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  2. 2. Selecting the Right CRM Solution for Your Business Today’s business marketplace is an extremely competitive one. Companies that want to be successful need to develop, grow, and manage their business effectively. To successfully do this, businesses need a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. CRM solutions allow companies to strengthen relationships with existing customers and build new relationships with prospective clients. By organizing, automating, and synchronizing business processes, a CRM solution helps an organization to be more competitive and more successful. - Why is choosing the right CRM solution important? - Considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right CRM solution o Current needs versus future needs o Functionality o Budget vs. Cost vs. Quality o Onsite implementation vs. a Hosted solution o Vendor/Hosting Selection o Training - What to Expect When All is Said and Done - Conclusion© (888) 852-5226 2
  3. 3. Selecting the Right CRM Solution for Your Business Having established the need for a CRM solution, the question then becomes a matter of choosing the right solution for your business. CRM solutions come in many flavors. A product that works effectively for one company might not meet the needs of another company. Implementing a CRM solution should be viewed as an investment. As such, great care must be taken to acquire the best solution for your organization. In effect, you’re selecting a partner to be involved in the future growth of your company. The right solution for you isn’t simply tailored to the needs of your business. It should also allow your business to provide the best possible industry experience to your company’s patrons. You want your company to stand out in the minds of your customers. Customers are happiest when an organization remembers them, interacts with them, and keeps all of its obligations to them. Such a satisfying experience will bring the customers back for more business. The bottom line is that CRM has evolved into a multifaceted system that allows businesses to retain existing customers and identify new ones. It uses automated functions and lead management to help your sales personnel. It improves your customer service and reduces calls to your help desk. Therefore, careful consideration must be given to the solution you select. With the plethora of CRM solutions available on the market today, choosing the one that is right for your business can be a daunting task. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. You can make things easier by breaking things down into manageable steps. Keeping the following considerations in mind as you begin your CRM search will help you to narrow the field and point you in the right direction as you start.© (888) 852-5226 3
  4. 4. Selecting the Right CRM Solution for Your Business The scalability of the product you select is important. Analyze what your current needs are. Once those are established, take a look down the road and make a prediction of what those needs will be in about three years. The solution you select should meet your needs now, but be able to grow with you to meet the needs you expect to have in the future. Be careful, though. CRM products come with many features. You don’t want to go overboard in your purchase and buy items you’re never going to need. You’ll end up paying unnecessary expenses, both in the initial implementation and in the ongoing support. Be as realistic as you possibly can here. The analysis of your needs will put you in control and in the position to ask the right questions. Remember, the best solutions will grow with you. Once CRM is implemented in your business, it is going to become a key part of your business strategy, if not THE key part. Therefore, you’re going to want a product that provides real-time and historical interactive analytics. If the product cannot provide the critical insight you need regarding historical trends of all aspects of your business, then it’s not providing the answers that you need. You’ll want to be able to analyze trends over time to identify areas where your company excelled and where it fell short. Such data will prove critical to the long term success of your business. If a CRM solution cannot provide you with that information, then you’re going to be hindered in your ability to make the critical business decisions today’s marketplace requires. If a product doesn’t offer these tools to you, look elsewhere for another solution. While you shouldn’t walk into a CRM search with a blank check, establishing a budget for the solution isn’t as easy as simply stating a dollar figure and going from there. CRM costs run the full gauntlet from inexpensive to very expensive. Keep in mind that higher cost doesn’t always mean higher quality. Just because a solution is expensive doesn’t mean that it can meet all of your expectations and needs. Be critical, weighing your options every step of the way. Once you’ve determined your needs, both present and future, as well as settled upon the functionality you desire in the product, you’ll be able to look at the market to get an idea as to the cost range to expect. Again, remember that implementing a CRM solution is an investment. You’ll pay out for initial costs as well as total cost of ownership (TCO) over time, but there will be a return that is expect for your business from use of the product. Look hard at both sides and make a decision that fiscally works for your business but gives you the best opportunity to excel as time moves forward.© (888) 852-5226 4
  5. 5. Selecting the Right CRM Solution for Your Business Most software products today can be taken advantage of in one of two ways, and CRM is no different. In the traditional fashion, equipment can be purchased, installed on the premises of your business, and the CRM solution can then be implemented locally at your site. On the other hand, options are available from the cloud. Both solutions have their pros and cons. The direction you decide to go in will depend upon all of the points we have discussed thus far. It’s probably best to look at several solutions from each of the two areas based on your needs and budget rather than pigeon-holing yourself into one solution right off the bat. As you look at what an onsite implementation offers compared to what you get with a hosted selection, it will become clear to you relatively quickly which is the optimal solution for your company. As mentioned earlier, the solution that is right for one business may not be right for another. An onsite implementation may be right for your friend’s business, but not right for yours. On the other hand, your competitor may be having great success using a solution from the cloud, but the same solution doesn’t make sense for your company. Each case is different, and only you can make the final call as to which solution to pursue. Having identified your business requirements and the money you have to spend, you can dismiss many vendors right away to save yourself some time. Then research, research, research. That is the key. As you begin to look at the vendors and hosting companies you haven’t eliminated, be armed with as much information as you possibly can.  Look for a vendor with a good track record and that has the experience helping customers achieve their desired business goals.  Ask hosting companies about their long term plans and the types of customers they’re working with.  Evaluate the security particular solutions offer; you don’t want the lifeblood of your business exposed to hackers.  Find out if references can be provided to you. If a company is proud of the work that it has done, it is more likely to provide references to which you can speak. Many companies will offer evaluations of their products. Take advantage of this in order to get a hands-on feel for what you’ll be working with. This entire step will likely be the most difficult of your entire process, but be sure to take the time to go through the due diligence required. Although difficult, it can be the most rewarding when you find the solution that is right for you.© (888) 852-5226 5
  6. 6. Selecting the Right CRM Solution for Your Business In order to get the full benefit of the solution you ultimately choose, you’ll want to make sure that you and your team knows how to effectively use it. Find out what, if any, training is offered by the companies to which you speak. Many people tend to brush training aside and look at it as an expense that can be eliminated. Don’t make that mistake. If you don’t know how to use your CRM software, you won’t see the results you expect. Try to get training included in the cost of the solution you’re looking at. You’ll be thankful in the long run. The entire process of determining the proper CRM solution is not a speedy one. It will take time as you step through the various points, gather your information, and spend time researching and evaluating. To make the choice that is right for you, expect the entire process to take several months. So, time has passed and you’ve put in the effort required to make the right decision. It has been challenging, but you’ve done your homework and you’re satisfied with the choice you’ve made. What can you expect now that the solution has been selected and implemented? We started this article by outlining the importance of choosing the right CRM solution for your company. Assuming you’ve done everything correctly, you should begin to recognize the fruits of your labor by seeing the benefits of your CRM solution almost immediately. Your users should feel comfortable using the product, and your customers should notice a change for the better in how you do business with them. Again, a CRM solution is an investment, and most investments take time to pay off. The greater rewards the CRM product brings to your business will be seen six months and further down the road. However, you should notice a culture change for the better as you change the way you do business. There will be some resistance at first; many people don’t like change. As they see the benefits of the change, though, they’ll hop onto the bandwagon. Those who don’t can be replaced. Regardless, the change will be a positive one and your business will be the better for it. As time goes on, evaluate your solution. Your business will change, and your needs will also. Be flexible. Don’t be afraid to make tweaks here and there. As was pointed out earlier, your solution should grow with you.© (888) 852-5226 6
  7. 7. Selecting the Right CRM Solution for Your Business CRM is here and it’s here to stay. Those who embrace it will excel, and those who ignore it will be left behind. CRM solutions help businesses to be better organized and to be more successful. By improving the process for your employees and raising the bar on the experience level your customers can expect, your business can be more competitive in today’s economy. By going through the steps that have been outlined here, a solution that works best for your company can be found and implemented. Your company is unique, and the solution you require needs to fit with that uniqueness. Making the right CRM choice will set your business up for success for years to come. Making the wrong choice can put your company into a position from which it might never recover. Take the time to find the solution that works best for you. You’ll be glad you did.© (888) 852-5226 7