CRM software is
currently one of the fastest-growing types of business software. Being customer-centric is the new way to run your business and CRM tool will play the
most crucial part in that. However, with so many solutions on the market,
deciding which one is the best CRM for you can be difficult.
To help you choose the best CRM solution for your company, I have prepared 10 things to consider when making this important decision.
1. Know your needs
First, think about what you really want to get from your CRM. Many solutions provide you with lead management, sales channels, marketing tools, integration with mailing providers, etc. Before you can choose the best solution for yourself, the key thing is to write down your requirements and expectations.
Think about the features that could improve your employees’ performance or automate many of the processes in your company. Knowing your process and plans for the future can help you choose the best and the most cost-effective CRM system for you. The most complex and most expensive system is not necessarily the best fit for you.
2. Requirements – on-premises or online
My honest opinion would be to try online, but many companies still decide to host applications on their on-premises servers. Reasons for that could be:
- Regulations preventing storing personal data in the cloud (i.e. it is prohibited to store medical records in any cloud datacentre),
- Security concerns
- Internal company policy
Having that in mind, if online is an option for you, then my advice to you would be to go for it. Online allows you to access your CRM from anywhere and anytime. It offers you a so-called »evergreen« environment, meaning you are always up to date with all the latest updates and features. Backups are handled by the service provider and you do not have to deal with server maintenance and updates. Even security is handled by a team of experts, which means that your data is secure and safe from hackers.
The downside of going cloud-based route is limited access to the files, shared hardware and you have no or limited control over the timing of updates.
If you decide to go with an on-premises solution anyway, make sure to check all the requirements for the solution you decide to go with. Many CRM solutions have quite high database, CPU, and RAM requirements. You also need to consider the client aspect. Does the solution provide a web client or is application supported across all types of devices (i.e. Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, etc.).
There are many different solutions on the market. Some include many functionalities, while others are more limited. Nevertheless, there is another important thing to take into consideration … Extensibility. Does your piece of software come with a possibility of add-ons? Can you extend it with additional modules you might need now or in the future? Check, whether you can add marketing tools, such as Oracle, MailChimp, ClickDimensions, etc.
Even though a CRM can offer you a large number of functionalities, no CRM will fit 100% into your process from the beginning. Keeping that in mind, think about how easy it would be to add the following customizations:
- Add new fields
- Modify forms and views
- Add additional logic
Many small CRM solutions (let’s call them garage projects) will offer very few options for customization while others will be too expensive. At the enterprise level, some companies will charge you for a more expensive license just to provide you with access to the part of the source where you can add your code.
Even if you think you do not need customizations right now, trust me, everyone has a process to implement and no CRM will cover every single step of it.
5. Existing environment
I am sure your company already uses many tools to run your business. Think about solutions such as Outlook, MailChimp, Gmail, or maybe something else. On the other hand, think about LinkedIn, Instagram or other social networks for marketing. Choosing the right CRM can help you integrate all of these disparate tools in a single point for better overview and easier control than ever. Another example is document storage, notes sharing, etc. All that can be integrated in a CRM solution to connect your sales team for easier communication and collaboration.
However, it is even more important to analyse your core systems like ERP and accounting software. Make sure you have the ability to easily integrate your new CRM with the existing systems in your company. Integrations between systems can be expensive, especially if there are no pre-defined access points to get/write your data.
6. Mobile support
Does your company have a sales team or other employees like mobile agents who spend more time in the field than in the office? They are likely carrying their computer with them to enter data into the current system, or even worse, using them to fill out Excel files for reporting to their bosses at the end of the day.
Many CRM solutions offer mobile support to help users capture data from their mobile phones easily. With some solutions you can even take advantage of offline support so your user will not depend on internet access to do their work. Once their phone reconnects to the internet, the application will synchronize data to the CRM.
7. Try it before you buy it
While buying a new computer or other accessories can be sometimes decided in a matter of minutes, choosing the correct piece of software should be a well-thought out decision. We all know how screenshots and presentations can be one thing, but actually using the software can be an entirely different experience.
My next suggestion is to try the solution before you decide to buy it. More and more CRM solutions can be evaluated free of charge, so why not try it? CRM will stay with you for a long time so there is no need to rush and you should give it as much thought as necessary.
8. Grow with your company
Since a CRM system will stay with you for a long time, you have to think about the future. Can the solution support your growth and will be able to support your processes even when your company’s size doubles or triples? On the other hand, you should not go too big. Even though in an ideal world any company would grow to the size of Microsoft or Apple doubling the size of a company is a slow process so you are safe for a few years.
Anyway, keep your growth plans in your mind. Do not think too big because it can be too expensive for you at the moment and do not think too small or you will outgrow what you bought too soon.
9. Team motivation
When you decide to change or implement a new system in the company, you would think the implementation is the hardest part. Sadly, the most difficult part is right after implementation - adoption. Every company has people who just do not accept new systems and refuse to understand that the new system can be faster, better, and easier. They just keep working the way they always did.
You must think about the way to mitigate this and how to push a new piece of software to the end-users. A possible solution would be to compare how fast tasks are done the old way and how fast users can do them through new software.
Usually, once users see the benefit in the system, they will enjoy using it.
10. Reporting – see the results
After the CRM is implemented in your company, the real fun should begin. Now you will want to track the results and see how software has improved your employees working speed. Additionally, once the CRM system is in place, more data about sales, activities, etc. will be in one place, so reporting will be easier than ever. CRM will allow you to see where you are compared to your forecast for the next weeks and months and execute on the opportunities your sales team already has.
To wrap up
Every company is unique and has it is own needs when it comes to software and tools. I hope that the points described above can help you at least a bit with your decision so you can find out what is best for your company.