Three definitive steps to selecting the right CRM

Unsurprisingly, it takes on average 13 weeks to complete a CRM selection process. The process is highly challenging. There are so many vendors and potential features to evaluate making a selection of the right CRM for your business can quickly become overwhelming.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at three key steps for making sure you choose the right CRM:

  1. Requirements document 
  2. Shortlist vendors
  3. Use a systematic selection process

Requirements document 

The typical approach to selecting a CRM is to start browsing vendors and look for something that sounds good. This approach is highly susceptible to falling for a slick sales pitch from a particular vendor – most people buy on emotion and CRM sales departments are incredible about converting prospects into customers. This is unsurprising because so much budget is deployed to this area of the business.

The more sensible approach is to start by listing outcomes – look at the business and consider how you want the CRM to improve it. You can start by looking broadly at points like increasing revenue per salesperson or increasing conversions. This can lead to considering the following CRM requirements:

  • We need a CRM that has email automation that has a Xero integration. 
  • The CRM needs to produce management reports that include XYZ.

This is a critical part of the CRM process because it ensures you ask critical questions about what is important for your business. It also provides clarity on the next step. 

Shortlist vendors

With so much choice and a huge range of vendors, prices, and feature sets, this can be overwhelming. There are however a few tactics you can use that will ease the process:

  • Use a professional: There are independent consultants that can offer advice on the best CRM to use for your business and it can be valuable to tap into their expertise when building your shortlist.
  • Ask contacts: If you have friendly contacts in a business that has a similar set of needs, they may be a useful source of advice. If you can visit the business and see the CRM in action and speak to users then even better.
  • Read reviews: There are independent reviews of software providers written by experts and users – tap into these to get specific guidance on what every solution does and doesn’t do.

Use a systematic selection process

So you’ve done the hard work. You’ve worked out what you need, found great vendors, and arranged for these vendors to bid for your business – you need to make one final step.

It’s easy to make a poor decision at this stage. Perhaps you prefer one sales rep or one vendor is pushier, there are all sorts of biases and traps you can fall into. Instead have a quantifiable process.

Score the vendors on a set of pre-agreed criteria and ask different people in the business to score vendors. Normally there are clear winners when a process is quantified in this way – if it is very tight then a small group can discuss the merits but ensure that discussion is around scores rather than veering into baseless opinions.

Selecting a CRM can be challenging but following a few key principles will help you de-risk the decision.

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Doug Haines

About the author…

Doug Haines has worked on a variety of CRM implementation projects and now writes on a wide range of topics. He is a regular contributor to Discover CRM

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Doug Haines

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