6 Top Tips When Purchasing CRM Software
Thursday, 10 May 2012
CRM software is something that can make a hugely positive difference to the way a company does business. However, if you make the wrong choice you could end up with modules you don't need and a system that isn't as functional as you had originally hoped. For this reason, it makes sense to spend a bit of time thinking carefully about what type of software you actually need and ensuring that you choose the best CRM software for your business.
Read on for some top tips to keep in mind when you are purchasing CRM software.
Think about your requirements
First of all, it almost goes without saying, but think carefully about your requirements. What are you actually planning to do with your CRM software? How many people will be using it? How will the software impact on your existing IT systems? All of these questions are important as they can influence the choice you ultimately make.
For example, many small businesses might not have the infrastructure needed to support a comprehensive CRM software system. This means that they might like to consider cloud-based systems rather than on-site solutions, as this could be more practical for their current capacity.
Research the vendors
It is also extremely important that you choose the right vendor for your needs, so it's worth doing a bit of research to see what's available and which company might be best suited to giving you what you are looking for. For example, you might want to look at well-known CRM providers such as SalesForce, Sage or Dynamics.
Ideally, you want to go with a vendor that has a good reputation and a lot of experience of delivering CRM solutions. You might also want to look at issues like adaptability. As an example, as your company grows, so will your CRM needs. At some point in the future, this could lead to you needing to either upgrade or change your CRM solution, so finding out whether your chosen vendor could accommodate this is definitely wise.
Try it out
No matter how good a particular system looks on paper, you'll never truly know how good it is until you try it yourself. Ask your preferred vendor if you could try the system for a short period to enable you to get a better understanding of the key features of your CRM solutions.
You might find that you need at least a couple of months to get a real feel for the software, so give it as much time as you can before making your choice. Also, when you are testing the software, ensure you check every aspect of it so you know how each feature works.
Making the purchase
When you are making a purchase of CRM software, you will naturally want to get the best possible deal. With any luck, your prior research will have helped you get a good deal on your software, but before you make the final commitment, double check everything. For instance, make sure your package includes only what you need so you're not paying for any extras you're not going to use. If you're confident about the system then you might also be able to get a discount by agreeing to a longer contract with your supplier, and if you offer to write a reference for them, this can sometimes result in a further discount.
Actually putting your software to work is as important as buying it in the first place as this is where a lot of the mistakes are made. Make sure you know who will be implementing the software and have a plan so it can be done as smoothly as possible. Work out how the new software will impact on or interact with any existing software that you have. You might also like to consider training for the people who will be using it to get the most out of the package.
It is worth monitoring your CRM software even after you have implemented it to make sure it is still as practical and useful for you as it was when you first bought it. Creating regular reports about performance can be useful in terms of analysis so you can work out areas for improvement.
Also, as your company grows you might find that you need to integrate your CRM processes with a new system such as ERP accounting software, so it's worth being a bit flexible about your system and ensuring that you keep one eye on the future so you'll be ready to make the necessary changes when the time comes.
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