Key Factors to Consider When Selecting a CRM for Your Company
One of the most effective ways in increasing relations is to implement the use of CRM software, which provides a dependable and easy platform for both companies and customers. This article specifies key factors to consider when selecting a CRM for your business.
I felt compelled to write this article after seeking the “Holy Grail” of a sales professional…a Customer Relationship Management program that is easy to use and powerful enough to do its job…making me more money!
In the past few years, I have had the opportunity to demo a number of CRMs (our office gets CRM salespeople on a weekly basis) and I have also seen more than a dozen others. Because of the high number of programs available, I needed a way to evaluate each of the offerings. The following are a number of criteria that I came up with. Hopefully they will be helpful to you in comparing Customer Relationship Management suites.
Ease of Use
As a salesman trying to focus my time and effort on making sales, I really don’t want to be spending a ton of time on learning how to use a CRM or getting to technically involved in it either. I need a clean, workable interface that will allow me to capture, store and use customer information. Efficiency = More Money
Making Information Relevant
I have found that most Customer Relationship Management programs are not designed specifically for the business I am in. Therefore, having a CRM that is adaptable enough to give me the information necessary to make my program work for me is critical. So, customizable is a worthwhile feature to look for when it comes to a CRM.
This was one of the hardest things to get used to when starting to use a CRM. Because I was so used to using the company’s database to retrieve information, I didn’t use the Customer Relationship Management software to its fullest extent. Make sure your program has the ability to capture and process the relevant information accurately. Otherwise you will not commit to using it 100% and it becomes an afterthought rather than a tool to center your business around.
Secures Information by Promotes Collaboration
Because of the sensitive nature of the information my customers provide me, I need to ensure that only authorized people have access to the accounts. On the other hand, because of the complex nature of my business sometimes it is necessary to collaborate on solutions to the customers problems. A CRM that allows information to be easily controlled and administered while retaining security is vital.
Ease of Reporting
In the past the lack of this feature drove me nuts. When all of the customer’s information, history and performance are captured in the CRM, it is important to be able to present it in the form of reports. Having the ability to present the information in a variety of ways in a professional manner is the key to a Customer Relationship Management program. A powerful presentation keeps the customers satisfied and usually leads to new opportunities. Don’t forget to check if your CRM has this feature.
I would have thought that because of the wide availability of CRM offerings the prices would be very low. However, I did not find that to be the case. Many of the top offerings were priced way to high for my office. If you do your homework you can find some CRM programs that have all the features you need at an excellent price. My office decided to purchase “seats” with a particular CRM because of the value we got. In the past we had up to 4 different relationship management programs being used by various salespeople in the same office! By buying a package that everyone agreed was the best for our purposes we increased productivity without adding a large expense.
As our office has grown the need for our CRM to grow with us has been important. Best practices, policy driven changes and workflow have all been integrated into the CRM. Make sure your platform has the ability to add different applications to increase the usefulness of the CRM. Don’t trap yourself in a situation that makes you migrate from one customer service program to another because it no longer suits your needs.
Most CRM programs are compatible with standard office desktop applications such as MS Outlook. If it isn’t, don’t even think about purchasing it. Make sure that the company that you purchase the CRM is committed to future integration of the CRM with new applications. A growing, forward thinking company committed to keeping you ahead of the curve is key.
I hate the “sell it and forget it” attitude. Unlike many of my techie friends, I sometimes need help with programs that I purchase. Having a friendly, helpful person on the other end of the keyboard or phone is important. Questions and issues should be resolved by a company within a decent timeframe. (1 business day)
I have used these issues to evaluate a CRM tool that will be useful to me in keeping my customers happy, increasing sales and having a platform that has longevity. When I first began writing this article, I was not going to recommend any specific programs, but with the prodding of some of my colleagues, I have decided to say a few words about specific Customer Relationship Management programs.
Over the years, I have used many CRM tools. In my opinion, LongJump does a great job providing a scalable and cost effective CRM. I really enjoyed its intuitive interface, as well as it’s very powerful report generating feature. The value I received from LongJump is beyond compare. I literally pay less per month for their service than I do in one week for my coffee! Now that is value.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J. M. Leander - Senior Editor - Prime Interactive, Inc.