The business world is changing rapidly and today’s businesses must have the right tools to be competitive and not only maintain their level of profitability but also to meet their growth goals. Today’s customers are much more demanding and independent than in the past during their purchase cycle. It is therefore important for companies that woo them to be well aware of their expectations and needs to provide them with information and service offers at the right time.
That’s why companies of all sizes have a good CRM to help them better manage their customer relationships and track potential opportunities. Past tools such as Excel files are no longer enough.
CRM platforms have existed for a long time. Today’s platforms have been simplified and offer a selection of tool suites that are designed for small and medium-sized businesses.
Where to start?
Here are a few tips to start your search to either replace your CRM that does not meet your needs, or because you want to have a system to help your sales and marketing team grow their business and performance. When a company decides to invest in a CRM, the project will be more successful if it involves the key people in the management, sales and marketing department who will be using the system and help realize its value.
Investing in the right CRM can increase productivity, reduce operating costs, increase user efficiency and increase revenues. But with so many options available today, a company must also have clear selection criteria in order to make the right decision and choose the CRM that best suits its business needs.
How to evaluate these products and where to start?
To help you determine your goals, ask yourself these few questions: What do you want to accomplish?
- View your sales and business projections?
- Maintain a history of your customers, prospects, opportunities and conversations?
- Evolve your operations to increase productivity?
- Increase customer communications to increase your sales?
CRMs have a multitude of features and before you get started, you need to make a list of the essential elements that will help you to meet your goals.
Costs: What are the annual costs of a CRM? What are the costs related to growth? Even if a CRM meets your business needs today, you may have other needs in 1 year, or 5 years. A CRM must continue to evolve in parallel with your business. Look for a supplier that will be a long-term partner.
Cloud vs. On-premise: Today’s cloud-based monthly subscription models and usage pricing have made several CRM solutions more accessible and affordable. The advantage of a virtual access is about not needing new hardware or system support by your IT team. If you choose a cloud-based solution, make sure you know the network-level requirements for optimal use.
Find out where the Cloud CRM provider data centers are located. If your business is in Canada, it would be beneficial for your data to be stored there as well. If the data is stored elsewhere, check if there are any problems with data residing in countries that have laws or policies that may not meet your security needs.
Implementation: How long does the implementation of a CRM take?
Integration: Is it possible to integrate the CRM with tools already being used in the company?
Scalability: Can the CRM keep pace with your business?
Permissions / Roles: The CRM must offer permission capabilities by hierarchy. Look for a CRM that allows you to assign visibility to data to individuals, teams, superiors, divisions, etc.
Data Storage: The capacity and storage requirements for your organization must be part of the selection process. You will need to look at details such as the maximum file size for documents and images you want to save, the maximum number of documents, and the number of custom fields you can create, for example.
Security, archiving and data restoration: The contract must specify who is responsible for the security, archiving and restoration of data in case of loss or disaster. For cloud-based CRM services, these responsibilities are typically handled by the service provider because it hosts the application and data on its own servers.
In the next blog, I will continue to talk about the list of CRM elements required for management in order to meet their needs.
Andree Des Lauriers