Think Outside the Box When Selecting a CRM Solution
Are you struggling to differentiate one CRM solution from the myriad of others? Of course you are and here is why. For the most part the majority of CRM systems targeted at small to mid-size businesses are all the same, differentiated primarily by price. These systems are generically designed to capture, track, manage and share information. But let’s face it, how many ways are there to add a new company, a contact, or a note into a CRM system? There’s only one. How about adding a new lead, a sales opportunity or a follow-up activity? One again. So if the majority of the systems you are evaluating are all alike how in the world are you going to identify the best one for your business? Read on and I will tell you.
First, you need to start by thinking outside the box. If the majority of the CRM systems you evaluating all have similar features and functions, then you need to expand your evaluation criteria beyond just features and functions. Start with an evaluation of the company. How long have they been in business, where do they host your data and what type of back-up and recovery services do they provide. Have them explain the on-boarding process and what type of training will be provided. What level of professional services does the company offer? Do they have expertise in providing best practices for improving sales execution, target marketing and automating customer service? Will you have telephone access to these resources or will you be required to send an e-mail and hope for a response? How will they ensure that you will realize the maximum value from their software? These are the areas that differentiate one CRM provider from another and they are very important, but we are not done yet.
The key thing you should be doing to be comfortable that you are making the right decision is what I refer to as “Proof of Value”. CRM vendors will all try to convince you that they have more features than their competition and that their product is easier to use. That’s all well and good, but that’s not why you are looking to implement a CRM system. You probably started off looking for a solution to address one or two specific business challenges. That’s the priority. Don’t allow yourself to get wrapped up in a feature function war because it’s not about who has the most features or the lowest price – it’s about who can best address your specific business requirements. What you need from the solution provider is Proof of Value.
Proof of Value means you need to see how the solution provider will successfully address your business requirements.
Let’s say for example that your company is not generating quality leads. You are getting leads, but they are not qualified and fizzle out very quickly leaving the sales team and management frustrated. This could be the result of several issues. Perhaps you do not have the proper marketing mix for lead generation. Maybe your message is attracting the wrong prospects or you have not properly targeted the right audience for your product or service. That’s why you need a CRM solution right? Well not so fast, I am sorry to tell you that no CRM solution on its own will address this problem. Sure you can use CRM to create some templates and send bulk e-mails, but this business challenge requires more than sending more marketing campaigns. Let’s take a step back and revisit my recommendation for thinking outside the box. Most CRM systems have a marketing module for sending out bulk emails and they are all pretty much the same, so you need to be looking at those that can add value services for “Proof of Value.”
Wouldn’t it be great if the CRM solution provider had the expertise to help you target market the right prospects by helping you to better understand what customers you serve better than anyone else. What if they could help you fine tune your message so that you could effectively communicate this to the right prospect lists? Lastly, what if they could streamline the lead qualification process by automatically ranking and color coding new leads based on specific qualification criteria. This would enable your sales team to be following up on the most qualified leads resulting in a high close ratio and more new business. What if this solution provider only had half of the features and functions of the others you looked at? Would they still be the best CRM solution to address your business requirement? You bet they would. Their solution coupled with professional marketing expertise offers the “Proof of Value” you are looking for and will ensure this specific business challenge gets addressed. So here is the point. Forget about who has the most features and functions at the lowest cost and concentrate on the company that can best address the issues that are impacting the performance of your business. Select a company that has coupled their CRM software with professional sales, marketing or service expertise who can demonstrate the “Proof of Value” you need to ensure that you significantly impact business performance.