What Customers Should Consider When Selecting CRM Software

Circular Polarisation difference
The CRM software sector is highly competitive with dozens and dozens of product offerings that on the surface all appear to be the same.   As a consumer, it is not hard to get confused.  The vendors’ websites typically describe similar features and benefits, the products often look similar and the majority of them are web based and sold as a monthly service.  This has all led to a belief among consumers that CRM software is a commodity, and when people are shopping for a commodity product the most important decision criteria becomes price.

This belief that CRM software is a commodity is a cause of great concern for the CRM vendors themselves and for potential customers.  Why? Because CRM software is not a commodity, at least not for mid-size companies and larger.

I certainly do not blame the consumer for their belief.  Many CRM vendors have simply failed to differentiate their product offerings from their competitors. Instead of documenting how customers have realized a substantial return on their investment with their product, they instead assume that the consumer is buying solely on price and lower their offering.  The problem here is that both sides lose and is perhaps the reason that so many CRM implementations have failed in the small to mid-size business community.  If the vendor cannot make a profit they certainly cannot provide a valuable service or continue to invest in their technology.  So what is the consumer to do?

First, it is important to appreciate that despite everything you have seen or read on the internet, CRM software is not a commodity.  There are several important CRM decision criteria that need to be looked at in addition to features, functions and price.   Make sure you take a good look into the company you may be buying from and ask questions such as:

  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Do they have a solid reputation for providing quality products and services?
  • What experience do they have in your industry?
  • How many customers do they have?
  • Have the implementations of their CRM software gone smoothly?
  • Are customers realizing a return on their investment?
  • What level of telephone support and assistance do they provide before, during and after the sale?
  • Is the customer support directly from the company or pushed off to a third party?
  • Is the company re-investing in their CRM solution and enhancing it?

These simple questions may serve to help you to differentiate one CRM vendor and compare CRM software solutions from another and ensure that you make an educated decision based on criteria other than price.

Image “Circular Polarisation difference” by Niek Beck on Flickr, under Creative Commons license.

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