Whether your company is considering switching to a new CRM or if you are searching for the right CRM to take that first step with, you should give careful consideration before making that commitment. As you go through the buying process, here are a few questions that you should consider.
1. Is the CRM vendor a forward thinker? Is the vendor an industry changer, or are they trailing behind others. Choosing an innovative company is essential because of the fast pace of today’s business.
2. Can the CRM be accessed from a variety of devises? Make sure that the CRM system works with all popular browsers and devises. This includes ipads, smartphones, and different computer screen sizes. Also, in today’s business world, mobile apps for the applications are a huge plus!
3.What company email program(s) does the CRM integrate with? Many businesses and industries operate off of a variety of technologies and platforms on a daily basis. Be sure your company email system is able to integrate easily- whether it’s Outlook, Google, or another platform. Also, does the vendor offer a solution that allows for attaching content to emails that are sent, can they receive emails, and is all email client interaction able to be stored in the CRM?
4. How does the CRM integrate with your accounting platform? Ask yourself if it is necessary for your CRM to interface with your current accounting platform, such as Quickbooks, and if so, what is the financial cost in order to keep the two interfaced? Evaluate the cost verses benefit of integrated or keeping the two separate.
5. What is the CRM vendor’s data security, redundancy, and disaster recovery strategy? Many companies are moving away from an on-premises system and moving towards a cloud solution. Cloud solutions also mean that you must consider what the vendor’s infrastructure looks like in case of a disaster and what their fail-safe plan is.
6. What does it cost? Let’s be honest, cost is only an issue in the absence of value. So, give careful consideration to what it is that your company actually needs, and then identify the financial value that need has. Some CRM systems have a free trial with limited services that allows you to give it a ‘test run’ before you commit. You may want to try a few on a small scale and then identify which one fits your overall needs the best.
7. How user-friendly is the CRM? Depending on the size and type of your business you may have different level of technology savvy professionals who will need to all operate off of this one CRM system. Be aware of the various levels of skill sets you have. If there is one thing that you should consider it’s to “KISS” (Keep It Simple Silly!). Don’t get too overly excited with the gadgets that you may not need to be successful.
8. Can this CRM grow with my business? How flexible is the architecture of the CRM? What level of customization do you need, and can the system fulfill those needs? Your business will grow over time and the best thing for you and your resources is to start with a CRM that can grow with you.
9. What is the long term track record of the CRM vendor? Look for a vendor with proven technology and a history of software growth. You may pay a little more for the history of success, but it is worth it in the long run. Start up ventures for CRM systems may be price-friendly with cool options, but if the vendor does not have a strong financial backbone and marketing plan, they be gone as fast as they came. In the end, you will spend more resources picking up the pieces, rather than starting with stability first.
10. How easily can I import and export my data? Your business most likely has stored your client and account data somewhere. Whether it is on spreadsheets, or a current CRM system, or even just business cards, you are going to need to import some or most of that data into the new system you choose. Also, in the future, should you want to change systems, you will want to be able to export your data (probably in the form of an Excel or .CSV file). Therefore it is vital that you understand the limitations, if any, associated with importing and exporting your data before you go too far into the discover process.