Three Steps to Building a Successful CRM Budget

(Editor’s note: the following is a guest blog post from Lauren Stafford, the Digital publishing specialist at Discover CRM. Discover CRM is an independent knowledge resource that provides news, research and opinion about the CRM industry).

As a business, there are many advantages to investing in a CRM system, for example, a CRM allows you to manage all of your customer data in a centralized location. This can help standardize process as well as automate existing processes that are time-consuming. There’s a financial incentive, too, as the average ROI for a CRM system has been estimated at $8.71 for every dollar spent.

At first it might seem like implementing a CRM is laborious and unnecessary. Salespeople, in particular, may view it as an unwelcome disruption to their current routine. But choosing the right piece of software for sales can help you prioritize your tasks and qualify leads at a more efficient rate. It can seem like more work initially, but considering that on average nurtured leads demonstrate a 20% increase in sales opportunities compared to non-nurtured leads, streamlined processes can only be an advantage.

However, to see ROI, you should aim to build an accurate budget before entering into the selection phase. Here’s where to start:

  1. Consider your requirements carefully

    Requirements gathering is an essential step that can sometimes get overlooked. It can be tempting to rush into the process of selecting your CRM but it pays dividends to look into how the technology relates to your wider business strategy. Defining your CRM requirements is important so that funding can be allocated correctly and purchase risks are minimized. The likelihood of purchasing an incorrect system when key functionality is fully understood is slim.

    If you’ve taken the time to establish your requirements from the outset then your project is far more likely to come in on time and on cost. Furthermore, costs can be reduced by ensuring that suppliers provide quotation tailored against a detailed specification.

    Begin by putting your list of CRM requirements together in a spreadsheet, linking each to processes that the new software will integrate with.

  2. Factor in support and maintenance

    According to SugarCRM’s recent SalesTech survey 70% of organizations currently use CRM. Of those who aren’t using CRM, 32% name complexity as a reason. Keeping support and maintenance costs  to the minimum might be easier if you choose a system that easily integrates with your IT set-up. Simple deployment allows you to automate your CRM in accordance with your unique business processes. During the selection phase, look for core CRM features that will support your customer engagement strategy.

    If any issues do arise after deployment, your appointed superuser should be able to lend a hand.  In some cases, your CRM will need fine tuning or enhancements so, just in case, you should build contingency into your CRM budget. However, if you’ve chosen a CRM that fits your business needs based on robust requirements, it’s likely you won’t need much support. If you’re worried about ongoing maintenance costs, make sure you ask your vendor outright for the sake of clarity.

  3. Look at your CRM user training plan

    At the end of the day your CRM is useless unless your users are engaged! Your CRM system alone is not enough to make a project successful. Poor user-adoption rates are at the root of many unsuccessful attempts to implement a CRM system so incorporating user training into your overall CRM budget is essential. To avoid becoming another customer who isn’t taking full advantage of all your CRM features, train anyone who will be using the system as well as anyone who is supervising system users.

    If you want your new software to improve your relationship with your customers, you should also budget for follow-up training. A refresh training program can help people fill gaps in their knowledge and learn the most productive way to do things. Your superuser can offer assistance by facilitating these training sessions. To ensure ROI from your CRM, you want to encourage a culture of continued learning and be able to provide optimal support for your workforce when required.

-Lauren