How to Select CRM Software for the Right Reasons

Posted by Commence on April 23, 2012 under CEO Corner | 6 Comments to Read

Brave, Brave, Brave, Brave Sir Robin

Don't be afraid to engage your CRM Vendor

With a challenging economy, increased competition and pressure to improve performance many small to mid-size companies are looking for ways to become a more efficient sales and service organization.  Let’s take a quick look at why people are choosing to implement CRM software.

  • Unable to access and view customer data
  • Not generating enough new business opportunities
  • Leads and sales opportunities are falling through the cracks
  • Monthly and quarterly forecasts are inaccurate
  • Projects are poorly managed

These are certainly valid reasons for implementing a CRM system. Yet if you conducted a survey with regard to the level of satisfaction among users of CRM software you would uncover a level of dissatisfaction that rivals the airline industry.  Why?  The reason is simple and has little to do with the actual CRM software itself.

CRM software has been touted as the “Holy Grail” that will fix all your internal processes, increase sales and ensure a high level of customer satisfaction. The explosive growth of CRM and sales software among small to mid-size companies indicates that the sales managers of these businesses believe this and are implementing CRM systems in record numbers.

Caught in the Trap of One Size Fits All CRM

Every CRM software system has a target audience. Some are focused on contact management, others on sales opportunity management and some are focused on customer service or help desk.  Your challenge is to determine which CRM system is best suited for your business.

But how can you do this if you have not documented your specific business requirements? Here lies the problem and the reason for such a high dissatisfaction level with CRM users.  Typical reasons for the frustrations are:

The software does not meet our business requirements

This occurs when a company fails to document their specific business requirements or is just too busy to try the product to ensure it addresses them properly. Finding out after the implementation that the CRM product does not meet your requirements is the fault of management, or your CRM selection team, who perhaps were never told what the business requirements were in the first place.

Lack of utilization

No one is using the product? Well of course not. If the product does not work the way the staff does it offers no value and as a result won’t be used. End users may be fickle, but they are smart enough to quickly determine if the product will provide value to them.  One that does not meet their workflow requirements will be quickly abandoned.

How can you ensure that you don’t fall into this trap? Here is some advice. If you have not documented your business requirements then you are not ready to select a CRM solution for your business.  Some people believe that they should just try a few out then select the one they like the best. This approach is just… stupid.

Find the Right CRM Software for Your Business

Take the time to:

1.  Identify your top two business challenges – You may have more, but you should address no more than two at a time.  If you think you can tackle more, think again.

2.  Look for a solution that addresses these specific challenges – Don’t worry about selecting a CRM system with all the bells and whistles, or the one that’s most popular.  Find one that addresses your specific business issues. Then take a test drive to ensure that it actually meets your expectations.

3.  Make the CRM vendor an instrumental part of the selection process – Some CRM vendors offer free trials, but refuse to engage you in a discussion about your business requirements.  They prefer that you try the product and if you like it, enter your credit card over the internet and you are on your way.  So much for customer relationship management, heh!

CRM salespeople can add a lot of value during the selection process. Don’t be afraid to engage them and make sure they are available before, during and after the sale.

Image “Brave, Brave, Brave, Brave Sir Robin” by make little sharks. on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

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