One of the most important tools for a company seeking to become customer-focused, instead of product-focused, is customer relationship management (CRM) software. For many businesses, CRM software is their central platform for customer data, marketing campaigns, customer service notes, sales forecasting, and pipeline management — forming the core of all sales activities.
With so many CRM solution providers in the marketplace, it can be tough to decide where to best invest the money, time, and effort required to set a system up — especially when you know that your company will likely live with that decision for many years.
Every company has its unique requirements which will inform the buying decision, but here are three questions you should ask yourself when choosing a CRM software solution provider.
Cloud service or local installation?
Installing a CRM platform behind your corporate firewall allows for a great deal of control and security of customer data. This can take longer to set up when compared with a cloud solution, and has other disadvantages as well.
- The first is limited data access. Unless a salesperson connects to the corporate network, they cannot access data on their leads. Cloud services allow remote information access from any device with an Internet connection, including smart phones and tablets. This allows people to work while waiting for a flight or taking a cab ride across town, and reduces the need for them to store customer information off-platform where it might be unsafe.
- Security and backups. Most major cloud providers provide robust security and also maintain redundant backups of your data, allowing for quick recovery. Anyone who was worked with a corporate network knows that data and application recovery can take a long time after a catastrophe, making cloud services more attractive in this respect.
Does this fit into my formal sales process?
Choose a system that works well within your formal sales process and new business capture steps. It can be fatal to modify your proven processes to fit within the workflow proposed by your CRM software. Instead, the platform should be malleable in accordance with the way you do business.
This is why the entire sale organization should be involved in the CRM solution provider decision, with managers taking the lead in testing software and gathering feedback from their staff. This will increase buy-in and greatly improve the ROI of the platform, because it will actually be used.
Can I do the same thing using free or inexpensive tools, like Google Drive?
For well-organized businesses that have just a handful of employees and a few hundred customers, a simple, shared Google spreadsheet and free calendar might suffice to hold notes about conversations and schedule marketing actions. Even deal tracking can be incorporated.
There are several tutorials and advice for setting up a basic CRM platform using Google Drive on the Web. Here is one example CRM template available for free called WebShed Easy CRM on the Google Apps Marketplace.
I hope the above help you if you are just starting your CRM solution provider search, or are considering switching to a new one. You can contact us here to learn more about solution providers.
For more information on choosing a CRM software solution, click over to this informative article on Inc.