Top tips for choosing the right CRM vendor for your business
First off, they must be upfront about objectives and business challenges, it’s important to take into account the bigger picture in order to really maximise ROI from a CRM solution. For instance, if one objective has been to increase sales by 50%, how will each potential vendor go about helping the business to achieve this? Not only will this knowledge of the business challenges and objectives provide a point of comparison between potential vendors; but if a clear description of those challenges and objectives is provided, they will have no choice but to work harder and advise on the best possible solution to add business value within budget.
Secondly, decision makers must ensure existing business processes are fully understood. Not all businesses have the same requirements and there is no one-size-fits-all CRM solution. So how can a vendor be assessed as the best available fit? To start with, the CRM system must broadly cover all areas of functionality that are seen as important to the business; consider things such as offline accessibility, data quality, the ability to identify duplicates, language and currency options (if you have international operations). Following that, a chosen specific scenario or objective can then be discussed in detail to ensure the vendor is flexible enough for the system to be customised, which is a key component for success. It allows for a solution to be all the more compatible with an organisation.
Thirdly, if there is a free trial available, take it! This can give a great indication of the level of service support available – for free. Don’t shy away from using a free trial to its full advantage; be sure to ask the vendor for help or for more details to make your decision. It can be the perfect opportunity for the decision maker to establish a deeper understanding of what to expect from the solution, and the requirements can be fine-tuned accordingly.
More often than not, businesses will have attempted to create requirements documents long before choosing potential vendors, which can be great for larger organisations that have a dedicated CRM project manager on board, but that can be a mistake for SMEs. With smaller organisations, the decision maker typically isn’t a CRM expert first and foremost, so it’s best to instead utilise the vendor’s expertise and wait until after an initial demo before compiling the document – which shouldn’t focus too heavily on every last detail.
The danger that comes with writing an overly detailed specification before engaging with those potential suppliers is the setting of an expectation that’s too low. If a business has worked well with the vendor and the objectives and challenges have been discussed ahead of a free trial, a requirements document should be redundant. What’s more, they might be pleasantly surprised by ideas put forward that would have otherwise not been considered.
Ultimately, decision makers must make the most of all the tools made available by the vendor, and be open to discussing the objectives and aspirations of their business, to ensure the resulting CRM solution will be of the upmost benefit.
Andrew Ardron, CEO, ProspectSoftAndrew Ardron is founder and CEO of ProspectSoft, a specialist developer and provider of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and eCommerce Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Integrated into all major accounting software packages, such as Exchequer, Sage, Pegasus, Access, SAP and Greentree, ProspectSoft currently enables more than 5,000 SME users across the UK to extract their valuable customer information and make it accessible to the rest of the business for CRM or eCommerce purposes. Since its establishment in 2000, Andrew has grown ProspectSoft into one of the UK's leading software companies, and the winner of numerous national employer awards.
COMPANY NAME: ProspectSoft
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