6 Steps for Selecting the Right CRM for Your Business

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There are many CRM solutions for companies to choose from, and wading through the wide range of options can seem like a daunting task. Choosing a CRM for your company can involve considerable time and energy, so it is important to thoroughly research the right CRM to maximize ROI from your investment.

1. Start with the basics—assessing goals and objectives.

Begin by assessing your goals and objectives for the project and examine how these align with your overall business goals. Once you’ve taken this step, you can move on to addressing the question of what you want the CRM system to do. Do you want a system that can be used across the whole business or only one or two departments? Do you need a comprehensive system that can send bulk emails, run sophisticated analytics, and otherwise do just about anything? Or do you need a more basic system that keeps your data organized and tracks sales opportunities? Do you need a solution that falls somewhere in between?

Asking these questions can help you narrow down your search and start the process of finding the perfect solution.

2. Talk to your system users.

As you evaluate CRM solutions, talk to the people in your organization who will be using the system. These conversations can give you an understanding of the processes you are looking to improve, the features users think are important, the data points the new system will need to handle and whether this data will be a one-time input or ongoing inputs. Talking to your team will help you gain a clearer picture of the specific requirements needed in a CRM system and help boost user adoption. These discussions can also provide insights on the level of resources you will need to train and on-board staff on the new system. 

According to CSO Insights, less than 40 percent of businesses have a CRM adoption rate higher than 90 percent. Taking time to talk to your user base prior to buying CRM software will ensure that everyone is on the same page, helping boost adoption and usage of the system.

3. Get granular on features.

The next step is to conduct an analysis of the features and functionality you need from a CRM system. These systems run the gamut from very basic to feature-packed, including components such as revenue tracking, data storing and retrieval, workflow automation, lead tracking, sales pipeline management and project management. The key to finding the software that is the right fit for your company is to realistically assess the features that your business needs and will use.

Does your company need more robust features that manage the entire customer journey and include marketing, sales, service, engagement, and commerce? Or does your company need a more basic feature set that manages communication with existing customers, prospects, and leads? It is important to keep in mind that sophisticated CRM systems are worthless if your company won’t use them or they are too complex to operate. It does not make sense to invest in a system that, while feature-rich, is usage-poor.

4. Evaluate the integration potential.

A key consideration for any business shopping for a CRM solution is how well the solution works with the company’s existing applications. This means you will need to evaluate CRM options in the context of whether they play well with your other technology platforms, including email marketing solutions, project management software, and email service providers. The bottom line is that whatever CRM you select should be able to easily integrate with your existing software. If you need to connect all your systems through APIs, then you will need to look for a third-party platform that can integrate your systems to streamline data organization.

5. Look at mobile-friendly options.

The trend toward bring-your-own-devices (BYOD) and the ubiquity of mobile phones makes mobile CRM a must-have for creating a seamless, cohesive customer experience across multiple devices.

Because your customers are predominately mobile, you will need a system that allows you to be where they are. This means that your sales reps and managers need anywhere, anytime access to data like customer history, sales collateral, and pipeline activity—access that a CRM with strong mobile capabilities can provide.

Make sure your CRM system is accessible by looking at mobile-friendly options that allow your reps to quickly respond to customer needs, chase leads and prospects, and manage existing customer accounts.

6. Resist the urge to build.

Many businesses look at building a custom CRM solution as an attractive option, but often once you start down that path, you wish you’d rethought the decision. Regret really sets in when you migrate your single-purpose in-house solution to another CRM platform and experience the burdensome investment in ongoing maintenance, improvements, and support, as well as major expenditures of human capital. In most cases it simply does not make sense to build out a custom CRM solution. This is especially true as advances in cloud technology have driven an increase in CRM systems offering flexible and convenient platforms available for all use cases.

If you don’t have the resources to commit to a readily available CRM platform, resist the lobbying of developers in your organization for a build-now custom-developed solution; wait until you are ready to buy.

There are many CRM software choices available with a wide range of features and add-on integrations. While it is great to have so many options, it can be difficult to determine which CRM software is the best fit for your business. The key is to examine your goals and objectives for the project and how these align with your overall business goals; determine what your user base needs the software to do; assess what features are most important to your business; evaluate the integration potential of the software; make sure that any solution you select is mobile-friendly; and resist the urge to build a custom solution. While this process takes time and resources, a thorough evaluation will help you select a system that yields maximum ROI.

Jon Robinson is the president of Lunar, a Salesforce Partner and SaaS product development company that automates and integrates technology to get more out of its clients’ existing sales and marketing. An entrepreneur at heart, Robinson has more than 15 years of entrepreneurial and leadership experience, which guides his expertise in building businesses and growing companies to reach their highest potential.

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