7 things to look for in a CRM solutions provider
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Choosing the right customer relationship management (CRM) software isn't easy. Because CRM enables businesses to gain a competitive edge by letting them effectively manage customer relationships before, during and after the sale, the CRM industry is rapidly growing, giving rise to a slew of vendors hoping to take advantage of this budding niche.
To help you find the best CRM software for your business, Commence Corporation, a provider of CRM software for small to midsize businesses, recently released "7 Points to Consider Before Selecting Your CRM Solution," a white paper outlining the best practices in choosing a CRM solutions provider.
Larry Caretsky, CEO of Commence Corporation and author of the white paper, said that the key to finding a CRM solutions provider is figuring out your business's unique needs and choosing an established provider that can fulfill them.
To help you avoid CRM buying mistakes, Caretsky provided these seven steps businesses should follow when choosing CRM software:
1. Select a mature solution provider
"With today’s economic uncertainty, it’s extremely important to select a solution provider with a trusted reputation and long-standing track record for delivering high-quality products and services in your industry," Caretsky wrote. This means choosing a company that has been in business for some time, as it's safer to go with a provider that has been around for a decade with an established customer base than a startup. You should also research the vendor's customers and ask for references regarding the provider's commitment to quality products and service.
2. Know your requirements beforehand
Determine your core requirements and make sure you fully understand how the software fits into your internal business workflow. Don’t focus on the price or the software's cosmetics, but on its ability to support your business's unique needs, Caretsky advised.
3. Know where your data is located
"Your customer information is your lifeline," Caretsky wrote. Because most vendors store your data with third-party service providers, it's imperative that you ask where your data is being hosted and by whom. Make sure you check into the company's track record for performance and reliability, as well as inquire about backup and recovery.
Not all CRM providers are the same. Caretsky said that while many providers are built for small businesses, they will not perform or scale well at higher utilization. To avoid the inconvenience and hassle of having to change vendors after a year or two, choose a solution that has the resources and capabilities to grow as your business grows.
5. Back-end integration
"While this may not be your top priority, CRM is the front end to all back-end processes, and sooner or later, you are going to want to integrate customer data with your accounting or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system," Caretsky wrote. This means finding a vendor that offers an application programming interface (API) for your current systems.
6. Select a partner, not a vendor
To get the most out of CRM software, you need a provider who will be with you every step of the way. Caretsky said the difference between a partner and a vendor is that a partner will have your best interests in mind by ensuring you get the maximum value from their solution and providing assistance when you need it; on the other hand, a vendor will simply sell you their solution and tell you to send an email if you need help. Choose a partner that has a solid track record of providing this level of service, Caretsky advised.
7. Stay away from free
Providers that meet these standards aren't cheap and won't come free. The difference between a top-rated, trusted provider and a low-cost one may also only be a few dollars a month, so invest wisely.
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.