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6 steps to choose the right CRM for your business!

CRM is a central element within a company, connecting to every aspect of the business and confronting the difficulties that stand in your way:

  • Declining sales.

  • Poor service.

  • Ineffective marketing.

  • And much more...

This grim list of problems to which companies may be subject is not intended to demoralize you. However, a company that considers using a CRM system does so for a reason:

  • Results aren't good, so the bar needs to be set straight.

  • The organization is growing, and its general processes require a high-performance management tool such as CRM.

  • Etc...

Whatever the case, integrating a CRM into your business is not a matter to be taken lightly if it is to be successful. Indeed, companies need to plan the CRM selection process well in advance, and review a whole series of criteria such as :

  • Compatibility with existing software and internal processes.

  • Customization of the CRM to suit the company's profile.

  • Alignment with business needs.

  • Storage options and scalability.

  • Finally, the CFO has his own concerns: initial costs, support costs and implementation costs.

Getting it all done at once may seem insurmountable, but you're far more likely to succeed if you keep a well-thought-out plan in mind. Below you'll find a handy list of do's and don'ts to get you ready to choose the best solution right from the start of your CRM journey.

What is a CRM system?

A customer relationship management (CRM) system is software that manages and tracks a company's relationships and interactions with existing and potential customers. It also helps companies increase the productivity of sales, marketing and support departments by streamlining all administrative processes within a single platform.

Let's get to the heart of the matter: what do companies focus on when choosing a CRM?

1. Set up the CRM selection team.

The first thing companies do when choosing CRM software is to put together a team of experts who will be involved in the decision-making process. These include, of course, the heads of the main departments (especially those that have been the source of problems), a member of the IT department and the target users.

The input of target users is, however, the most important, as they can share their problems and desirable improvements. On the one hand, this will help reduce the selection criteria for CRM solutions, and on the other, these same target users will help accelerate the adoption of the solution by their teams once the new system is in place.

2. Rank the company's needs in order of importance.

The CRM selection process starts not with an external search for a solution, but with an internal search for why a CRM is needed and how it can solve existing problems.

So, when choosing a CRM for a small or medium-sized business, it's a good idea to identify the critical issues and rank them in order of importance. Consult your CRM selection team for feedback and create a list of requirements. In a second step, order this list by degree of importance:

  1. Restore good cooperation between marketing and sales teams.

  2. Reduce time spent researching customer information.

  3. Create personalized marketing campaigns targeting a specific customer segment.

  4. Improve customer relations.

  5. Automate tasks.

This list of requirements will help you to get a clear idea of all the features you should be looking for in a CRM.

However, drawing up this list of requirements requires a great deal of honesty on your part. It's about bringing to light the malfunctioning of certain departments in your company head-on. Nobody wants to hear that the process for which he/she is responsible is faulty. Don't neglect this step, because implementing a CRM on an unsound basis is tantamount to planting the seed of a problem that will resurface a little later. So it's vital to take a close look at what's going wrong, and how best to fix it with CRM.

All this process analysis and improvement work needs to be done hand-in-hand with the company and the CRM implementation team.

3. Make a list of the features that are essential and those that would be useful for your business.

Once you've thought through your issues, it's time to draw up a list of the CRM features you'll need. In fact, it's a good idea to draw up two separate lists: must-have features and useful features.

The criteria for selecting a list of indispensable CRM features depend largely on the problems and objectives you defined in the previous step. Here are just a few examples of the features that are often indispensable to companies:

  • Sales force automation.

  • Marketing automation.

  • Security reinforcement.

  • Customer support automation.

After that, you can draw up a list of features that may not meet your main needs, but which will come in handy later on, such as team collaboration tools.

Make sure that your list of features addresses every department in your company, and takes into account initial feedback from your teams.

4. Choosing between an In-house CRM and a Cloud-based CRM.

Once you've drawn up your final list of functionalities, you need to decide whether to deploy your CRM on-premise or in the cloud. Each model has its advantages and disadvantages.

With a Cloud platform, you don't need to employ an in-house team of IT experts, as your CRM provider will take care of your system, issue frequent updates and customize functionality as required.

What's more, you don't need to invest in expensive on-site servers to store your data. All information resides in the cloud. Just log in and you're ready to go. However, if your database grows, be prepared to pay a few extra bills to add gigabytes of storage.

With an in-house solution, your data will reside on your physical servers or on third-party storage Clouds. In the latter case, you won't have to pay recurring subscription fees for each additional gigabyte, as you can simply integrate your system with other external storage systems. This is made possible by the platform's APIs (application programming interfaces).

However, the data flow between these systems is monitored, and when it exceeds certain limits, additional charges may apply. Ask your CRM provider how these charges are calculated and what triggers a billable event.

If you opt for a physical server, you'll probably need to hire in-house IT staff to keep your system running smoothly. This will obviously entail additional expenditure in terms of equipment, workstations and social security contributions.

5. Reduce the number of potential CRM suppliers.

Once you've determined what features you need and how you want to deploy your system, it's time to draw up a list of the CRM software suppliers you'll be evaluating next.

There are two main ways to select a CRM:

  • Word of mouth: companies and people you know who have experience with CRMs will be able to give you valuable advice.

  • You can also refer to reliable evaluation websites such as Capterra and G2, where users share their comments and evaluate the functionalities of different software.

6. Key points to consider when signing up for a free demo.

Most CRM vendors offer free trials and demonstrations to show their software in action. So, when you've selected several CRMs, don't miss this chance and take advantage of a demo.

We recommend that you start with demonstrations, i.e. online sessions in which you are guided through the product's features and shown how to use it.

Here are some useful questions to ask when you're at this stage of your thinking:

  • Does this CRM provider offer me a complete package of services?

  • Does it try to fully understand my needs?

  • Does it clearly communicate how its CRM can benefit my business?

At the end of all this reflection, you'll be ready to make a choice and embark on this new page of your business. Now that we've seen how to choose the right CRM, before we finish, let's dwell for a moment on the following question: Why is it so important to choose the right CRM?

In conclusion, the pitfalls to avoid!

The process of selecting a CRM can be very tricky if you don't plan ahead. What's more, if you choose the wrong CRM system, you risk failure and dozens of unwanted invoices. Here are some of the costs involved in choosing the wrong CRM system:

  • Payment for unused licenses.

  • Paying for additional external experts.

  • Not achieving the usual CRM gain.

  • The cost of starting over.

So, if you don't want to waste your time and money on a poorly exploited product, take the time to do things in the best possible way, don't rush any decision, and respect every step of the thought process. We've compiled this list of common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not knowing what you want from a CRM.

  • Are you looking to improve your customer relations?

  • Do you want to optimize your workflow?

  • Or skyrocket your marketing campaign?

In any case, it's well worth sitting down with your team and drawing up your functionality wish list.

Choosing a CRM system that isn't scalable. (If you choose a CRM system that only meets the needs of small businesses, it may no longer be right for you when your contracts and customer profiles start to accumulate).

So one of the best pieces of CRM advice we can give you is to consider not only your current challenges, but also your future evolution. Ideally, your CRM should be able to support your company's growth by a factor of 2, 5 or even 10.

Choosing a CRM that doesn't fit your business.

  • Many companies are faced with the need to modify their business model to fit the CRM. However, such a CRM will be of no use to you if it doesn't reflect the nature of your business. When evaluating a CRM, make sure it is sufficiently flexible and customizable to fully meet your company's needs.

Choose a CRM that doesn't match your level of technical experience.

  • While some CRMs are simple and easy to use, other systems are designed for more technically savvy users. To ensure successful adoption of a new CRM, you'll need to train your team (at additional cost) or choose a less complicated system.

And that's it! We've given you the 6 key steps to help a company choose its CRM. Now you know what pitfalls to avoid, it's up to you to make the right choice!


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