November 1, 2023
CRM, Digital Strategy, Digital Transformation
Buyer’s Guide to Choosing the Right CRM for your business.
A CRM is more than a contact database or system of record; it’s the heart of your customer’s experience with your brand. And it’s designed to ensure seamless interactions at every touchpoint.
Whether you’re looking to invest in CRM software for the first time or move your organization away from a legacy solution, your new CRM should effectively balance your business goals and customer needs while also accounting for long-term growth and profitability.
This buyer’s guide includes helpful tips and recommendations to inform your purchasing decisions and set your teams up for success. Inside, you’ll learn how to define your ideal CRM, navigate the software market, and prepare your organization for a new generation of operations.
Table of Contents
Grasping the customer relationship (CRM) landscape
Regardless of the scale or sector of your business, the rapport you establish with your customers directly determines your brand’s triumph. Beneficial relationships amplify your profits and enhance your image; unfavorable ones can diminish even the most attractive value propositions.
“CRM is not just a software, it’s a philosophy of customer-centricity that drives business success.”
Customer relationship management (CRM) should form the crux of your expansion strategy, implying that you need to do more than just provide excellent customer service or launch flashy new products.
Instead, you should carry out continuous studies to understand your customers’ ever-changing needs, objectives, and hurdles. Following that, use this knowledge to swiftly meet their demands, especially if they encounter issues with your product or service.
When it comes to selecting a CRM tool, there are several reputable options available in the market. For instance, HubSpot offers an out-of-the-box CRM solution, known for its user-friendly interface and seamless integration capabilities. Salesforce, on the other hand, is a more customizable but higher-priced option, suitable for businesses with complex needs.
Another noteworthy mention is Bitrex, known for its extensive features and cost-effectiveness. However, it’s important to note that while Bitrix24 is a powerful CRM, it may have occasional performance issues, such as slower response times and a somewhat cumbersome interface. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each option based on your specific business requirements before making a decision.
So, how can you achieve this without significantly expanding your workforce or allocating your entire budget to manual data handling?
Investing your time and budget in a right-fit CRM system
A suitable CRM enables you to oversee all customer relationships – from initial marketing interactions to long-standing brand advocates – through a single, efficient solution.
Choosing the Right CRM for Your Business
Your CRM application should enable you to retain a high degree of customer focus and simplify routine operations for your team. However, selecting the perfect fit involves more than just browsing the trending choices on the market or sticking with the CRM you had in your prior organization.
Implementing the right CRM system can significantly enhance your business operations. However, this task can be challenging, especially if you don’t have in-house technical expertise. In such cases, it’s worth considering consulting with a digital transformation consultant who specializes in CRM implementation. They can provide valuable insights and guide you through the process to ensure you choose a CRM that aligns with your business goals and technical capabilities. This expert guidance can make a substantial difference in the success of your CRM implementation.
As you begin internal discussions about potential solutions or start looking into top service providers, contemplate the following:
- What are your main business objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?
- Can you efficiently generate reports on them currently? Are there any bottlenecks in the process?
- Could a new CRM enhance your reporting efforts?
- How do your sales, marketing, and service teams interact with contacts, objects, etc.?
- Do they currently have access to important customer data?
- What are their difficulties or blind spots when accessing that information?
- Do you have enough technical skills inhouse to select, implement & create process to properly use a CRM.
- What are the common issues your customers face with your brand?
- Have they mentioned any unfulfilled needs or a mismatch between different touchpoints?
- Have you already identified potential enhancements for your brand’s customer experience?
Your responses to these queries will guide you in creating the requirements list for your new CRM. Align your essential needs around the most pertinent challenges and opportunities for your business and its customers, but also keep the future scenario in perspective.
Consider your current business requirements and your long-term objectives, and utilize them to pick a CRM that can adapt and grow with your business, rather than one that will quickly reach its capacity.
Exploring & Recognizing common triggers for change
Each business is distinct, implying that a myriad of reasons may have steered you towards seeking a new CRM software. As you deliberate whether it is indeed the right moment to implement a new system, ask your teams if any of these situations resonate with them:
#1 Your teams refer to several truth sources
Your customer data is scattered across multiple systems or records, resulting in each team referencing fragments of the truth and filling in the gaps as required. Perhaps you’ve observed that every department functions with partial or outdated data, leading to internal dissatisfaction and inconsistent customer experiences.
#2 Your sales, marketing, and service teams function in isolation
Poor inter-department coordination is another consequence of each department using a distinct system. Possibly your sales, marketing, and service teams each depend on their own management system, which obstructs their understanding of each other’s objectives and operations, leading to a poor transition between lifecycle stages.
#3 Your teams depend on manual processes for reporting
In the absence of a CRM, your teams probably resort to manual procedures — like spreadsheets or an outdated system of records — to maintain customer data and generate various internal reports. This method results in hours of monotonous work and heightens the chance of human error, implying you’re likely overlooking crucial information.
#4 You've noticed gaps or inconsistencies in your reports
Reports offer a comprehensive overview of your sales and marketing team’s performance. They aid in the creation or refinement of campaigns, streamline sales procedures, and reinforce customer relationships. However, if your reports are incomplete or simply don’t align with your objectives and KPIs, they aren’t effectively benefitting you, your company, or your customers.
While every business functions in a unique manner, your CRM software should be able to seamlessly integrate with your existing operations.
To make sure you’re thoroughly prepared for the buying process and end up with a tool that perfectly services both your employees and customers, there are certain universal steps to follow.
Step 1: Engage & Consult with Stakeholders and Key Users
A CRM, no matter how potent, won’t yield results if it’s not in sync with your team’s requirements or current procedures. Thus, gaining an understanding of what each team expects from a new CRM is crucial before diving into the specifics of features and predicted outcomes.
In order to grasp your team’s needs, engage with the users who frequently interact with your existing CRM or similar systems. While stakeholder opinions are vital, it’s also important to engage with:
- Revenue and business operations teams who deal with backend systems
- Sales, marketing, and service teams who depend on frontend functionalities
Get insights into how each team interacts with contacts, data, and other elements, and what they need from your CRM. Use this opportunity to assess the current challenges and ask for improvements that would be beneficial to each team or department.
Combine all the inputs from key users, analyze trends, and take into account the leadership team’s priorities. Use these insights to define an ‘ideal state’ for your new CRM and create a checklist to guide your search.
Tip: Form a focus group with members from each of your core teams to get a comprehensive understanding of the best way forward.
Step 2: Identify & Define Your Goals
With everyone’s inputs at hand, you now need to state the goals you aim to achieve with your new CRM. Prepare a list of qualitative and quantitative KPIs that consider both individual users and overarching business objectives.
To identify these goals, ask questions such as:
- Are we implementing a CRM for the first time or shifting from an existing system?
- What are our current objectives, and how do we track our progress?
- Are there any gaps in performance management or reporting processes?
- Are there problems we wish to address but lack the necessary functionalities?
- Which reports or insights are important to incorporate into a new system?
Using these insights, prioritize your goals. Remember, while a CRM can add immense value to your business, don’t expect it to solve all issues.
Prepare a list of essential and additional features for each team or department, and use these lists to prioritize the features you’ll seek in your new CRM.
For instance, tech stack compatibility might be essential for your operations team, while unlimited administrative support might be desirable but not crucial.
Step 3: Evaluate Your Tech Stack
Assessing your existing technology stack can ensure long-term ease of use and software compatibility. As you research potential CRMs, consider which ones will integrate well with the tools you’re already using. This can also help identify if a new CRM can simplify your tech stack, offering operational efficiency and cost savings.
Tip: Identify possible integration or compatibility issues and create a plan to mitigate them. This will help avoid any unexpected surprises or costs after you purchase your new CRM.
Unifying your organization behind a single software can enhance processes and increase team alignment. However, some organizations choose to use two CRMs for different functions.
If you plan to use more than one CRM, you need to ensure that all your data will sync between the systems. Brands like HubSpot offer integrations to facilitate this process, allowing a seamless flow of information between CRMs.
Step 4: Evaluate Crucial Features and Capabilities
Now it’s time to delve into the specific features and capabilities of a CRM that can drive growth. While your priority list will be based on the goals you identified in step two, there are a few essential features to consider.
Reports & Dashboards:
Your CRM will store high-value data that your teams need to access, organize, and analyze based on their unique goals and KPIs. Pick a CRM with strong reporting features that give your teams access to data and intuitive tools to analyze it.
Data Quality Management Tools:
Along with storing and accessing your customer data, maintaining data quality is crucial as your database grows. Consider automation features for data cleansing and evaluate each CRM’s multi-source data aggregation capabilities.
Your CRM won’t be the only software needed to manage your operations. Assess each potential CRM’s features and evaluate its integration capabilities to connect external systems quickly and effectively.
Custom Object Associations:
If your data doesn’t fit into the standard properties of your CRM, ensure your new software can store and report on it. Your CRM should allow you to record and report on these custom objects without relying on an external system.
Implementing a new software takes time and effort, and you need to ensure your new provider is readily available to support your team during this transition.
Step 5: Analyze Costs and ROI
The financial discussion around adopting a new CRM software is crucial. However, don’t just consider the upfront price of each potential solution.
Consider the long-term value of addressing your employees’ primary pain points. How will resolving these challenges affect your business overall?
Enhancing your employees’ workflow doesn’t just increase productivity; it also boosts morale and improves employee retention. On the other hand, delivering a positive customer experience can lead to exponential growth opportunities for your brand.
Consider the long-term implications of a cheaper CRM that might serve your needs initially, but fail to provide opportunities for scaling or customization down the line. It’s easier and more cost-effective to scale up an existing CRM than starting from scratch every few years.
As you near your final purchase decision, prepare an internal plan to guide the setup, launch, and adoption of your new CRM. Here are a few steps to get started:
- Identify resources for implementation: Assign teams to manage the technical efforts involved in setting up the new software.
- Create a realistic timeline: Formulate a timeline for purchase, implementation, configuration, and go-live.
- Develop an adoption strategy: Consider how you’ll handle critical tasks like data migration, team training, and more. Also, devise a maintenance plan for your new CRM to ensure best practices from day one.
Step 6: Craft Your Implementation Plan
As you near your final purchase decision, prepare an internal plan to guide the setup, launch, and adoption of your new CRM. Here are a few steps to get started:
- Identify resources to support implementation. Before you invest in brand new software, you need to assign teams to handle the technical efforts that will make it all possible. Determine which internal resources — like technology teams — and potential external ones — like implementation partners — will lead your migration.
- Create a realistic timeline. Develop a high-level timeline for purchase, implementation, configuration, and go-live. Account for potential delays and build in a buffer for QA and testing before you onboard sales, marketing, and service teams onto your new CRM.
- Develop an adoption strategy. Now it’s time to get into the make-or-break details of your CRM implementation. Consider how you’ll handle critical tasks like data migration, team training, and more. You should also outline a high-level maintenance plan for your new CRM to ensure best practices are in place from day one.
Conclusion: Empowering Growth Through Effective CRM Selection
In the dynamic landscape of business, the heartbeat of success lies in nurturing valuable customer relationships. A well-chosen Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is not merely a database; it’s the cornerstone of seamless interactions at every touchpoint.
This buyer’s guide has equipped you with the knowledge to navigate the complexities of CRM selection. From understanding the customer relationship landscape to identifying key triggers for change, you’ve gained insights into the vital components of a successful CRM implementation.
By engaging stakeholders, defining goals, evaluating your tech stack, and considering costs and ROI, you’ve set the stage for a transformative CRM integration. Remember, a CRM isn’t just a purchase; it’s an investment in the future of your business.
Thank you for joining us on this exploration of CRM selection. May your new CRM be the catalyst for a brighter, more prosperous future for your business.
As you embark on this journey, keep in mind that the right CRM system will unify your operations, improve customer experiences, and drive sustainable growth. So, choose wisely and watch your business flourish.
Frequently Asked Questions about CRM'S & Hubspot
FAQ about Choosing the Right CRM for Your Business
A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is pivotal in managing customer interactions, improving relationships, and streamlining processes. It's not just a contact database, but a tool to enhance the overall customer experience.
Start by understanding your business objectives, assessing your team's requirements, and considering customer expectations. Then, evaluate CRM options based on features, compatibility with your tech stack, and long-term ROI.
Look for scattered customer data, poor inter-department coordination, reliance on manual reporting, and gaps in the effectiveness of reports. These are indicators that it might be time for a new CRM.
Engage with teams that interact frequently with the CRM. This includes revenue and business operations teams, as well as sales, marketing, and service teams. Their insights are crucial in defining the 'ideal state' for your new CRM.
Assess how well the CRM integrates with your existing tools. This ensures long-term ease of use and software compatibility. Identify possible integration issues and create a plan to mitigate them.
Ensure the CRM has robust reporting and dashboard capabilities, data quality management tools, seamless integrations, custom object associations, and reliable administrative support.
Consider both the upfront price and the long-term value of addressing your team's pain points. Remember, enhancing workflow and delivering a great customer experience can lead to significant business growth.
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CRM, Digital Transformation
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