In business, we are always looking for ways to improve our efficiencies and free up our teams’ time. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a logical choice. When looking at both your inside and outside sales teams, it becomes important to find a system that not only can protect your customer database but also a system that is easy enough for your associates to adopt and use. Otherwise any CRM program you choose becomes just another piece of useless software with all the promise in the world that fails to deliver.
Here are eight things to consider when selecting the right CRM tool for your business:
• Goals – It is important that you understand what problem you are trying to solve. Put the following goals in order of importance to your business to determine which CRM tool will be the most effective:
• Track Leads and Lead Activity
• Track Customer Base
• Track Opportunities and Closing Rates
• Offer Connectivity Between Teams
• Manage Relationships
• Generate Customized Reporting
• Organize Business Operations
• Increase Profitability
• Increase Productivity
• Implementation – This component is key. Any time that you are changing or introducing new software, there is going to be a period of implementation. In some cases, you may need an outside consultant or a staff person who is heading up the deployment. In either case, there is going to be a period of training and testing where the system bugs will be worked out and best practices will be established. So even if there are no external implementation costs, there are still costs associated with educating your team on the system and uploading your data into the new platform. Implementation can incur substantial costs and will take time away from your teams’ current obligations, so do not underestimate this step.
• User Adoption – No matter which system that you choose, there will be members of your team who resist the change. In some cases, your sales force may feel threatened. This is a common complaint among salespeople, as they believe that by giving up their customers’ contact information they are putting their positions at risk. The key here is to put your salespeople at ease and acknowledge that they are not at risk for losing or sharing their customers with others, since they own the personal relationship with the client. Involving your sales team in your CRM selection process to get their buy in and keeping them involved all the way through the process helps associates feel less threatened by a new system. The more ownership your employees have in the selection of a new tool, the more likely they are to adopt it and help their colleagues adopt it as well.
• Mobility – Mobility is key in today’s world. Your sales force will most likely be mobile and will use a plethora of devices, from phones to tablets to laptops, to access your new CRM system. Look for a tool that can be accessed using a variety of web-enabled devices. Remember that most sales people are early adopters of technology, so you will want a platform that will be updated regularly and remain current with new technology.
• Customization – CRM tools are created with a multitude of business processes in mind. Everyone’s processes are different. That is not a bad thing. This is what differentiates you from your competitors. It is important that your CRM is flexible enough to handle your processes. Likewise, you want a CRM that will grow with your business and will be able to adapt to your changing processes without having to be replaced.
• Compatibility – While compatibility with multiple systems is becoming less of an issue as more and more applications are connected through APIs, you still want to check to ensure that the CRM system you choose can interface with other applications you already have in place. If you need help connecting all of your systems through APIs, look for a third-party platform that can integrate your systems to streamline your data organization.
• Product Demo – Make sure that you get to access a product demonstration and, most importantly, that you use the demo. Try to break the demo. This is your chance to really test the system and see its strengths and weaknesses for your business’s needs. Too many times, people will request a product demo only to give it a brief glance before assuming it will work. Taking a little extra time at this point will save you time in the long run. That’s a promise.
• Reporting – While all the functionality of the CRM is nice, it is the product’s reporting capabilities that can really help you surpass your competition. The ability to customize reports based on your unique data will showcase your wins, losses and opportunities for improvement. You may think your processes are effective, but your data may show you otherwise. Ensuring your sales team is not afraid to input correct customer data becomes very powerful in determining the proper products, services, pricing and delivery requirements for your business.
Choosing the correct CRM for your business is an important process. Following the above steps will get you started, but make sure you dedicate enough time to the research process to find the best CRM tool for your organization. You want to make sure you choose the best system for your business model, as the right CRM software will be instrumental in the growth of your company.