Customer relationship management, also known as CRM, is regarded by many business experts as an essential element in any company operating today. As an entrepreneur, using CRM helps you build a long-lasting relationship with your customers which influences their behaviour towards your firm.
Naturally, a customer with a strong relationship would spend more, while those with little to no interactions with your enterprise aren’t likely to do business with your company again. That’s precisely why professionals advise business owners to implement a CRM solution as soon as possible, so as not to miss out on its benefits. But for that, you’ll need to seek the help of CRM vendors first.
Alas, there are thousands of CRM vendors on the market and they offer a plethora of features that may make the selection process very difficult. You need not worry though. If you want to implement a CRM system properly soon, you must find the right vendor to partner with to achieve your objectives. The following considerations might help you in your search. Read on.
1. CRM Pricing Plan Packages And Offerings
As you may imagine, the pricing of various CRM vendors varies according to several factors. But for your reference, CRM solutions may cost around USD$50 per month subscription on each user on average. This would equate to a total cost of approximately a few thousand dollars for small and medium-sized enterprises. The price tag can easily go the hundreds of thousands for big multinational corporations.
It may cost a bit of money, but certain vendors have relatively affordable offerings despite the superiority of their systems. Hence, it’s advisable to always take the pricing into consideration. Since you probably would end up ultimately comparing the pricing for each CRM vendor, this CRM Comparison Chart 2022 and other available references might be able to make things easier for you. A handful may offer discounted packages to their CRM products if you can negotiate your way through them.
Also, take note that there are two types of plans: (1) subscription-based and (2) one-time payment. The first option is what the previous example is based on, yet certain vendors would ask for a one-time payment and you get to keep their CRM solutions indefinitely as exchange. Of course, you may have to update the system regularly, but these patches or updates usually come free of charge.
2. Deployment Type
One of the most important considerations when selecting a CRM vendor is their software’s deployment type. Here’s a closer look at the two deployment types for CRM systems.
- On-Premise CRM
On-premise CRM is when you deploy the system within your company’s own server. In short, the software is installed locally. With this deployment type, the software typically has more solid security, since unlike the other type of deployment, the system isn’t exposed to the Internet, which is arguably the most vulnerable platform there is.
- Cloud CRM
If you don’t want to have a huge server sitting in your main office, your other option would be to deploy the CRM on the cloud. Since it’s based on the web, there’s no need to install any hardware. Its main advantage is the fact that you can practically access the information you need from the system without having to be anywhere near the server with the help of an Internet connection.
Though cyberattacks may be eminent, many CRM providers offer security features and timely updates on top of their services to give their customers peace of mind.
3. Features And Functionalities
People often limit CRM solutions to certain functionalities, but a CRM system can do much more than collate and organize customer contact information with the right features.
With that said, here are a few features you should look for when selecting a CRM solution:
- Workflow automation;
- Employee tracking;
- Social media linkages and management;
- Leads management; and
- Email management.
It’ll also help if you look for a CRM vendor that allows you to choose which features or functionalities to include in the package so that you can customize and make the most out of the solution you’ll avail.
Be warned though. You shouldn’t automatically opt for CRM offerings with a lot of features since it often makes things harder for your employees to get used to a system packed with too much fancy yet unusable specifications. Quality is more important than quantity.
4. Learning Curve
They may be powerful, but CRM solutions deployment still requires human intervention for operations. Unfortunately, it’s said that the majority of workers have a hard time trying to grapple with the workings of many CRM software programs in the market. This may lead to human errors and the like. In these cases, you won’t be getting anything out of your investment.
Therefore, you must also consider the learning curve that comes with the CRM tool you’ll end up choosing. Make sure you can easily configure and manage it so your team can easily understand it. If that’s not possible, you should at least ensure that there are available online tutorials or guides somewhere on the vendor’s website you can use so that your employees can learn how to operate the said system.
5. Security Infrastructure
Since it’ll be most likely going to serve as a treasure trove that contains valuable pieces of information, your CRM system must have relatively strong security. That way, hackers are less likely to infiltrate the system and steal priceless personal data of clients.
In the worst-case scenario, your efforts to build a strong relationship would be all for naught as your company’s reputation would probably be on the red once your customers find out their information was hijacked by malevolent agents.
With a secure CRM system, however, you can more easily protect your business, employees, and, most importantly, customers’ best interests from both internal and external threats.
Since you’re most likely going to integrate the CRM software with your existing tools and programs, it’d be best if you choose a solution that’s highly compatible with the following business tools:
- Accounts software;
- Asset management systems;
- Billing software;
- Database systems;
- Desktop publishing programs;
- Payroll software; and
- Word processing programs.
7. Vendor Track Record
It’s said that allotting company resources for a CRM solution should work hand-in-hand with other aspects of business operations like advertising and marketing and others.
While most CRM systems have similar infrastructures, not all of them are the same. This is particularly true if you compare the CRM system of two businesses in two different industries.
For example, the CRM software of a healthcare company may carry similarities with the CRM system of a real estate agency, but they’re ultimately two different systems.
So, what does this have to do with selecting a CRM vendor?
For starters, since CRM systems from different industries vary in functionality and features, you want a company that has experience working with businesses in your industry. So, if you’re operating an online commerce website, for example, it might be best to look for vendors with a track record of working with companies similar to yours. That way, you might get your hands on a CRM system that’s most likely built specifically for your business needs from the get-go.
Due to the countless testaments to the potential benefits of CRM products, many people are said to take the selection process of CRM lightly and think that just about any vendor would do.
But in reality, not all CRM solutions can bring value to your company. Some are decent, while others are outright impractical. Hence, if you want to make the most out of your investment, it’s crucial that you take the selection seriously. The above-mentioned seven considerations are the key to doing that.