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Questions To Ask Before Buying CRM What You REALLY Need to Know

Questions to Ask Before Buying (or Switching to) a New CRM System


Analysts estimate somewhere between 30 – 65% of CRM projects fail for a number of reasons. We hosted a discussion recently with several experts about why projects fail and what companies can do to overcome these challenges. While there are some differences between small, medium and enterprise businesses, some issues remain the same. Based on expert analysis, we put together a list of 10 questions every business should ask.

The number one challenge most companies face, regardless of size, is end user adoption. It’s a great idea to include several sales reps in the software demonstrations. Encourage your reps to ask questions and gather their feedback after the demo – the system won’t benefit management if the sales team doesn’t use it in the first place.

When considering CRM, go beyond technical requirements. The ultimate success of the project depends on your sales team.

Question #1: Will your sales team use it?


The number one challenge most companies face, regardless of size, is end user adoption. It’s a great idea to include several sales reps in the software demonstrations. Encourage your reps to ask questions and gather their feedback after the demo – the system won’t benefit management if the sales team doesn’t use it in the first place.

Question #2: What do you want to DO?


Make a list of all your functional requirements. Think about your customers and what information you want to capture. Consider how your sales and management teams want to view and access data. Identify what you want to track in the sales pipeline and how you want to manage activities and tasks.

Most organizations require that the system integrate with at least 1 or 2 other tools – larger organizations tend to need more customization and more integration. However, smaller organizations have to worry about using fewer resources. Many small and medium size businesses have limited IT staff (or none at all), and need a system that doesn’t require ongoing technical support.

Finally, you want a system that is scalable and will grow with you as your business grows.

Question #3: Do the functional requirements create an unwieldy beast?


One of the dangers of creating a functional requirements document is that it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. We’ve talked to a number of companies who purchased and customized a system because it checked all the boxes on the requirements list, but the end result was a patchwork maze that was difficult to navigate.

After qualifying functional requirements, consider usability. Sales and management will adopt simple CRM systems that are easy to navigate, with less grumbling.

Question #4: Will it work smoothly with existing sales processes?


Smooth navigation is important and so is support for existing business processes. The more the process changes, the less likely the team is going to adopt the new technology.

Don’t disrupt the sales process!

For example, many sales reps visit clients, which is why mobile capabilities have grown rapidly. Another great feature for some sales teams is the ability work offline because they can work anywhere, even when they don’t have access to the Internet.

Question #5: Will the sales team be more efficient?


Taking the previous question a step further, look for ways to make existing sales processes faster. Every sales rep is crunched for time. If your team can perform the same processes, but in half the time, the project will be a success.

Question #6: Do you have buy-in from management?


This question is not unique to CRM projects. Every project, technical and otherwise, requires management buy-in. Management teams wield power and set company priorities. What is important to management is usually achieved, other projects fall by the wayside.

Question #7: How will you approach training?


Be sure to include training in your project plan. While we often think of training at the beginning of a project, the follow-up is just as important. Set aside a regular time every week to address any issues or questions that arise as the system is used more and more.

Question #8: How will you reinforce usage of the system?


If you answered the previous questions, this question should be easy. Some organizations force adoption by linking customer data entry to pay, commissions or bonuses. While these techniques work, adoption should come naturally because the software helps the sales team work better.

Question #9: How long is the implementation process?


Some implementation projects are completed in a few days and some are completed in a few years. In our discussion with industry experts, the biggest driver of implementation time is complexity, which is no surprise. Larger business tend to have more systems that require additional consulting time for integration. Some systems come ready-made to integrate with email and accounting software, which speeds implementation time.

Question #10: What is the TOTAL cost of the system?


Even though it’s the last question, it’s important. Many systems have hidden costs including mobile access, data storage, data access, consulting and API calls. A recent white paper found that the final cost for some CRM vendors is twice the original quoted per user price. Unfortunately, it is industry practice to increase revenue via up charges, many of which are necessary to use the software.

Before finalizing vendors, dig into what is included and what is NOT included, so that you can make an informed decision.