10 Things You Need To Know Before Choosing A CRM

By Lauren Licata | Small Business

Don’t make a decision in the dark; here’s what you need to consider as a CRM customer.

Once you have the right CRM in place, it will become an integral part of your daily routine. The importance of a CRM means that you should take the time to consider all aspects of the purchase and how it will impact you and your team. We’ve outlined ten essential considerations to guide your decision-making process. Once you have a clear, holistic view of how your team operates and what a CRM can do, you’ll be able to pick the best tool for the job.

1. Your team needs to use it.

This sounds obvious, but research has shown that many companies have employees who don’t bother to take advantage of a system-wide CRM. According to KEN Insights, less than 40 percent of 1,275 participating companies had end-user adoption rates above 90 percent. Before you make a purchase, set expectations and align with your team. Get them on board with the benefits of a CRM and get them on your side before you make the product choice. Just a little bit of preparation will help make the transition to a new system much smoother and will boost the odds that your reps will make use of the program.

2. Know what features you need.

Before you even start talking to CRM vendors, find out what features would be most helpful in your daily work. Evaluate what tools you and your team are currently using and what your processes are.

It may be tempting to shell out for the most comprehensive system you can find. But convoluted, complicated systems won’t help your adoption problem. Don’t pay more for extraneous stuff. Taking the time to examine your team’s existing process will help you make a smart, cost-effective purchase.

3. Examine how it will improve efficiency.

This should go hand-in-hand with the point above. Before you choose your CRM partner, analyze your existing sales and customer relationship management processes – or lack-therof. Find out what is working and what is not. Is your team spending too much time manually entering data? What about taking notes from phone calls? Know what your current weaknesses are and look for a CRM that will address those issues.

4. You need mobile tools.

Unless you only work at one desk, on one PC, you’re going to need a CRM that is mobile. If you are still doing that, congratulations. The rest of us are strapped to our phones 24/7.  For most companies, mobile work is a necessity, not a luxury.

You and your team are working on the train, at the airport, from your clients’ offices. Mobile is a must for your team to be competitive in the field and to best serve your customers. In your CRM shopping, look for all the functionality that the system offers on a desktop in its mobile versions. Also seek out a CRM that will sync automatically and provide offline access. These are small details that will make it possible for your reps to be ten times more productive.

5. Consider your hardware.

Know your hardware before making a decision about CRM software. Some CRM options have the flexibility to work equally well on the Web version as on a native app. Picking a product that will give you all the tools and power you need on any platform will help to future-proof your business. It will make it easy for employees to use their own devices and will let your company hop between PC and Mac, iOS and Android. This movement is called BYOD, and if aren’t familiar, you should get familiar, and fast. Apple  put out a great resource on BYOD.

6. You don’t work in a vacuum.

Depending on the nature of your business, you and your team may already have an arsenal of tools at your disposal. You may take advantage of email programs such as Microsoft Outlook, Gmail or MailChimp. Perhaps you do extensive outreach on LinkedIn or Facebook. What about proposal creation, invoicing and document storage? Modern CRMs will give you options to seamlessly work with these other great systems.

7. Try before you buy.

A CRM is a major purchase for a company. If the makers of a software system on this scale aren’t willing to give you a chance to try out the tools and features in their product, then they probably don’t deserve your business.

When you do get the opportunity to test drive a CRM, put it through its paces. Turn your team loose and have them test out every feature available – but don’t forget to have them go through the basics too. How easily can they perform the tasks they will be completing every day like entering a lead, sending an email, converting a prospect to a customer? Get their feedback and take it back to each vendor you evaluate. Choose the vendor that best meets your needs.

8. You need to see results.

CRM adoption doesn’t end once you’ve made the choice, bought the software, and rolled it out across your team. Once you put the CRM to use, you’ll want to see performance data. How many leads are you converting ? What territory do you do the most business in? What does your sales pipeline look like for the next quarter? The more information your CRM makes available to you, the better guidance you can give your team members.

9. Motivate your team.

If you have a team, data shouldn’t be the sole property of the C-suite and the managers. Your reps should be able to monitor their own progress, checking what their strengths and weaknesses are. Sure, there should be permissions you can set, but putting important figures are their disposal will help them to stay motivated and stay focused on improving their game.

10. Will it grow with you?

Even before you’ve successfully launched the CRM across your company, you need to look to the future. Make sure that you choose software that will scale with your business’ ambitions. Just because you start small doesn’t mean you’ll stay that way. The best CRM will be a partner for the long haul. Once you and your team get used to working in the CRM you choose, you do not want to have to switch solutions a year or two later.

We’re going to be putting out more advice on how to choose the right CRM system. There are pros and cons to every solution, and in the end, you want a partner who shares your vision.

Let us know what advice you’ve followed when choosing a CRM system in the comments section.

This post originally appeared on the Base blog.

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