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How to Choose a CRM SystemGraham Richardson
As the world of business and industry becomes ever more competitive, choosing the correct CRM software will not only help your business get ahead of your competitors but allow you to become more efficient. Regardless of the size or scope of your business or scope, CRM software can do a vast amount of work, from understanding and nurturing your current customers to building new client relationships and automating time-consuming processes.
Ideally, companies implementing a CRM would aim to remove all ambiguity in the needs and expectations before implementing, or even before choosing a CRM provider.
So first and foremost, it’s vital to establish a clear business case, defining specific and measurable goals. These may include areas like streamlining sales and marketing or automating tasks and workflows to increase productivity.
If you’re unsure, these 3 questions may help in ensuring you get the right CRM for your business;
- What are your pain points?
- What problems would you like your CRM to solve?
- What value do you want it to add? (monetary, time-saving, client engagement, all?)
CRM implementation can help your business increase sales efficiency, drive customer satisfaction, streamline business processes, and identify and resolve bottlenecks – all of which directly contributes towards the bottom line revenue as well as assurance of repeat business.
CRM solutions are not just a nice-to-have but a necessity in a world where customer retention is of prime importance.
Before selecting your CRM, here are 3 areas to first focus on;
1. Defining Clear Objectives:
An organization must define a clear set of objectives that need to be achieved through customer relationship management implementation. Ensure the objectives are measurable. By doing so, you can assess the benefits and challenges of CRM while tracking the return on investment.
2. Appointing a Responsible Person(s) for Implementation:
One of the major problems in implementing CRM is that many organizations assume it to be an IT project. Better off asking those who’ll be using it the most to provide you with their needs. What are the pain points for the sales team? What features do the Marketing or Customer Success team need?
A CRM that can meet the majority of your business requirements, will likely mean a greater user adoption and ultimately, a better ROI.
– If it’s not in the CRM, it doesn’t exist –
3. Defining the Processes:
The process of implementing a CRM should be clearly defined, in order to ensure the success of your CRM project. Key processes that you need to define from the start can include change management process and feature re-evaluation processes. Also, the security measures with adequate access and authorization rights should be in place to prevent unauthorized access to data and security attacks.
And of course, a clearly defined marketing, sales & customer success process – your customer journey.
This is why it’s important to have answers (no matter how loosely), to the 3 questions above, so that you can mould the CRM around your business processes rather than having to adapt to a system that’s not quite right.
Now that you have a clear implementation and roll-out plan, you can begin looking at some of the features and key areas you want from your platform. Good practise is to prepare a feature list of;
- Must Haves
- Nice to Have’s
- a Wish List
Once you have those defined, you can narrow the field based on UX, intuitiveness, cost etc. Also important to check, can the CRM platform you choose scale with you as your business grows or will it suddenly become much more expensive as you add users or features? Free options may be great to get started with, but may suddenly become that much more expensive as you & your business grows.
Here are just a few key areas to look for in your CRM system:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is one of the most important aspects of any business, and as such, it plays a vital part of any sales or marketing team. Your clients and customers are the soul of your business, so understanding and nurturing them is key in being successful. A huge advantage of a proper CRM system is automation, allowing you to cut down on those time-consuming tasks and ultimately, if used effectively, may allow you to streamline your team and minimize the human error element. Automated communication, whether its e-mail or SMS, has a powerful effect on your client base; in turn increasing customer satisfaction and retention. When configured correctly, your CRM system should allow for 90% of your business’ sales process to be automated.
With the majority of business generating more than one line of revenue, operating with software that allows you to integrate with other programs and platforms is essential. Whether it’s integrated and automated billing, or simply informing customers of payment dates, a well-integrated system with an open API will allow you to merge your systems and processes effectively and efficiently. This combined with automated communication will allow you to drive your revenue new levels, whether it be informing clients about future payment dates, or steps to take when their payment information needs to be updated.
With the plethora of information, one needs to digest nowadays, a straightforward and easy to read report never goes amiss. When choosing your CRM system, ensure it contains all the reports needed to extract and analyse your businesses statistics (i.e. financial data, sales/contact figures, email opening or bounce rate, marketing communication, and much more). And if that one report you need does not exist, check to see if there is an option for custom development or system adaptation.
The purchasing process of customers has evolved dramatically in recent years. Customers research products and services online and an increasing number prefer an end-to-end online experience, cutting out the sales representative. Ensuring your software has the ability to sell products and services online as well as offers a functional mobile/tablet app, not only caters to the ever-growing online sales story but will future proof your business, saving you the need to change systems in the near future.
Customer Service / Support
As with any program or software, problems may arise; bugs need to fixed, software updated. Ensure your chosen CRM provider offers a comprehensive support system via an account manager, help desk phone number, live chat, or has a local branch near your business. Meet with businesses who are currently using this software and ask them about the software provider’s response time and if there are any reoccurring issues. A good software provider should also be prepared to offer custom solutions when required by the customer; such as dedicated reports or processes.
In short, the devil is in the details when choosing the correct CRM and there is no ‘one fits all’ solution. Every business should carry out extensive research of their software providers, to see if they are delivering what they promise and most importantly if it matches the needs of the business. If your provider is open to suggestion, and willing to grow their system as you grow your business then you are halfway there.