Previously we have discussed How to choose CRM software - starting point guidelines and a road map in getting started in your CRM discovery journey, The following article expands on this topic from our friend at Infor: Erik Tavenner, Solutions Consultant.
Benjamin Franklin, the father of time management, once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” In that spirit, you need to consider planning as a critical element to your CRM evaluation.
It is important to do your diligence and see what the industry is saying about the competitive landscape. It is rarely the deciding factor, but can be a great launching point to narrowing down a short list.
- Ask who the leaders are in the market?
- Find third-party research resources available with CRM vendor evaluations
- Decide if you are looking for a vertical Niche solution or the most ubiquitous easy to use solution
Choose your project team, be nimble and remain open to change.
- Who is on the CRM project team and why did you choose them. Identify the role you expect them to play.
- Who owns what part of the evaluation? From choosing vendors to the final sign off.
- What is the deadline and what is the compelling reason driving the deadline? Examples:
- Defined budget cycle
- Light period of activity in your business
- Perform your own internal needs assessment
- Estimate cost associated to identified needs
The most successful CRM deployments acknowledge this is an enterprise wide strategy including:
- Customer Service
- Executive Leadership
- Administrative and Office Support
It is important that each group have their own needs assessment performed to determine where there are parallels in the requirements and requests.
CRM vendor landscape:
The end goal of all software vendors, is to sell you software, some vendors are better at listening than others. Some vendors are well-oiled sales machines that focus on closing you. Winning is good for them but maybe not good for you.
So how do I control the vendors during your CRM evaluation and get what I want as a customer?
- Provide a list of requirements that you collected (assume there are gaps)
- Identify a decision itinerary of steps required to make a decision
- Set a time frame that is aligned to your business needs – don’t let a vendor drive the decision timeline
- Establish a demonstration agenda – have an understanding of what features and functions you want to see
- Distribute the agenda to all the vendors that you are considering and tell them this is the agenda you expect them to cover in the demonstration
- Create a score card that you can easily mark up as you see each demonstration
Download Nucleus Research: Magic Quadrant Technology value matrix 2015
Scoring the demo:
It is recommended that you score your CRM evaluation based on these four areas:
- How did they score in the scorecard against the demo agenda? Did they cover everything you expected to see?
- Did they meet your requirements?
- Were they believable? Use a rating scale – is what they showed you realistic or “smoke and mirrors”?
- Can you see yourself / your team using this tool every day?
Shiny objects can be distracting:
So why be so structured and hyper organized? For a variety of reasons. But one of the main reasons is, so that you don’t get distracted from the topic at hand; which is to solve your business needs, not the vendors.
The first questions I ask my clients are; Why am I here? What do you think CRM is going to do for your business? And I proceed to listen, learn and then reflect those items in my presentation. On the other hand, some CRM vendors are very excited about their bright shiny features and are all too willing to show you what they have that has benefited other clients. There is a time and place for that, but first things first, fix my problems, should be your approach.
If you took your car to a repair center for new tires and an oil change and the guy at the shop was busy selling you a new paint job, because the last customer got one, is that addressing your need?
Stick to your script – fix my business problem, then tell me about the “cool” stuff later. Some clients lose track of that, and get excited about shiny features that are not addressing their core issues.
- Choose carefully – the most highly recommended candidate is not always the best fit
- Never lead with price – choose the best option for the right reasons
- The wrong choice is expensive – re-hire is costly and sets you back
- Consider the CRM implementation partnerwho can work best within your organization
If you choose correctly, it will be a game changer – and add right to your bottom line.
History tends to repeats itself:
I have found the companies that are the most structured in their CRM evaluation tend to make a well-informed decision. They also, often carry this orderly diligence into the CRM deployment project and therefore tend to be successful.
They know what they wanted, they got it, now deploy it and use it.
Once you have chosen your vendor, here is a related article to help you win user adoption.
Sales development - clarity improved with Smarter CRM