6 Important Questions to Ask When Choosing CRM Software

Business, CRM February 25, 2016

Been juggling an outdated client list and long email chains? Or worse – are you missing chances to close and letting follow-ups fall through the cracks because you don’t have a good way to track sales leads?

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Picture credit: geralt/Pixabay

This is the moment when it’s time to consider customer relationship management (CRM) software. CRM is both a management style or philosophy, as well as a set of tools you can choose to manage customer relations. So, when considering CRM tools, you want to think about what your overall CRM style is and what that process looks like in order to find software that fits with your process.

The problem most business owners face once they decide to invest in CRM is how to choose the right CRM system. A quick Google search will turn up dozens of options, and they all have lots of shiny new features. And that can make choosing CRM tools a very overwhelming process.

As a business owner, you’ve got to look past all the bells and whistles and focus on a CRM system that:

  • Is right for your business, and
  • Your sales team will actually use.

These 6 important questions to ask when choosing CRM software for your company should help you to narrow the field and zone in on the right program.

Does the CRM system meet your business needs – and what are those needs?

Before diving into the laundry list of features each CRM system offers, sit down with your staff and come up with a list of needs and an end goal. Ask yourselves: What is the ultimate goal for this investment, and what will success look like once it’s implemented?

Once you’ve set a clear goal, make a list of features that will help you reach that goal. Do this before you start reviewing all of the bells and whistles you could have. Needs and wants are two very different things, and just looking at what you could have could also skew your perspective.

While a particular set of features may sound awesome, they may not be realistic for your situation. Deciding on the features you feel are must-haves will help you narrow your search more quickly and find a CRM system that will make your employees’ jobs easier, not overwhelming or harder. CRM that’s too complicated will result in employee abandonment and ultimately wasted time and resources.

Here’s the bottom line:

  • What information are you trying to capture?
  • How will you ensure effective follow-up?
  • How will you measure success?

 

Should the CRM software “live” where your employees work?

Think about who will be using your CRM system and what their day looks like. Do they sit in the office Monday through Friday or are they mobile? If they mostly work from the office, you can consider looking for an on-premise CRM solution. If your salespeople are more mobile, you’ll almost definitely want an Internet-based solution that can be accessed from the cloud. You might even need to look at CRM software that includes a mobile application.

In addition to factoring in your salespeople’s needs, find out if your company’s network security policies will allow you to use cloud-based software or not. Some CRM programs are only cloud-based. If your company requires on-premises licensing for its software, that will narrow the field even more. If that’s the case, it’s better to find out early, so you can look for for on-premises licensing options when you compare top CRM programs.

How easy will it be to set up and maintain?

The effectiveness of your CRM system matters little if you are unable to set it up properly and manage it. If you plan to do this in house, designate one person who will be in charge of setup and maintenance. If this person has experience using CRM tools, they should be involved in the decision-making process to ensure you choose software that is manageable.

If no one in your office has experience setting up or managing CRM software, the ease of setup and maintenance should be a big factor as you make your decision. If you’re leery of taking that on, consider outsourcing the setup to an outside company that specializes in CRM setup, management, and maintenance, as well as customization.

What kind of support is included? Is there a large community of users?

What happens if something goes wrong? What if you can’t figure out how to use a feature or how to integrate your CRM with another software system? You need to be able to contact a support person – or at least have access to a support forum or help center.

Take a close look at what each CRM system offers in terms of support. Are you limited to email only? Is there only a forum? Ideally, you’ll want to be able to call or live chat with your CRM service provider, as well as have access to a help center or support forum where you can troubleshoot on your own and even get help from other users.

What do others in your specific industry think of the CRM tool you’re looking at?

CRM needs vary by industry. For example, the needs of client relationship management for a law firm are very different than for a medical device sales company. Make sure that the CRM system you choose is recognized and used by others in your industry.

Which CRM programs integrate with your current software?

Finally, consider your integration options. Ultimately, you want to build a system that makes your sales processes run like clockwork. Integrating with other software or systems like your email, website, marketing, or even social media can make your sales and CRM processes effortless. Make sure your CRM integrates with the systems you use so that you are improving processes rather than creating extra work.

The right CRM can be like adding nitro to your sales efforts. The answers to these 6 questions to ask when choosing CRM software should lead you in the right direction.