Customer relationship management (CRM) refers to strategies and practices which companies use to interact with future and current customers. This usually involves using technology to synchronize, automate and organize marketing, sales, technical support and customer service. Some of the best CRM tools in the market include Zoho, Salesforce, Insightly, Act! Cloud and AllProWebTools. However, before using any of these tools, you need to evaluate your options and choose what is best for your business.
Here are some of the things you need to consider before investing in a CRM tool:
1. Your goals
The first thing you need to think about before investing in any CRM is your goals. Don’t just use a CRM to store data. Think of how you can use the data collected to enhance your business. Here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself:
- Do you want to offer customers better service?
- Do you want your employees to be more organized and productive?
- Will you use the data for more targeted marketing campaigns?
The answers to such questions will help you clarify your short and long term goals, and thus select the best CRM tool.
You need to ensure that the CRM tool selected fits within your budget. Besides the upfront costs involved in acquiring the tool, you should also consider the long term costs and the associated benefits. Find out what is and what is not included in the price. For instance, does the initial payment cover upgrades and training? In addition, you need to think about the cost of software customization, system integration and extra equipment such as computers and servers. To cut costs, it would be advisable to go for a CRM tool that easily integrates with your existing IT infrastructure.
3. Scalability and complexity
Since your business is growing, you need to find a CRM tool that will grow with you. A scalable CRM solution will save you the trouble of having to replace your system entirely a few years later as your business grows. In addition, you need to consider the expertise level of your employees. If the CRM tool is very complex, your staff members might not be able to operate it effectively, thus reducing its return on investment (ROI). However, a tool which only has basic features will not be able to achieve the required results.
4. Vendor reputation
Before settling for any CRM service provider, you need to carry out a background check. Read reviews about them online and in print magazines. You will find rankings and benchmarks of their software, training, service and support. You could also talk to some of their existing clients to learn about their experience. This will help you decide if the CRM tool is a worthwhile investment.
5. On-site or On-demand
Choosing an on-site CRM solution will involve buying the software as well as the hardware required to run it. This can either be implemented by your employees or by a third party. On-demand CRM solutions, on the other hand, are usually cloud-based. Such tools can be implemented faster and allow your business to save on costs of buying equipment. Consider your options and choose the solution which best suits your business.
Taking time to think through the points above will help you find the right CRM tool, and save you valuable time and money.