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How to Prepare for Your CRM Selection Process: Identifying Who, What, Why, When, Where

Author: Steve SchadeUploaded: 03/01/2022



Applying the 5 Ws to your CRM search is a great way to help you assess your need for a CRM system and evaluate CRM options, ensuring you get the system that satisfies you requirements.


Why are you looking? Understanding this fundamental question may seem obvious but often buyers know they need something or have a general sense of what they need but have not taken the time to lay out the specific issues they are looking to address with a CRM platform, nor have they identified the key pain points. Being able to articulate these needs to a CRM provider will fast track your evaluation of their suitability to your needs. Be sure you are telling them what YOU need, not having them tell you what THEY can do, there is a big difference.

When to begin the process and when to deploy? Understanding your timeline, including personnel resources and budgets, is critical in ensuring you can deploy a solution when you want to. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months to set up and deploy a CRM. Licensing and implementation costs are generally due at signing so being prepared for this can save you spending hours finding the right solution only to discover there is either no budget to support the initial outlay or sufficient staff resources to work on the implementation.

What are you looking for? It is tempting, once you start looking, you see lots of shiny systems with bells and whistles you didn’t even know existed and suddenly you desperately need them all. Don’t let yourself be taken in by “neat” but unnecessary features. Identifying what you want the CRM to support will help you avoid the pitfall of being sold on more than you need. Create a bullet list of the functionality you will use daily and, for fun, create a list of “nice to have”. Focus on finding the platform that meets the core needs first and then, if two solutions rise to the top, use the nice to haves as a tie breaker.

Who will be involved with the CRM? From selecting the right CRM vendor to using the system there will be a number of individuals involved in the total process. Identify two to five key staff who will be the decision makers. These decision makers should represent the needs of the team in general and understand the business goals and objectives for the system, ensuring they select a platform that meets the requirements of the users and supports the business objectives and budget. The selection team will often take on the task of deploying the system as well and this should be considered in selecting the right team to see the process through from start to finish.

Where will the system be used? A CRM lends itself to a wide variety of applications from sales and marketing to account and project management; some systems even include support and ticketing capabilities to keep all relevant details in one place, giving visibility across the organization to all team members.  Non sales operations will benefit from a CRM as much as a sales focused group so don’t think the CRM is limited only to your sales team. Think of the CRM as your single source of truth, the one place your team can go to for all the pertinent details on any account, client, or project etc. and can provide visibility to staff throughout your organization.

Finally, don’t forget to consider the good people reaching out to help you with your search. Vendor representatives can be a valuable resource, not only educating you about their own platform but sharing industry knowledge and experience gleaned over thousands of conversations with other people looking for CRM, just like you.