How to choose the right CRM solution for your business

By | February 9, 2018


There is a lot to consider when choosing a CRM system . There are many of vendors, solutions,  and technologies

to choose from .  You have  to consider deployment options,

amount  of flexibility, cost – efficiency and business value.


This amount  of choice  creates some  extra consideration on your side .  It’s important  to carefully evaluate your own

needs, match them to the functionality offered,  while not forgetting about  the price and coming to terms with how much of the system your users will actually use .


This chapter will help guide  you to decide which CRM solution is right for your business .  We will walk you through four steps to choosing the right CRM solution:

1      Define what it is that you want to achieve

2    Decide your requirements for technology and support

3    Consider your budget and where to run your CRM

4     Match your needs to what the market offers

Let’s take a look at the different steps:

1     Step 1: Define what it is that you want to achieve

The first step in choosing a CRM is to ask yourself what challenge you are trying to solve . Perhaps your business is continuously experiencing:

  • High customer churn rates


  • Challenges in meeting revenue targets


  • Difficulties in generating new business

If you’re a small business, it’s probably  good enough that you sit down and run through this process by yourself and ask yourself these questions .

If you’re a little larger, it’s probably  a good idea to involve the people who are major stakeholders in the each  of the processes . Sit down and take a good hard look at how you run the business . This means systematically going through and mapping every business process as it works today so that you can understand what needs to be done and how

it needs to be done . At the same time, you should review your information needs, templates, activities and possible reporting needs .

Preparation guidelines:

  • Describe the business process (sales, marketing, customer service) . What does the process in your company look like? What steps does the process normally consist of, for example first meeting, offer, shortlist, negotiation?


  • Are there steps in the process that take too long or customers complain about?
  • How do sales  processes aimed at prospects differ from

those aimed at existing customers?

  • If you measure sales  staff performance, how do you

do this? Or how would you like to be able do this?

  • What kind of information is distributed from the organization to management?


  • Do you currently use KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), or do you wish to do so in the future?


  • In which areas of the process do you need to make changes and/or improvements in order to achieve your business goals?


Don’t be satisfied with your first draft. Be sure to take your time, get second opinions from people who have nothing to gain from agreeing with your first draft. You will find

that you may have to remove some  steps while adding  in others,  maybe  you will even need to sequence tasks a little differently, etc. By the time you are finished with this step, you will have documented the best process for your business .


It’s important to note that this mapping process can cause some  problems in the organization . No one wants to be told or see that the process he or she is managing doesn’t  work . If you think that this can be an issue, then it’s a good idea to bring a 3rd party vendor or consultant in to help you through the process .

2    Step 2: Define your requirements for technology and support

Regardless of what size company you are, it’s wise to take

a few minutes  and think about  the current  systems that you have in place today . For all intents and purposes, you may have nothing at all to integrate, but writing down the answers to these ques-tions will go a long way in helping you to set

up your list of requirements when talking to a vendor .

Preparation questions:

  • Is this going to be a one department solution or will it be used in the entire business?


  • What other business applications do you have that you want to integrate with the CRM system?
  • Do you need support and training for you and your

staff to get started?

  • How sophisticated is your staff in learning new


  • Will you have the CRM on your laptop when you are traveling?


  • How much mobility do you want? Do you need the

CRM solution on mobile phones and tablets?

3    Step 3: Consider your budget and where to run your CRM

Of course, budgetary concerns play a role in which CRM solution you choose . Some businesses are constrained by current  business conditions . Other businesses are able to take a longer-term view of their CRM investment.

It’s hard to believe that in less than a decade ago, customers had few choices in deciding where  and how they wanted to pay and deploy their CRM . Today’s picture has changed quite a bit . There are alternative payment options  like purchasing outright, leasing, and rental models.  There are also different ways to deploy your CRM .


The traditional option is an on-premise installation, which requires users to own and maintain the technology infrastructure – servers, storage, networking capabilities and personnel .   There is an initial cost for the software and

licenses, plus an annual maintenance fee . There is usually a cost for integration as well .

There are many companies who like this option because they have complete control over the application with regards to security and data and they also have full control over the

way the software is customized and configured in-house. Companies that choose this option usually have their own IT departments on-site.


By contrast, a cloud-based or hosted deployment option is where  the software is hosted by a service  provider and the data from the CRM software is available as long as there  is

an Internet connection . Hosted CRM is also known as Online CRM, Software-as-a-Service (SAAS), On-demand CRM or Cloud CRM. The cost is broken into a per-month subscription fee and there  may be integration costs .

There are companies who like this option because of the fast deployment time, cheaper setup and maintenance costs  and it can be a less risky option .  No IT department is required for this option .  All software updates are pushed automatically .


In the following, we have  created a comparison chart to help with your decision making:

On-premises  vs. SaaS: Making the choice









Pay as you go, per user,per month, etc .


Up-front capital costs  for hardware, software

licensing, lab space, air conditioning, etc .




Limited customization


Somewhat customizable depending on software vendor




Hardware and software owned reside at provider  site


Customer must provide  hardware and system platforms to run apps




Access to Saas  apps  is via internet,  creating security risks


Less risky because of on-premise location


Mobile access


Accessible via browsers running on mobile devices


Limited access to business applications via

browsers running on mobile devices




Limited integration, even  though this is an

important  requirement


Integration with existing software is commonplace




SaaS provider  controls  systems and is entrusted with sutomer data


Control of systems and data


At first glance,  you may think that it’s pretty easy  to differentiate between what kind of company will buy which option – smaller, cash-constrained companies use  the cloud, larger companies with IT resources use  on-premise. But, it’s not necessarily as black and white as this. As always, the best  solution really depends on the needs of your business .

4    Step 4: Match your needs to what the market offers

The most common way of picking a product is to get caught up in the feature list comparison . This is not a recommended approach as most CRM systems have the same basic

features . Then, your decision would come down to looking at features and functions which are rarely used at all .


At this stage, it’s important to remember what problem(s) or processes you are trying to fix and ask yourself if the available features will help you solve your problem . If the feature doesn’t  help you to solve your problem,  then it’s not needed .

It’s also important to keep in mind how much your users will really be able to use of the CRM system . We believe that it

is never wrong to start small . The key to CRM success isn’t primarily what the software can do or capabilities it has .


The single most important success criteria is how much the individual user in an organization is able to use and how well the solution is linked to the specific business process.


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