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How to choose a CRM consultant you can trust?

Implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) system is a complex and crucial business decision. Choosing a CRM system means you can continue to grow your business without the risk of losing track of your business. However, simply purchasing and installing a feature-rich CRM system is not enough to automatically improve customer relationships or increase sales. A well-planned strategy is essential to avoid costly and unproductive implementation failures. That's why implementing a CRM invariably requires the support of a professional. This article is here to explain how and why you should choose the right consultant for your CRM. If your company is not yet accompanied by a consultant, you've come to the right place to make the best choice. If your company already has the support of a professional, this article can help you to ensure that the collaboration with your current consultant is optimal, or help you to make that collaboration optimal.

The customer relationship management market is booming. The number of new CRM consultancies is multiplying. This competition has the beneficial effect of enhancing the quality of the services on offer, but it also makes choosing a consultant from among this host of proposals a little more complicated. That's why, today, we're providing you with the tools you need to make the right choice.

First of all, in order to eliminate any possible pitfalls, you should be aware that the consultant you need must be familiar with your field of activity, or have experience of working in a similar field. In addition to CRM expertise, sector-specific expertise is also essential if you want to benefit of a trustworthy support. A good consultant must provide you with industry, technical and strategic expertise. Only then will they be able to provide you with the support and advice you need to achieve the improvement and ROI you want.

In the remainder of this article, we will endeavour to answer the following questions:

  • How to choose a CRM consultant?

  • Why do I need a CRM consultant?

  • What does a CRM implementation consultant do?

Maybe you're reading this article because you've been advised to get a consultant, but beyond that, you're only vaguely aware of what their function is. So, let's start there.

Understanding the need for a CRM consultant

In modern businesses, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is essential for managing customer interactions and data across different touchpoints. It helps to :

  • Get a 360-degree view of the customer.

  • Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Increase sales.

  • Provides valuable information for decision-making and optimization of customer relationship management strategy.

Calling on an experienced CRM consultant can be a wise investment. They'll offer expert advice tailored to your needs, and guide you through the implementation process. Be aware that CRM is a very complex tool, and it's easy to get lost in it and ruin all the excellent functionality it's capable of when used incorrectly. A consultant will, for example, manage your CRM based on a list of "Best Practices" to ensure that your CRM operates according to the best possible logic.

Let's start by listing the possible reasons why you may need a consultant:

  • Help in choosing a CRM.

  • Audit your current CRM.

  • CRM deployment and testing.

  • Optimize your licenses.

  • General CRM optimization.

  • Data management support.

  • Optimization of CRM functionalities.

  • System integration.

  • Users training.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive, but it does cover many of the reasons why you need the help of a consultant.

So far we've started to go into the detail of, why you might need a consultant, and what they can do for you. So, before we get into the details of, how to choose the right consultant. First, let's take a look at what can happen if you don't choose the right consultant, or if you want to manage your CRM yourself when you're not qualified to do so:

  • Inefficient and costly system implementation.

  • A customer relationship management system that doesn't match your company's objectives or needs.

  • Data loss.

  • Time wasted by employees throughout the company.

  • Workflow disruptions.

  • Reduced productivity due to additional costs associated with error correction.

  • System re-implementation, or even switching to another platform.

What's more, a poorly executed CRM strategy can damage customer relationships and brand reputation. Lost orders, poorly organized after-sales service, inaccurate communication - these are just some of the reasons why the bond between you and your customers can deteriorate.

Such setbacks can also delay your time-to-market and diminish your competitive edge, making it harder to achieve the growth and profitability you want.

The different types of consultants and their specific features.

CRM consultants specialize in a range of services related to the selection, implementation and optimization of CRM systems. There are two main categories of CRM consultants: functional consultants, who focus on business processes and strategy, and technical consultants, who deal with system configuration and integration.

What is a CRM functional consultant?

A functional consultant specializes in adapting customer relationship management solutions to the specific needs of companies. He or she gathers functional and non-functional requirements during the various stages of CRM implementation, and ensures that the system meets these criteria.

The roles and responsibilities of the functional consultant include analyzing, configuring and fine-tuning the system to achieve the desired functionality. They also write detailed functional specifications and liaise with the technical team for accurate execution. In addition, these consultants take care of documentation, assist customers with user acceptance testing and prepare specialized training for key users.

Functional CRM consultants can act as consultants for CRM strategy and implementation.

What do CRM strategy consultants do?

CRM strategy consultants focus on planning and aligning the CRM system with corporate objectives. They analyze customer behavior and existing processes to develop a tailored CRM strategy, complete with key performance indicators and a roadmap for implementation.

What do CRM implementation consultants do?

On the other hand, CRM implementation consultants take these strategic plans and turn them into actionable steps. They perform the following tasks:

  • System configuration.

  • Data migration.

  • Workflow automation.

  • User training.

  • Troubleshooting CRM system problems.

Both types of service are integral to a successful CRM deployment, and often work together to ensure that the system is both strategic and functional.

What is a CRM technical consultant?

A customer relationship management technical consultant focuses on the technical dimensions of customer relationship management solutions. They must :

  • Analyze customer system requirements.

  • Collaborate with pre-sales and functional teams on technical details.

  • Deploy and test CRM systems, manage integrations with external platforms and web services.

For complex implementations, they contribute to the design of technical specifications and data models. Beyond consulting, they provide technical support to customers and mentoring to junior team members.

Common challenges in choosing a customer relationship management consultant

Choosing a customer relationship management (CRM) consultant can present a number of difficulties for companies. Sometimes, companies don't know exactly what they want to achieve with their CRM system, making it difficult to select the right CRM consultant. Budget constraints can make it difficult to recruit a CRM consultant with the necessary expertise and experience. Companies need to carefully assess whether the consultant's fees are commensurate with the value he or she brings. It's essential to ensure that the consultant is familiar with the CRM platform you're using. A mismatch can lead to delays and increased costs. For some CRMs, such as Salesforce or HubSpot, there is a certification system that helps to demonstrate a consultant's proficiency. Certification indicates that a consultant has studied and trained in the mastery of one or more tools or a general skill related to a CRM. So, certification can be a non-negligible guarantee of quality to put you on the right track. Start by choosing a certified or even multi-certified consultant. Better still, choose a consultant who is certified specifically in the CRM areas that will be important to your business.

It can be difficult to find a CRM consultant with specific expertise in your industry. A lack of industry understanding can lead to ineffective strategies and implementations.

The consultant must adapt to the company's culture and work effectively with internal teams. A poor cultural fit can lead to communication problems and lower productivity. High-quality CRM software consultants are often in high demand, and may have a tight schedule. Companies may find it difficult to find the consultant of their choice on time.

A CRM consultant may be effective for short-term objectives, but unsuitable for long-term ones, requiring careful consideration during the selection process.

Knowing these challenges can help companies better prepare and make a more informed decision when selecting a CRM consultant. You should also be aware that the consultant(s) you choose will become an integral part of your company. So the human aspect is non-negligible: beyond professional skills, you need to have a good human relationship with the CRM consultancy or consultant who's going to work for you. Hiring a consultant with whom you have little affinity would mean hiring an employee who would potentially have little connection with your company's energy and values. So, an employee who is likely to be less invested and feel less of a stake in your company's success.

Finally, some useful questions

Consult our list of useful questions to ask a consultant to make the right choice and avoid unpleasant surprises later on!

  • How long have you been working in CRM consulting?

  • Do you have expertise in my business sector?

  • Can you share case studies, portfolios or references?

  • How did you solve this or that problem?

  • What is the average size of your projects (in terms of money, users deployed, data migrated)?

  • What CRM platforms have you worked with?

  • Are you affiliated with a particular CRM provider?

  • What are your certifications?

  • Do you have experience in developing customized CRM applications?

  • What do you want us to do?

  • What will our responsibilities be?

  • Which CRM tools are you most familiar with?

  • Who will be working on our project?

  • Can you share your CV?

  • When can you start working on our project?

  • What are your rates?

  • What is the average cost of a project like ours?

  • Do you provide training and support for our users?

  • How do you control quality and deadlines?

  • What experience do you have of training teams in the use and adoption of a new CRM platform?

Although this list of questions is not exhaustive, it will give you an overview of the main areas you need to be aware of when making your choice!


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