November 2, 2020

How to Select the Right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tool (Bonus - Part 4) How to Choose When Criteria Scoring Removes All Options

While most companies will find a good CRM using the selection criteria we have outlined in this series, there is no such thing as the perfect CRMs for a company. There will always be something missing that you or your teams wish they had. As integrated and all encompassing as these systems are becoming, they inevitably aim to address as wide of an audience as possible. Some smaller CRMs that focus on niches provide the most ideal situation if you can find one that matches your business. However, those are often the most difficult platforms to integrate with other tools as/when needed so make sure they truly cover your requests. Regardless, a variety of opposing team requirements may seem to remove any one leading CRM solution during your research. In that case, we outline how you address potential conflicts by analyzing the overall value to the organization and the restrictions any final decisions may create.


While nearly every CRM offers advanced automation and integration, there is always an exception or some aspect of the tool that you wish you had. A particular CRM may look perfect and sound right in discussions with the CRM sales team. However, when you or your team perform the required evaluation of the CRM during a demo, you may find that it does not meet your needs and end up removing the system from your list of potential options.

If a CRM product cannot adjust to multiple deployment models / processes and is unable to make more comprehensive changes along with the growing needs of the organization, then the product is not sustainable. Therefore, make sure that your CRM products meets your current and likely future state of IT infrastructure, business processes, customer needs, etc. If an existing system needs to be integrated into the CRM, make sure you address that in your research. Not everything integrates well with all CRMs so you may need to find an alternative solution in some cases. Plan your integration needs in advance to avoid wasted time, money, and resources during the implementation. When you run into a potential issue, assess the situation based on the following criteria to ensure the solution is the most beneficial to the organization as a whole.

Focus Success on Revenue Potential and Opportunity Costs

It would be easy to assume you can apply a score to each area of the business need and CRM implementation but there’s a chance that the scoring model is biased towards one team or a specific request. So instead of focusing on team requirements based on who is yelling about it the loudest, start at the impact to revenue. Assess the real impact to net growth that each team’s focus area provides. Assess those requirements on benefits and potential opportunity costs such as time savings for the team through automating processes and additional team members that may be required with the expanded technology stack.

revenue potential and opportunity costs


Revenue potential is the most crucial consideration and yet the trickiest one to forecast because the actual benefits will be based on previously untested process improvements. Use online research that analyzes the uplift of CRM improvements or implementations to support your decision making process. Narrow in on research that applies to a similar businesses model to your organization for the most accurate picture of potential return on investment. Multiply those results along with estimated continued growth over a variety of years to get the full picture of the benefits of switching to the new system, then address the costs that you have analyzed during the research.


As the business grows with this new CRM implementation, the cost of add ons and integrations to supply and meet those changing requirements is also important to calculate against the revenue benefits identified. These costs can easily add up and you wouldn’t want them overtaking any uplifts in returns. Failing to get an accurate estimate of the project’s implementation duration can also create additional opportunity costs adding negative impacts on your revenue potential. The bottomline is to map the value of everything to see the big picture before you begin the process. Value mapping will ensure you can control the associated costs ahead of time. Once you determine all possible and potentially hidden costs of each stage of the project and potential integrations, the leadership team can better assess the value of your team’s requests and any potential workarounds if something they need isn’t inherent in the chosen system.


Identify Integrations to Overcome Barriers

There are several main aspects of the business where your CRM tools have a large impact: marketing, sales, and customer support. Your CRM tools may be advanced with all the right features built to address these team’s intended outcomes, but each group deals with unique processes and activities that may also be carried out in a variety of external platforms to ensure success. Those systems are ideally connected directly to the CRM to automate the processes of executing the job completely and efficiently. However, every integration is likely to come with additional costs which should be addressed against the option to chose another CRM which may include the process inherently. Ideally, the integration is expansive enough to connect multiple dedicated platforms such as a marketing automation tool or customer service ticketing system. Additionally, each tool and integration may require a dedicated manager so that you can fully optimize not just your tools but your business’s capabilities between systems. 


The goal is to find solutions that match all your required platforms to address a multitude of business needs. Aligning these tools with your business goals while allowing for extended integrations means you do not have to be limited to one software solution. Research integrations that solve a variety of team requirements without adding too much complexity or cost. Working with your implementation partner to identify beneficial workarounds through integrations widens your CRM selection options. Because most CRMs can be limited in building out fully automated omnichannel marketing as an example, you might want to work with more sophisticated technologies dedicated to solving those issues which are built to connect to your CRM. 


Marketing automation products like HubSpot, Marketo and InfusionSoft are integrating with GoToWebinar and other video platforms to better reach customers in the current environment. Many sales force automation applications, such as those above and from Salesforce.com, SugarCRM enable companies to accelerate leads from marketing activities into the proper sales processes with ease. None of these systems addresses all the possible benefits of new technologies without connecting to other systems which is why they maintain their API and webhooks that allow for these forms of automated connectivity and activation. By addressing missing areas of importance within the most effective CRM through integrations, you can maintain a significant list of CRM options that address all your team requirements and end up with the most cost effective and beneficial system for your organization.


Understand Long Term Impacts of Your CRM Choice

The final step in addressing the best CRM option when other selection criteria are removing too many options is to address the long term viability of the system. By analyzing if the system being reviewed could provide the intended result with an integration, you would next need to make sure the tools are likely to last the test of time. Between the unknown changes to your organization, rapidly developing technology, and changes in team leadership over time, the system needs to be able to address a multitude of optimizations possibilities with as few limits as possible. Will the current setup be able to grow with the company or are you already running into data limits or API integration issues due to limits on the CRM or external systems. 

crm software


If you don’t plan on being with the final selected system for quite a long time, then the investment would be wasted. Therefore, long term viability should be a primary concern and the main CRM List cutting factor. You can expect that the long term impacts of a customer relationship management system implementation will be an increase in sales, rise in customer loyalty, and workforce optimization. However, with unprecedented and challenging times, comes unforeseen threats and obstacles that could negatively impact the business without an agile CRM that evolves with the company. 


Taking into account the initial upfront costs of a Customer Relationship Management System implementation, most companies seem to experience low to moderate increases in cost. However, some CMO's report that the initial costs were only a small percentage of the overall total costs of the implementation. Since it’s difficult to nail down the full cost of a new CRM implementation and the ongoing costs after rollout, making sure your teams adopt the new system entirely and maximize its benefits to the company for the life of the program is vital. With proper training, you can ensure long term success regardless of the system being implemented to ensure a higher likelihood of success with your new CRM. 

Third Party Independent Support in Deciding the Right CRM

Since there are no perfect CRM systems for every use case, your team may still be addressing potential issues at any of the phases outlined in this series. If you are looking for a free consultation to support your final discussions or looking for a full implementation partner, we are happy to help. Reach out to get connected with a CRM specialist for a professional set of  recommendations or get started with a professional team that can do all the work leading your team to a successful implementation.


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