Three Things CRM Solution Providers Don’t Tell You
(… or you did not know to ask)
By Larry Caretsky, Commence Corporation
Ok, you are looking for a CRM solution for your business. You have your list of requirements and have your questions ready — or do you? Regardless of whether you are a large or small organization, there are a few critical questions that will have substantial impact on the successful implementation, use, and value you will realize from your decision.
I have outlined three questions below that are rarely asked by businesses looking for a CRM solution, and rarely volunteered by the vendors that serve the small business community. How do I know this? Because I sell CRM software.
1 – Where is my data stored?
The security of your company data may be one of the most important aspects of selecting a CRM solution provider. Despite this, very few people ever ask, “Where is my data stored? Is it backed up every day, and can I get a copy in case of an emergency or if the vendor goes out of business?” Seems like an important question right, yet 90% of the companies that call about Commence CRM never ask. They simply assume that the cloud is the cloud and every CRM provider’s service is pretty much the same – but believe me, they are not.
The proper hosting and management of your data is a significant differentiation between low cost or freemium products and those companies that properly manage and secure your data. You have a right to know where your data is being stored and that it is properly protected. A quality CRM solution provider will provide this information. Ask the question and if you are not satisfied with the response, simply rule that vendor out.
2 – Can I control who can see what?
The objective of CRM software is to provide people with access to vital customer information so that they can effectively do their jobs. However, there are times when you will want to keep some information private. Maybe it is as simple as not allowing sales representatives to see customers or leads outside their territory. Perhaps you want to give access to major accounts to only selected individuals, or you want to limit the functionality people have based on their role in the company. Data access rights is a significant feature that people just do not know to ask about.
Lack of record-level data security or role-based security can have a significant impact on the use of the product within your organization. It is considered a premium feature and it typically is not available in low cost or freemium product offerings. As such, it is critical to ask the question. I receive too many inquiries from companies that selected a low cost solution only to find out later that the product they just implemented does not offer this capability. It is not the vendor’s fault; the buyer never asked the question.
3 – How frequent are your product enhancements?
Being in this industry for many years, I remember the days when customers consistently called to ask what was planned down the road and what new features could they expect in the next product release. Perhaps this was because they were paying an annual software maintenance fee and were used to getting new features each year. The cloud has changed this for some reason. People never ask. They pay their monthly or annual CRM invoices as if they are paying the electric company. The only expectation is that they will have service every day. This does not make sense and I would not want to do business with a company that was not continuing to invest in their product.
Make sure you ask the CRM solution providers you are interested in how many times a year are new or enhanced product features introduced to customers and when was the last update. The answer may be just one and that’s OK as they may offer several new features in the release. The point here is that you have to ask the question and be prepared to move on if you do not like the answer.
About the author:
Larry Caretsky manages the sales organization at Commence Corporation, a leading provider of CRM software for small and mid-size businesses. Commence CRM differentiates itself with a robust set of features that rival enterprise solutions costing much more. This is coupled with a set of best practices and world-class customer service. For more information visit the company’s web site at commence.com or call Commence Sales at 1-877-266-6362.