Having a CRM becomes a must for every business. Even smaller companies realize that in order to be competitive they must improve, must be able to offer the right product to the correct auditory with perfect timing in order to succeed. This article will aim to help everyone that has not yet integrated CRM software to choose the best option for them.
The post will not intend to advertise any particular brand, but to give you better understanding of what you really need, the problems you should expect and how to get the best solution for you at a reasonable price.
Price vs. Customization
When debating about new information system one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is the painful process of integration, actually to be more accurate the necessary change that we must do in order to be able to use the program.
But this was before, with the progress of technology more and more often we are able to get a custom tailored solution for our business, of course it comes at a price. Therefore, it is necessary to make the correct decision about the tradeoff between customization and price.
As a founder of ERP and CRM company I often see clients pay more just to personalize given business process according to how they used to do it. Sometimes this is not a bad decision – it is good to make things work as you are used to and not change your process flow. On the other side, if you have not hired an expert to guide you – keep in mind that maybe you have done some things wrong and it may not be such a bad idea to change a bit and fit into the industry standard defined which is followed by the software vendor.
The idea is to customize the system for the part where your business is really unique but to fit for the rest. Defining carefully exactly what you need will allow you to get great CRM at a reasonable price.
Functionality vs. Price
The modern CRM solution offer hundreds of features and usually bundles them together in different packages. Therefore, it is very likely that you will be paying for features that you will never or rarely use. It is not the most important criteria when choosing a vendor but still try to get a system that can offer you discount or a custom package for your needs.
For example not all companies do send mass email or SMS campaigns. But very often those two are included even in the base packages of CRM vendors. On other side such base package usually does not feature the social media monitoring which is essential for young startups. This is why is important to try to get yourself a better deal. Even if you just write an email saying “We are young company, do you offer discount pricing for startups?” you will be surprised from the results.
The main idea is simple – if you are not going to use the function or it will save you just a little time once a week – then maybe it is not worth it to invest there at this stage.
Development of the system
A very important question is development. Even the ready to go CRM solutions require time – to set the right fields, to import the data, to create alerts and so on. You can do it alone but it will take time, however if you go for a more serious system then you will need someone with experience to set your accounts. Usually, business consultants offer this as part of the service for CRM integration, but as you can imagine the price tag is solid and a small companies rarely can afford it even if you are well funded startup.
There is also another option – that the CRM vendor will do all the settings for you. I admire such model and that is why this is the way we offer our service. However, we are not exclusive in this and if you look there will be lot of vendors willing to help you with the initial setup in order to get you as a client.
I highly recommend if you are a small to medium business to value heavy such option when evaluating the offers.
After go-live moment – the changes for perfect fit
So far our modest analysis was concentrated before the go-live moment – what functions, how customized, what pricing, who will set up the system and handle the integration process. This part will be the first one to look beyond the go-live moment and more in particular what happens if we require change of the structure and functionality of the system that we already have.
Many times small and medium companies require too much from the system, they make everything too complex so after the start they would like to simplify the things or to add some option, tweak the process a bit. This is not something uncommon – just about 30% of the companies are able to define their needs and processes correctly without the aid of experts.
That is why is so important to get a system that is flexible and it is easy to change. As with the development issue here against it is important not who will handle the updates.
From my experience I can tell that you will need to make changes after the start, they may be small and not so problematic but you will need to have such options and it will be better if you research in advance what are the limits in this context.
I can proudly say that clients of Coriti.com does not have such problem – such updates and assistance is included in our regular support. We will install such updates fast and smoothly.
Another thing you should have in mind is the option to scale – to get more accounts and more functionality if necessary. However, what most guides are missing out is the time period for such change. Especially, if you have used a services of a business consultant it would take more time. Not because they do not do their job but because one more side is involved. After the consultants define your new needs they will pass the information to the vendor or get with the development of the new features themselves.
It is important to be able fast and smoothly to update the system so it does not fold to back the dynamics of your business/industry. That is why it is important to research the matter before making the decision.
Before the ‘cloud’ era the support was a very problematic topic for every information system. The big companies were able to get someone onsite to make sure they will be able to react on time. The small and medium sized businesses had to live with a slow support that takes up to a week to fix a problem and get the system back on track.
However, nowadays with the option to get cloud CRM everything is different and even startups can afford a solution with a 24/7 support.
It is also important what quality is the support. For example some big vendor makes you call or chat with people that barely understand English, not to mention the things you ask them about a particular problem. That is why I strongly recommend choosing a company that has people that are ready to help you. A company that is benchmark in this area for me is Siteground.com.
Security and reliability
The last but not least important is the question how secure and reliable is the system. As you are most likely just a startup then the issue with information theft is not that relevant. Security is important but we are not afraid of espionage or data theft from competition on purpose to gain competitive advantage. Every system will have the basics – SSL encryption, defense from standard attacks such as SQL injection and maybe even some people that have only one responsibility the security. However, if someone would like to get your data it is most likely to do it by login with your credentials – in other words by stealing the info from you rather than hacking the application. That is why I believe no big advantage can be given to any CRM vendor here.
The other aspect – how reliable is the system is not just the 99.99% online time that the cloud vendors promise but also the backups, import/export options and time to react when there is a real problem. The problem for you is that most of these you cannot know for sure. Therefore, I advise not to be very worried about them as most of the solutions will have everyday backups and as you are a small company this will be more than enough for you even if necessary to migrate to other system.
This guide intends to help you make the decision when considering integration of CRM. It goes beyond the usual lists that do not catch the problem into details and look too much into the features of the system – something that is rapidly becoming industry standard – vendors copy fast from one another and there is not much more in a particular system than the others. It is a great tool that will help you save time, improve efficiency and increase revenue and as it is becoming industry standard it is possible to make a better deal by just researching carefully.
If you have questions or a recent experience on this topic, please, do share them below as a comment and I will be happy to join the discussion.