Let’s start with a story.
2 years ago, I started my property journey and it was a minefield. New jargon, new processes and SO many decisions to be made about a topic I wasn’t familiar with.
So I started my research by speaking to my circle of friends and family who have bought properties or worked in banks to learn what went well for them, what mistakes they wished they avoided and any advice they had for a newbie like myself.
One lesson, in particular, I was glad I didn’t have to learn the hard way was “how to choose the right bank for the home loan”.
You would’ve thought it was a straightforward answer. Surely, the big banks must be safer and any of them will do, right?
I learnt from a banker friend and mortgage broker that the home loan decision should NOT be made based on low-interest rates. This is one of the most common mistakes they often see people make which costs them dearly – in the long run.
Lower interest rates ≠ the right bank for your home loan.
Instead their advice was to first, consider:
- Type of property build (mine was construction aka built from scratch. Different banks are more punctual in releasing cash to the property developer so I even went with the higher variable interest rates option)
- The support you get online and offline (you can’t assume popular banks have the infrastructure set up for you to get access/support whenever you need)
A short-sighted decision here could have led to high penalty rates.
So as I reflect on my new house build, I realise my property journey is similar to some of you who are on a CRM journey. Perhaps you understand the concept of a CRM and maybe used one but are not well-versed to make a pretty big decision!
As a professional in the CRM migration and architecture space, I find a lot of businesses make decisions on the secondary factors and often can be short-sighted.
Cheap ≠ the right or good CRM.
Whilst I’m a HubSpot partner and have been in the HubSpot space since 2015, I PROMISE for this to be an unbiased guide – as the decision on choosing the right CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) really depends on your unique business needs, goals, growth stage and budget. See what McKinsey has to say about the future of CX and how your CRM is positively correlated with CX.
There’s no benefit for me or you to be biased. If I felt HubSpot isn’t the right fit for you, I’d be upfront and turn away business.
So let’s get started…
Over the course of my career, I’ve used a couple of different CRMs and migrated across a lot of different platforms into HubSpot. From Pipedrive, Active Campaign to Salesforce. Throughout my different engagements, I’ve learnt the pros and cons of different CRMs, why businesses choose to move away from/to different platforms and more importantly, what the hidden costs are.
A CRM system is a software that helps businesses manage and analyse customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle to improve business relationships, data quality and customer satisfaction. This is done through (1) automating mundane and repetitive activities, (2) streamlining processes, (3) improving communication and (4) data strategy. This is key.
With many CRM options on the market, it’s important to take the time to carefully consider your business needs, goals, growth stage and budget before making a decision.
You can read all the G2 reviews and yet, the final answer is still never straightforward.
Here are some 10 factors to consider:
#1 – Your Business Needs And Growth Stage
Take a step back and assess what your business needs are and where you’re at. The needs of an early-stage business vs an enterprise business are quite different. Answering the questions below can help you narrow down the options.
- What kind of prospect/customer data and behaviours do you need to track?
- How do you currently manage customer interactions and sales?
- Do you need a CRM that integrates with other tools and systems i.e. email, financial, project management?
- What systems do you have now that are not serving the business?
- Where are the inefficiencies in the business?
- Which part of the business needs more help?
- Who will be using the CRM?
- What are the different data sources?
- How do you think a CRM is going to serve your business?
- Can my business scale with the CRM?
- What business insights do you want to extract from the data?
#2 – Your Processes Today vs Your Ideal
At the end of the day, a CRM is only a tool. It’s your process and team that determines the value you get out of the CRM data.
Once you have assessed your business needs, map out what your current vs ideal process looks like. Include details such as what you wish to automate, what data points will be useful to have in a certain stage and for which teams, what important actions need to take place, how can communication improve etc.
This will help highlight features or functionalities that are vital for the business.
#3 – Think Beyond Your Own Department
Choosing a CRM is a decision shared across several revenue functions, not siloed. It’s crucial to consider the processes and needs of other related functions.
I often see marketers choose CRMs so they can send out newsletters and some automation. Salespeople choose CRMs so that they can track sales productivity and deal pipeline. Customer success or service teams choose CRMs based on ticketing needs. Without a bigger strategic business vision.
Often the final outcome is separate teams on unaligned processes and tools.
Whether you have all/most teams on the same tool or not, the point is to be more holistic in your approach. Check out this blog about what & why Revenue Operations.
#4 – How User-Friendly Is It?
Data in = Data out.
A CRM system is only useful if your team is actually using it.
Look for a CRM that is intuitive and easy to use, with a user-friendly interface and clear documentation. The easier you make data quality management, the more you’ll get out of it.
In many ways, the technology should be working for you.
Not like this.
#5 – Easy and Accessible Support
You may also want to consider CRMs that offer training and support to ensure that your team is able to effectively use the system.
This includes knowledge base articles, accessible live chat/email/phone call support and support turnaround time. Plus, your own SOPs.
#6 – Consider Integrations
These days, it’s rather rare that software doesn’t have a wide range of integrations but it’s still one to take note of.
Having integration options will allow you to seamlessly move data between systems, avoid manual data entry and lower the risk of data errors when you import and export.
#7 – R&D Investment
This is a factor I hardly hear anyone consider but you want a product that’s continuously and consistently improved. Explore how much the CRM provider spends on their own R&D.
You don’t always need brand-new features but you want to know the CRM provider is investing in improving the quality of the product.
#8 – Budget Range
Notice how far down I’ve put the budget/price. Definitely an important factor to consider. I’d encourage you not to be swayed purely by price but also not pick a CRM at the expense of the business livelihood.
CRM systems can range in price from free to several thousand dollars per month so it’s important to consider your budget when choosing a CRM.
If you have a preferred CRM that is out of the budget range but you know it is going to be the right fit eventually, ask the CRM provider what the different starting packages could look like even if it means forgo certain features initially. Then, upgrade over time.
Keep in mind what the CRM cost look like as your business scales. Some CRMs charge for extra seats, some charge for certain features, and some don’t.
Also, keep in mind the intangible cost savings from less manual work and potential increased revenue from better data and communication.
#9 – Data Security & Storage Location
This one could be quite an important factor depending on your business legal requirements. Check where the CRM provider stores their data, whether they provide GDPR compliance functionalities and how they look after all the data they have access to.
#10 – Ask For A Tailored Demo
I highly recommend asking for a tailored demo to prove that your top requirements can be re-created in this CRM, especially specific reporting.
- Besides the tailored demo, look for a vendor that has a proven track record and a strong reputation in the industry.
- Badges and levels (aka vanity metrics) don’t mean anything if success has not been proven.
- The size of the team isn’t always the most important factor as bigger organisations also have capacity issues.
- Consider the speed and quality of communication you get from the vendor. Your business cannot and should not have to suffer because of the vendor’s communication style.
If you’d like to have a chat about picking the right CRM for your business or you’re at the crossroads of deciding on one, feel free to book a connect call with me here.