The good news about selecting CRM software is that there is a lot to choose from. The bad news is you need to pick the right CRM software.
There are dozens of choices when it comes to CRM systems and no two are alike. Each of them is aimed at a different niche in the market, including different sized companies with different sales models. Navigating through the pack and choosing the right one is a major task.
The place to start is with an analysis of your company’s needs. What, specifically, do you need your CRM package to do? While all the packages will perform the same jobs, each of them emphasizes different aspects of the CRM process.
When it comes to CRM, size matters. There are systems designed for very small companies with two or three sales people up to packages for enterprises with dozens or hundreds of sales staff. Concentrate on the software designed for companies in your size range.
Another point of differentiation is the sales model your company uses. Are you selling long lead time capital goods with outside sales staff or relying on the phone and email to sell spur-of-the-moment purchases. Are you selling B2C or B2B? Do you do a lot of lead nurturing or take customers as they come? It’s important to specify your sales model in order to see what CRM features are most important to your business.
Of course, nearly every CRM package can be stretched to do this thing, the question is how well they can do them. You’re better off with a CRM product that closely fits your size and needs rather than trying to stretch a package that isn’t designed for what you do.
Analytics is another major differentiator of CRM packages. Nearly all of them come with some analytical functions but they vary greatly in completeness and complexity. Since businesses also vary in how much analysis they intend to do with their CRM system, this is a major consideration.
Generally speaking, the more powerful the analytic functions are, the more complex they will be to implement. It’s important to match the software’s capabilities to your needs to keep from getting bogged down in a too-powerful analysis package.
Ease of data import and export is also a major consideration. Again, nearly all the systems have the ability to import data, but they can vary widely in how powerful and complex the functions are. Most packages can import data in standard comma delimited format, but some can also load data from SQL databases and other complex formats. Your needs should determine the data import features you select.
Then there is the matter of ease of use and training. While all CRM products will require some training, the more feature-rich systems will require more time and expense in training. Ease of use also varies greatly. Some packages have user interfaces which are more intuitive than others. This is important not just when it comes to training, but the day-to-day ease of use as well.
Selecting the right CRM package isn’t easy, but the results of starting with the right software make the effort worth it.