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  • Writer's pictureKevin Snow

Top 5 Questions To Ask When Selecting a CRM System

In sales management we are always looking at ways to make the sales process more efficient and to shorten the sales cycle. An effective CRM is one tool we use to accomplish that. But if you are the person put in charge of selecting the system, you may get overwhelmed as there are nearly as many CRM systems available as there are businesses that want them. You need a CRM that connects your team, tracks your sales, helps you manage customer relationships and gives you clear, meaningful insights. It shouldn’t be complicated, but with many options available, But with everything that is available, how do you know what you should look for?

Here are 5 key questions you want to ask when evaluating a CRM.

1. What problem are you trying to solve?

A CRM can be a powerful tool but only if it is aligned to your business goals. Before reviewing any CRM systems you need to understand what some of your immediate sales productivity challenges are. Are you looking to better track leads and lead activity? Manage relationships? Track opportunities and closing rates? Make a list of all the needs you have and then prioritize it. You now have a guide you can use when reviewing the features different CRM solutions offer.

2. Is it easily customizable?

There is no one size fits all CRM soution. A CRM package interacts with multiple areas within your business, The ability to customize the interface so that it works with your processes coupled with the ease of doing that customization is key to getting the most out of your investment. For some industries, such as finance or real estate, there are CRM options designed specifically for those types of business. Using a specialized CRM can cut down on the amount of customizing that you need to do. Likewise, you want a CRM that will grow with your business and will be able to adapt to your changing processes without having to be replaced. For some CRM systems, customization can also be accomplished by expanding capabilities through the use of extensions, plugins, themes, templates and add-on apps.


3. Does it give you great insights in to the sales process?

While all the functionality is great, the reporting options are what will help you as sales leadership impact your team's sales levels the most. You may think your sales processes are efficient but the data may tell you differently. Make sure the solutions you evaluate allow you to customize the reports based on your unique data. The report options need to include more than just closing rates and pipeline reports.. You want to be able to do historical analysis of how prospects move through your process so you can see where the choke points are. This analysis will allow you to refine your sales process so more prospects make it in to the win column.

4. Where is my data stored and is it secure?

Unfortunately, we live in a time when corporate data is at risk of theft from cyber criminals. So it is very important when evaluating CRM solutions to understand how the data is stored as well as how secure it is. Most often the CRMs you review will be cloud-based, meaning the provider stores your data on their system. If it is cloud-based evaluate how the data is accessed and what types of authentication are used. How you can back up your data is also an important consideration for a cloud-based solution.

The other option you will see is on-premise, meaning you will be storing the data on your server. If this is the case you need to confirm how much data as well as what is required to allow people to access your data remotely. If your team has to come back to the office to access the data, the system likely wouldn't work for a field sales team.

5. Will my team use the new technology?

No matter which system you get, if your team doesn't use it, it will be a waste of time and money and it won't resolve the needs you identified earlier in the process. Like any other new technology, you will need to train yourself and your team to use the chosen solution. If it is too complicated it may not be worth the training time. Look for an easy user interface that is intuitive in nature so the learning time is shortened. Many systems say they are easy to use but be sure to take advantage of any demos or free trials to see for yourself.

Mobility is one of the key features that will drive adoptability and use. The best field sales people are out and about the majority of their day and need to access the CRM from a variety of mobile tools. Ensure that the solution you chose has its own mobile apps or can at least be accessed and easily viewed using your mobile web browser.

If this is your first time using a CRM, you may face a different roadblock to adoption. Your sales force may feel threatened as they believe that if they give up all their customer's contact info they are putting their positions at risk. The key to reassuring them is to acknowledge their concerns and help them understand that they are still central to the sales process as they own the personal relationship with the client. Get your sales team involved in the selection process early so they have input into the features and usability. Giving them early input into the decision process will help them feel less threatened and view the new technology as a tool to help make them better sales people.

Choosing the correct CRM for your sales team is an important process. Answering the five questions above will get you on the road to selecting the right CRM for your team, but be sure to allow enough time for research. You want to be sure you select not only the best one for your business model, but the one your team will actually use.

Your Turn

Tell us what aspects of a CRM you feel are most important?

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