What to consider when choosing a crm

If you do business with more than a handful of customers or partners, you may need a CRM to keep track of emails and sales calls. But how do you go about choosing a CRM?

Where to Start

When researching CRM solutions, it’s important to know exactly what your business requirements are. Take note of the number of users, including sales managers, salespeople, and marketers that will need access.

Also document the functionality that your business needs. Do you need a CRM that stores documents, keeps track of sales tasks, or provides a view of opportunities? Will marketing use the CRM and if so, should the CRM track website visitors? Should the CRM integrate with marketing automation software?

Let’s take a closer look at what you should consider when selecting your new CRM.

What You Need to Consider

Customization of contact record

Every business has different needs from a CRM. So although the default fields and options in a CRM may work for many businesses, it may not work for yours. Consider what information your company stores on each contact. Does the CRM allow for custom fields or are you limited to pre-determined system fields?

Record connections

Do you need contacts, organizations, or opportunities to show connections? For example, should your newest opportunity shows all related contacts and organizations? Similar to contact records, consider the availability of customization. Does the CRM allow for custom connections or relationship types? Can you create custom labels for these connections, such as partner, vendor, or client?

Tagging and segmenting

CRM solutions, similar to email marketing software, use tagging, segments, and lists to help organize your contact data. Thinking about your business’s needs, what kind of segmentation do you need? Many CRM solutions offer basic tagging and list segmentation, while other enterprise-level solutions like Salesforce, offer more sophisticated segmentation options.

Contact summary data

Does your sales team need the ability to add documents, notes, or even alerts? While researching CRMs, review how each solution stores documents and notes. Are they searchable? Are they stored securely? And can you add alerts for others using the CRM?

Opportunity management

Although standard in most CRMs, make sure the solution you choose includes opportunity management options (if needed). Does the CRM keep track of each salesperson’s sales tasks, opportunities, proposals, and closed sales?

Integrations

Although they’re not necessary for all businesses, review the CRM’s ability to integrate with other software. Some businesses have a need to integrate other software such as Quickbooks, Shopify, or Wufoo Forms. Understand your team’s needs for integrations. Can the CRM be a standalone sales product or should it integrate with marketing solutions?

Hosted or cloud solution

Depending on how your company’s IT department is structured, you may need to have the CRM hosted on your own servers. A hosted solution (also called “on-premise solution”) gives you full access to your data, higher security, and more control of implementation. But hosted solutions also require maintenance from IT personnel and more investment (both money and time) upfront.

Cloud solutions only require the user to have internet access and are cheaper than on-premises solutions. Cloud solutions are typically priced based on the number of users and/or contacts. If you have a large sales team or you’re expecting rapid growth in the next few months or year, an on-premise solution may be beneficial.

Easy import and export

When finalizing your choice for a CRM, take into consideration the ease of importing and exporting data from the solution. Does the provider make it hard to export data? Can all data be exported in an XLS or CSV file?

How a CRM imports data is possibly one of the most important, yet overlooked, features of the solution. Review what types of files the CRM can import, if data is automatically or manually mapped, and how errors in your data are handled.

Support and training

Beyond the cost and data management, it’s important that you understand how the company will (or will not) help you import data and implement the solution into your business. Many solutions only offer extended support for high volume customers.

And do they offer product training, whether by phone, webinar, or in one-on-ones? CRMs can be very complex pieces of software depending on your implementation, so training is instrumental for you to fully utilize the product.

Other Things to Consider

Depending on your business needs, you may have other things to consider, such as mobility. Does the solution integrate with your email provider? Is a mobile app available? Does the CRM have email or marketing options?

You may also want to consider the scalability of the CRM. Can you see this CRM growing with your business? Ask the vendor to share how they accommodate businesses who have successfully grown and scaled up using their product.