If you’re wondering how to choose a CRM, you’ve probably already done a few Google searches and have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of CRMs on the market today. You may have even visited a few of the CRM review sites, only to find pages and pages of affiliate links. Because advertisers pay to be on those sites, you realized that’s not the smartest way to choose a CRM. So how do you choose the best CRM for your business?
Avoid Consulting the Affiliate CRM Review Sites
The review sites like PC Magazine and Software Advice all take money from their CRM listings: do you think they are completely unbiased? On the other hand, even though review sites like G2Crowd have a paid referral component, they do not accept paid placement on their ratings pages.
Survey More than Sales for Needed Features
First stop is your sales reps. Most salespeople use and learn 3 to 7 CRMs throughout their careers. Their experience and strong opinions can be beneficial to you when it comes to creating a list of required features. However, don’t rely just on your sales staff for tips on how to choose a CRM. Talk to your marketers because selecting the right CRM might allow them to replace or consolidate some of their existing marketing automation tools. If your company provides support for your products or services or if you have a Customer Service team, then be sure to check with those departments, as well, to see if the CRM solutions you are considering can help them service your customers better. You’ll be surprised to learn that the functionality within most CRMs has dramatically grown since Salesforce hit the market, and include features for sales, marketing, customer support, billing, and in some cases, project management. Eliminating disconnected technologies can save your company money and create significant efficiencies across your organization.
The problem is that not every CRM has every feature, so be sure to prioritize each item on your features list. Then, when it comes times to pull the trigger and make your final decision, you’ll know you are making the right choice.
Talk to a CRM Consultant
CRM consultants can give you good general advice, like “don’t even think about it if it’s not Cloud-based,” — sage advice, for sure. It’s a well-known fact that CRMs that have mobile apps get more use and boost productivity. However, many CRM consultants have partnerships with CRM vendors and receive financial incentives for recommending certain solutions. So, while a CRM consultant’s advice can help get you started, be sure to ask whether they get a kickback. The truth is that it’s challenging for any one marketing consultant to keep pace with each new feature being added to every CRM. There are hundreds of CRM solutions available in 2019 and each are adding new features faster than you can say “lickety-split.” Can a consultant really know how to choose the best CRM for your particular needs? There’s no substitute for doing your own research.
Don’t Let the Price Fool You
You can pay hundreds of dollars per user per month for some CRMs. Alternatively, you can pay $12 per user per month for very good solutions like VTiger or Zoho. You’ll be surprised at how powerful the lower end of the CRM market has become. A $12 solution, although not perfect, might serve your needs just fine. Here’s an example of what you can get for $30/month:
|Deal Approvals||Email Campaigns||Document Sharing||Customer Portal|
|Forecasting||Lead Assignment||Integrations||Internal Tickets|
|Opportunities||Marketing Automation||Inventory Management||Knowledge Base|
|Pipeline Management||Market Segmentation||Invoicing and Billing||Live Chat|
|Sales Orders||Mobile Apps||SLAs|
|Telephony Integration||Payment Tracking||Time Tracking & Billing|
|To-Do Lists||Product Catalog||Work Orders|
The Truth About Low-Priced CRMs
The CRM market is very lucrative. It’s the largest global software segment, and its growth is expected to reach $81 billion by 2025 according to Grand View Research. As legacy CRM suites age, newer CRM providers enter the market offering faster, more agile solutions with clever features today’s business teams need. The fastest way for a new CRM provider to gain market share is to compete on price. But, it’s a dirty secret among software developers that immature software most always has some problems. The question for you is whether you’re willing to put up with a few minor inconveniences to gain substantial savings. For many small businesses, the answer is “yes.” Just:
- check the unbiased review sites
- read the negative reviews
- do a free trial and sample each CRM’s customer support
Why Price Matters
In choosing a CRM, it’s tempting to go with the big name players because their software is mature and they are usually known for stellar customer support. However, if you demo, test, and choose your CRM carefully, more and more people within your company will benefit from using it. Before you know it, your user total has doubled or tripled, along with your CRM bill. Add to that the additional users you’ll naturally pick up as your business grows. If you’re not careful, you could soon be spending quite a bit on CRM software, so be careful how you choose your CRM.
That’s not to say that you should scrimp on features. The main reason you are considering purchasing a new CRM is to increase productivity, right? Time, efficiencies, increased sales, and customer retention all translate to money and reflect in your income statement. So in many cases, it’s well worth spending more on your CRM to get what you need. All we’re recommending is that you:
- consider the fact that your user number will grow
- carefully prioritize the features you need
- don’t assume that the higher-priced CRMs offer more features
Talk to People Who Have Recently Replaced Their CRM
We all have nerdy, analytical friends. Like the ones who capture every detail in a spreadsheet, analyze data until they are blue in the face, and love to draw conclusions and make extremely detailed comparisons. If you know someone like that who has recently conducted a CRM search, start by talking to them. Their company size and exact needs will be different from yours, but you can get a head start by learning from their experience.
Narrow Your List to 3 and Demo
Create a spreadsheet with your prioritized features and start features of your top 6 or 7 solutions, and narrow your list down to 3. Set up a demo with your top 3 CRM providers.
Narrow Your List to 2 and Do a Free Trial
After you have demoed your top three choices, do a free two-week trial with at least two of them. This is the hard part. It takes time and patience and may require some exploring to learn how to configure each CRM to meet your needs. But it’s time well-spent. You may uncover a critical feature that’s missing, and you will get the opportunity to sample the CRM’s customer support team. Don’t skip this step.
Don’t Underestimate the Implementation Process
Most CRM providers offer an assisted implementation plan. Budget for this. Please don’t attempt to implement your new CRM solution on your own unless you’ve done it before, are comfortable doing the data conversion yourself, and have time to train your team yourself on your new CRM.
In 2019, CRMs are one of our most valuable sales and marketing tools. Every minute of research and testing you invest in your CRM selection process will be well worth it. Consider the low-cost providers if their reviews are positive and only after you take the time to test their software and sample their customer support. Expect your user count to grow, and carefully weigh your required feature set vs. the price. Rest assured that at each price point, several CRM choices will fit your needs well. CRM consultants and CRM review sites can be helpful but we suggest you question their incentives. The real cost of delaying or making a hasty decision is the loss of productivity.