There is so much that goes into evaluating and selecting a technology partner for your CRM solution. Understanding the costs and benefits while checking the feature and functionality boxes is necessary but expected. Understanding the quality of the vendor relationship and long-term commitment to helping your business grow are critical factors for success but are often overlooked in the evaluation process.
Here are key considerations when selecting both the solution and vendor for CRM success:
Evaluate the Total Cost of Flexibility
While the total cost of ownership is essential in evaluating CRM systems, its close cousin, the total cost of flexibility, is especially critical for midmarket companies. There is always an associated cost to absorb and understand a CRM system’s surrounding administration and complexity. While gaining a rich set of capabilities with the breadth and depth to meet your business needs is important, the cost of customization can be deadly. One way to determine this cost is to ask more pointed questions to vendor references, such as how many administrators they have? What percentage of licenses do you typically have logging in? What are the top three value propositions of the application for your business?
Find a Customer-Obsessed Vendor
The vendor-customer relationship is critical. Most companies have great sales and marketing engines to get you in the door, but it’s essential to understand if they will support you after the ink dries on the contract. What resources, support, and partnership will the vendor put forward to ensure a fruitful post-sale experience? Who will be the vendor’s executive sponsor post-acquisition to ensure success? It’s important to partner with a technology vendor that will treat you like a lifetime investment.
Talk to End Users to Determine Usability
When searching for any software, including CRM solutions, organizations should always ask if they can talk to an end-user of the product to understand usability. Too often, CRM solutions can be a barrier to sales and marketing success. SugarCRM recently conducted global research with sales leaders and found that they struggle to access the data required to build and maintain these vital relationships, with 52% saying their CRM systems are costing them revenue. Ask yourself, is the vendor showing us more than we asked for (capability wise), and do we need these capabilities? If so, what is the cost associated with that capability if we need it? Speaking to vendors’ end users to understand if they are achieving value from their investment in the solution is vital in the evaluation process.
Decide if an RFP Is a Right Approach
Many companies issue an RFP under the guise of corporate governance, but most midmarket companies don’t have the resources to do it right. Not to mention, the RFP process can be costly. Ask yourself whether you need an RFP. Do you have the resources and the governance structure to support it? For some, a better approach is to issue a scorecard for functionality and a comprehensive evaluation that goes beyond the feature set. As mentioned above, there is more to selecting software than checking the functionality boxes. It would be best to drill down into other key factors for success, which have to do with the vendor-customer partnership. You want to understand if this is a vendor you want to do business with and if this vendor will invest in your success.
Finding the right CRM solution is essential for growing your business and improving your employees’ productivity. We’ve put together a comprehensive CRM buyer’s guide with checklists, expert advice, and insights to help feel confident about choosing the right solution for your business.