EASY AS C.R.M. – Startups, how to choose your CRM software

CRM Software

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What is CRM software? Do you need it? If you do need it, do you know why? What type do you need, and how do you go about choosing it?

That’s a lot of questions for an overworked startup CEO. So, let’s try to untangle this tricky knot, one step at a time.

Just what is CRM software?

You probably already know the answer to that – you wouldn’t be here otherwise, I guess. But let’s start at the beginning so we can all take the journey together.

When it comes to managing a streamlined and efficient sales process – one that delivers visible results time after time – CRM software might just be the most import weapon that you can have in your sales arsenal.

As a startup you probably can’t yet afford to surround yourself with the experts that your business really needs. However, a CRM can be the next best thing.

It can help you gather and manage your sales leads. It can oversee every stage of your sales process – communications, contact management, time management, lead conversion, tracking and managing your team’s performance, and analysing every step of the way while producing up-to-the-minute, plain reading, and fully actionable productivity reports.

It’s a lot of experts in one place.

But do you need CRM software?

  • If your sales process is not doing what you’d hoped it would – CRM software can be the answer.
  • If you’re a victim of your own success – with an ever-expanding stream of customers – and a danger that the loyal customers, who were with you from day one, are being left behind – CRM software can be the answer.
  • If you already have a manual CRM system, but it’s not proving its worth, it’s outdated, or it just doesn’t align with your company’s sales process – CRM software can be the answer.
  • If you can no longer manage or keep track of your customer data -CRM software can be the answer.
  • If your business is steadily growing, but you’re still afraid that some customers are falling through the cracks, and if you need the metrics and analytics to figure out why this is happening – CRM software can be the answer.
  • If you’re worried about the security of your sales data – CRM software can be the answer.
  • If you feel you need to be able to track every task and event happening in the sales pipeline – CRM software can be the answer.
  • In fact, if you want to manage your entire sales process, from sourcing leads, to closing deals (and creating a rich and interactive customer experience along the way). – CRM software can be the answer.

Where to begin?

Let’s start with this; no two companies are the same, every company experiences different problems which require unique solutions. And that’s where a quality, versatile CRM comes into play.

Before you get down to choosing CRM software, as a startup owner you need to ask yourself a lot of questions. You need to fully understand the problems you want to resolve, and you need an acute understanding of your company’s sales process. Only when you know the answers to these questions can you begin your search.

Here’s a quick check-list of questions:

  • What problems does your business face?
  • Do you have a distinct sales process in place?
  • How many stages has your sales process?
  • If you have an existing CRM will it be easy to migrate your data?
  • Will your sales team facilitate on-boarding the new CRM?
  • What is your CRM software budget?
  • Will there be technical issues that need to be addressed?
  • Would a new CRM guarantee your data security?
  • Is the software scalable to grow as your startup grows?

And remember, in the same way as no two companies are the same, no two CRMs are the same.

What type of CRM software is best for you?

That’s a big question.

First up, you need to know that there are two types of CRM software out there; hardware-based, or the cloud-based (SaaS) online option.

Hardware-based

This option:

  • Needs to be manually installed on location. For this you’re going to need a lot of technical know, in-house or contracted
  • Gives you a lot of control over the whole system and how it’s integrated with your present hardware
  • Hardware-based CRMs are not as mobile as their software counterparts
  • In case of technical issues you will need to employ technicians or outsource specialists

Software-based

This option:

  • No installation is required
  • As an SaaS solution everything is on-boarded remotely and automatically
  • Any technical issues are handled by the CRM provider
  • The software-based CRM is completely mobile with any available WiFi connection
  • It is perfect for highly-mobile sales teams
  • Gives sales teams the option of sharing all information regardless of location

What next?

Now that you know the available options, you need to start your search. So, how do you go about doing that?

Read what the experts say – Reviews are a great way of getting insight, but you can’t always be sure that the reviews are real. The best course of action is to go to the most respected software review sites and discover what they have to say.

Some good examples of these are SoftwareAdvice, GetApp, Capterra, Business News Daily.

Go straight to those that know – Go straight to the horse’s mouth. In other words, ask the questions you need to be answered directly to the CRM outlets and producers. The top CRM software producers have dedicated customer experience teams who are usually more than willing to address your concerns factually and in an open manner. It’s also usually not in their best interests to sell the wrong solution to a potential customer.

Ask a championed CRM user – If you know someone in a similar position to you, and who has already on-boarded a CRM system, their advice, and their warnings can be an invaluable source of recommendations.

Trust the people around you

It makes sense to talk to the people who are going to be using whichever CRM software you might choose. Gather your sales them and ask them about the problems they might have and would like to resolve.

These problems might not just be about the software, but also about the on-boarding process. After all, not everyone likes change. Be prepared to listen to their thoughts and find the answers to any issues they might have.

Also if the CRM might affect other departments, such as; marketing, customer service, etc. be sure to hear their concerns too. Every scrap of information you can gather will ultimately help with your decision.

What to avoid?

There’s a lot of CRM software choices out there, and unfortunately many of them fail to deliver what they promise. The promise of saving money with cheap – or even free – software may appeal to your pocket, but how can you be sure that it does what you want it to do? You can’t. Remember, those ‘Special Offers’ can cost you dearly in the long run.

Before you choose, one last thing

A really great idea for any startup embarking on a CRM software selection is to nominate a designated go-to person who will be charged with fielding all the questions and gathering all the answers about the project.

Finally:

  • Are you sure you really need CRM software?
  • Map your sales process thoroughly and identify the problems you need to resolve.
  • Make sure do your research with the experts.
  • Get the best advice available directly from suppliers and other users.
  • Ask questions online – experts, business groups, community forums.
  • Know your spend – what’s your budget?
  • Discover if your sales team are committed to and engaged with the introduction of the new software.
  • Take as many free trials and demonstrations as necessary.
  • Make sure that the CRM is scalable to grow with your business.
  • And last, but not least, be sure that the CRM you do choose can be fully aligned with your existing sales process.

EASY AS C.R.M. - Startups, how to choose your CRM software