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how to choose a crm

Choosing a CRM: Which Teams Should Be Involved in the Selection Process?

Companies today have multiple options when selecting a CRM or Customer Relationship Management software. Whether you’re a small business, mid-market entity, or an enterprise company, there are countless solutions in the market each with their own specialization.

As more and more businesses start investing in CRM solutions, it’s interesting to learn that they don’t consider all the business units that could be affected, both directly and indirectly, with a CRM investment. With CRM being a major application that can be utilized by multiple departments, it’s important to think about which teams to involve during the selection process. This will not only help promote user adoption but it will also help maximize the success of the CRM project.

So before you tackle the question of how to choose a CRM, let’s first discuss which teams should be involved.     

Sales Team

Sales reps use and log customer data into a CRM making them the most frequent users of the system. It’s important for sales teams to be a part of the CRM conversation as they need to know if the system can fit into their existing processes. Sales managers should be able to communicate their requirements as these are a bit different from the requirements of sales reps. Sales managers should voice their input and see if the CRM has the required visualization and flexible reporting capabilities for tracking sales performance and forecasting sales projections (i.e. via a customizable sales dashboard widgets).

Marketing Team

Just like sales, marketing teams are heavy CRM users as well so it’s no surprise that they should be included in the decision-making process.

Marketing reps should want to know what features can help efficiently manage and nurture prospects through the sales funnel. They may also want to check the integration capabilities with existing marketing tools like email marketing or marketing automation platforms. Some CRM systems can have a robust segmentation tool and an RFM analysis engine so be sure to learn about all the features that would help benefit marketing. In addition, a powerful reporting engine is highly valuable for building meaningful reports so testing out the reporting capabilities is highly advised.

Customer Support

When it comes to selecting a CRM, customer service agents are often forgotten about. It’s ironic as the first two words of CRM stand for “customer relationship”. With 77% of customers stating that valuing a customer’s time is the best way to provide good service, customer service agents need to quickly recollect a customer’s history and identify a resolution to their problem. A CRM is tailor made for this.

It’s important to note that customer support agents sharing the same CRM as sales and marketing teams can provide immense value. If your business already uses a support desk application, be sure to check the integration between the support desk and CRM application. In a unified CRM environment, support operatives would not only log and manage tickets and cases, they would share actionable customer data with other customer-facing teams.Together with marketing and sales, customer support reps can immensely contribute to creating a holistic, 360-degree view of every single customer across all touchpoints and channels of interaction.

To ensure the ultimate customer experience, support, marketing, and sales teams can agree on how tickets and issues should be prioritized based on different customer group profiles. The client base can be segmented into groups such as Frequent purchasers, High Value/VIP customers, Idle customers, Frequent complainers, etc., to instantly identify to the support rep who he is working with.  Customer support agents can then adjust their approach when working with particular groups.

Service agents play a key role in maintaining lasting relationship with clients which has a direct impact on customer lifetime value. That is why they should have a seat at the table during a CRM selection process.

Finance

While financial reps may not use a CRM to the extent sales and marketing teams would, financial reps can definitely benefit from having access to a CRM. CRM makes it easy for them to manage customer invoices and billing cycles, as it automatically syncs customer account information with billing and accounting data.

However, the CRM selection process is where finance teams can offer the most benefit. When it comes to pricing, many CRM sales reps do not disclose a solution’s Total Cost of Ownership. Because CRMs need to be fine-tuned, hidden costs may surface while implementing the solution. Inviting a Senior Financial team rep to a CRM demo could be  instrumental in detecting hidden fees that could skyrocket a product’s TCO (total cost of ownership).

IT Departments

Regardless whether your company plans to go with an on-premise or a cloud-based CRM, stakeholders from IT should be involved in CRM selection process.

If you opt for an on-premise solution, the company’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technical Officer (CTO) will most likely be responsible for hosting and managing the application and thus, should be apart of the decision making process. The CIO or CTO can also estimate whether a CRM can fit with the existing IT infrastructure.

If you decide on deploying a cloud-based CRM, make sure to invite your technology team to discuss issues they might run into in the future (integration of a CRM with other systems or API support, etc).

Strategic Project Owner

Implementing a CRM is a major project that can affect a company’s future success. To ensure this project is being deployed seamlessly, it should be managed by a dedicated strategic project owner. This person will aggregate, reconcile, and prioritize selection criteria coming from different teams across the company. A strategic product owner can also add refined organization requirements towards the system in terms of access and security, infrastructure, and cross-departmental communication. A perfect match for this role would be an IT Director in the early stages. Later on, this function can be taken over by the company’s CEO finalizing the choice of a CRM in terms of the value it will deliver to the entire business.

Summing Up

CRM is a powerful technology with ties into marketing, sales, client service teams, and IT. Choosing a full-featured, enterprise-grade CRM is a very important and strategic decision. It should be well debated with all relevant stakeholders giving their input. Only then will your business be able to leverage multiple benefits the customer relationship management solution allows.