A CRM system is a must for any B2B business. A recent Gartner report highlighted that CRM became the largest software market in the world in 2017 and shows no signs of slowing down. But finding and implementing a CRM which provides people with the right information at the right time is difficult. The challenges in implementation are considerable and most organisations don’t start the process with enough planning.
At AfterDark we find the biggest mistake companies who are deciding on a CRM system make is that they put too much emphasis on evaluating vendors and the different functionality on offer. Instead they should first be concentrating on their own needs and business priorities.
Start with Why
It’s important to carefully evaluate what your business needs are. Only after this has been done should you match them to the functionality on offer, your purchasing budget and whether you need all or only some functions that a CRM solution offers.
Here we cover the most important factors to take into consideration before evaluating CRM vendors.
How will CRM improve efficiency?
- What are the most inefficient processes and workflows in your business? What manual processes are you looking to automate? Are deals getting stuck in your pipeline? If so, look for a CRM with strong sales reporting so you can identify where bottlenecks are.
- What do you want to improve with a CRM system? Is it clearer insight around performance, if so, you’ll want a CRM that provides customisable dashboards. Or if you’re looking to increase lead generation, look for a CRM that delivers strong and agile lead generation software.
What’s your Change Management Plan?
- Who in your company is going to use the CRM and what is their understanding and perception of the new system?
- What user resistance can be expected and what communication and training will be provided to mitigate it? How steep will the learning curve be for users? If the system is difficult to navigate, adoption will be low among your team, and your CRM will 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 IBM, 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%). Don’t underestimate the buy-in you need from team members.
Who are your stakeholders?
Forget a stakeholder and they won’t forget you. Identify who makes up your CRM Implementation team:
- Project Manager – the leader during the CRM planning and implementation
- Application Analyst – responsible for the data migration and cleaning
- Application Developer – who is in charge on system customisation
- QA test engineer – who will head up testing efforts
- Representatives – for sales, marketing, customer service, change advocates
What’s your budget?
Budget for obvious costs as well as reduced productivity during the go-live period. Adding up the following costs (plus a 10% buffer for safety) will give you a good baseline.
- Consulting fees
- Project management services
- Staff overtime
- Reduced productivity
- Data back-up and storage
Having a clear and quantifiable view of the ROI will keep the above costs into perspective.
CRM and Security
Information leak detection and data loss prevention are hot issues around CRM. Of course you want to keep your servers secured in every way, and the leading cloud vendors do a great job of protecting your data. The real data leak problem is at the end points: laptops, iPads, and smart phones that store tremendous amounts of information.
In most CRM systems, report access is basically “all or nothing.” So to prevent wholesale data theft, consider the following:
- Turn off export privileges if your CRM system supports this
- Turn off access to reporting (at least for ad-hoc stuff)
- Provide access to reports only as PDFs or JPEG images
- Provide access to reports that limits which reports your team need to see and monitor who’s using what. Enable alerts to management about employees who suddenly become excessive report users.
What does support look like?
Is the CRM provider you choose going to give you a login and set you loose? Or are they going to be a partner and walk you through the set-up and implementation process? It’s highly important that you get successfully trained on how to use the system to meet your unique needs. Be sure to check with your provider to ensure they will support you until you’re up and fully operational.
What does support look like after implementation? Be sure to investigate the type of customer support you will receive. When are they available? How can you reach them? Do they have a good track record?
If you run into a challenge that you can’t solve on your own, it’s imperative that there is support available to you. Otherwise, you will struggle to use your CRM effectively and won’t generate the maximum ROI from your solution.
Find out more
You can drive significant improvements in revenue, efficiency and productivity with a powerful CRM. The important thing is to do lots of homework and assess your needs first, then look for a CRM that meets those needs.
After you’ve done the above business “soul-searching” and know WHY you need a CRM, the next step is to narrow down WHAT you want in a CRM.
With so much competition, we can help find the right CRM for you. The key is knowing what you need and being able to identify the solution that solves those needs when you see it.