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Well, we’ve got some bad news for you – choosing the right CRM for your small business can be a very daunting and confusing task.

Combined with the fact that your choice will have a major impact on your revenue growth, you’d better get that decision right.

The good news is that if you will take into consideration the following 5 key factors, you are more likely to make the right decision.

Adoption – will your team use it?

Many CRM initiatives fail because companies fail to recognize a simple truth – any CRM investment will go down the drain if your team members do not use it.

Sure, you can force your team to use the system, but this will result in poor data quality in your system. And if that happens, you won’t be getting the business insights that you were expecting.

Now, more than ever, employees in organizations are expecting their work software to be as good as their everyday consumer software.

To overcome this challenge, you should:

  1. Choose a modern and easy to use CRM – design and user experience are critical. If the CRM you choose is not easy to use, it will not be adopted by your team
  2. Choose an all-in-one CRM system – look for a system that captures a lot of the data automatically. With email integration and voice integration, all of the interactions can be captured so your reps don’t bear the burden of continually updating the system

Total Cost of Ownership – Did You Consider All The Costs?

Some of the biggest costs in buying and implementing a CRM system are not visible out of the gate. Apart from the license fees for the system, there are at least two additional cost elements that you would want to get clarity on:

  1. Cost of implementation – setting up and configuring the system takes some initial effort. Ideally, the vendor you are choosing can offer you a affordable implementation package that will help you get started on the right foot or even better, makes the administration of the system so simple that you don’t even need any help in setting the system up
  2. Cost of ongoing maintenance and support – to keep the system up to date and in good shape is critical. If the system administration is too complicated (typically will happen with products like Salesforce), you would have to hire a part time or full time CRM admin which might cost you twice the cost of the licenses on an annual basis

Scale – will it scale with you?

Some CRM systems are great for 2-3 users but will break once you have more than 8-10 people using the system. You surely don’t want to over invest early on, but at the very least you’d like to have the peace of mind that the choice you are making, will support you in the next 3-5 years.

The last thing you want to do is deal with an unexpected project to switch a CRM while you are trying to grow your team and your business.

Here are 4 capabilities you’d like to make sure the system you are choosing has in store:

  • Permissions – allowing team members to see specific data in the system
  • Advanced reporting – for your future reporting needs
  • Automation – ability to set automate workflows (for instance: Add a task when a deal moves to the next stage)
  • Open API – as you grow your business, you might want to start integrating your CRM with other IT systems

Need – does it support your core requirements?

As you are starting your research and buying process, it would be wise to put together a list of core requirement that are important for your business. You probably have some of the key requirements in your head, but putting them down to paper will help you make sure you are not missing any important requirement as you are making your CRM choice.

It might be that no one system will perfectly address all the needs that you have. To be able to make the right decision, it’ll be beneficial for you to list down your “must-have” requirements. As an example, if you have a field sales team or a door-to-door sales team, a native mobile app for iOS and Android will be a must and there are very few vendors that provide that.

Here’s a free CRM requirements template that you can download and use.

Expected results – what is your vision for success?

You’ll be surprised how many people are overlooking this step. Many companies start a project of choosing and implementing a CRM system without a clear vision of what they will achieve with a CRM in place.

Yes, CRM is a critical software to enable sales and customer relationships, but setting clear goals and targets for the project is key. This will help you focus on these in your evaluation process so you can try to understand how the different vendor offerings can support your goals.

The more concrete your goals are – the better decisions you’ll be able to make. Are you planning to increase your number of leads? Maybe increase the upsell opportunities with your existing customers? How about increasing your win rate?

Choosing the right Small Business CRM can yield incredible growth and a fantastic return on investment. Choosing the wrong one can cause heartburn and setbacks. Let these 5 key factors guide your decision and be nice to other SMB owners and sales leaders and share this on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.