October 9, 2020

How to Select the Right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tool (Part 1)

Selecting the right customer relationship management (CRM) tool and rolling out a successful company-wide implementation requires several vital considerations at each stage of the process. This series of blogs first looks into the main signs that suggest your current CRM system, or lack thereof, is no longer working for you and that it’s time to make a switch. These blogs will also cover how to research the right CRM system to determine if the features and functionalities presented match your current and future needs. The next sections explore ways to optimize and maximize your potential through procedure automation and digitization. We’ll go into detail surrounding what you need to do to ensure a successful CRM Team adoption so that you can align all your strategies, and goals, with your tools and assets altogether, guaranteeing long term successes. 

 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software helps your business grow by creating a centralized, automated process execution tool to address customer facing operations. To help your business scale and improve with the right CRM software, we’ve made this guide on the practice and selection criteria for a successful CRM selection and implementation. We address how to analyze your unique business requirements to outline the search techniques that will narrow initial choices.

What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

Customer Relationship Management refers to a technological approach of managing customers and prospects to create and establish relationships through a more organized and efficient process. Most software solutions are now built to seamlessly manage or integrate with every practice your organization engages in; sales, marketing, accounting, and more. They play a vital role in helping you analyze and improve every aspect of your business. 

When is the Right Time to Select or Switch to a New CRM?

Companies commonly overlook their outdated systems because it's easier to stick to what’s already working. Many businesses fall behind on improving processes with technological advancements. The outcome of complacency can lead to failure as new innovative competitors outperform and drive your organization out of the market. Given the nature of technology today, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is that your systems are adapted and optimized to maximize the customer experience. Your CRM system is at the heart of nearly every customer interaction with your business and has become a vital business resource. 

Selecting a CRM for Your Business

So how do you know when it’s time to switch to a new CRM or get started with one if your organization is still keeping track of potential customers in excel sheets? If it’s difficult to get the insights you need in your organization, if your customers are becoming frustrated from a lack of service, or you feel like the business hasn’t progressed in a few years you need to take a look at your CRM, organizational structure, and processes! 

Lack of Customization, Capabilities, and Functionalities

Greater flexibility in customizing business procedures with tools that offer bespoke solutions may be what your organization needs for an instant upgrade. Finding a CRM that caters to your specific needs and gets you everything in one place is ideal but there is rarely a perfect match. Constantly using external applications because your current CRM does not meet the desired functionality and performance it promises increases costs and complexity. 


Lack of customization may mean limitations in automating tasks and notifications. Having limited control over automated tasking and notifications could prevent your team from engaging with the customer when and how they need to close the deal. With the complexity of workload, data management, and deals, it may be tempting for your team to use less of the CRM and seek other solutions if automation to speed up workflow is not available. Make sure the CRM your organization chooses helps optimize your processes. That way your teams can manage things more effectively and in one place.

Data Inaccuracy, Inconsistent Reporting, and Lack of Insights

Inaccurate and inconsistent data will only lead to frustration, further errors in business decision making and planning, and can even harm customer relationships when it results in unreliable delivery and poor performance from your team. If your system requires constant manual or duplicate data entry it’s going to be prone to errors and inaccuracies. These issues inevitably lead to higher costs with little benefit to the organization or consumers. 


If you are struggling to gather the insights into your own organization, considering a new CRM and improving data governance measures may be vital to solve the issue. Automating your CRM can help manage and report on clean, organized data to improve company effectiveness. However, regular auditing and strong data governance processes will also need to be addressed to ensure the automation isn’t creating issues of its own. 

CRM Integration Failures

Failure to integrate and automate the disparate systems and processes in your organization leads to manual workarounds, inefficient procedures, additional costs, and delays which contribute negatively to the overall business performance. Additionally, if the systems aren’t secured properly, a vulnerability in an external system may allow hackers access to personal identifiable information of your customers. The higher the number of connections between systems built by different organizations, the more you increase your company’s risk. 


These obstacles will ultimately impact your ability to address customer needs effectively. Greater customer satisfaction should be the primary goal that a CRM addresses through internal improvements that enable that outcome. All systems have to be vetted to ensure they will work in unison to provide the intended outcome.

Why We Don’t Recommend a Specific CRM

A CRM system in this digital age is vital for every organization but we don’t recommend a specific one. Every organization has a unique and varied set of processes and requirements that need to be analyzed before a bespoke solution can be recommended. We take a detailed and in-depth look at the entire organization’s operations, goals, and capabilities to ensure the right fit for each company. A CRM system is merely a vessel for you to effectively implement your business strategies. This means that the CRM software tool that you are researching may have an impressive set of features and functionalities but doesn’t necessarily address your specific business needs. 

So Many CRM Choices to Choose From


To get started, focus on building a detailed defined process map with all stakeholders and team members. Visualizing the entire customer journey and your workflow will help you define system requirements and ensure your CRM choice is the right one. A recent study by Gartner Group, research and advisory firm, showed that 55% of CRM projects fail due to set up execution issues, mainly because it was never the right fit. Several other factors can contribute to the failure of a CRM implementation which is why we would not endorse a tool as complex as a CRM software system without in depth analysis of the goals for your transition. 


As a business grows, strategies and the vision of the company may change as well. You may need to adjust your CRM to realign your technology with your intended outcomes. That means there is no perfect CRM system and businesses have to constantly stay flexible and agile to establish long term success as they adapt to changing technologies. 

Next Steps in Selecting the Right CRM

A CRM transition can be a tricky endeavor as the implementation process may require significant changes in your current procedures. Adapting to change isn’t always easy and isn’t always beneficial if the change isn’t well planned. Your organization will need a well thought out transition plan to ensure a smooth CRM roll out that can instantly bring your organization closer to achieving the goals. As we continue we will take a look at ways to minimize negative impacts to your team's workflow, maximizing the value of the new system, and automating to improve everyone’s work lives while exceeding KPIs. To accommodate these plans, we make sure the company is not bound by tools that could prevent us from building out a system that leads a business to its optimal potential. The goal is to essentially allow space for improvement and growth which is not answered by one specific CRM solution.


A successful CRM relies greatly on strategy which is why the next steps revolve around research and in-depth evaluation of both the CRM tools on the market and your specific company requirements to meet business needs. With meticulous research, you’ll identify which CRM features work for you the best and get a better understanding of setting up a good system so that you don’t focus too much on acquiring new technology and force adoption. In the next blog, we’ll focus on the steps needed for your research plan. We’ve detailed specific CRMS and their functionality focus, to get you better insights on exploring CRM opportunities, their features and benefits, their limitations, and their costs. You’ll also find our top picks in the next article along with how to determine your ROI and benefits gained. We’ll discuss all of these in the next phase to help you with your assessment to get you to narrow down to your best option.

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