Choosing a CRM: What Questions Should I Ask?

 In Best Practices, Business Intelligence

Choosing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software for your business sounds like an easy task. Unfortunately, with all the options available, it can be difficult to find one that does exactly what you need. My experience in sales has highlighted that the demands of the job dictate how much information I need from my CRM. For your consideration, I have compiled a list of questions that have helped me narrow down the many options available in the marketplace:

  1. What information is critical to my sales team when calling on customers and cold calling prospects? It is important to identify what you need out of your CRM before looking into unnecessary add-ons that inflate your price. Consider the typical conversations your salespeople have with their customers or prospects; let them tell you what they need to make the meeting successful.
  2. What are the most convenient format and media in which this information should be shared? If you have an outside sales team, I’d almost guarantee they have smart phones, and possibly even tablets. Therefore, you need a mobile option from your CRM. As our dependence on mobile technology in the business world increases, our opportunities for clear and concise communication do as well. By the same token, if you have an inside sales team, you may only need a desktop option. Never pay for more than what you need.
  3. What operating systems should this software be compatible with? We’ve all been there, excited about a new app or software we saw someone use. Just when we get the information about said programming miracle, we find that our operating systems don’t support it. To avoid this scenario, the operating system requirements should be one of your first questions. The difficult part comes with an outside sales team—unless you have company phones, you’ll often find both Anroid and Apple products. Know your operating systems and when they were last updated, because it could save you a lot of time and money on aspirin.
  4. How easy is it to use? Ease of use is always an important aspect of new software. Do not go for a CRM that is going to be hard to train on or difficult to understand. Adding steps to a process will frustrate your workforce and could lead your team to reject the software. Value in CRM is often found in its simplicity and ability to communicate the information one needs.
  5. Does it integrate with my current database(s)? When using a CRM, you don’t want to have to add your entire book of business in one contact at a time, and then deal with double-entry with your CRM and database. This is why integration is important. The goal of most companies is to have a fine-tuned Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Integrated software platforms that talk to each other avoid the waste of double-entry and the headache of conflicting information. However, not all integrators are created equal. Pay close attention to how the integration process works. It must meet the needs of your company and work how you need it to.

With these questions answered, your business will have a leg up on what CRM software to look into, and which ones to dismiss entirely. Remember that your CRM should help your business become stronger, faster, and more capable to scale larger obstacles and goals.

Jeff Stowe

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