The golden rule to follow while selecting a CRM is that DO NOT compare the feature set. Define your requirements, define the business process you want to improve and check if the CRM helps you do that as most of the features in CRM don’t get used much.
Who should buy a CRM
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B2B or B2C
Ideally, any company that has to manage customer relationships can buy a CRM. Whether you are B2B or a B2B company, small business or enterprise, there is definitely a CRM that you can leverage to improve your business process. While CRMs are mainly useful for B2B companies (for account management, deal management, payment management, reporting, etc), B2C companies can also leverage CRMs which focus on multi-channel lead management, surveys, marketing automation, etc.
Small or Enterprise
Some CRMs are designed to cater to specific needs of small and medium-sized companies like easy to learn, high-level features and scalability. Enterprise CRMs have complex workflows and increase the time to implement and training required. Enterprise CRMs are standalone products with integrations (email, support, etc) while midmarket is integration solutions with these functionalities built into them.
Many CRMs are customized for particular verticals which have workflows that solve complex use cases of that industry. For example, there are many CRMs that are designed for the real estate industry like Boomtown, Market leader, Contactually, etc.
When to buy a CRM
Usually, when the business is small, most customer data is either with the CEO or sales head and they mainly use excel to manage this. As the company grows, following cracks begin to appear such as excel is no longer effective, takes too much time to manage data, if an employee leaves you can lose critical information, etc. These are early signs that you must start thinking about CRM.
Which business process you wish to improve
While CRMs are mainly designed for sales teams, there are many variants of these CRMs which focus particularly on either sale, marketing or support. For example - Sales CRMs focus on contact management and pipeline management while marketing CRMs focus on basic lead management and email marketing. Many solutions have all three packed into one specially designed for smaller enterprises. Also, you need to be clear if the CRM will be used by only one team or you expect it to be adopted by the entire organization sometime in the future. Having a longer-term view of the CRM investment gives better results in terms of customer satisfaction.
What type of customization and integrations you need
Businesses usually want to integrate with existing systems accounts, databases, document signing ERP, etc. They also want to have certain customizations done so that the CRM can be leveraged for maximum business success. If you are a small business, this may not be required at all, but for an enterprise, this becomes very critical because they already have many other systems which deal with this or related data.
Cost / Pricing (Total Cost of Ownership)
The two biggest contributors to the cost of the CRM are - the number of licensees and integration costs. Instead of just looking at the number of licenses for the costs, looking at a total cost of ownership gives a better estimate of how much CRM is going to cost the business.
Vendor Experience / Reliability
Having vendors who have experience with companies similar to you always helps. Sometimes it is also useful to have vendors with stronger local partner networks for local support, business consultations, and other customizations.
GDPR / Data Security
How your data and your customer data is stored is extremely critical in light of new GDPR guidelines. Most of the CRMs are now GDPR compliant which means that customer requests such as removing him from the database or giving him a record of all the data the company has about the customer should be possible in a single click. Without such capabilities, you are open to big fines and lots of time wasted in manual work. Also, cloud CRMs usually struggle with data security issues.
What type of deployment you want has a big impact on certain key metrics? If you prefer an on-prem deployment, it means users have to own and maintain their tech infrastructure, they have full control of data, higher security, higher customization, and usually have their own IT departments which increase their spending. If you want a faster deployment, want to outsource most of the maintenance costs, and requirements on customization/integrations are low, cloud deployment would work for you. Given all this and your needs for security and data control are high, a private cloud would be the best option for you.
If your business has a lot of sales reps working from the field, business meetings, trade shows, networking events, in-flight, etc and criticality of information is high, it makes sense to invest in a mobile-ready CRM so that sales reps can update CRMs on the go, right when the information is hot in their heads.
Training becomes especially critical in the case of enterprise where the CRM workflows are complex and the success of the CRM depends on how well your team’s adoption of the CRM is. For small companies, some training is needed as this may be the first time they are using technology solutions for their business.
TTV - when will you see results
It does take a lot of effort to set it up and is directly a function of the size of your organization and customizations/integrations needed. But for you to derive value out of the CRM, employee training becomes critical and when they reach a certain level of proficiency in using the CRM and its complex workflow, you can expect to leverage it for business success. The typical time taken could be 1 month to 6 months.