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Five steps to buy a CRM solution for your business

Small Biz Resources | by Patricia Jones
Steps to buy CRM

Five steps to buy a CRM, learn the system with us. According to Gartner report, many failed CRM cases have occurred because the decision makers overlooked the initial steps of the CRM selection and implementation process.

The first step to buy CRM is to ensure that the business executives and business decision makers understand the CRM system and the core CRM setup.

  1. Understand the CRM Concept: There’s no point of investing in a CRM if you and your people have a vague understanding of this software tool. Remember once you are equipped with all the necessary information, it can be easy for you to test the knowledge base of the vendors. Let’s say, you can ask your vendor for a few functionalities and see if they can explain them in simple terms. If the vendor fails to provide a convincing explanation on the functionality of their CRM application- do not buy it.

The second step to buy CRM is to develop a thorough understanding of how your business works.

  1. Know your business: We make assumptions about how our business works; the gulf between those assumptions and reality can be dramatic. Executing a thorough mapping of how the business processes work is important. The best way to do this is to start with the processes that aren’t working. These processes will represent problems that your CRM solution should solve; or things that your employees can do better.

Note: Executing a process-mapping exercise can be difficult especially because no one wants to hear that a process he or she manages is broken or inefficient. To avoid any such situations of awkwardness in your organization, you can hire a third party consultant to carry out this step.

At the end of the mapping process, you should have a list of processes you need to improve. This guide will help you make a list of must-have features in the CRM application.

The third step to buy CRM is to choose the right people for the team.

  1. Think about the people who will be involved in selecting the CRM: Most often CRM selection is made without input from the people who use them. Do not follow the same strategy. Understand while the involvement of the executives and IT leaders is important, end user adoption holds greater significance. A detailed understanding of how the people work; their personal pain points, concerns, objectives, fears and suggested improvement areas can help in choosing the CRM application with the right fit.

Note: many companies involve a fraction of users to give their inputs in the CRM selection process. Doing this ensures that the company has a better understanding of what the users think is important, and later when the selection is made, there is a team of end users who can help accelerate adoption among their peers

The fourth step to buy CRM is to understand your regulatory realities.

  1. Understand the information system linkages that will meet the compliance requirements: HIPAA is important for health care industries. Similarly, Graham Leach Bliley is applicable for financial services and Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) requirements for public companies. Remember each regulatory body mandates specific ways in which data can be handled.

The fifth step to buy CRM is to consider the budgetary concerns.

  1. Frame an estimated budget: The ideal way to decide the budget is by first understanding the two different delivery models of the CRM – traditional on-premise vs. cloud CRM solutions.

Traditionally-delivered on-premise software: It requires users to own and maintain the technology infrastructure viz. servers, storage, disaster recovery and networking capabilities, plus personnel. On-premise CRM solution involves an initial cost along with an annual maintenance fee.

Cloud-based SaaS software: Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software distribution model in which the applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider. The application is made available to customers over a network, (typically the Internet). While there is no infrastructure cost, the software cost is applicable in a monthly subscription basis.

Note: earlier, the smaller, cash-constrained companies used the cloud while the larger companies with IT resources used on-premise. However, gradually, this division has blurred. Increasingly, large companies are employing cloud-based applications due to the several benefits that it poses such as shift of labor costs and hardware requirements to the vendor.

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