A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a tool that can help organisations to streamline their processes, build customer relationships and increase sales through more efficient contact and sales management.
Having a CRM that properly fits the needs of your business is crucial. After all, CRM must be built into your organisation’s processes in order to help you manage your interactions with customers and prospective customers.
Done well, the result of your organisation’s improved customer relationship management will equip your sales team with a tangible competitive edge that is gained from the happier customers it helps to deliver.
We know how difficult it can be to choose the right CRM for your business, which is why we’ve put together this step-by-step buying process to help you structure your project.
We recommend following a disciplined selection process like this for best results – to help keep your project flowing and avoid the proverbial “analysis paralysis” that projects like this can often encounter.
1. Discovery & Requirements Gathering
Define your sales process
- How do customers find you, move through the process and buy from you? (You need to define how you currently move this process forward.)
- You need to understand the steps in the buying process to inform the CRM configuration reflects your business model in order to act on detailed sales intelligence. (Sales pipeline)
- The process needs to be linked to the member’s journey as well as how the account is managed for the long-term to ensure relationships continue to be developed
- Staff should be involved from the start, especially to have a group understanding of the sales process being agreed. This will help to identify gaps that need filling with training or technology.
Map out your business processes
- This helps to determine the CRM project focus and to document the high-level requirements
- It also helps prospective CRM vendors to understand the overarching desired business results
Establish your budget
- How much can you afford to spend on your CRM? This will set the mark for your initial vendor research.
Document your detailed features & functionality requirements
- Documenting detailed functional specifications can take a few days to several weeks depending on what’s required from your CRM system, your processes, and number of departments and people that need to be involved.
- With a detailed specification, a more precise estimate for the initial CRM implementation can be provided.
- The sooner this step happens the better in order to prevent unnecessary time or money being lost
- Finally, this document should help you formally validate and prioritise your requirements.
2. Research & Shortlist Vendors
Do your research to identify potential CRM vendors
- Search online, ask colleagues about systems they use in their businesses, you could even ask competitors about their CRM experiences. The idea is to do as much research as possible to be able to sort through your options.
- There are so many CRM vendors to choose from, but not all of them will suit your business and be able to deliver what you need. Most of them will say they can do what you’re asking, but the purpose of your research is to test that assumption with as much in-depth analysis as possible. It’s important to keep a clear understanding of your sales process and challenges in acquiring and retaining customers to find something that addresses these needs. The systems you choose to shortlist should be focused on helping your team to sell better to new and existing customers.
- You can immediately eliminate providers that don’t tick your “fixed” boxes. For example, if they don’t integrate with certain systems you have to connect with or if their starting/ “from” price is above your budget.
- Specific features to select for in a CRM will revolve around the processes and functionality you’ve already established, so it’s crucial that the vendor understands your business and needs.
Consider the key features you need to have in your CRM sales tool
- Contact & interaction management
- Deal management
- Sales team coordination
Shortlist possible vendors for more information & demos
- You’ll receive some fancy marketing material touting system benefits and have lots of interesting conversations about all the impressive things the vendor’s CRM can do for you, but you’ll learn more from a demo.
- Establish your shortlist to a handful of vendors that you think will meet your needs then set up a demo and/or presentation from them.
- It’s worth noting that any CRM vendor doing their job properly will want to understand more about your organisation and its processes. The result of earlier steps can help provide this information, but you need to allow time for this liaison.
- It’s useful to prepare a vendor scorecard for you to assess the ability of each vendor to address your key functional requirements. This shouldn’t simply be a feature checklist but should take on board the relative ease to meet each requirement.
3. Conduct Tailored Vendor Demos
- Seeing a vendor’s demo of their system is essential. The way you do this is up to you but it’s important that you use this presentation to:
- See how the system looks and how easy to use it appears.
- Ask lots of questions and invite your stakeholders to ask questions.
- Gauge how easy or difficult it may be to deliver on certain requirements.
- The vendor should answer your questions in a way that everyone clearly understands – and should ideally demonstrate their understanding of your business by showing how the CRM should help your company. The more focused their presentation is on delivering your functional requirements the higher they should score.
4. Select Your CRM Solution & Vendor
- It should be clear which vendor will present the best match for you by now from how they presented a CRM solution that specifically addresses your business’ issues for the long-term.
- If any of the up-front steps were missed (regarding mapping processes and creating detailed functional specifications), this will need to be done now.
- To avoid too much unnecessary delay to the project, it could be worth building this work into your CRM vendor’s quote.
Negotiate price and procure
- Request a final quote from the selected vendor. Now’s the time to ask about any extras.
- Normally the longer the duration of your contract commitment, the better the price you can get.
- Try to make sure your implementation has started before the subscription clock starts ticking.
5. CRM Implementation
Implement in Phases
How your CRM is implemented depends on your vendor and the system development needed.
A recommended approach is to focus on having “Phase 1” address the highest priority business needs so that it can be completed in a reasonable amount of time and the business can see the benefits sooner.
Allow time for testing, training & practice
It’s inevitable that adjustments will be needed. Make sure you have resource organised to test and re-test the system.
Coordinate your end users, managers and administrators to set aside time to get into using the system. This should include dedicated training but also further practice time before “go live”.
Champion your new system
Once all the post-implementation adjustments have been made, it’s important that the person or team originally championing the new CRM can demonstrate the benefits of the system. Not only will this help users to adopt it but should also help with attaining budgetary approval for additional implementation phases.