Updated: Dec 4, 2022
Starting with Excel and then moving to a CRM service is good. Choosing a CRM that will support your needs for the future is grand!
There are tons of different CRM solutions, some of them are Free to use up to a certain level the others offer a 14 day Trial period and then you have to commit. There are also some that are free for life but once you start using them and start getting your data in you may discover that some essential features i.e. pipelines cannot be seen unless you upgrade. Damn it!
How does one chooses a CRM and why would a company need it at the first place?
Would you like to store all your client information all in one place and have a full history from the first email to the 5th order and more? Imagine, a client calls you and you have completely forgotten what did you speak about and what you promised weeks ago. How valuable would it be if you could get this info in a click or two?
Tracking your sales cycle - pipeline
If you have more than 5 clients and are eager to have hundreds and work with them productively, you have to know where you are (sales stage) and understand what actions do you need to take. Sorting them out by the sales stage where you currently are with them is paramount.
It would be good to be able to know when (approximately) you may expect that order and how many orders do you need to reach your target and bring that chunk of commission home. Building and managing the pipeline is one of key elements that a CRM can help you with so you can be on top of your numbers. 'On it like a car bonnet' as we used to say in the sales floor in London.
You trust your team, of course you do (well you should if you don't), but above all it is important to see the situation from the birds eye view. Especially before the end of the quarter.
If only you could see how many prospects does your best salesperson bring and how many accounts do they win and what about the others?
If you could learn what they do best and teach others.
If you could estimate the team's revenue for the next quarter, would that help you to be more informed and make better decisions when speaking with the board?
Having a dashboard set up in a CRM is absolutely amazing. As a manager you can have full 360 view on a matter in seconds. The meetings are more productive, the questions are relevant and the team knows that you are holding their back.
Yes a good CRM can help you do all that and even more.
Which one then?
ZoHo, Pipeline Deals, Sales Force, HubSpot, etc all of them they do what they say on the tin - Customer Relationship Management. But how should you choose?
However it all depends on your needs. Some websites can help you to see the comparison of each system, but if you are not used to CRMs that might be a bit overwhelming. I.e.
For some who are more focused on Social Media campaigns HubSpot might be the answer, the others may prefer ZoHo or SalesLogix. Some other say Siebel is what they used for the past years and they are happy.
You may be happy as longs as the system furnishes your current requirements. But what happens when it doesn't? What happens if you decide to introduce a Barcode scanner in the warehouse and want all your data in one system? What happens when you notice you spend ample amount of time trying to automate the Quotes and that computer simply says "NO"? Or perhaps your want to start working with an e-mail marketing campaigns... Yes, you have all the data in the CRM and it makes a perfect sense to bloody use it! But what happens if the feature does not exist, there are no plugins or they are not working well enough?
I can tell you what happens - migration happens. And trust me, you do not want to migrate. Over the last 15 years I have been working with 3 companies who decided to migrate their current systems to actually same platform. They all moved to Sales Force. Boom! The secret is out. Multimillion companies moved Siebel -> Sales Force; SalesLogix -> Sales Force. And God only knows what the other one was, but that company moved to Sales Force too.
If for some reason you have ended up in this. I hope it will be smooth one, but normally it raises so many questions not only about data extraction but the entire Methodology of how the system should be used.
Imagine, you are getting a new system, you can adjust it to your needs. Opportunities, child accounts, Contacts and Contact fields, Pipeline Stages, etc, etc. You can finally have two or 3 phone numbers per person. You can have 2 different email addresses per person and etc. Sounds amazing! I know :)
If you could customise all that, where would you stop? How much of custom made System do you actually need. And, yes, you will spend a lot of time with the system Architects, your management and your own IT to design the entire workflow, reinvent your own sales processes and other structures and actually envision what you may need in the future. Tough? You bet!
Companies do spend a year or more designing their ideal system and migrating the data. The costs sometime might be from five figures to several hundred thousand to a million EUR. Yes, it is not cheap and it is slow. The more data you have and the more difficult it is to extract and upload to the new system the more expensive it gets.
But wait, you will not even need some of that old stuff that was sitting there. Good news, but who will decide what you need and what you don't? Yes, you again. That's why it takes so much time.
I have had pleasure working with custom designed CRM systems too. They were working but some no brainer features, were simply not there. How come? They were not required previously and nobody noticed... Implementing them took time. Then testing took time too. If we agree that time is money, then calculating how much time was actually spent would give you a good indication of the system price.
Can you get your data out?
When choosing a CRM system, first what you need to check is how easy it is to export the data from it. Thinking about migration before even purchasing a CRM is key to saving costs in the future. You won't think about it until you have to get your data out and you can't. Don't be that guy. Stick with XLS instead instead of choosing a system which will lock your data in.
Run some numbers. How much would it costs for your current team and see what would happen if you expand.
Will you need to upgrade the system to a higher one (i.e. Sales Force Enterprise) if you decide to add on a QR scanner or other features that other businesses use in your industry?
Can you have some other third party software or data integrated over API? Or simply, can you connect your CRM with Linked In?
Ease of use
How easy is to use the system straight from the box?
Will you have a good support from a CRM support desk if something won't work the way you expect?
Use that Free trial with full features and see how the system you are choosing matches your needs and remember always to back up your data when you do trial just in case so you won't loose something important. Testing a free CRM version won't give you a good view of its capabilities, but will at least show you the UX.
Myself I have been using Sales Force for the last 10 or 12 years and it has all what I need. Ok Almost! I don't like the email campaign module as it is too basic for my needs, but all the rest works as a charm and I can customise it to my liking.
Tell us what CRM do you use? What features do you love and what makes you go bonkers?
With passion for success,
In case you wonder what is the difference between all those systems: