking their credibility and their stability as a business. You don’t want your newly-selected CRM vendor to fold a few months after you have completed a lengthy implementation.

Look for vendor references

If a CRM provider has a good history behind them and highly-rated customer feedback then they should remain on the list. Also look for case studies on their website; where they have worked with similar companies to yours, give them a gold star! Where proposals have been sent to you by vendors that are new to the market or start-ups, be extra careful and carry out additional checks if needed. You may wish to carry out a due-diligence scan at this stage or later. This is important as you need to do background checks, ensuring that everything stacks up including the financial backgrounds.The more information that is provided on the provider’s website, the easier your job will be. Where websites are too basic and provide very little in the way of information, you may want to strike them off the list.

Don’t get too bogged down with prices at this stage but do look at lead times. If the vendor can’t deliver to suit your project deadline then there is no point in keeping them in the running. The total cost of the system can be weighed up once you are close to reaching a decision. Also remember that top price does not always equal quality; don’t be fooled into thinking that the more you pay, the better the final CRM software will be.

By making a plan and sticking to it, you will have far less trouble reducing down your original list of software suppliers to a manageable list.

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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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