6 Self-Check Questions before Choosing CRM

We all want to be successful owners of profitable business, but we are always having trouble with choosing suitable customer relationship management software for our business. To find the best CRM software for your business, you need to understand how your business actual works.

To kick things off, it is better taking some time to define your CRM boundaries. This is a helpful guide for questions to ask before selecting your CRM.

What is your sales roadmap, and how you want to improve it?

To be started, a critical question you need to figure out is how your sales reps are moving sales leads through a process towards sales deals. This is a sales roadmap which shows how your sales team transform a contact into a customer.

According to a study conducted by Vantage Point Performance and the Sales Management Association, companies that defined a formal sales roadmap experienced 18% more revenue growth compared to companies that did not have. Try to outline your sales process and start from high level. In the end, you will have a clear sales roadmap for what your sales process looks like, and this will become your top prioritized requirement of choosing CRM.

Now that you know your sales roadmap, you need to figure out how to make your sales process more efficient. For example, It should be taken into considerate to assign and complete routine task and activity automatedly. Defining these essential requirements will help to ensure selecting best solutions for your sales process.   

What relationships and blueprints do you need to make?

Basically, all CRM systems are designed for business managers to manage their relationships and make employees efficient with organising their daily work. In this case, blueprints and workflow need to be defined before launching CRM systems.

Depending on the nature of your business, there are some of modules need to be managed. Expense request, for example, is a typical scenario that almost all business need to be automated.

Automation business process involves setting up rules and automations for moving customers through the sales pipeline. This includes setting up sales stages to fit your sales cycle.

How about Data?

Here are two cases need to be emphasized – what metrics will you going to track in CRM and how will you migrate your data from existing solutions.  

In terms of first case, your CRM should make measurement and reporting among all modules. If you are unable to track the metrics within your CRM, you will waste of hours to make reports. Since your sales reps spending time on exporting the data from CRM and trying to making a report, they are not spending enough time on their potential leads. Therefore, let your CRM make report for your business instead of letting your sales reps to do it. Firstly, to report your sales data, you need to identify which sales metrics should be taken into consideration. Then, trying to figure out which CRM has capacity of doing this measurement and reporting.

In another case, if CRM is not your first management system, you will have data from your previous system and need to be migrated. However, if the data is not organized or could not be exported easily, this will be one of the most underestimated costs during implementation. The challenge is that some validations and restrictions are being made in previous CRM, and the new system’s structure would conflict with these in some cases. This means that you need to figure out whether to pay for adjusting old data to fit into the new CRM rules, or just to ignore these rules and restriction when importing the old data to your new system.

Whether you are migrating the data yourself or getting third party to do it for you, it will cost both time and money during the implementation process. Thus, consider it before selecting your CRM.

Do you require some industry-specific features?

Basically, managing accounts and contacts are common features among all CRM solutions. However, your industry may be highly specialised in terms of some business processes and procedures that need to be managed. This may include educational organizations, insurance policy and investment business and healthcare clinics.  

Nevertheless, some CRM may only include entry level features package and lack of flexibility to adapt CRM modules to fit these specific processes and industry solutions. Thus, pre-build industry solutions might provide industry-specific features that fit for your business procedure. In these instances, there are always different levels of package that are available to be adapted in order to fit your industry-specific requirements.

Listing your specific features in advance and trying to find the CRM that is the best complement to the way your sales team will follow on their daily work.

Desktop(On-prime) or Cloud?

Typically, both on-prime and cloud version solutions have their pros and cons.

With Cloud version (SaaS/Software as a Service) solution, you do not need to consider about storage and server maintaining. It is easily for your clients that log into the cloud-base system through browser from anywhere. The requirement is whether you have access to Internet.

On the other hand, the shortcoming is also the Internet. If the Internet connection fails, you will not be able to access your data.

With desktop version (On-Prime) solution, you will host your platform physically at your own server. Thus, you will have directly access to the servers if you want to make some customizations to your system. Moreover, you will not need to concern about paying subscription plans on the monthly basis.

However, you will need to hire IT expert and purchase the necessary hardware and software. This could be pricy.

Here, I conclude a summary table for cloud version and on-prime version solutions advantages and disadvantages:

  SaaS Version On-Prime Version
Advantages Access data from anywhere;Data will be stored in third-party server, there is no need to take security issues into consideration;No needs to hire software expert, and no needs to purchase hardware and software; More flexible and inexpensive on software customization;No user license needed to be purchase;
Disadvantages Need to purchase for user licenses;Low-cost for kick off but will pay more if system need to be customized; Cost on necessary hardware and software purchase.Need to maintain the serverData security should be taken into consideration

How about your Integration?

There is one more significant thing need to be taken into consideration, which is the Integration.

Basically, you are not just using CRM to manage your whole working process, there still some other tools need to be taken, such as email and calendar. That’s why you will need to integrate your CRM with other applications which will help you streamline your sales operations.

Secondly, let’s think about which applications should be integrated with your CRM. Now, we are not going to just talking about Email integration or Calendar integration. Of course, these integrations are the basic components that CRM should have. Optionally, your CRM might need to integrate with an ERP level of WMS (Warehouse Management System, if your business is an retail or wholesale model), an accounting software (Allow you to manage cash-in-out flow), an office-automation management system (HR management instead), a website builder (Corporation website or e-commerce website) as well as marketing solutions (Leads, campaign modules).

Finally, mobile app should be another integration. There are a few sales people who only work by sitting at their desks using their desktop computers. It is obvious for your choosing CRM that should have an integration with mobile app. 

About the Author: Derrick Chen is a system analysis who working on building business solutions for small business. He is willing to share his knowledge and experience on helping small business owner to streamline their business process.

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