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10 Things to Consider When Choosing a CRM

 

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Modern technology has come a long way since the Rolodex and the all-mighty black book. Today’s growing businesses manage customer relations and data in a number of ways. With the multitude of different CRM solutions available, finding the one that works best for your growing business can be a challenge. In order to help make your decision easier, we at Big Bang ERP have come up with 10 things to consider when selecting a CRM.

1. Know what you need

The most important things to map out before committing to a CRM are the needs and expectations of your business. Evaluate what tools and programs you are currently using and how you use them. List the pros and cons of your present system and focus on the areas you would like to change or improve. The right CRM should compliment your existing system. Keep in mind that any major changes to the current scheme will have a direct impact on your team and can mean more time spent on learning the new system. Investing in the most comprehensive and complex CRM available may seem like the best choice, but complicated and elaborate schemes can be more of a hassle than an asset. The key to a smooth transition lies with finding the right fit. Stay as streamlined as possible and don’t pay extra for superfluous elements. Taking the time to evaluate your existing system will help you to make a smart, cost-effective investment and will help your business get the most out of the new CRM.

2. Can it grow along with you?

Expansion and growth are integral to successful business – the CRM that you choose needs to have similar characteristics. Finding a system that has the flexibility and capability to grow alongside your business means that the investment you’ll be making in the present is one that works for the future as well. Having the go through the process of implementing a new CRM once your business outgrows its present system is an unnecessary hassle that can be avoided with the proper program.

3. Accessibility: Web-based or on-premise?

Today’s mobile technology allows us to always be on the go. While on-premise solutions come with their fair share of advantages, a web-based system allows for connectivity regardless of the location. Having the ability to access data from anywhere means that work doesn’t have to be confined to the office. The added flexibility of a web-based CRM becomes invaluable when working from home or on the move.

4. Consider your hardware

A CRM that would require a major renovation of the tech department in your business is unrealistic for many businesses, so take into consideration how much you’re willing to spend on implementing a new system. Is mobile technology a big part of your current organization and does your team have all of the physical accessories needed for a mobile CRM? Half the battle of picking a CRM is purchasing the program itself – the other half is actually integrating new program into the framework of your business.

5. Integration with your current Scheme

Implementing any kind of new system is rarely a seamless process. Finding a CRM that adapts or enhances the current structure of your business is key. Many businesses conduct their work on a number of different applications like Microsoft Outlook, Sage accounting packages and various Google apps. Is the new CRM able to integrate these programs into its system? Change is a challenge for many of us, so choosing a CRM that accommodates as many current processes as possible means that the transition will be smooth, streamlined and easy on your team.

6. Importing/Exporting data

CRM solutions are all about managing your customer information and data. A business employing a modern CRM for the first time probably has relevant material that they are looking to import into the new system. Be it spreadsheets, business cards, or contact information, a CRM that supports the easy transfer of these files is critical its successful implementation. Similarly, the ease at which you can export files carries equal importance. Having the ability to export files into common formats like Exel or .CSV is an essential trait that your new CRM should have. Being able to quickly and easily access and generate files means less time spent staring at a screen and more time spent interacting with your customers, or sharing data between team members.

7. How easy is it to learn?

Even the most simple and intuitive programs can take a bit of getting used to. How long will the CRM take to learn? Is there training available at a reasonable cost? Many useful functions of CRM systems go unused because these elements appear complex or were not properly showcased. Having a team that is able to take advantage of all the different components of your CRM means that you’re getting the most for your money.

8. Vendor reputation/strength

While reputation isn’t everything, it certainly counts for a lot. Though it is usually safe to assume that a popular CRM company with a large customer base is one that works well, don’t be afraid to ask around. Contacting businesses that have employed the CRM that you’re interested in can be an invaluable resource in helping to choose the best system for you. Having access to reviews from current and past customers will show the CRM from all angles.  While you will surely come across both positive and negative reviews, it is essential to keep the bigger picture in mind: have businesses similar to yours found success using a particular CRM? Does the company offering the CRM have many high-ranking customers? Successful companies use successful CRMs. Companies like Salesforce even offer free demos to help showcase their products.  Buying a CRM is a big investment for any business, so make sure it is a well-researched decision.

9. Be aware of the costs

For any business, cost and budgeting is a big part of the picture. CRMs can be big investments of both time and money, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re signing up for. Finding a balance between cost and function can be one of the most challenging aspects of shopping for a CRM. While some CRMs may seem inexpensive upfront, it’s important to keep in mind what the costs of running and implementing the new system will be. Updating hardware, hiring additional staff, training costs and the time spent getting used to the new system are aspects that must all be taken into account when calculating the overall cost. Knowing what to expect from your new system essential.

10. Is support included in contract?

As with any technology, it’s important to have someone to turn to when things go amiss. Make sure to investigate the level of support offered by your CRM solution and how much any extra support would cost. Some CRM solutions seem deceptively inexpensive until the road gets rough and a business requires support outside what which is included in their contract. It may be more cost effective to purchase your CRM through a company like Big Bang ERP, since customer and program support is a fundamental part of our package. It’s important to be prepared for whatever is thrown your way – or to have someone on your side that is.

Have questions or looking to learn more? We can help.

At Big Bang ERP we  implement, customize, administer, and support best-in-class web-based solutions needed to automate and integrate your business processes:

FinancialForce.com (ERP), Salesforce.com (CRM), AppExchange applications.

Contact us today to discuss how Big Bang ERP can help your company!

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Sofia Wiseman