Investing in the correct CRM vendor is crucial for any business; Andrew Ardron, Managing Director, ProspectSoft reveals his top tips to make sure that decision makers are taking the right action towards securing the best CRM solution for the business.

1. Be Upfront About Business Challenges and Objectives

Before starting to look at potential vendors it’s important that the wider business challenges and objectives are identified. Indicating the key business objectives is important for the CRM system’s success. For example, if one objective was to increase sales by 50%, an organisation would need to understand how each potential vendor was going to help the business achieve this.

If those challenges and objectives can be described to a potential vendor they will have no choice but to work harder, and advise on the best solution within budget taking into consideration the wider business objectives.

2. Understand Your Business Processes

 Not all businesses have the same requirements, therefore there is no one-size-fits-all CRM solution. The best way to assess if a vendor is the right fit? Make sure the CRM system broadly covers all the areas of functionality that are seen as important to the business.

Consider things such as offline accessibility, language and currency options (if the organisation has international operations), data quality and within this, the ability to identify duplicates. Following that, a chosen specific scenario or objective can then be discussed in detail to ensure the vendor is flexible enough for the system to be customised.

Customisation is a key component when it comes to choosing a vendor; a business has to understand how compatible a solution can be with their organisation.

3. If a Free Trial Is Available, Take It!

 Signing up to a free trial is a great starting point ahead of a demo, and also gives an indication of the level of service support available. More importantly it’s free!

Don’t shy away from asking for help from the vendor at any point during the trial. Even if after a free trial it’s decided that the vendor isn’t right, if all the right questions have been asked it won’t have been a waste of time.

A free trial is the perfect time deepen your understanding of what to expect, therefore the requirements can be fine-tuned before moving into the demo phase.

4. Utilise the Demo

 Once you’ve found a vendor that you feel comfortable with it’s time for the demo. The demo provides the perfect opportunity to get an overall feel of a CRM system with all the help of a vendor’s expertise.

The demo may only just scratch the surface of the CRM solution’s capabilities especially when it comes to customisation and flexibility, but it will still allow a business to gain a deeper understanding of functionality and will help to better understand the business requirements.

Briefing the vendor to focus the demo on a particular scenario provides organisations with the opportunity to then return to the free-trial afterwards, using this particular scenario and company data to ascertain a deeper insight into its potential.

5. Write Clear and Concise Requirements Documents

More often than not, most businesses will have attempted to create the requirements document long before choosing potential vendors. Whilst this is great for larger organisations that have a CRM project manager on board, most SMEs will have a decision maker who isn’t first and foremost a CRM expert. In those cases, it is best to utilise the vendor’s expertise and wait until after the demo phase. When compiling the document the trick is to not focus too heavily on every last detail.

The danger of writing a detailed specification before engaging with potential suppliers can lead to setting an expectation that’s too low. If a business has worked closely with a vendor during the demo phase and that vendor has listened to all of the business objectives outlined at the start, a requirements document should be redundant.

Essentially, perfection takes time! Making the most of all the tools available in the beginning including free trials, demos and the vendor’s extensive knowledge will ensure that the resulting CRM solution will be of benefit to the business.

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