Define Your Needs Before Buying CRM

Like many other business trends, the pressure to keep up with the latest technology developments and hold on to your competitive edge can often lead to rushed and poorly researched decisions.

Such is the case with Customer Relationship Management and its enormous industry growth and migration rates. Many CEO’s have been left scratching their head, wondering how to keep up and which CRM product is right for them?

The CRM market is packed with solutions that range from the simple contact management and tracking to the feature rich comprehensive solutions that can reach across your entire organization. However, the question for the interested buyer should remain, "What can our organization/company/employees do with this CRM?" and not "What can this CRM do for my company?"

Approaching CRM vendors with this mindset will allow you to see past the over kill features and cumbersome processes inherent in most solutions. You need to see the value of their product as it relates to your business specific needs. Refining your company needs for a CRM solution based on your current business practices will help you find a suitable CRM solution!

By really analyzing your current processes and methods, flagging the procedures you want to enhance or areas you want to improve in efficiency, will better prepare you to test out CRM vendor platforms. As well as help you model your business processes to better benefit from a suitable CRM solution.

The majority of CRM software solutions are built on best practices in business, flowing from Marketing and Lead Management to Sales Automation; Account, Contact and Opportunity management to Sales tracking, reporting and forecasting capabilities. Furthermore, CRM vendors also offer simple customer service, support, and tracking features in the form of Case and Solution management. This base model is prevalent in many industry solutions and makes the first step on to a CRM platform relatively smooth.

However, the customer is left to do the drilling or the ‘kicking of the tires’ if you will, to really substantiate the value of the features embedded in the program and see if they will improve their current business processes, as well as enhance their employee productivity. In this case, finding the functions you need in a CRM will be just as important as the form it comes in. Acquiring a user friendly product will ensure your employees adopt the product quickly and continue to use it in the long run.

With step one accomplished, the goal should now be to review the extent of the product offered by the vendor. Can this CRM solution accommodate your growing company? Your need to manage key processes such as projects, billing and invoicing, contracts, quote management, product inventory, human resource management, etc. should all be met by the same CRM solution. There is nothing more disconcerting then having to procure services from multiple vendors to get close to the CRM functionality and organization you need.

By defining your needs in a CRM software solution, you will be better served when it comes to researching and evaluating the different products on the market, as well as ensuring your company benefits from your decision on the whole. By knowing what it is you need in a CRM, as well as what it is that will work for your particular organization, you will ensure your employees can adopt and use the solution you choose.

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4 thoughts on “Define Your Needs Before Buying CRM”

  1. This is a great point. I wish more companies understood this. I am a partner in a company that provides a Hosted CRM application that focuses on the inside sales space (InsideSales.com). Companies/CEOs will often look for CRM solutions only because they understand and believe that it will help their business. The problem is that they don’t understand their own buisness.

    You made a comment – “analyzing your current processes and methods, flagging the procedures you want to enhance or areas you want to improve in efficiency”.

    We often have companies subscribe to our CRM application without knowing these things. As a result, implementations are slow (and often never completed), and we usually see these companies drop our product. Though we encourage and to some degree require these basic questions be answered before we begin an implementation, companies not knowing their own needs is the reason we see the greatest number failed CRM implementations.

  2. There’s a new widget – a One-Click Phone-Calling Button for Web Pages, Blogs and Email – called Click-and-Connect by Jaduka.

    SmallBizTechnology just blogged about it: http://www.smallbiztechnology.com/index.shtml.

    Get dialed via a button in your email. For marketers and sales teams, etc., it stimulates action at the point of impulse. Takes seconds to set up. And you get 60 minutes of calling free on setup.

    A complete CRM solution? Nope. If you cannot afford one (as a small business), this is a low cost tool with potentially tons of value.

    The URL where you can get it is:
    http://shop.jaduka.com.

  3. I agree, this is a great point!
    When buying any software first know what you want before you even start to look at software solutions that try to change what you want to what they have… not that great!

  4. It makes sense with any substantial investment (not just financial investments) to clearly identify your needs beforehand.

    Some of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen in business usually start with the decision maker failing to identify his/her needs to start with. The elation of a ‘great’ purchase on transient criteria is short lived when the product doesn’t fulfill it’s essential tasks.

    With something as crucial to so many businesses as CRM, this initial process of needs identification is all the more important.

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