If you’re a growing business preparing to purchase your first CRM, choosing the one that is right for you can be a daunting process. With so many alternatives out there, it’s challenging just figuring out where to begin let alone trying to determine which one best meets your needs.
Here at Prialto, we’ve helped dozens of startup clients through the CRM selection and adoption process and have narrowed it down into a list of easy-to-follow steps.
Here are our best practices for how to choose a CRM.
Start by Determining What Features You Need
The first step in choosing a CRM is determining what results you hope to attain from it. Before you start thinking about specifics, decide if you just need to track general sales data or if you want special features that are specific to your industry.
If the former applies, you can consider any CRM that's designed for multiple industries. If the second refers to you, search for CRMs created specifically for your field.
Next, make a list of must-have features such as:
- Integrations with other tools you use
- Ability to produce certain kinds of reports
- Number of employees who can access it (this may affect price)
- Offline access
- Email marketing capabilities
- Mobile app
- Call center automation
- Support automation
- Performance tracking
- Alerts for important changes
- AI insights
Next make a list of 5-10 CRMs that have those features and contain many case studies, customer reviews and other forms of social proof on their site.
3 Factors that Make a CRM Easy to Adopt
Once you have a list of CRMs that meet your baseline requirements, it’s time to evaluate their usability. One of the most overwhelming parts of shopping for a CRM is that they all seem complicated. To find the easiest-to-adopt CRM, consider these three factors:
- Do they assign you an account manager who will support you, at the minimum, through the adoption process? An account manager will do a lot of the heavy lifting involved in setting up your CRM correctly and teaching your team how to use it. Be wary of purchasing from a company that doesn’t offer you one.
- How helpful is their customer support? Throughout your decision-making process, ask difficult questions and note how fast and useful their responses are. The quality of customer support makes a huge difference in the ease that you’re able to troubleshoot issues and should be a major decision-making factor.
- How robust and user-friendly is their documentation? Some of your employees may want to gain an in-depth understanding of the CRM so that they can leverage it better and solve their own problems. Do the resources exist to enable them to do that and how good are they? Don’t consider CRMs that have minimal training docs and/or whose resources are difficult to understand.
For more information about how to successfully adopt a CRM, check out this article: How to Successfully Implement New Workplace Technologies
How Much Should You Spend on Your CRM?
Once you’ve narrowed down your list based on those factors, finalize how much cash you want to invest in it. Most CRMs have a tiered pricing structure, often with three tiers, that offer flat monthly rates for specific quantities of features. You should choose your plan based on three factors:
- Which one contains all of your must-have features plus the highest number of desirable - but not necessary - ones. Carefully consider what features you need your CRM to have for it to be functional versus which ones would be nice to have but don’t offer enough value to justify the cost of moving up a price tier.
- Your expected ROI from purchasing a CRM. You can estimate this by thinking about how much your team will use it. For example, if you have a small sales team and are just getting a CRM to help them keep their pipeline organized, you should consider saving money and purchasing a lower tier. However, if you have a large or growing sales team and want to leverage a CRM for advanced sales analytics, you may need the sophisticated features found in top-tier plans.
- Which one your team prefers. Ultimately, the success of your CRM implementation depends on your team's buy-in. Show your team the plan options for your top two to three CRMs and ask for their opinion. Some of them may feel strongly about one or two options. Let them make their case and take their feedback seriously as you move toward your final decision.
After you’ve evaluated those factors, choose the CRM that meets all of your criteria for the lowest cost.
Keep in mind: Despite all of the benefits that CRMs offer, one of the major downsides is that they require a significant time investment learn how to use them and to keep them up-to-date.
If your sales team is being slowed down by their lack of understanding of how to use the CRM and/or having to constantly input data, consider hiring a virtual sales assistant.
When you hire one through a managed service like ours, we’ll provide you with a dedicated assistant who will keep your CRM up-to-date so you can yield all the benefits without having to invest a lot of time.
Plus, since we sell our service in units of 55 hours per month, your assistant will have plenty of time to reach out to prospects, schedule meetings, manage expenses and take care of other sales support tasks on your behalf.
About the Author: Emily formerly led Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.