Choosing a Valuable CRM Business Relationship Partner
Whether you are upgrading to a new CRM system or need some help upgrading the one you have to better serve the business growth you anticipate, the right CRM partner will make the difference between mediocre and transformative results.
Good leaders know that a large part of wisdom is knowing their limitations and asking for additional perspectives from those who have experience and expertise they don’t. They also know that not all consultants will function well as strategic partners. It’s up to them to choose wisely.
It’s important to put as much care into choosing your CRM partner as you would choosing a financial advisor. You won’t need them every day or even every week, but when you need them, you need them. And they’d better be someone you can trust because too much is at stake if you haven’t chosen wisely.
How do you choose wisely from the field of consultants who want to sell you their business? How do you know who will make a trusted CRM advisor for the long run?
When you’re making the determination, examine four factors: Knowledge, experience, dependability, and compatibility.
4 Factors for Choosing Your CRM Partner Wisely
The knowledge factor
Of course, you’ll want to choose someone with deep knowledge of the solutions they sell and support. But that’s only part of the equation. Always find out whether their knowledge extends to principles of business development, marketing, business analysis, and systems.
- Do they have experience working with small and mid-sized entrepreneurial-minded businesses?
- Do they have business analyst skills for helping with requirements management?
- Can they leverage critical thinking and system thinking skills?
- Do they readily share and help clients with knowledge transfer?
- Do they have experience implementing CRM in different organizations?
For one thing, this background will give them a faster track to understanding your business needs. But it’s also critical because while software choices do matter, an effective CRM is about so much more. Success will fall short if it doesn’t include all the pieces of the whole of customer-centric business philosophy and culture, with the software integrated as key infrastructure.
Tip: If an otherwise knowledgeable consultant answers “I don’t know” to a question you have, do not write them off. Actually, that should be a point in their favor, because it’s evidence that they, too, possess the wisdom I described at the beginning of this article to know what they don’t know. But they should be willing to find the answer and coach you on finding answers in the future.
The experience factor
In the tech industry, it is often wrongly assumed that being at the forefront of innovation trumps years of experience. This bias toward tech wunderkinds is short-sighted for multiple reasons. First, it is faulty reasoning to think that the young have the lock on technology acumen. Second, technical skills alone will not make a successful CRM implementation or provide beneficial ongoing support – see the knowledge factor above. Third, experience brings a wealth of wisdom about people and processes that are essential to change management. With experience comes an increased ability to see how things relate and creatively solve problems. Read more about business issues solved with CRM
Tip: Ask who else they have worked with and what success those organizations experienced as a result.
The dependability factor
A valuable CRM partner will be responsive and there when you need them.
"Out of the five consultants we left a message for,
Success with CRM was the only one that called us back promptly" -
Midwestern Business Development Organization, Director
You don't want to make a commitment to work with someone who doesn't answer your calls. You also don’t want to choose someone who nickels and dimes you for every call or email. A trustworthy CRM partner will prioritize your best interests rather than fostering the type of dependence that keeps an organization on the hook for more fee-based services. When you have questions or a problem to solve, we work to find a solution with you as quickly and painlessly as possible. At the same time, one of our goals is the transfer of knowledge, because we understand that developing skills within the organization leads to more efficiency and independent strength.
Tip: Solutions and consultants vary in the amounts of service included in components of the fees. Be sure to ask specific questions regarding speed and types of support.
The compatibility factor
Managing change successfully, whether it’s new software or something else, requires emotional intelligence, communication skills, and an alignment with the organization’s leadership and culture. Look for a CRM consultant who approaches collaborating with you as a partnership rather than simply a project to complete.
- Will this CRM partner relate well with all the members of your team, from decision-makers in the C-suite to front-line users in customer service?
- Do they listen well and ask probing questions?
- Do they prioritize your best results and even assist you in clarifying how you will identify and measure best-case outcomes? If not, you might want to keep looking.
Tip: Ask diverse members of your team to be involved in interviews with potential CRM partners and to make notes about the tone and clarity of their interactions. Gather this feedback and assess the overall sense of what it would be like to collaborate with this firm before making a final decision.
Our goal is to establish a relationship with our clients in which we serve as trusted advisors helping to deliver the desired outcomes, and they are the heroes of their own business stories.