A Beginner’s Guide to Selecting a CRM System

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Managing your business landscape as it grows is easier with a CRM. If your company manually enters data and stores it on clunky spreadsheets, now is the right time to upgrade.


The process of choosing a new CRM system is an exciting one! If you are unhappy with your current system, you can follow the same steps to select a new CRM system.


Many cutting-edge CRM systems are available in our industry and can be used by businesses of all sizes. There is no need to be overwhelmed by the prospect of selecting your next CRM. Make your decision-making process more accessible and enjoyable by following these tips.


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Let’s Begin with the Basics


CRMs offer many benefits, including:


  •  Customer interaction history
  •  An overview of sales and marketing
  •  The ability to provide outstanding customer service to your clients.
  •  Keeping your customers happy is easier when you provide them with what they desire
  •  A more significant number of sales, customers, and revenue.
  •  Streamlined integration with your company’s systems.


Choosing a CRM is not an easy decision. It is difficult and costly to decide which product to purchase. With the wide variety of available products, it can be challenging to determine which product best suits your needs. When considering a purchase, you should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of these options. It is possible to lose money if you make the wrong decision and to damage your relationship with clients, members, and staff who are dissatisfied with the outcome. If you are looking for a CRM system, it is always advisable to seek professional assistance. Below are some key points to consider.


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Starting from scratch: Stage Zero


It is easy to become sidetracked when evaluating vendors, prices, and demos to find a CRM, so what are your specific requirements? The following are some typical questions to ask yourself before engaging with external parties:


  • Are there any processes within our organization that need to be improved?
  • Is there a need to introduce new techniques and why?
  • Is there a system that will best support our plans and strategies?
  • What justifies such a drastic change if our current CRM is being replaced?
  • How will a CRM benefit us specifically?
  • What is the compatibility of this potential CRM with the other applications we utilize or intend to utilize (CMS, finance apps, event management systems, learning management systems)?
  • How many licenses are needed for those using the CRM most often (people/teams/departments)?
  • For this project, what is our realistic budget?


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The First Stage: What Do You Need?


Plan your plans based on the features and functionality you require.


CRMs provide your business with everything it needs to succeed. It is important to avoid selecting a system solely based on its features, as you are unlikely to utilize most of them.


Ensure the system has all the necessary features to support your business processes. If your business is static, it will quickly become stagnant; to continue growing, you will need a system that can handle an increasing load.


Although vendors may seem to promise that “everything is possible,” keep in mind the additional expenses and time required to customize a system.


Although customizations may be possible, they may not always be worth the additional cost and inconvenience.


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Second Stage: Where?


Choosing where to host your CRM is one of the most important decisions you can make for your business. CRMs can either be hosted internally or in the cloud.


Whether your organization should host on-premises or in the cloud depends on its structure and needs. You will need the physical hardware and reliable personnel to support and maintain it if you decide to go on on-premises.


In both cases, you retain control, but if you have an in-house IT department, it may make more sense to go through them. The cloud option may be better for you if you wish to log in and access your system without worrying about hardware and support.


Most CRMs will likely offer both configurations so that you may explore the pros and cons of each method in greater detail.


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Stage Three: Are you Capable of Integrating?


The CRM system should be viewed as part of your more significant infrastructure rather than as an independent component. In addition to your existing digital landscape, you have other systems and business processes. CRM is one more element to add to your digital landscape.


How will the CRM integrate with your other systems, and how does it fit into your key processes? Is there an existing integration or API you can use, or would you have to create one from scratch? It is essential to be cautious when dealing with systems that claim to be able to integrate in the “future.”


Although you might be able to integrate later, the truth is that these tasks will likely take longer than expected.


Considering the possibility of adding or replacing other systems in the future, you should familiarize yourself with all possible options.


CRM systems have the capability of storing a great deal of valuable data, but the data is only helpful if you can access and share it easily with other systems.


A CRM that is not integrated or is challenging to integrate is essentially nothing more than a fancy spreadsheet.


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The Fourth Stage is: Try Before you Buy


Take advantage of the vendor’s free trial offer before purchasing CRM software. As a result, you can confirm that it is suitable for your business. The vendor’s pre-sales personnel is responsible for assisting you in understanding the product by answering questions and simulating real-life situations.


Consider the flavors of the products specific to your industry, as they have been designed by the needs of your industry.


It is always the pleasure of the pre-sales team to assist prospective buyers in testing out the product, and they have a great deal of experience in various industries. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions and obtain as much information as possible.


Since this is a significant investment for your business, you should ensure you understand what you are buying. Before making a decision, it is recommended that you review at least 2-3 different systems.


Keep an open mind and become educated, even if you are committed to one system.


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The Fifth Stage: Does Your Training Package Meet Your Needs?


Even though CRMs should not be complex, you must understand how they should be used correctly and efficiently. Many of our clients have brought up the same, identical concerns over the years.


People who used the CRM have moved on, leaving no one with knowledge of the system behind. This is a common occurrence. 


Online documentation can be an excellent complement to training, but it should not be your only source of information. Even though your teams are competent professionals, they are not necessarily CRM experts.


To ensure that new staff members are onboarded efficiently, ensure that your commercial agreement with your vendor includes initial setup, comprehensive training packages, and bespoke training documentation specific to your implementation.


Understandably, the thought of outsourcing the initial setup might cause you to second-guess the costs at first. The temptation to do the configuration internally is powerful, especially if someone has done it previously or if it appears to be a straightforward process. Avoid such temptations by investing in professional services.


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Stage Six: Does your Support Package Meet your Needs?


You should ensure that your vendor will not “deploy and forget” during your commercial negotiations. Rather than accepting a generic support package, ask specific questions about your particular needs.


Although a vanilla package may not always meet your needs equally, you should avoid overspending on services you will not utilize. Understanding the support model and the SLAs and inclusions of the package you choose.


You must have a point of contact within your CRM vendor whom you can easily contact. The ongoing support costs may seem high, but would you purchase a vehicle without insurance?


You should view support and maintenance as an insurance policy for your business to ensure that you are fully covered in the event of a problem.


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Upon Making a Decision, the Planning and Excitement Begin


If you take the time to set up your CRM correctly from the start, you will save yourself a great deal of time and disappointment in the future. Taking into account discovery, setup, and user acceptance testing in your project plan is essential.


Before beginning your journey with a CRM, it is essential to be confident that it will be able to assist you with your business needs and earn the ROI you expect.


If you have any questions, we’d love to help! Contact us now for a free consultation call, where we’ll help you find the best CRM for your organization.