Part I: 10 questions companies should ask before choosing a CRM

By selecting and implementing several CRM systems for companies over the years, I’ve learned quite a bit along the way. My intention with this series is not to promote or recommend any specific CRM system, but simply to lay out what I feel are the logical questions, steps and tips that I hope will make your CRM selection and implementation successful.

As is not likely a surprise, many of these steps were learned the hard way!

Take a minute and answer the ten questions in the list below, and share them with the relevant people in your organisation. You may be suprised with the conversation that is generated.

10 Important Questions

1. Which parts of the business are set to use the CRM? Is it just sales and marketing, or will support staff be using the CRM to manage support and customer service requests and bug fixes?

2. Does the business use (or has it ever used) a CRM system?

3. (a) If yes: why is the business looking to change the CRM system, or, why did the business stop using the CRM system?

3. (b) If no: what/who has the identified the requirement for a CRM system?

4. Do you have budget for a CRM system? What is your maximum yearly budget for license fees, and what maximum budget can you allocate to ongoing CRM customisation, support and staff training?

5. Are you just looking to do email marketing? Did you know there are web-based applications out that that will store your email addresses and allow you to create, send and track email campaigns? Most of them will also upload a HTML template with your graphics/branding, and will easily send out a polished, professional campaign. They are cheap and effective.

6. Do you have data? What is the state of your data? Is it good enough to market to? If you don’t yet have any data but know that you are soon to have a large universe of it (as is often the case when you purchase a large contact list) then you’re probably not yet at the stage of setting up marketing campaigns quite yet and may not yet need a CRM. If you do have data living in another CRM system, do you have the technical resource required to do the migration to the new CRM?

7. Do you have the resources/inclination to host your CRM system internally, or should you be looking at a hosted CRM system? If you’ve got the infrastructure, support and time to deploy your CRM in-house, this is a popular option. If you don’t, you should be exploring hosted CRM systems.

8. Are there data privacy issues that may come to light when you consider storing and accessing customer contact and historical data in your CRM? This becomes more crucial when considering a hosted CRM where the hosting service provider stores your customer CRM records (particularly if the provider is a company in a different country).

9. Do you need your CRM to “sync” with other systems such as Outlook so that you can add contacts to the CRM in this way (and from the CRM to Outlook?) Very few CRM’s do this sort of synchronisation well. Do your research, and ask to see a real working demo of synchronisation in any CRM you’re considering.

10. Do you need to access the CRM from mobile devices (which likely vary across your team, so consider iPhones, Blackberries and Android phones)? Check out and test popular CRM mobile apps.

Published by Jennifer Reid

Technology marketing specialist focussed on digital marketing, social media marketing, SEO and writing for the web.

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