How to Choose the Right CRM for Your Business

If you’re in charge of choosing CRM software for your company, you might be overwhelmed. You need a CRM that connects your team, tracks your sales, helps you manage customer relationships and gives you clear, meaningful insights. It shouldn’t be complicated, but with many options available, how do you know what you should look for? Knowing that all CRM software is not created equal is a start, but there are many factors you should consider when looking for the best CRM software for you and your team.

1. Know why you want a CRM

CRM can be  very powerful – but what are your goals? Before you dive in, it’s important to understand why your business wants a CRM in the first place. It’s important to keep in mind that CRM is as much about how you approach and relate to your customers as what software you use to keep track of them. A well planned CRM strategy coupled with the right technology is very powerful – but what goals do you want to achieve through CRM?

  • Is it to centralize your business and make you more organized?
  • Is it to produce powerful business insights that will make you more profitable?
  • Is it to have a history of your contacts, leads, deals, and conversations?
  • Is it to scale your operation and make you more productive?

2. Check how long it takes to implement – and how much it costs

Some CRM systems take a lot longer to implement than others. Modern CRM implementations should be quick and easy – and free. That’s the kicker. I’ve been involved in very expensive CRM implementations that have taken in the upwards of 8 months. For many companies, that’s much too long. Ask potential CRM vendors how long the implementation will take (and how much it will cost). Don’t forget to account for your own office politics, busy seasons and other events that may get in the way of a timely and easy implementation.

3. Look for a CRM that promotes user adoption

At Base, we have a saying, 100% adoption or nothing. Insights you can glean from your CRM software are only as good as the data put into it. Find a CRM that minimizes friction so your team will actually use it. Reduce people, process, and system friction as much as possible.

  • Use a bottom-up approach, giving your team only what they need.
  • Don’t impose a process that isn’t natural.
  • Make sure the CRM has a great UX and is easy to use. 

4. Factor in mobility

How important is mobility to your team? For most businesses today, mobility is THE factor.  When shopping for a CRM, look for the solution that meets your team’s needs, no matter where they are. Look for a system that is easy to access on a plane, from the office, in the field, or even offline. A mobile CRM that is accessible in the situation relevant to a reps work makes all the difference to user adoption.

5. Understand your customization options

Your business is unique. Make sure the CRM you choose can adapt. The sales cycle of a real estate agent is different than the sales cycle of a creative agency, for example. Look for a CRM that allows you to customize your sales stages and add custom fields, filters and tags so it makes sense for your business.

6. Examine how it will improve efficiency

Your CRM should increase productivity – not slow you down. No one wants to work with a CRM with so many required fields that they’d rather take a pass on a lead than do data entry. CRMs are intended to produce profits by making the sales cycle smooth and tracking relevant information to closing deals.

  • Look for a CRM that automates tasks and pushes reminders to your mobile phone.
  • Select a solution that offers full functionality whether you are accessing it on your laptop after a client meeting in Colorado or from your cell while you wait for the train during your morning commute.
  • Look for a CRM that doesn’t make the user do double duty, forcing them to separately manage the content upload for a single transaction once while they are on mobile and again when they’re at the office.

7. Consider the hardware and software you already use

Are you future-proofing your business with BYOD?

  • BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, refers to the popular growing policy of permitting employees to bring personally owned mobile devices (laptops, tablets, and smart phones) to their workplace, and to use those devices to access privileged company information and applications.
  • Look for a CRM that offers the same features you use on the desktop version on phones and tablets running iOS, Android or Windows.

Will the CRM integrate with your other software? Integration with other programs your team uses is important for ease of use. Look for a CRM that can seamlessly work with your existing software. For example:

  • Email: Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, MailChimp, Yesware
  • Cloud tools: Dropbox, Google Drive
  • Social media: LinkedIn, Facebook

8. Take it for a test drive

Try it before your buy it.

  •  Trying out your potential new CRM is a critical step in the purchasing process, and one that many companies overlook.
  • Let your team thoroughly explore the tool. Ask for feedback. If they put the software through its paces, they’ll if know it’s be a good fit.

9. Identify what insights you need 

Think about what metrics you (as a sales person or as a manager) need to see – and make sure the CRM you choose will readily provide you with those insights.

  • Incoming Deals Volume Report – This report breaks down the number of deals registered over a period of time and percentage of total deal count.
  • Sales Forecasting – The sales forecasting report will tell you the total value of all deals in the pipeline and how much of that amount your business can realistically expect to bring in.
  • Sales Revenue Goals – Set and monitor individual and team revenue goals over a set time period.
  • Won Deals – This report tells you the number of deals won, by team member, over any resolution period you choose.
  • Sales Funnel Analysis – The sales funnel analysis report tells you where your team stands at all points in your pipeline and what your business has to lose or gain.

10.  Don’t forget about tomorrow

Look to the future. Bottom line, the CRM needs to grow with you.

  • Just because it works for your company today doesn’t mean it will be a fit in five years.
  • Think about how a CRM will scale as your business grows. Can the tool serve companies of any size?
  • As you make your final decision, look for a CRM that will be a long-term partner.

Do you have any tips to add? Please let me know in the comments section!

*Note, this post originally appeared on the Base blog.

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