qm.pngWith so many CRM vendors available, offering broadly similar products, choosing the right solution for your business can be an overwhelming task. We look at 10 questions you should ask yourself before committing to a CRM system.

1. Should we choose a web-based or on-premise solution?

Before committing to a new CRM partner, you should consider several factors, including how much you want to spend and how accessible you want your CRM solution to be. Although on-premise solutions can have advantages, a web-based system will make it much easier for your sales team to enter data remotely, and web-based solutions also have the advantage of being much less expensive, as they do not demand large up-front investments that on-premise solutions require.

2.What does it cost?

For any organisation, cost is an important consideration and achieving a balance between functionality and affordability is one of the biggest challenges of all. Before you begin comparing CRM vendors, firstly consider how much you want to spend as well as the must-have features you need to solve your problems and achieve your goals. Once you have this clearly set out, you will be in a position to identify vendors that can deliver the features you need, within your price range.

3. Is there scope for growth? 

Having a solution that is well equipped to deal with your needs as a one man band is great, but does it have the flexibility and capabilities to meet your needs as your business grows? For instance, can you easily add new licences? Are you likely to exceed the data storage limit? The last thing you want to be doing is starting the process of implementing a new CRM solution all over again once your business outgrows your current solution.

4. How easy is the solution to customise?

Although you should be open to change and new ways of working, a solution that uses your terminology, reflects your business processes and therefore seamlessly integrates into your current working practice is priceless. Before committing to a new CRM solution, you should make sure the system can be easily customised and that it enables you to capture all the information you need it to, without having to change your working processes too much.

5. How easily can I import and export my data?

Most organisations have existing customer data and information somewhere. Whether this be in the form of Spreadsheets, a current CRM solution, or even just business cards, it is probable that you will want at least some of this data imported into your new CRM system. With this in mind, a solution that supports an easy import of data is crucial. Similarly, the ability to export your data, at any time you like and into a useable format such as Excel or .CSV is vital. In the future, should you want to change CRM vendor or simply take a back up of all your data, your chosen CRM system should enable you to do this, quickly and whenever you please.

6. How intuitive is the system?

An easy to use and intuitive system is likely to require less training, and therefore less money spent on ensuring your CRM deployment is a success. An intuitive system enables your salespeople to become competent far quicker, which in turn helps your company benefit from a quick return on the investment.

7. Can the system integrate with my current systems?

Particularly for smaller organisations, it is common for them to run their business across multiple applications, using, for instance, a combination of Microsoft Outlook, Google Apps and Sage Accounting packages. Take a look at the systems you currently run your business on, and consider whether you want your CRM software to integrate with these applications, to help create a streamlined approach.

8. Does the system allow me to easily create reports?

Reporting forms an essential part of a CRM solution, helping you to make better, more informed decisions. Make sure the CRM solution you are considering not only allows you to quickly and easily create reports, but also allows you to generate and view the data in a useable format, such as .XLS, .TXT or .CSV.

9. Is there sufficient training available to me and my team?

Regardless of how intuitive your chosen CRM solution is, many of us are naturally somewhat reluctant to change, and therefore training is key to ensure quick adoption throughout your workforce. It is important to identify whether training is available to you, and at a reasonable cost.

10. What support is included within my contract?

Some CRM solutions can be deceptively inexpensive. Carefully consider the level of support that is included within your contract and make sure you are comfortable with the costs associated for any support that falls outside of your contract. Too often organisations are lured in by low prices, and are shocked to discover several months later that they have to pay extra when they run in to a problem they need help with.