7 Tips for Choosing the Right CRM System

by ComparisonX Editorial Mar 10, 2019

There have never been more CRM systems available on the market than today.  Each solution claims to have the best set of features and benefits available, but how do you pick the right solution for your business?  In this article the ComparisonX team and industry experts give their advice on choosing the right CRM system.

 

1. Define what  you need the  CRM system to do

This is perhaps the most important consideration.  There are some very powerful CRM solutions on the market that are packed with features, but in reality most companies will not use a tenth of this functionality.

Lily Smirnova, Marketing and Business Development Manager at CoreValue shares:

“When going for a particular CRM, there is no such thing as a good or a  bad tool, it’s a matter of prioritizing the targets and conforming to particular business needs.

  • Before opting for a certain system, one has to clearly see
  • The goals the CRM is intended for within the organization
  • The particular user pool within the company
  • Identify functional and technical requirements for a destined CRM

Our seasoned experts identify the most important criteria for choosing CRM:
Those include the basics like user-friendly intuitive interface, data and editing history and up refined customization options, input data quality control, security access and any more.”

Erica Stritch from the global sales training group gives the following advice:

“When selecting a CRM, the most important factor is matching business needs to the available feature set. You should:

  • List out the “need to haves” and the “nice to haves”
  • Measure how you want to use each feature versus the likelihood of you actually using it
  • Determine if your sales process matches what’s available in the system (e.g., Can you establish regions? Automatically assign leads based on criteria? Create parent and children organizations?)
  • Identify any legal requirements (e.g., Compliant with HIPAA, GDPR, or other data/privacy regulations)

Of course, cost will naturally play a part. You may have to pay per user per month, for a certain number of contacts, if you want to use additional features, etc. It can add up quickly. There may be discounts available if you choose a solution linked to other products you can bundle.”

Erica Stritch, RAIN Group, VP of Marketing, Rain Group, Raingroup.com on Linked-In

 

2) Integration with marketing

The advantage of modern CRM systems is that they offer a complete view of each prospective, current and former client. This can include detail of every client contact, products purchased, margin and personal contact information.

All of this data can be harnessed to deliver tailored marketing communications based on the information you hold about each contact.  In its simplest form this could be tailored email sends. More sophisticated uses dynamic landing pages that each for each customer and up-sell offers.

Integrating CRM with marketing is not just for large companies.  Solutions such as HubSpot allow sole practitioners to craft and deliver sophisticated one on one marketing communications.

The need to integrate with marketing functionality will depend on your business and its sales process.  However, for most companies integrating marketing with CRM can be incredibly powerful.

 

3) CRM Integration with other systems

The sales function of a business is often the one department that interfaces with all other functions, from finance and procurement through to customer service and marketing.

It is important to choose a CRM system that can integrate with other functions and software your business uses.  This goes hand in hand with tip one. Define what you need and where CRM will integrate in your business.

“It’s critical to not only think about the needs of your organization right now, but also next year, five years, and beyond. If you’re selecting a lesser known CRM that doesn’t have integration functionality with some of your other critical business systems, that could be a major mistake. And, if it can integrate, is it going to result in huge expenses for a custom integration to be set up?

These are super important things to consider. When selecting a CRM solution for your organization, the CRM itself needs to have the features and functionality that you’re looking for, but it also needs to be scalable with your business and flexible enough to adapt to your needs as the organization grows and evolves. In a nutshell, a CRM needs to have an efficient user experience for the sales/marketing teams, have the ability to integrate with other critical business systems and ultimately have a set of features that empowers your organization to meet the needs of your customers.”

Drew Cohen, Senior Marketing Strategist & Team Lead, SmartBug Media, Linked-In

 

4) Choose a CRM system that can grow with your business

CRM systems exist to help your business grow and gain new sales.  When selecting a CRM provider it is important to think about how the system can grow with your business.  Factors to consider are:

  • Ability to handle growing client structures
  • Cost of adding new users
  • Ability to scale across markets and currencies

“Many CRMs will qualify solely based on the current size of the business, however, the most important thing to consider is what your growth goals for your organization are. If you’re planning on keeping your team the same size for a long period of time, implementing a CRM that fits well for your needs right now will last you a while. However, if you’re looking to grow, you want to make sure that your CRM can not only work for you now, but can grow and scale with you for years to come.”

Carina Duffy
HubSpot Specialist and Lead HubSpot Trainer at IMPACT, impactbnd.com, Linked-In

 

5) CRM Usability

Some CRM systems have become incredibly complex.  This extra sophistication has added many powerful features, but it has also meant that some systems are difficult to use and maintain.

Many sales managers bare the scars of trying to get their sales teams up-date CRM diligently.  The complain often heard from front line sales people is that some systems are clunky and time consuming to use.

Choosing a CRM system that is intuitive and that sales people see benefits in is crucial.

“One of the most detrimental mistakes you can make is purchasing a CRM that has a steep learning curve and proves difficult for employees to use. 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.

If the system is difficult to navigate, adoption will be low among your team, and your CRM will actually make you less efficient. If some staffers are working in it and others are not, you lose alignment across teams, and data integrity goes out the window.

Indeed, according to a survey conducted by Inside CRM, ease of use is the most important variable (65%) to those shopping for a CRM, followed by schedule management (27%) and the ability to get a clear snapshot of your data (18%).”

Alex Quinn
Marketing Manager
BroadPoint
Follow BroadPoint on LinkedIn

 

“CRM systems over the years have become overly complex. Many older platforms have been over-developed and have significantly more functionality than the vast majority of businesses will ever use. The more complex you make the system, the less people are going to want to use it. So, don’t overthink it and certainly don’t pay for all the bells and whistles that you’ll likely never use and if you do will likely drive down adoption by your users.”

John Campbell, President
Blue Frog, Dynamic Marketing
Blue Frog

Read our glossary of CRM and sales terms

 

6) Support and training

Most of the modern CRM solutions are intuitive and easy to use.  For most sales people they can pick up basic functionality with a minimum amount for training.  For companies that are integrating CRM with other departments such as marketing, it is likely that some training will be required.

All of the providers ComparisonX recommends offers online training courses.  This normally takes the form of instructional videos and articles. Some providers such as Salesforce and Hubspot also offer more structured courses and certification.

Basic customer service support is normally covered in your monthly software cost.  However, if you need a lot of help you may need to pay a CRM consultant. Consultants can be from the CRM vendor themselves or from independent companies.  The cost of specialist consultants typically ranges from $250 to $600 per hour.

There are also a host of freelance consultants who provide virtual support  via phone/email for a lower cost.

 

7) CRM Pricing

Cost is of course an important consideration.  The price of CRM systems ranges from free to tens of thousands of dollars.

Paying a high price does not always mean you are getting the best CRM solution for your business.  Some of the enterprise CRM providers charge high amounts as they integrate with their own finance software.  Some companies who are locked into one particular technology stack have little choice but to go with expensive solutions.

Many of the modern Software as a Service (SaaS) CRM providers charge on per user basis.  Typically the cost will be well under $50 per user per month, depending on the tier of functionality required. These solutions are great value but for larger sales businesses costs can quickly escalate.

There are good SAAS systems at much lower costs, such as Pipedrive, that may lack some of the functionality of the likes of Salesforce but are good enough for most small businesses.

 

Conclusion

There is no perfect solution.  Choosing the right CRM system will depend on your business requirements and what you actually need.  Take advantage of the free trials offered by many software companies to explore the interface and usability.

Once you commit to one software, we find that the more companies use a particular system the more they will get out of it.  There may be a steep learning curve in the beginning but the pay off should be worth it in the end.

We would love to hear your experiences and reviews.  Drop us a line at hello@comparisonx.com if you have any other tips for choosing the right CRM system.

 

  • Read industry experts view on choosing the best CRM for small and large business

 

ComparisonX Editorial

ComparisonX articles are written by a panel of independent experts. If you would like to join an expert panel or submit an article for consideration, drop us a line at hello@comparisonx.com. We welcome users with a range of experience. Key for our readers is having people who actually use the products we are reviewing on a daily basis.

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