CRM Selection Guide: Primary Requirements and Proven Steps
Since many CRM vendors have upped their game and the playing field shifted to be more competitive, the selection of the new platform has become more complicated over the last several years. A wide range of CRM choices makes it difficult for the companies of the different shapes and sizes find the right software to achieve the optimal outcome.
Somewhat because of the volume of the marketing messages from the various CRM providers, a number of organizations start the procedure of choosing the platform by launching the free trials and watching the vendor’s demonstrations.
Albeit, when the CRM selection starts with implementing the trial versions or vendor presentations, the evaluation cycle can hold off a lot longer than you expect. Besides, there are some hidden costs to an extended selection timeframe. Selecting the wrong software can lead to the large multi-year expenditures with a little return. So, let's look closer at CRM selection needs and steps to accelerate the overall process rather than slowing it down.
Checklist of CRM Requirements
The CRM platform can obtain the longest toolset of capabilities, but it can be a poor choice for your company if the solution lacks the functionality you really need and doesn’t fit your budget. Hence, the first step in your CRM selection is to establish the primary demands your solution must meet before you begin evaluating the platforms. Some key features to consider when gathering your requirements include:
Contact Management. Handle all contacts efficiently to satisfy your current business processes. Also, the platform can comprise auto-response integration and follow-up reminders, along with the ability to display the main information on each lead.
Sales Pipeline Visualization. Explore the visual representation of the sales pipeline together with all contacted leads that are in the customer journey.
Reporting and Analytics. Take advantage of the functionality that covers everything from the sales figures to marketing ROI. The reports provides you with the necessary data for optimizing the sales and marketing efforts. Besides, it helps you determine the the poor performing areas. Also, the predictive analytics parses the historical data to make the predictions on further company efforts and activities. In this way, it can help you identify the optimal times to contact the potential customer.
Marketing Automation Integration. Create closer relationships with your clients by integrating your CRM with marketing automation tools for the seamless sales and marketing experience.
Lead Management. Nature and qualify leads, as well as use a lead scoring to analyze and identify the priority of the contacts.
Mobile. Access the critical lead information on a go, and make the notes directly through a smartphone or tablet.
Social. Keep in touch with your clients via social networks. This helps the companies more clearly understand the customer’s requirements and deliver the superior client service.
Now, when you’ve got acquainted with features, it is time to go through 7 essential steps recommended for the successful CRM selection:
Step 1 - Get in Touch with Stakeholders and Users
If you want to run the business efficiently, your CRM system requires addressing the needs of both management and end users. The last ones are highly valuable to the CRM selection procedure since they interact the most with prospects and clients. Your employees can observe the inefficiencies and user pain points with the existing solution, as well as can come up with some creative ideas to solve these issues.
When the right types of questions are asked, aspects of operational problems and client complaints that management may not have even been aware of will often appear. If your team feels that they have an influence early in the CRM selection process, the employees will be more interested and engaged in your CRM once the platform is rolled out.
Step 2 - Gather and Analyze Input
As soon as the information has been assembled from the participants, it is recommended to organize the data. Recurring topics can emerge from the user input. So, the additional questions can be asked of management and end users to fully capture the current and optimal future state. The capabilities and performance levels of the existing software and processes should be cataloged and described in the details. Gathering this information is an integral component of the next phase.
Step 3 - Validate and Prioritize
After thoroughly investigated information of steps 1 and 2, the considerable volume of data should be reviewed and approved. Validation of the assembled input can be achieved via a workshop that includes the stakeholders and end users. In other words, the process will include the actions like communication, as well as confirmation of the details with the participants.
Once the information has been discussed, the decisions can be made about which requirements should be addressed first and later. Also, a short list of CRM vendors can be created during this step that may comprise the future third-party solutions.
Step 4 - Establish a Vendor Ranking System
Since a prioritized list of requirements has been created, organize the information in such way that participants can rank the CRM providers based on the ability of each solution to fit the documented needs. Besides, the ranking procedure can serve as a general demonstration guide for vendors to address the highest priority requirements and asing them in the logical sequence.
Step 5 - Schedule Tailored Demonstrations
The vendors or their channel representatives should be pre-briefed on your business’ existing and desired future state like the company’s functional components and the roles within those areas. Ideally, each CRM vendor has to deliver you a customized demonstration of the platform. But it is up to each of the providers how much time they want to spend on their presentation to show you the most valuable information about their product.
Step 6 - Choose the CRM System
After the demonstrations or free trials, you can have the follow-up questions regarding the specific features and customization options, as well as how it can be implemented. After that, scrutinize the participants’ vendor rankings and make your CRM selection. Then, determine the implementation timeline and strategy.
Step 7 - Negotiate and Purchase
Once you have selected the desired CRM, it is suggested to perform the additional actions. Usually, the CRM vendor can have the several subscriptions of the platforms. In this case, you can talk about mixing and matching of functionality licenses within a plan. Moreover, the editions can include the certain add-ons or complementary technologies that should be a part of your CRM deployment. Pricing and procure timing needs to be determined for these as well. Don’t forget about the various choices of the contract duration that should be identified at this stage.
Pull It All Together
The CRM selection can be a challenging task that involves the process of defining requirements and finding the right vendor to fit your business needs. However, it enables you with a significant start toward the successful CRM implementation and rollout. So, take the above-mentioned tips and tricks, and choose the dream solution without any hassles.
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